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Red Hot Chili Peppers

Concert Review:
Red Hot Chili Peppers at Hard Rock Stadium

Review and Photos by Brad Stevens / SFL Music Magazine CONTRIBUTOR

The Red Hot Chili Peppers brought their 2022 Global Stadium Tour to sold out Hard Rock Stadium Tuesday night in support of their 12th studio album, the Rick Ruben produced Unlimited Love. The massive 32-date world tour marks the eagerly anticipated return of longtime guitarist, John Frusciante to the band, as well as the band’s first ever headline US stadium tour. It’s the Chili Peppers first album with Frusciante since Stadium Arcadium, nearly 16 years ago. RHCP have featured different openers on their massive tour, including Beck, A$AP Rocky, St. Vincent, HAIM, and my favorite, King Princess. For Miami, it was six-string bass guitar virtuoso, Thundercat, and The Strokes.

Beginning early at 6:30 PM, Thundercat took the stage as a trio with keyboardist Dennis Hamm and drummer Justin Brown. Unfortunately, fans were still navigating typical Miami rush hour traffic, finding parking and making their way through the stadium turnstiles. Consequently, precious few concertgoers were able to enjoy Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, dazzle with his delightfully weird and adventurous take on R&B, jazz and funk. It’s his distinct sound and personality to bass playing that has allowed him to play with everyone from punk rock luminaries Suicidal Tendencies to Snoop Dogg. In fact, during a brief moment between Chili Peppers songs, Anthony Kiedis gave a special shoutout to Thundercat with a righteous proclamation. “Thundercat is a bad, bad wonderful man!“ The way Kiedis said it with such revering cadence, like kindred spirits giving total recognition from one master to another, is a testament to how valued and respected this six-string bass guitar virtuoso & record producer is to your favorite Los Angeles funk rock titans.

With the sun setting on a sparsely filled stadium, early-aughts NYC icons, The Strokes, followed up with a quick, ten song career-spanning set. Accompanied by a flashy light show, the quintet successfully warmed up the crowd, showcasing their cohesiveness & style with several hits like “Last Nite,” “Hard to Explain,” and “Someday.” The opener managed to sound as dynamic as they were once upon a time, close to two decades ago and their performance concluded with a spirited rendition of indie all-timer “Reptilia.”

Everywhere I looked, there were fans of all ages and ethnicities sporting the iconic Red Hot Chili Peppers logo. You could feel the hopeful, joyful energy and the relief & excitement of those who survived 2020 and were ready to ROCK! And then it happened! The South Florida crowd roared with frenzied energy when the intro started and the Red Hot Chili Peppers emerged just before 9 pm. John Frusciante, dressed like a skater kid on the first day of school, was a welcoming sight for diehard fans of the group, as he began jamming a squealing, epic solo. Michael Balzary, better known as Flea, the world’s most infamous bassist, bunny hopped out on stage dancing wildly, bare-chested and sporting multicolor fluorescent pink hair with an action green spot on the side. Drummer Chad Smith, the band’s backbone and Will Ferrell impersonator, walked out wearing his trademark backward hat as he sat down to his monster drum kit and built a driving groove. Finally, the group’s longtime frontman and mustachioed gentleman, Anthony Kiedis, joined the jam session which led into their opening song “Around The World”.

The diverse crowd shows the magnitude of this band and how far their music reaches. Chilli Peppers united us all across time and space, transcending musical preference. Even as the band members enter their sixties, they’ve never seemed closer or to have played tighter. Remarkably, that’s how this funk-rock band still operates. Playing like they were just now bursting onto the scene, with a level of tenacity and controlled chaos that you almost never see at stadium shows this massive. As the show unfolded, one was easily swept up in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ epic stage presentation, while the gigantic video screens with lava-like effects streamed across the screen and flashed mind-bending light displays of the musicians morphing into psychedelic visual aids. All the while, an ageless, bass-slapping Flea, owned the stage, jumping, gyrating and kicking to the funky beats. Kiedis was animated and true to form as he bounced around the stage while Frusicante’s indelible slinky, sexy, funky guitar tones & solos shined throughout their setlist of hits from their entire career as well as new music from their upcoming albums.

“The energy of Hillel Slovak has never truly faded and is always with them,” says Kiedis.

Not resting on past accolades, awards or commercial success, RHCP are one of the most iconic bands of all time. They’ve won six Grammy Awards, been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and celebrated their new record by entering Hollywood history with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s an incredible honor for kids who grew up in Hollywood to be enshrined on the very streets they used to stalk as teenage punks. Funk rock masters, they’ve created a sound that is like no other and the unrelenting energy of their music mixed with a penchant for catchy hooks has been a potent formula for crafting copius amounts of hits that has kept them relevant and thriving since the 80’s. This band, the first to make the common ordinary sock a central piece of their fashion wardrobe playing nude with socks on their penises, has built a community of connection and love, still here 39 years later. Through thick and thin, breakups and reformations, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have stood the test of time as a cornerstone of rock ‘n’ roll, decades since their self-titled debut album, they leave no excuses about age or fatigue. A well seasoned badass group of guys in their autumn years who have now become masters of their craft. “Tell Me Baby” mesmerized as it got heads bobbing and the entire stadium singing like at a Sunday sermon. Their encore concluded with “By the Way”. It was rapturously received as it was super tight, but some were remiss that there was no “Scar Tissue,” “Under the Bridge,” “Can’t Stop” or whatever else. If you love live music, the energy and dopamine that comes with it, then you loved the phenomenal musicianship and relentless energy that they served up. Their style was impetuous, their chemistry impregnable, and their melody just ferocious.

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