True rockstars are a bit like exotic, endangered animals – you hear about them all the time, but you’ve never actually seen one, and you’re pretty sure you never will. Well, if that’s the case, I went on something of an exotic safari last night: Anthony Kiedis and his Chili Peppers are nothing if not rockstars. Let's also keep in mind that the man is in his 50s. Damn. I want to be that cool when I'm his age, at least I have 30 more years to get it right.
Die Antwoord's set was spine-chilling but mercifully short. Yolandi - a tiny but explosive woman burst onto stage shrieking "VOK JULLE NAAIERS". Aibo, lady, who do you think you're calling a naaier? (And if you are foreign, I'll leave you to figure out what that means with the help of Google Translate.) I hope for Flea's sake that he googled every single lyric of their's so that he knew what he was getting himself into before playing alongside them. *Shudder* The visuals on the side-screens were equally disturbing as what went on on the actual stage - I mean, Yolandi holding a heart dripping with blood was completely normal, but next thing I knew she was eating the thing, and I rolled my eyes and turned away. This duo is so damn creepy that they make Lady Gaga look like Mother Teresa.
Anyway, the terrible-twosome exit and the tangible excitement in the crowd starts sky-rocketing; increasing more and more as the sun set over Cape Town. Rumour has it that 55 000 people had packed into the sold out show, more even than Coldplay were able to pull back in 2011. Red Hot Chili Peppers are somewhat of a phenomenon, having been around for almost 30 years, the 50-odd-year-old members attract fans within an age group ranging from 60’s down to early teens. But age means nothing tonight.
RHCP power onto stage amidst hysteria from the crowd – never have I heard a stadium audience quite so loud in my life! A grinning Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer burst into ‘Monarchy of Roses’, from their most recent album I’m With You, accompanied by electrifying stage lights. Eh, man, something's wrong though... Anthony's voice seems to be shuddering, and for a minute my heart sinks so low that it settles somewhere on the field 50 meteres below me: all the rumours are true - the sound sucks from up here. 'The cri-i-i-i-m-s-o-o-o-n t-i-i-i-d-e i-i-i-i-s-s-s-s..." Oh dear. But I barely have time to panic when suddenly everything's perfect again. Whether it was some deliberate, strange sound effect or a genuine mistake that was fixed in less than 30 seconds, the sound never wavered again. OK, So I'd recovered, and began singing along shamelessly... one of the things that brought my Kings of Leon experience down a teeny bit was the unenthusiasm of the people around me, but last night I didn't give a damn. The only thing that mattered were the people on that stage.
Wasting no time, the band went straight into ‘Dani California’, much to the disappointment of the fans who’d been hoping to hear ‘Scar Tissue’ – it’s well known that the two songs very rarely appear on the same setlist. Oh, but we were in for a treat when - lo and behold – ‘Scar Tissue’ made it’s appearance as the third song of the setlist. Yes! Alright, Peppers, you can leave now, that's three of my 6 favourite songs right off the bat, I've gone my money's worth, Anthony, you can go back to California now.
Now, it’s one thing to see a live band who – great though they may be – rattles off the CD versions of their songs, and then departs the stage. This was something different altogether. Seemingly impromptu jam sessions on the stage, Klinghoffer and Flea nearly falling to the floor of the stage whilst playing their instruments, and Flea’s handstand-walk back onto the stage for the encore, along with Kiedis’ flawless vocals all teamed up to make this a concert of a lifetime. Also, Kiedis wore his shirt for, oh, I dunno, maybe a full three minutes discarding his shirt mere minutes into the show (Flea neglecting to wear a shirt at all).
And the setlist just kept bringing the hits: ‘Snow ((Hey Oh))’, was one of the most well received songs of the night, no one caring whether the ‘snow’ in this context was a reference to the cold white stuff that falls from the sky, or the powdery white stuff some rockstars like to sniff before shows…
“The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” followed the funky ‘She’s Only 18’, and the soft beginning ‘Under the Bridge’ was definitely a highlight. Oh and one of my very favourites made an appearance - 'Universally Speaking', which is somehow always overlooked.
Everyone’s favourite Chili Peppers song, ‘Californication’ and ‘By The Way’ ended off the main part of the show, with the lyrics “Standing in line to see the show tonight, and there’s a light on” in the latter song highly appropriate to all of us! Expecting only a two song encore, I was pleasantly surprised when a very excitable Chad Smith led us in a few minutes of ‘Ole’ before being joined by the rest of the band for four more RHCP songs, finally closing the show for good with ‘Give It Away’. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a surprise encore of 'The Zephyr Song', which hasn't been played since 2005. But we're not that lucky, so stop being so fussy, Cape Town!
It was a no-frills, no fireworks and minimal crowd interaction show, but who needs bells and whistles when you’re RHCP? They don’t need meat dresses or pyrotechnics or 360 degree stages – all they need is pure rock and roll.
And somehow everything seemed to go off without any major glitches in organization – even traffic was bearable, but perhaps that was simply because we were all on such a high. 55000 people went to sleep dreaming of Californication, whatever that may mean to you.