MILAN, Italy -- Just because the Red Hot Chili Peppers made an
album without John Frusciante doesn't mean they have to play any songs
The Chili Peppers, who reunited with their guitarist to record
Californication, made that clear Monday, when they gave a 70-minute
performance during which they played plenty of songs from the new album
and plenty of vintage material -- but nothing from One Hot Minute,
the 1995 album on which ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro took
over for Frusciante.
"They [the Chili Peppers with Dave Navarro] just made one record and I
never heard it," Frusciante said during a press conference earlier in
the day when asked about One Hot Minute.
The press conference and concert were the last stops of a short European
tour behind Californication, released a week ago. The Los Angeles
funk-rock band mixed such upbeat hits as "Give It Away" (RealAudio
excerpt) with softer, newer tunes including "Californication" (RealAudio
excerpt), for an invited audience of 1,000. The concert was taped
for local television.
Singer Anthony Kiedis, with short, bleached hair, walked onstage in a
white shirt and black tie, but after a few songs bared his chest and
stripped down to black shorts. Bassist Flea (born Michael Balzary)
required no such stripping down; he started the show half naked. Frusciante
joined the party by lifting his shirt for the final few songs, while
drummer Chad Smith remained fully clothed in all black, with a red cap
While Kiedis and Flea jumped around the stage, Frusciante remained still,
playing his guitar as if in a trance while tearing distorted sounds,
Neil Young style, from the instrument. His intensity seemed to suggest
a need to demonstrate he deserved the place he had recently regained
in the band. The guitarist played on the band's two most successful
albums, Mother's Milk (1989) and Blood Sugar Sex Magik
(1991) -- which included "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge" -- before
leaving the group on bad terms.
The follow-up, One Hot Minute, proved a commercial disappointment.
"I had seen the band twice before," 23-year-old concert-goer Alessandro
Allara said. "The first was after Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and they
were great. The second time was after One Hot Minute, and they
were not so good. I don't know if that was just a bad night,
but the return of Frusciante really sounds good."
Some fans seemed to want more -- more shedding of clothes, that is.
During the encore, a fan waved a white sock in the air, alluding to an
infamous photo in which the four Chili Peppers were pictured naked save
for socks over their genitals.
During the press conference, Kiedis said the band felt no need to censor
itself for the TV cameras. "We're not going to make any compromise in
our live show," he said. "But obviously the environment sometimes has
effects on what the feeling is inside of the room."
The bandmembers didn't do much talking otherwise, either onstage or at
the press conference. They gave nearly monosyllabic answers to most
questions, and when one journalist noted possible references to drug
abuse in the band's new single, "Scar Tissue," and asked Kiedis, "Which
was the worst period in your life?," the singer answered, "the blue
period," and then said, "What kind of silly question is that? Are we
wrapping [the press conference] up?"
Not all the invitations to the concert went to die-hard fans. When
Frusciante struck the opening chords to "Under the Bridge" (RealAudio
excerpt), the Chili Peppers' biggest hit, one woman asked her
companion, "Is that song theirs? I thought it was by that girl group."
"Under the Bridge" recently was covered by the English pop group All Saints.