The fact that the Chilis were only here to try and shift copies of their new album ‘I’m With You’ was as transparent as the Perspex drum kit Chad Smith was playing. But try telling that to the 500 lucky punters who won a pair of tickets from BBC Radio 1 to this intimate gig. The tickets were so exclusive, even the swarm of touts outside couldn’t get their hands on any.
Following a warm-up DJ set by Kiwi music nut Zane Lowe, the band entered stage left and launched straight in to Monarchy of Roses, which is incidentally the new album’s opening track. The majority of the crowd may not have known the words, but the Duracell bunny-esque energy that Anthony Kiedis and co brought made that incidental.
The band ripped through the next few songs with both Kiedis taking the opportunity to show off bodies that men half their age would be proud of. Despite they have not toured for a few years, the sound was tight. So tight in fact that the chap stood at the rear of the stage with the MacBook could well have been playing the tracks from his iTunes. But what would you expect that from a band that in various line-ups have been together for 28 years?
Crowd favourites speckled their set, with particular audience appreciation for Californication. As the riff started, a blanket of phone screens lit up the sea of arms below them and those playing witness had something to look back on.
Leaving the stage at the end of By the Way only to return for an encore, the band finished on ‘oldie-but-goodie’ Give it Away… and that was it. Seemingly, almost as soon as it was started, the funksters were off leaving those making their way out in to the warm Camden air feeling they had witnessed something pretty special.
By Andy Thornley
An interview and highlights from the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Koko gig will be broadcast on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on Monday 12 September 2011 from 7pm.
View more photos from the gig by Gordon C Burns.