Knebworth, Saturday 23 June 2012
"It was a dark and stormy night!" shouts Anthony Kiedis at the start of the awesome funk-rock experence that is the Red Hot Chili Peppers show at Knebworth, Stevenage (an epic walk to and from the venue - hardcore fans only need attend. But I digress...).
Despite the almost constant light rain, more than 60,000 people have turned up to see the Chilis, now nearing their three decade anniversary in 2013. Warming up the stage is Dizzee Rascal, although from where my gig buddy and I are standing in the crowd, people are way more interested in having a hilarious dance-off to 'Bonkers' - the thumping bass getting the night started. Luckily for the vertically challenged, the venue is a weirdly shaped natural amphitheatre, one of the few rock gig venues where everyone gets a decent shot of seeing the band for most, if not all, of the set. If you're one of the many lucky kids whose parents took them to the show, sitting on shoulders works too.
Red Hot Chili Peppers arrive on stage in pretty good time. Opener 'Monarchy of Roses' from new album I'm With You blasts through the speakers and sets the mood for what is a beautifully breezy, tight set with lots of solo jams by Flea and John Frusciante's replacement/new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, whose playing is that of a man possesed, truly epic and heartfelt. In fact, he's just incredible, something I don't think the crowd was expecting. Shouts of "We love you, Josh" are chanted frequently.
As the sun starts to set, the brooding riff of one of my favourite ever songs, 'Under the Bridge' echoes out, and I'm barely able to contain my shock and appreciation. Josh is on his knees and Anthony Kiedis' voice sounds as desperate and pleading as ever. The crowd sings every word. Almost head-to-head, Flea and Josh begin the slow build-up jam to 'Californication'. A further highlight comes with 'By the Way', followed by a mental encore jam of 'Sir Psycho Sexy'. Flea walks across the stage on his hands in preparation. Then comes the craziets, funkiest version of 'Give it Away' ever, closing the show. By this point the crowd are definitely giving it away and in the words of Kiedis there's only one thing left to say - "HIT ME!!"