What a difference a year makes. Or rather, seven months.
Indeed, last November, the Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to Ireland on the back of a disappointingly dull album (I'm With You). But they killed it. A late contender for gig of the year, even. It might have helped that they played to a full house in the O2, and that, when it really comes down to it, 90 minutes of funk-rock shenanigans always sounds better indoors. And at night.
That's the thing about stadium shows -- it's usually bright out during kick-off. And you can't just bring the same arena-tested shindig into Croke Park and hope that nobody will be able to tell the difference. People will notice. It's as obvious as the thousands of empty seats. Alas, the Chili Peppers appear to be struggling, and it's out in the open that you can see why.
It's a scrappy set -- one that begins with a dismal performance of Monarchy of Roses (the first of many awful tunes from the new record). Anthony Kiedis (porn star tache still intact), Chad Smith (still wearing jumpsuits), newbie Josh Klinghoffer (still finding his feet), and Flea (still bonkers) find a more suitable groove when reconnecting with the hits. But not always.
A dire rendition of Californication only proves that, despite boasting a trio of professional and, at times, exceptional players, this band has an awful habit of sounding ... messy. And a little amateur. You can have all the fancy screens money can buy, but if you bring an audience into a stadium, you need to make them feel as though they're experiencing something bigger than the world's flashiest band practice.
Lead singer Kiedis might have benefited from a runway, but tonight, he's not the frontman. That's Flea's job. The hyper bassist comes fully equipped with a 'power to the people' speech and everything. It's not a terrible show. Higher Ground remains a storming cover, By The Way delivers, and Give It Away makes for a chaotic closing number. Overall, though, it feels like a missed opportunity. Maybe I got carried away the last time. Perhaps they forgot to bring their game. Either way, this should have been better. HHHII