34 years, 44 singles, and 11 studio albums later-- The Red Hot Chili Peppers are still a dominating force in music as evident in their sold out dates and fervent fans who travel the world for a glimpse of the magic. This magic has transcended generations of music lovers worldwide. On February 18th, Madison Square Garden was filled to the brim with thousands of people eager for music but it was also filled with excitement, cheer, nostalgia and energy which morphed into it's own lifeform.
Original drummer Jack Irons took the stage first, delving into an interesting experimental set of psychedelic beats set over his incredibly technical drumming. The cinematic accompaniment on-screen was the most interesting, with various photos and videos morphing into one another and changing color along with synchronized lights shining into the crowd.
Trombone Shorty took the stage afterward and began with the impressive instrumental track "Slippery Lips". What followed was a barrage of infectious jazz tunes backed by such a technically gifted band. Despite being the name and face of the group, Trombone Shorty relies heavily on his bandmates which made for a beautifully positive atmosphere that got everyone in the Garden up and dancing. The crowd erupted in applause as the band transitioned into instrumental covers of Green Day's 1995 hit "Brainstew/Jaded" and Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade". Their departure triggered a standing ovation from the audience which proved it was a fine choice made by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to have the 31 year old open up for them.
As the minutes passed, the buzz amongst the crowd became deafening until Chad Smith arrived on stage, followed by Flea and Josh Klinghoffer. The trio erupted into an intense jam session, with Flea and Josh's onstage chemistry reminiscent of John Frusciante's time in the band. Anthony Kiedis soon followed, and Flea slowly built the band up to their 2002 hit "Can't Stop". At 54, Kiedis sounded better than ever and armed with the energy of a cheetah. His voice sounded rich accompanied by his bandmates, whose energy also illuminated the stage. Video footage of the band flashed on-screen in time with the music, and a digital chandelier overlooked the floor with colors flashing. During Californication it turned into a bright orange and blue, reminiscent of their hit 1999 album of the same name.
The 17 song set clocked in at almost 2 hours long, provided very little deviation from the previous 2 nights at The Garden, except for the rarely played Don't Forget Me from their 2003 album By the Way. There were also no songs played from their previous release I'm With You. Of Course it was filled with hits such as "Dani California", "Under the Bridge", and "Scar Tissue". Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer surprised the crowd with a gorgeous rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy In New York" as an ode to the bustling city before moving into The Getaway's "Goodbye Angels".The band closed out the only way they knew how with an energetic five minute performance of their iconic 90s hit "Give It Away".The band exited the stage one by one, with drummer Chad Smith lingering behind to express his gratitude for being able to sell out one of the largest venues in the country. The venue pulsated with love and life as the lights came on and the seats went up.
Despite what some may say, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still able to retain the magic and energy that have captivated audience for over three decades, and they aren't even halfway done with their tour.
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