Red Hot Chili Peppers / James Brown / Stellastarr*
London Hyde Park, 25.6.04
At near enough 50 quid a ticket, it's hardly surprising that the organisers of the Chili's UK stadium tour take it as an opportunity to squeeze as much cash as is humanly possible from their adoring fans, which let's face it is pretty much everyone nowadays. Not only are the prices of food and drink extortionate, but unless you have a special 'Gold ticket' (a further £20 extra) you're restricted to being about 150 metres back from the stage. The show better be worth the admission price
Stellastarr* are not the best-chosen RHCP support band. There's nothing wrong with them at all, it's just that when the majority of the crowd consists of hoodied-preteens and middle-aged couples, a leftfield Cure/Smiths-influenced guitar group probably isn't best suited, hence the muted reception. Jenny and My Coco are still fantastic songs, it's just a shame they're not really appreciated.
James Brown bounds about the stage with such energy that defies the fact that he's entered his seventh decade, mainly singing songs about feeling good and 'making it funky'. Surrounded by a vast entourage consisting of backing band, scantily-clad dancers, hyperactive backing singers and his own personal compere; the 'Godfather of Soul' belts out an array of hits, as well as a cover of Aretha Franklin's Respect. Catch him live whilst you still can.
The Chilis emerge onstage around 8.30, and guess what, launch into one of the self-indulgent funk jams that seem to plague their live shows. Initial criticisms out of the way, the opening salvo of Can't Stop, Scar Tissue, and Around The World is one of the most perfect ways to open such a high-profile open air show, but after that the standard slips, and the band never really recover. There are hardly any album tracks, the Californian funksters instead relying on their back catalogue of singles to please the masses. Indeed at times it seems that the light show and huge projection screens take over from the music itself. It feels strange to think that this band were once the perpetrators of such drug-fuelled, fun-filled madness as Catholic School Girls Rule and Get Up & Jump.
It's disappointing to say, but it does seem as if the Red Hot Chili Peppers are finally resting on their laurels. There's very little older material tonight, and more recent tracks such as Fortune Faded really don't live up to expectations. On top of this there's the needless mini cover versions, unnecessary instrumental solos and to be frank the ticket price just adds insult upon injury.