miércoles, 21 de septiembre de 2016

Live Music: Off the Map

The nineties saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers going from hero to zero in a minute, a ride that ended with the release of Californication and the return of John Frusciante as their guitarist: events that led onto one of their best tours, the 2000’s North American Tour— later edited as a single concert in a DVD called Off the Map.

Released in 2001, Off the Map shows their renovated live power. Frusciante pierces the audience with his improvised solos, while Kiedis, surprisingly, exposes a ripe voice, new lyrics, and strong language to spice up the songs. Flea and Chad remain the main gears of the band’s groove.

The set launches with a distorted jam and a bass solo before Around the World, a raw chant that opened Californication and does the same here. Anthony’s crazier-than-ever voice meshes perfectly with the song to enliven the scenario.

Kiedis is not the only one whose voice delights. Later, Frusciante sings Untitled #3, a song from his debut album Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt. As a hater of his two first records, this is one of the few times that he has graced the audience with one of its songs.

The band also brings out its old repertoire with both Subterranean Homesick Blues and Blackeyed Blonde, two punk songs from the Hillel’s era; the latter boosted by Frusciante with a devouring wah-wah solo. Meanwhile, Flea sings Pea, a one-minute song from One Hot Minute that features the bassist as vocalist.

Not satisfied by just playing their old songs, the Chilis display their funk and blues influences. What Is Soul links together two songs, ''Mommy, What’s A Funkadelic?'' and ''What Is Soul'' from Funkadelic, and stuns the audience with a speedy solo by John and high-pitched remarks from Anthony. Fire, Jimmy Hendrix’s cover, blazes with Kiedis’s intensity and vulgarity.

Under the Bridge, audience’s favorite, seems appropriate to end the night. But, after a goodbye speech from Flea, the band bites one more time with Me and My Friends, a song from The Uplift Mofo Party that has since become a staple for their shows.  This version counts with the interference of Foo Fighters throwing spaghetti and pin pong balls to Chad Smith.

Great voice, excellent guitar and bass, precise drumming, dance moves, rude language, new solos, jumps; this concert had everything. If anything, it demonstrates the band’s once ample repertoire. Concert-goers enjoyed the now forgotten parts of RHCP’s career: the raw punk, funk, and rock that defined their early sound. As a time machine, Off the Map does a great job.

But some things remain untouched…

Set List

1. Opening
2. "Around the World"
3. "Give It Away"
4. "Usually Just A T Shirt #3"
5. "Scar Tissue"
6. "Suck My Kiss"
7. "If You Have to Ask"
8. "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
9. "Otherside"
10. "Blackeyed Blonde"
11. "Pea"
12. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"
13. "Easily"
14. "What Is Soul?"
15. (The Jam)
16. "Fire"
17. "Californication"
18. "Right On Time"
19. "Under the Bridge"
20. "Me and My Friends"

Bonus Footage

As a bonus, there is some backstage fun, interviews, and additional live songs. The first section shows random Chili Peppers shots before the concerts revealing their pre-show customs, which includes stretching, drinking ginseng infusions —though Chad prefers beer—, and chanting mantras.

Each member is interviewed for the second section; where they talk about music, life, good vibes, dogs’ sticks, and other dimensions’ John Frusciantes.  It’s interesting to note their different ways of thought. John talks about spirits and dimensions, and Kiedis speaks about decompression. Flea talks about overcoming difficulties, and Chad looks for a squirrel.  But, amidst their differences, they all show humility after their experiences, and a burning desire to make good music for other persons.

Now, let’s check the songs. Skinny Sweaty Man is another ode from Freaky Style; a short song that’s not particularly interesting.  I Could Have Lied changes to a rockier version of itself. John’s vibrato is on point and dosses it of emotion.

Parallel Universe retains its Californication feel: simple, rocky, and unpretentious. The band sticks to the album version until the last chorus, for both Kiedis and Frusciante go crazy right after it. Kiedis starts to shout like a mad man, while John is preparing its ace. After 20 seconds of buildup, John unleashes a guitar solo that, combined with Anthony’s monster sounds, destroys the scenario.

Sir Psycho Sexy, on the other hand, doesn’t get big changes. Instead, the band gives it little retouches that, together, create the same, though improved, sensual sensation. Chad goes wild in the solo, which becomes even more of an eargasm. It’s subtle but each member plays with more energy and passion than usual.

Finally, Search and Destroy closes with a tribute to the granddaddy of punk. The Chilis become his embodiment, with Frusciante releasing one of his fastest solos upon the audience. But, the cover doesn’t end where it should. Instead, it makes way to a magic jam that makes the song last for twelve minutes; John and Flea transmute note after note in this beautiful dance.

To describe Search and Destroy jam is difficult because is so emotional that to analyze its technical aspect is to lose half of its meaning. Let’s say that it just as breathtaking as this whole concert was, and still is.

Bonus Footage List

Pre-show Backstage footage
Interview footage
Additional Live footage:
               1. "Skinny Sweaty Man"
               2. "I Could Have Lied"
               3. "Parallel Universe"
               4. "Sir Psycho Sexy"
               5. "Search and Destroy"

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