A friend of mine disputes the fact that Red Hot Chili Peppers are a big band because, as he likes to say, no-one can name more than six of their songs.
Obviously fans can but I’ve tried it out on regular people (ie not massive Chili Peppers fans) and he’s right. They can never name six. Most struggle with four.
He’s wrong though about the big band thing. They are huge.
Gill and I were lucky enough to be given a couple of tickets for their show at Emirates Old Trafford and the place was teeming with 40,000 people who clearly knew pretty much every song in the set and were word perfect when joining in.
It was a glorious evening, too, and before they came out there was time to bask in the sun and chill to some extended Santana-esque jams on the PA.
They chose to open with an instrumental cover of Joy Division’s Shadowplay, making it the second time in two weeks we’d seen an American headliner incorporate it into their set after The Killers performed it in the same venue.
And the gig was one of those that you could have enjoyed no matter how long they stayed on for. To go all muso for a moment, the quality of the playing was staggering and it’s not something I would usually comment on, but bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith and particularly guitarist John Frusciante were something to behold in full flight.
It was, by turns, funky, experimental, slick, jagged and soulful and didn’t lean on several of their heavyweight tunes to prop up the set. Yes there was Californication and Give It Away but equally Under the Bridge and The Zephyr Song were absent.
Third time seeing them for both of us and the first time outside a festival. I wouldn’t be surprised if we make it four next time they come around.