RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Oslo – Telenor Arena
For the fans of the Los Angeles based funk/alternative rockers in RHCP, 2016 was a rather intense one so far due the continuous postponed release of "The Getaway" album, the surprises that it delivered (Elton john seems to appear on the album, the band has picked a new producer, one of the songs has leaked) and the long awaited tour. The summer has seen the band performing at a number of festivals in US and Europe and now they have started their European tour which seems to end only in December and has a good deal of sold out shows. So I am really glad to have gotten the chance to attend the event, despite the annoyance of getting all the way to the Telenor arena in Oslo. It is somehow inconvenient to get there together with all the other 20 thousands (give or take) of attendees, even if extra buses are being set to bring people there and back. There never seems to be enough place, especially at peak hours, and I’ve seen a lot of people just having to wait for the next and then next and then next bus because they are all packed.
And once there you’d better make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important at home since it would take a while to the first shop and that not having a too wide variety of items. The arena itself is probably the biggest in Norway for indoor music and sport events. So I guess that explains why there’s no real other choice in Oslo from such big concerts, so we take what we are offered. This year, the offer included the sales of fully charged powerbanks that you could exchange for free at the bar for another fully charged powerbank. You could also avoid queues by preordering your drinks via an app, although at times the queues for the prepaid orders seemed bigger than the regular ones. But all in all it is good to see that the technology is being put to good use.
For opening band we were treated with the Deap Valley duo, whom I checked a bit on Google and found out that the two women, Julie Edwards (drums) and Lindsey Troy (singing guitarist) are into knittery and crocheting. The sentence "They rock, they knit." got stuck in my head. They do rock in a kind of 80s style, with their striking colorful clothes with standout prints, ‘old fashioned’ haircuts, and many other details that will easily remind you of many glam rock bands of the 80s.
Their upcoming second album "Femejism" is due for release on September 16th, as we are reminded during the show. They try engaging the not so big mass of people gathered at Telenor arena early and it is hard to tell if it worked. I was too far from the stage but I did notice some cheers and applauses. I am not so sold to he music overall and the loud sound in an less than half full arena doesn’t help at all. I had to go out cause it got really unpleasant.
A break, a lot of chattering and then the RHCP guys take over the stage. A simple stage at the first look, barely any props on it. Some big screens seem to hang in the background and the do indeed descent during the show and then it turns out that the minimalistic stage design gets well compensated by plenty of effects during each song. Sometime the image is clear, sometime it is cartoonized, sometimes it is embedded in some huge frames, sometimes it runs from screen to screen. It was amazing to realize the amount of cameras placed on stage, once you noticed that a lot of the angles couldn’t have come from hand held cameras.
I did enjoy the visuals altogether and have to send kudos to the brain(s) who designed them. But the biggest win was for the floating lamps that would go down from the roof panels set high above the stage. They’d descend in patterns, change colors, go slow or fast up and down, making waves or rain drops or other patterns. Really great design and I was actually happy to have had a seated place from which you could grasp all of these visuals.
We know the concert is about to start (20 mins later than announced)as a jazzy guitar sound starts in the background, lights turn off and then slowly each of the guys takes the instrument and starts adding the the jam. I must say that this concert felt like having more jam sessions than songs themselves. Or instrument solos and jams combined, as there was one at the end or beginning of each song. But as some of the material was unfamiliar, it might as well have been just part of the song. Which felt like a small jamming session.
Bassist Flea seems to have been bathed in a rainbow before entering the stage and took with him the summer shorts of singer Anthony Kiedis. The drummer picked only the red color, while the rest of the clothing was not as striking, colorwise. But it all fit with the forementioned effects so nothing to complain here. You can wear pretty much what you desire when you spend most of the show jumping on every louder snare beat and running from one end of the stage to another. From the point of view of the energy on stage I was quite impressed. I do not know how young they are, but they have left the 20s way behind, yet they don’t act like it. Respect!
Altogether they do well at offering a retrospective of their career, mixing songs from recent albums with classic ones (Californication, Scar Tissue, By the Way…) that of course, get the loudest cheers. But since the setlist is nicely balanced it quickly brings me to a familiar tune after I wonder what have I just heard. There’s a rather visible line between the hits from ‘my youth’ (songs up to Californication or even By The Way) era and what came afterwards. I personally didn’t keep track with the evolution and it felt like on most of the unknown songs the band was joined on the stage by two new members (one of which had a very striking green tshirt. I know, I paid too much attention to colors during this show). The two extras would seem to be handling some synths and edrums. Any of the extra sounds coming out of the speakers, sounds that I didn’t really find like something I’d be missing in their music, but if that’s the direction they chose for the songs, fine by me. Overall, the biggest moment was the chorus of Under the Bridge, which brought me to tears and had all my hair rising up. It was beyond beautiful. Who would have thought I’d hear live a song that was so loved 20 years ago?
For most of the Norwegians, the highlight must have been when Flea held talked for a while longer praising the recent speech of the Norwegian king and saying how touched he was by it. If I wrote down correctly, he called the King a beautiful MF. It’s probably when the crowd was at its loudest. I also found it very sweet when guitarist Josh Klinghoffer sang a small part of Mr Big’s ‘Wild World’ as a reply to some comments from Kiedis. He did sand very pleasant and I believe he did a good job as backing vocals as well. When he wouldn’t headbang like crazy or do guitar solos on the floor.
I enjoyed the show. I can’t say til the last minute, since I cheated in order to skip the massive bus queues and left before the encore which seemed to have been Give It Away. Would have been cool to hear it live, but after so many hours on various roads I had other priorities. While this was not the show of a lifetime, the music was delivered with really good and positive energy, great visuals and there’s not much doubts about the skills that made Flea or Chad Smith famous. The bass and drums parts were tight and groovy and very pleasant to the ear – I wouldn’t have minded more of these kind of duos. And I think the voice worked wonderful the whole evening, even if I was remembering some parts to be more melodic than they were actually performed. Glad to have had witnessed it.