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Concert Reviews:
Chili Peppers Play Red Hot Show At Palace

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Saturday, November 4, 2006

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AUBURN HILLS -- It might come as a surprise to the younger end of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' fan base, so prevalent at the group's sold-out show Friday night at the Palace, that their heroes were once a dubious concert ensemble.

Back in The Day, the Chili Peppers' were all about loose-limbed funk, improvisation and cheerfully unapologetic tomfoolery -- in other words, a far cry from the polished arena rock display the quartet put on at the Palace. One is not necessarily better than the other, but the Chili Peppers wear their current guise well, pleasing the 16,000-plus masses while still playing with a sense of abandon and daring.

Over the course of an hour and 50 minutes Friday night, the Chili Peppers showed that their essential music-making spirit remains intact but has matured -- even from their last stop in town four years ago. On-point vamps replaced superfluous jamming, allowing guitarist John Frusciante, hyper-kinetic bassist Flea and Detroit-born drummer Chad Smith plenty of room to still flash their chops without derailing the concert's flow.

And frontman Anthony Keidis, a Grand Rapids native, trimmed his movement considerably, clearly saving his wind for the more melodically demanding songs from the band's most recent albums, including this year's two-CD set "Stadium Arcadium."

The Chili Peppers pulled six tracks from that release, including the hits "Dani California," "Tell Me Baby" and "Snow ((Hey Oh))" -- but surprisingly not "Especially in Michigan," a song that certainly would have been suited for the Palace crowd, which was bathed in lights from a levelour-styled rig that stretched well out above the seats into the arena. "Readymade" offered a slice of leaden hard rock, while "Charlie" was all frenetic funk accented by a conga tattoo by Marcel Rodriguez of the Mars Volta, which opened the show.

The Chili Peppers eschewed its catalog from before Smith and Frusciante joined in 1989, going back only as far as their hit cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" and drawing liberally from the breakthrough 1991 album "bloodsugarsexmagic," including the title track and encore versions of the hits "Under the Bridge" and "Give it Away." The group mixed other favorites -- "Can't Stop," "Scar Tissue," "Californication," "By the Way" -- with a few surprises such as "Havana Affair," which appeared on the "Live at Slane Castle" DVD and more obscure selections such as "Throw Away Your Television" and "Me and My Friends."

The instrumentalists did find time to noodle in between songs and finished the show with a bit of free form indulgence. The bulk of the Palace crowd stayed for that, too, however, a mark of just how much the unexpected is still expected -- and appreciated -- from the Chili Peppers.

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