If you’re going to see a band play on New Year’s Eve, especially at $150 a ticket, you should expect a little more than the norm. But for the most part, the Red Hot Chili Peppers treated their show as if it were just another stop on their I’m With You tour.
That’s not to say that they didn’t start strong, hitting the stage just after 11 p.m. and blazing through hits such as “Dani California,” “Can’t Stop,” “Otherside” and “Snow (Hey Oh).” But newer singles such as “Look Around” and “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” didn’t really resonate with the sold-out crowd, especially considering the wealth of material the Chili Peppers can draw from in a career that has spanned nearly 30 years and generated 10 studio albums.
Bassist Flea remains the driving force of the band, frolicking across the stage shirtless even at the age of 50, with his signature punk-funk virtuosity providing the pulse while drummer Chad Smith kept the groove. Frontman Anthony Kiedis, also 50, waited just a couple of songs before doffing his shirt, his distinctive rap-singing style in clear voice throughout the set. But guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined the Chili Peppers in 2009, never really asserted himself and came off as little more than a hired hand.
The 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees seemed to be gaining steam as midnight neared with the inclusion of “Me and My Friends,” from 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, the only song they played from their first four albums. But after ringing in 2013 with “Auld Lang Syne,” they failed to keep the momentum going, playing lesser-known tunes “Universally Speaking” and “Ethiopia.”
The energy took a definite upswing with the sequence of hits “Suck My Kiss,” “Under the Bridge” and “By the Way,” leading into the encore break. And it continued as the band returned for “Around the World” and “Give it Away.” But then that was it. Show over after 95 minutes. No “Californication,” “Scar Tissue,” “Higher Ground” or “Knock Me Down.” Just Flea making a plea for fans to support live music. That might’ve been OK if this were just another stop on the tour. But for such a high-profile show, the Chili Peppers didn’t provide the heat they could—and should—have. ★★★☆☆