Red Hot Chile Peppers Perform in Tel Aviv

September 11, 2012  

Peppers spice up the Holy Land with searing performance

Adi Rubenstein

Even though a bit older, and after a delay of 11 years,
the Red Hot Chili Peppers still rock Tel Aviv • More than 45,000 fans get their
money’s worth, accompanied by some appropriate Hebrew remarks from the

The Red Hot Chili Peppers do their thing in Hayarkon Park on Monday.

A jubilant crowd gets its money’s worth at the concert.

After a delay of exactly 11 years and two weeks, the Red
Hot Chili Peppers finally performed before a cheering audience at Tel Aviv’s
Hayarkon Park on Monday night. The legendary funk-rock group, although a bit
older now, proved to the audience that it was well worth the wait.

Members of the band, now in their 50s, put on a show that
defied age, one with an energy level that has not been experienced by Israeli
music fans for many years.

The Peppers wrapped up a summer in Israel that has been
considered one of the best as far as performances go, and left behind
expectations for even better shows next summer.

In the early hours of Monday morning, long lines appeared
outside ticket offices in Tel Aviv. Outside the Dan Hotel, throngs of fans and
admirers gathered in the hope of getting a glimpse of the stars. Radio stations
played the hit songs of the band — which has been performing since the mid-1980s
— throughout the entire day.

A moment after the clock struck 9 p.m., Anthony Kiedis,
the band’s front man, and the rest of the group alighted the stage and opened
with a bang. The California-based group performed several of their greatest
hits, including “Give it Away,” “Californication,” “Under the Bridge,” and some
hits from their new album such as “Monarchy of Roses” and “Did I Let You Know,”
which were accompanied by Israeli jazz trumpeter Avishai Cohen. Cohen was
treated to a warm reception by the band and joined the group in another number
later in the performance.

The band performed 20 songs overall, including one Stevie
Wonder cover. The Tel Aviv gig wrapped up their 2012 European tour.

The humid weather seemed to have been in tune with the
band, whose members are used to the Californian humidity. Kiedis, who turns 50
in six weeks, was in typical Los Angeles shape, sporting a good body, but with a
face that gave away his age. According to what he wrote in several instances in
his autobiography, he had several bouts with drugs during his life and indeed it
seems miraculous that he has continued to perform and was able to complete the
band’s most recent tour, which included a historical first show in Lebanon.

Chad Smith, the band’s drummer, chose not to dazzle the
audience with some highly technical moves, but was certainly capable of
maintaining the rhythm in a way only a drummer with years of experience can.

In a comparison of the Peppers’ Monday night performance
with the one by Guns and Roses in Tel Aviv two months ago, it becomes obvious
what the dynamics of a real band can produce as opposed to a single star backed
by a group of hired musicians.

For bass players in the audience, the experience of
watching the Peppers’ Michael “Flea” Balzary up close was nothing less than
historical. Flea’s appearance on stage, and especially his jam with Smith toward
the end of the performance, evoked the band’s early and restless years.

Josh Klinghoffer, the band’s current guitarist, is a
superb musician, but it was apparent that John Frusciante’s shoes, into which he
stepped in 2009, were still a bit too big for him. Klinghoffer sat on a chair
most of the performance due to a broken leg and at the end of the show hopped
off stage with the help of crutches.

Shuki Weiss, the show’s producer, chalked up yet another
success with the Peppers’ performance, after bringing Ozzy Osbourne to Tel Aviv
two years ago, a show considered one of the best an Israeli audience has ever
experienced. At the time, Weiss told reporters that even though he may have lost
money on the deal, a star of Osbourne’s stature would attract others in years to
come, which proved to be a correct assessment. Israel is slowly regaining its
status as a big show host, a status it enjoyed prior to this past, somewhat more
quiet, decade.

During Monday night’s performance, Flea reminded the
audience of one of the band’s founders and its first guitarist, Hillel Slovak,
who was born in Haifa and died of a heroin overdose in 1988. Kiedis also
mentioned Haifa during the performance and said that Slovak was a true “Israeli

Band members also treated the audience to some Hebrew
throughout the show, shouting in between numbers “lehayim” (“to life”) and
“mazal tov” (“good luck”). Smith tossed dozens of drumsticks into the crowd and
Flea, who was apparently given the task of interfacing with the audience,
promised that the band “will never forget this evening.”

Surely the fans, whose ears are still ringing from last night’s
show, will also be wearing smiles for days to come.

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