Red Hot Chili Peppers are a band that people love to hate, but when you’ve been through everything these guys have – death, drug addiction, nervous breakdowns, and a list of ex-members as long as your arm – a little snark certainly isn’t going to worry you. Two or three decades ago, they would have been the last band you’d expect to be living out their middle-age as elder statesmen, but the Chilis are among rock n’ roll’s most durable survivors, a fact that’s not lost on bassist Flea tonight: “I’ve been going on tour for my whole adult life,” he tells the T In The Park crowd. “We’ve been coming to Scotland for 30 years now, and to have the opportunity and the privilege to travel to the other side of the world and play in rainy Scotland is the greatest treat I could ever imagine. I will never, ever take that for granted.”
The feeling is mutual. Opening with ‘Can’t Stop’, the Californian funk-rockers receive a warm welcome from a festival they last headlined in 2006, and fan favourites like ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’ and ‘Scar Tissue’ ensure that this set starts off on the front foot. Despite frontman Anthony Keidis’ recent health issues he’s in fine fettle tonight – and despite being 53 years old, it’s oddly reassuring to see that he still dresses like a teenaged skate-bum, sporting black leggings under a pair of garish day-glo shorts that probably cost more than a weekend camping ticket, but which nevertheless look like he’s been painting houses in them.
There are moments that test the patience – the funk-metal jam that opens the set is the very definition of ‘extraneous’, while the frantic ‘If You Have To Ask’ is a tiresome (if technically impressive) exercise in slap-bass self-gratification. There are also a couple of notable omissions – neglecting to play ‘Dani California’ might be an oversight, but ditching ‘Californication’ from the setlist is unforgivable, even if ‘Otherisde’ and ‘Universally Speaking’ soften the blow.
In the end, however, the likes of ‘By The Way’ and the closing ‘Give It Away’ are enough to round the weekend off in style. And how fitting, for a band who’ve spent much of their career flirting with disaster, that the night’s defining image is the lone reveller who risks life and limb by scaling the 60ft PA rigging, flag in hand, just to get a better view of ‘Under The Bridge’.