Red Hot Chili Peppers
Bass-Flea (Mike Balzary)
Warner Records 2004
The Chilis most recent tour, promoting their Greatest Hits album, climaxed in two performances in Hyde Park (on the 19th and 20th of June I believe), a huge park in the centre of London, to audiences of around 80,000 people. This is the Red Hot Chili Peppers first live album in their career, even though they have been hailed as one of the greatest live bands ever, but will not be released in America.
The band run through plenty of the old standards, playing less and less of their old material, unfortunately, taking songs mainly from their most recent two albums, By The Way and Californication. The performances are, as always, top class with each band member on top form. Frusciante, Flea and Smith perform their trademark jams in between most songs and John's solo improvisations always keep within the tone of the song while being wildly original, often differing greatly from the original recordings. Although, Flea does not receive these opportunities, his mid-song nuances are always fun to listen for and Smith's interludes are always nice to break the action up a little.
Although Kiedis is slightly more limited in the musical respect but his energy never fails in his singing and performance. Unfortunately, the CD format does not do his or the band's performance justice as it is their visual energy that adds so much to their concerts.
Some performances obviously stand out above the rest, Scar Tissue, By The Way and Californication are good examples as they range from the high energy to the slow ballad, showing off the band's impressive range. Flea and John's collaborations before Californication are superb pieces of improvisations and they work very well together throughout, especially when they link their songs together (which doesn't come through as much this time) with jams and chord improvisations. John's backing vocals are superb throughout, most notably Otherside, Brandy and surprisingly, By The Way.
Some songs don't come off too well though, Throw Away Your Television, despite a very nice bass solo intro is marred by the dissonant vocal parts, which sound even worse live and Flea's fantastic trumpet work goes on a bit too long, and begins to get boring after the third minute, even with John 'treating' the track with some mad effects).
But mostly the songs are excellent, with particularly blistering performances of Give it Away (which would make a good finale, if it weren't slowed by John's effects twiddling at the end) and Get On Top. Kiedis is also getting much better at performing ballads like Otherside and Under The Bridge, which he looked and sounded fairly uncomfortable with on previous Concert DVDs such as "Off The Map".
Most interestingly are the covers they perform, which range from 'Transmission' being used as an intro to Right on Time (as opposed to the usual 'London Calling' by the Clash) to a crazy 'I Feel Love' by John (originally Donna Summers) and Flea, whose quick bass line contrasts perfectly to John's slow, trippy high pitched vocals. The "45 Grave" punk rock cover is too harsh though and doesn't suit the bill very well, particularly following Under The Bridge. My favourite cover though is 'Brandy', with a nice verbal intro by Kiedis, the song is beautifully Folky and Kiedis is superb on it and sounds appealingly pop-esque, with the stop start guitar and beautiful backing' vocal by John.
The new material is excellent too, Rolling Sly Stone is great, with a great guitar part by John, including a cool wah solo. But the song's odd pace let's it down a bit. Leverage Of Space features an odd 90's Savage Garden-esque guitar intro, with nice spiralling effect during the verse and nice bass interludes with sudden drum blasts for the chorus, which is very catchy, before settling back to the verses.
Overall, this album gives a great range of the Chilis ability, while not necessarily their material. While some will be disappointed by the lack of anything before BSSM, this won't affect those who find the Chilis new, more mainstream, sound appealing. There are some fantastic moments in this, Kiedis forgetting the first verse of Purple Stain and just making odd noises, 'Brandy' and the crowd singing 'We Will Rock You' as Chad bashes away centre stage. But it is marred by a slightly disappointing finale, the odd trumpet and Punk rock interludes after Under The Bridge and the pace slowing down completely on Give it Away, stretching the track to almost 13 minutes!
Otherwise, this is a great live album of a fantastic concert set and belongs in any Chilis fan's collection, whether they went or not, especially seeing as it's the Chilis first live album. Personally, though I would give this about 3/5, as I'm a pre Californication Kinda Man, but for anyone else: