The Band: Anthony Kiedis (Vocals)
John Frusciante (Guitars, Backing Vocals)
Flea (Bass Guitar)
Chad Smith (Drums)
This concert took place on August 23, 2003 as at the massive venue of Slane Castle, Ireland, a venue previously headlined by U2, among others. It was one of two one off shows that the Chili Peppers played in the UK that month, following their triumphant appearance at the V festival.
For those of you don't know anything about the Chili Peppers, (is there anyone left anymore who doesn't?), they are the band that originally came out of Los Angeles as a funk rock band, before John Frusciante and Chad Smith joined the band after 3 albums, following the death of their guitarist, Hillel Slovak, and the subsequent departure of Jack Irons, the group's drummer. Following the release of Mother's Milk
in 1989, breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik
was released, spawning worldwide hit singles, Under The Bridge
, and Give It Away
. John Frusciante then left the band, and descended into complete heroin addiction before rejoining the group for the 1999 album Californication
, which was hailed as an unlikely, but brilliant comeback, following the disappointing One Hot Minute
. Then in 2002, By The Way
was released, which showed a new maturity to the Chili Pepper's music, and was critically hailed as one of their greatest albums, if not the best.
The Chilis have also developed a reputation as a quite brilliant live band, due in part to their undoubted ability, with Flea in particular widely being thought of as one of the best bassists of all time, and also due to their improvisation in between songs, and the 100% comittment and joy that they put into their live shows. Here, this is very evident, with several brilliant jams between Flea, Frusciante and Smith, most notably before By The Way
. It's in moments like these, when even people who dislike the music of the Chilis are generally forced to admit their ability and talent at playing together, largely due to the evident chemistry and close personal friendship of the band.
Another high point of this DVD is the use of the "bullet time" technology as used in The Matrix. Particularly in By The Way
, when Anthony Kiedis is regularly shown slowing in mid-air, it is used very impressively. While it is easy to dismiss as a gimmick, it adds yet more to the performance. The setlist is also varied, incorporating material from their 3 biggest albums, as well as a cover of The Ramones's Havana Affair
, and John Frusciante singing his cover version of Maybe
. Flea's trumpet solo, which has started appearing in the set in the last year, is a reminder of the talent of the band, but also shows their musical diversity.
One of the few criticisms of the DVD, is the complete lack of material from their first 4 albums, which some fans feel is the best material they have ever produced. While not agreeing with this, it's inevitable with any band as big as the Chili Peppers that some of their great songs won't get played. For example here, the rock of Suck My Kiss
and the slow ballad I Could Have Lied
didn't get played, which are among the high points of Blood Sugar Sex Magik
. However, other tracks were played, which compensates for this. Another slight disappointment is that the song Soul To Squeeze
was left off the DVD, depsite being played, as John Frusciante broke a string on his guitar. It's a minor omission, but it would have been nice to see it on here.
With highlights of individual songs, ones I remember from the DVD, include the infamous intro to Can't Stop
, which the Chilis have taken to elongating to hold the audience in suspense. Here, even Anthony seems to hold his hand to his head in mock disbelief when John again stretches this out. Compared with the joyful nature of this song, the artistry of the band really shines through on Venice Queen
, a song about Anthony's drug counseller who had died. It's hard to explain the full wonder of this live version, but there's something genuinely beautiful about the moments when John Frusciante switches to acoustic guitar, and the initial effects-laden intro.
Again, it's obvious, given that Ireland has the most copies of By The Way
per person sold anywhere in the world, but the crowd here are on top form from beginning to end, getting really into every song, and going absolutely mad during the faster rock songs. Given the full nature of the band's back catalogue, this is no surprise, but the first time you watch this, you will probably be surprised by the improvisational skills of the band, with John's guitar solos changing in nearly every song. This is greatly assisted by the brilliant direction, and sound of the DVD, with the picture cutting between the band members and crowd at what seems like the perfect moments, and the sound being faultless.
In short, this is a very good DVD. It shows what many people percieve as a brilliant live band, at their best, in front of a fanatical audience playing many of their biggest hits. If you have not seen them yet, I can really recommend it, but in the meantime, buy this DVD. It's well worth it.
Overall rating: 4.5/5