Gig review: Red Hot Chili Peppers/Babymetal
Red Hot Chili Peppers/Babymetal ***
They may not push the boat out themselves much these days but Red Hot Chili Peppers often give good support band, and they surpassed themselves with novelty special guests Babymetal, who could only really hail from Japan, that country of cultural extremes. We no longer need to imagine what an unholy alliance of kiddie pop and thrash metal might sound like, as this trio of cute kids in goth cheerleader rigouts sang their squeaky songs in celebration of chocolate and synchronize-danced to a seriously punishing hardcore metal backing supplied by a band in kabuki masks and robes.
How could the Chili Peppers follow a curveball like that? With a jazz sax solo intro tape, to which drummer Chad Smith, bassist Flea and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer played along, huddled round the drumkit as if in rehearsal room mode, settling into a powerfully rhythmic jam, then cranking up the urgency as Klinghoffer’s riffing went punkily stratospheric.
Occasionally flashy but rarely flamboyant, these quintessential LA rockers did bring a sense of spectacle this time, courtesy of a huge hypnotic grid of floating fluorescent light tubes which rose and fell over the band and crowd as they broke into Can’t Stop, one of their tightest numbers, and provided a useful distraction during the duller numbers, of which there were several.
The group followed Flea’s instruction to “keep it loosey goosey” on the mellow flow of The Zephyr Song. They were never going to trade in punk abandon or scuzzy metal but did offer the efficient, choppy funk metal of Me & My Friends, Eighties New Wave flirtation of Go Robot and a lengthy, heady introduction to Californication, recast as a torrid desert torch song.
A discussion of their favourite Scottish music resulted in a quick blast (on trumpet) of the sax hook from Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street (which the band concluded was located on Skye) and Klinghoffer’s unexpected, cool namecheck for Edinburgh post-punks Josef K. He revealed himself to be a sensitive indie boy with his solo rendition of John Lennon’s Watching the Wheels. Coming into the home straight, their rocking, high-energy cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground packed so much spirit, it threatened to put their own efforts in the shade, but Under the Bridge grew into a dynamic, dramatic powerhouse and a meandering encore was pulled back into focus when they ripped into Give It Away.