By Brian Ives
Today’s Super Bowl Half Time show performance with Bruno Mars will likely be the largest televised audience that the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever play to, but last night’s WFAN’s Big Hello To Brooklyn concert was one hell of a warm up show.
Hosted by WFAN morning team Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton, the concert, held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, saw the Chili Peppers and four other bands perform to a hard-partying audience that was part rock crowd, part football fanatics, many of whom traveled from Seattle and Denver for today’s big Seahawks/Broncos matchup. Appropriately, cheerleaders from both teams were there, entertaining the audience between bands.
Carton started off the show by himself, noting that his partner wasn’t at the arena yet, due to traffic. (Thanks a lot, Long Island!) He introduced the first band, new wave revivalists Basic Vacation, who was followed by greasy roots rockers J. Roddy Walston and the Business, MS MR and New Politics. All four bands were ecstatic about the opportunity to open for the Chili Peppers, and they all said so, loudly, during their sets.
And why would they not be? Few bands from the late ’80s 120 Minutes era have had the longevity that the Chili Peppers have enjoyed. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, their albums still demand attention, they’re still prestigious enough to play the Super Bowl and as they showed at Barclays, are still a bona fide arena band. Even with tickets topping out at $400, even though the band hasn’t released a new album since 2011’s I’m With You, even though they toured extensively and played nearly every possible festival, the show was packed, and judging by the reaction they got when they hit the stage with an improv jam (segueing into “Can’t Stop”), people are still hungry for this band. The audience erupted from the first note; the dancing on the general admission floor didn’t let up all night.
It’s probably true that the audience was made up of a lot of people simply looking for a pre-party before the Big Game, and may not have been a crowd that normally attends concerts: there were surely more football jerseys there than at a normal Chili Peppers show (the L.A. band’s sport of choice is, of course, basketball). If a party was what they were looking for, though, that’s what the band delivered, although they still avoided making an obvious “greatest hits” set for the jock-jam crowd, throwing in a few lesser known songs, including “Factory Of Faith” and “Ethiopia” from I’m With You and “I Like Dirt” from 1999’s Californication. And, as they often do, they cranked out impromptu jams in between songs: it’s inspiring to see that the band members – principals Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Flea (bass) along with longtime drummer Chad Smith and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer — still get obvious joy from playing together.
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