It’s been 10 years, an eternity in pop music terms, since the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed before a Buffalo-area audience.
But time has been kind to this quartet’s groundbreaking blend of L.A.-flavored punk-funk. One was hard-pressed to note any diminishment of energy, enthusiasm, irreverence, or slavish devotion to the groove amongst the four men on stage at KeyBank Center on Friday, even after 30 years of hard funk, hard touring, and hard living.
These guys still look like hyperactive kids let loose in a sandbox, giddy with their good fortune.
[Gallery: Red Hot Chili Peppers at KeyBank Center]
The Peppers sold out the KeyBank Center show rather handily, which is to say, quickly and without breaking a sweat. And the crowd? They came several generations strong, ready to party, and eager to welcome Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and relatively new recruit Josh Klinghoffer back to the birthplace of seminal ’60s funk hit “Funky Broadway.”
The band, perhaps sensing our familiarity with all things funky 'round these parts, kicked off the show with an unnamed jam that displayed RHCP’s ability to turn funky minimalism into arena bombast, without ever losing the essence of the groove.
That last point would be one the listener was forced to dwell on throughout the evening, as the quartet ran through 30 years of sometimes psychedelic, sometimes stoner rock-ish, sometimes genre-crossing pop-punk-alt-rock-ish, but always deeply ensconced in the pocket crafted and cultivated by bassist Flea and drummer Smith.
Staying relevant is the trick when you are working a band over the long haul, and the Peppers have managed to do so mainly through their own bullheaded refusal to try too hard. Countless trends have come and gone since this band first hit the big time with 1990’s “BloodSugarSexMagik” album, but the band has managed to grow its fanbase beyond the later 40-somethings who came of age alongside it.
Marrying hip-hop’s influence to the funk and punk helped introduce the band to younger listeners, as did moving in a more song-oriented direction with each subsequent album since the immensely popular 1999 release “Californication."
So the fact that the band’s most recent effort, “The Getaway,” is a hit during a time when very few artists of the Peppers' vintage are selling records is less surprising.
So plenty of new album “The Getaway” was forthcoming, and tunes from that record like “Go Robot” brought a 21st century sheen to the Peppers’ grunge-funk, and sat crying mortally against crowd favorites like “Dani California” and “Scar Tissue.” Klinghoffer was truly the star of the show, his twisted acid-blues solos routinely elevating the proceedings and clearly pushing his band mates toward greater heights.
Singer Kiedis was only mildly handicapped by the orthopedic boot on his foot, the result of a recent tendon tear. He still stalked the stage like a warrior, his spit-sing-rap chops in top form throughout.
The show was a touch too short. That’s the only dis I have to offer. But stunningly funky and invigorating opening sets from former Peppers drummer Jack Irons – he played a drum kit along to his own backing tracks – and Trombone Shorty and his band made up for it.
Friday night in the KeyBank Center