Red Hot Chili Peppers mix old-school delights and surprises in Brisbane

It had been more than a decade since they came Down Under.

It’s easy to forget that most of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are already in their mid-50s: During the band’s recent showing in Brisbane, Australia, the four-member outfit proved they’ve lost none of their zeal.

The last time Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Chad Smith were Down Under was for 2007’s Stadium Arcadium tour. Earlier this week, along with relative newcomer Josh Klinghoffer, they took over the jam-packed Brisbane Entertainment Centre, accompanied by George Clinton to bring on the funk.

As the house lights drop on the second night, Flea, Smith and Klinghoffer emerge on stage and get a heavy jam going. Standing in the shadows sidestage is frontman Kiedis, who readies himself for his moment. And when the time comes, he bursts into the spotlight in a blur of energy.

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Arms flailing, the brawny vocalist grabs the mic stand and leads the band into “Around the World,” their first song for the night. The rollicking opening performance follows up with “Outside,” another Californication cut, before the group dive into fan favorite “Dani California.”

A couple songs in and it’s evident that age hasn’t wearied the Californian alt-rockers. Flea pops like a madman on bass while Smith lays down a groove that lasts the better part of two hours. Klinghoffer, although younger than the rest of his bandmates, is no greenhorn either. Having earned his stripes as a touring guitarist before joining RHCP proper, the axeman has more than filled former member John Frusciante’s shoes, serving up searing riffs.

And for Kiedis? He’s still as fit as ever. Now shirtless, the frontman confidently tears through “Dark Necessities” and “Strip My Mind.” Halfway through the set, the band defy father time with a brutal take on The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog. The group also performed a cover of Funkadelic’s “What is Soul.”

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In the final furlong, Flea confides to the audience that after the show, he’ll be settling down with “a chamomile tea to watch the True Detective final.” Until then, though, it’s maximum intensity. The setlist they’ve chosen is a bit of a mixed bag: It includes crowd favorites, a few things from the relative margins and odd surprises like “Soul to Squeeze.”

The main set closes with the title track of their 2002 studio LP, By the Way, before Smith and Klinghoffer kick off the encore with a ragged cover of “Watching the Detectives” by Elvis Costello. For a final touch of magic, Clinton reappears on stage and joins the band for “Give it Away” from RHCP’s breakthrough 1991 album, Blood Sugar Sex Magick.

Overall, the gig is a killer, but after such a long hiatus, a little more generosity with the hits would have been more than welcome.

Contributed by: Sean Sennett

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