As the lights went down on a beautiful Sunday evening in Philadelphia Feb. 12, the sold-out Wells Fargo Center filled with a crowd as diverse as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their music.
The group that started playing shows wearing only tube socks in the ’80s was mostly clothed for the duration of this show. Trombone Shorty, a different yet perfectly juxtaposing group, warmed the stage before Flea, Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer jumped straight into their ritualistic funky jam session. They then seamlessly dove into the bass-heavy hook of “Around The World.” Lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis quite literally hopped on stage sporting a supportive boot due to a torn tendon in his left foot. This put no damper on the show or his personal performance since he still danced and jumped around stage enough to sweat through his Oakland Raiders t-shirt.
The show came out of the gate hot but seemed to hit a speed bump in the middle as the setlist lacked many of their biggest hits such as “Californication,” “Dani California,” “Soul to Squeeze” and “Otherside.” However, this has been a trend throughout this world tour following their 2016 release of “Dark Necessities.”
Instead, the show was injected with a smattering of album tracks spanning their 35-year career. The lesser known “Me & My Friends” from “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” (1987) and “Hard To Concentrate” from “By The Way” (2002) were personally exciting to hear, as they are rarely played, but it seemed like most of the crowd used these songs as an opportunity to hit the restroom. The setlist catered to fans of the band with more knowledge of their deep tracks.
Flea had explored the city during the day and commented on the “many flavors of people,” recalled playing shows in small bars in the city in the ’80s, and even freestyled about Scranton, Pennsylvania. His commentary is always a passionate and intrinsic part of any live Chili Peppers performance.
Five tracks from their latest funk-laced, sonic wave exploration, produced by Danger Mouse, kept the show current. Kiedis brought his son, Everly Bear Kiedis, onstage to play bass and sing “Go Robot” off of their most recent album. The piano-assisted “Sick Love” and “The Longest Wave” stood out as the better picks from their latest release but were not as upbeat as one might expect from the record versions. Elton John’s piano contribution on the record for “Sick Love” couldn’t be matched in a stadium setting and “The Longest Wave” fell in line with the more melancholic theme of the show.
The crowd snapped back to life with the beginning chords of “Suck My Kiss.” They then finished their main set with the ever-popular “Under The Bridge” and “By The Way,” leaving the fans craving more.
Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer approached the microphone to sing his own rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday” from Boyz II Men. Flea, sans shirt, walked upside down, on his hands, across the stage back to his beloved bass — an impressive feat for a 54-year-old rocker. Chad Smith mounted his throne and performed a gut-busting drum solo before they closed with an upbeat pair of songs, “Goodbye Angels” and “Give it Away.”
The entire experience was enhanced exponentially by the use of the largest Kinetic Light Show in concert history designed by TAIT, a concert visual effects company with an office located in Lititz, Pennsylvania. More than 1,000 individually controlled LED lanterns created mesmerizing waves over the entire floor section, changing color in time with the rhythm of each song.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers continue their tour through the rest of the United States, inspiring creative minds and uniting the masses under the roofs of the world’s largest arenas.