Long may they grunt
Proof that former jock-rockers can slide into middle-age without resorting to outsize leisure slacks, sax solos or belly-aching pomposity, ‘By The Way’ is The Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ finest album to date – a 16 song-strong corker that finds the Californicators trading gurning puerility for achy-breaky balladry with tremendous results. Tonight, however, both sides of their coin are given a spin, with the novelty porn-funk of ‘Suck My Kiss’ offering a hi-five to the brawny AOR of ‘Don’t Forget Me’ and ‘Zephyr Song”s lopsided lament playing hopscotch with retard-rock classic ‘Give It Away’.
In other mitts, such wilful muddling of old and new would’ve suggested a smidgen of desperation. But though there may be little grace in their blue-eyed frat-funk, the Peppers have a humour, sincerity and soul that’s all but extinct in stadium rock’s vapid vaccuum. What’s more, it’s impossible not to warm to their enduring sense of the absurd. Anthony Kiedis, forty going on fourteen, pummels the air and pouts like camp gym instructor.
Flea, face like a squeezed grapefruit, violently bums his bass while John Frusciante, essentially a bale of hay squeezed into a pair of pyjamas, itches and scratches at his guitar like he’s got Jimmy Page stuffed down his jockstrap. Their modus operandi may have mellowed with age but, clearly, the Peppers remain rock pigs at heart. Long may they grunt.