WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — To sustain Florida’s reputation as Heaven’s Waiting Room, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante had his own grandparents mixed among the 20,000 sweaty people that packed the Coral Sky Amphitheatre on Monday night.
“We want to thank you, and your son, for giving us John,” singer Anthony Kiedis said shortly after the guitarist had his share of the spotlight singing bits of songs in a high-pitched voice that, in a way, explained why his solo efforts went unnoticed after he left the RHCP in the middle of the Blood Sugar Sex Magik world tour in 1993.
Frusciante’s guitar playing, though, was one of the highlights of the energetic two-hour show that had Snoop Dogg as the sole opening act after the death last week of Mars Volta’s sound manipulator, Jeremy Michael Ward, caused the band to cancel. With half of the 100 percent white audience lined up outside patiently waiting to get into the parking lot — does the line, “Waiting in line to see the show tonight” ring a bell? — the rapper and his posse offered a short performance composed mostly of tracks from his latest album, Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Boss.
Dr. Dre’s trademark beats led the classic “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” as the laidback rapper dedicated his bouncy beats to the ladies in the audience, who later danced to the hit single “Beautiful” and to 50 Cent’s powerful lines from “In Da Club,” which dropped here and there for flavor during Snoop’s set.
Kiedis thanked Snoop for joining the second leg of the RHCP U.S. tour, and dedicated to the rapper the melodic “Universally Speaking,” off last year’s By the Way. In a set that primarily relied on songs from the two most successful Peppers albums — 1991′s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1999′s Californication — the six numbers from By the Way sounded like instant classics and got big crowd reactions, just as the superhit “Give It Away” did at the end of the show.
As proof of how things have changed for the band, the more mature version of RHCP doesn’t need to be explosive all the time. Instead, the group established a jam-like vibe that allowed bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith and Frusciante to explore their own instruments’ capabilities, and to bend them as much as they could. Their older and wiser approach to musicianship translated into more trance-oriented experiments, such as on “Throw Away Your Television,” where Smith’s drumming took over an increasingly martial jam that went back and forth from Flea to Frusciante, with Kiedis reciting phrases like, “Pull the plug and take the stages/ Throw away your television, now.”
Emphasizing such immediately recognizable hits as 1999′s “Scar Tissue,” “Around the World” and “Parallel Universe,” the band distributed many of the new songs in the first hour, where fat basslines and circling guitar riffs dominated. They closed things out with “Give It Away” and their top 10 ballad from 1992, “Under the Bridge.”
The chaotic 1987 hymn “Me and My Friends,” forever considered the good-bye song of every RHCP show, was one of the few concessions to their past in a list that included short covers (Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” the Clash’s “London Calling” and Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop”). And, as always at a Chili Peppers show, by the time the band gets there, people are already burnt out and sweating like horses; it doesn’t matter if it happens in Florida or in Alaska.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.