Photos by Chris Besaw
Review by Kelly Besaw
The Red Hot Chili Peppers made a stop at the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, NY on Friday April 14. The band who has not played Syracuse in over thirty years brought along with them indie pop star King Princess and The Strokes in support. The Chili Peppers are on tour in support of their most recent release, Unlimited Love.
King Princess kicked off the evening with a 30-minute set that the growing crowd at the Dome seemed to enjoy. King Princess, whose real name is Mikaela Mullaney Straus, has a beautiful voice and as a friend pointed out is the great, great granddaughter of the founder of Macy’s Department Store. I personally enjoyed her set, particularly “Too Bad” and “1950.” I hope to catch her again if she comes back to the area.
Up next were the Strokes. When the lights dimmed indicating that the band was about to take the stage, a massive following of eager fans rushed to their seats to catch the set. The Grammy winning artists played several fan favorites including “Bad Decisions,” “Last Night,” and “Someday.” Lead singer Julian Casablancas donned in dark sunglasses and all black clothing stayed in the shadows of the blue lit smokey stage and pretty much stood in the same spot throughout the set. I confess that I do not really get it. To me, the set was lackluster and all the songs sound essentially the same. Based on the positive response that they received, I must be missing something.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage in a rather unique manner. Flea (bass) performed a walking handstand across the stage in a purple skirt giving us all a peak at his underwear. Chad Smith (drums) and John Frusciante (guitar) joined Flea as they played an “Into Jam” to get the crowd amped up. Anthony Kiedis, who was wearing a walking boot and compression sleeve on his right knee ran out onto the stage to join the band and playfully chased Flea around in circles showing the Syracuse fans that he was not going to let his injury slow him down.
The RHCP started strong with “Can’t Stop” and “Scar Tissue” followed by the fun sing a long “Snow (Hey Oh).” I am going to date myself by saying a better part of my last few years of high school and many college days were spent listening to Blood Sugar Sex Magik on repeat. I was worried that would make me biased when reviewing the Chili Peppers, but they are such amazing performers that I am happy to say that no bias is needed. Some would complain that they “played too many of their new songs” but I thought it was fine. Afterall, they are on tour for the NEW album. I thought they did a decent job of mixing in some of the old favorites, “Suck My Kiss,” “Soul to Squeeze” and “Californication” while showcasing some of the new songs. I particularly enjoyed hearing “Black Summer” from Unlimited Love live.
The Dome is notorious for poor sound quality for concerts. I thought the Chili Pepper’s sound engineers did an impressive job mitigating the echo and feedback that is common for the venue. It seemed that by the third of fourth song, the sound quality had improved substantially. Maybe they can pass along their notes so that future sound techs can continue to build upon their excellent work.
After a little bit of a lull toward the end of their main set, the Chili Peppers concluded with “By the Way” before taking a short break. They returned to the stage and started the encore with a rather unusual and downbeat choice, “I Could Have Lied.” For everyone who was disappointed that they did not play “Under the Bridge,” according to setlist.fm, it was on the original setlist and “I Could Have Lied” was played instead… interesting. They did end the night on a high note with the upbeat hit “Give It Away.” I still cannot figure out how Kiedis rolls his tongue like that while singing. Pretty amazing!
It was actually my first time seeing the RHCP live, and I thought they were fantastic. I have a hard time believing that most of them are in their sixties and I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what deal John Frusciante made and with whom to still look the same as he did twenty-five years ago. They are all in great shape. If you get a chance to catch them on this tour, do not miss out.
Snow (Hey Oh)
Here Ever After
Suck My Kiss
Tippa My Tongue
Soul to Squeeze
Nobody Weird Like Me
Don’t Forget Me
Carry Me Home
What is Soul (Funkadelic cover)
By the Way
I Could Have Lied
Give It Away
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