Watching a rock concert from a seat in a Mesa movie theater is a strange experience.
People in the theater clapped after every song as if they were really there, but nobody cheered or hooted or got rowdy and had fun like people were doing at the actual concert.
Fans at the E-Werk in Cologne, Germany were blessed to have seen this show in person, but watching it in a movie theater as a live broadcast (with a few hours' delay) was still pretty fantastic.
Throughout the show, RHCP passionately showed that they're very proud of and excited about I'm With You. Flea regularly got down on his bass like he was making sweet love to his four-string girlfriend. Frontman Anthony Kiedis sang every note beautifully. Chad Smith rocked the shit out of his drums. Josh Klinghoffer, the band's new guitarist (who looks like he could be Quentin Tarantino's son) proved to be a worthy guitarist for RHCP, even though his idea of how rock stars move on stage is still pretty awkward.
Flea's body language speaks a thousand words. It's hard to take your eyes off him even for a second because you might miss something amusing or funny. Whether it's the goofy faces he makes or the way he throws his whole body into playing the music, there's always something to watch. RHCP: Live From the E-Werk might as well have been called The Flea Show: Live From the E-Werk.
Their live sound was good as ever, though not ever new song quite works.
"Ethiopia's" tempo is awkward tempo and hard to follow. On the other hand, "Look Around" made the crowd in Cologne go nuts for a taste of that rap-rocking that frontman Anthony Kiedis does so well. "Did I Let You Know" had some of the better lyrics of the new bunch of songs, plus it featured a trumpet break by Mike Bolger, which is new territory for RHCP. Another positive note was that almost every new song had an awesome bass-driven intro.
"Police Station" is their token "pretty track" on the album. "Meet Me at the Corner" is a bluesy ballad during which Kiedis bears his soul and tells a girl he messed up and he's bummed that his relationship is probably over. He can't bear it. Klinghoffer sang the hook on "Meet Me At the Corner," which taught everyone a lesson: if you're in a band with Anthony Kiedis, leave the singing to Anthony Kiedis.
Flea was quite a talker in between songs. Before unveiling another new song, Flea introduced it by saying, "On this song...well, uh...it's a surprise."
A few technical difficulties came up during the show. At one point, Flea's wrist got so cramped up that he needed to rest it, but at least Chad Smith treated concertgoers to a tribal drum break while Flea recovered for a minute. "I got a little cramp," Flea said. "Flea is menstruating," Kiedis remarked." "I have my period," Flea jokingly confirmed.
After that, Flea did an untraditional bit where he played a classical tune on the piano to warm up for "Happiness Loves Company," on which he sits in on the keys. Near the end of the show, Flea said that something apparently didn't get transmitted properly for the movie theater broadcasting so they were going to play "Did I Let You Know" a second time for the fans in theaters. Regardless, fans at the show in Germany and those in theaters got twice the treats, considering it might have sounded even better the second time around. In addition to their 1987 track "Me and My Friends" midway through the show, RHCP closed out the show with fan favorite "Give It Away," and all was right in the world.
All in all, the new album is a pretty successful effort from the Chili Peppers. Longtime fans might not like it right away, but after a few listens it definitely grows on you. If fans can be patient and open-minded and give it a chance, they'll be very pleased with at least most of I'm With You.
Last night: Red Hot Chili Peppers: Live from the E-Werk (Cologne, Germany)
Personal bias: I've been a fan of RHCP for about eight years. I've been dying to see this band for years, and this movie theater experience was as close as I'll get for a while.
The crowd: I sat in a theater with no more than 30 people, most of whom sat with their arms crossed the whole time, to my surprise. They ranged in age from about 18 to 35, and I was one of probably three girls in the theater.
Random notebook dump: "Dance, Dance, Dance" made me want to flail my arms, whip my hair and jump up and down in the aisle. Is that still impolite to do in a movie theater even though we're all technically at a concert together?
Check out the performance of their new song "Did I Let You Know" from last night's show.