Monday, June 26, 2017

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Van Andel Arena 2017

I'm not a big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP), but I like their music well enough. I wasn't planning to see them in concert, but when a friend said she could get tickets if we split the cost, I figured why not?
The concert was in Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids. It holds about 12,000 people, and it looked full to me. Not a surprise - not a lot of big names come through western Michigan, so when it happens people come out. Our seats were in the last row in one of the upper sections, but that wasn't as bad as it sounds. The arena isn't really big enough for even the furthest seats to be too far away.
We caught the tail end of one of the opening acts, Deerhoof, which wasn't particularly impressive in my opinion. Not really a surprise since I'd never heard of them before. It's harder to get involved with unfamiliar opening acts in these bigger shows, as compared to smaller venues where you can get up close and (sometimes) get better sound quality.
No such problems with RHCP. They've been around more than 30 years now, but it doesn't look like they've lost a step. Plenty of energy on stage, and considering the iffy acoustics that you get in an arena, they sounded great. I recognized about half the songs they played, which means they played plenty of older stuff, since I haven't paid much attention to anything they've done recently. They worked in a couple of covers, too - I particularly liked their rendition of Jimmy Hendrix's Fire.
The stage setup was interesting. There was the usual screen behind the band, as has become standard in the last decade or two. Largely it showed various wild color patterns, but they did sometimes have live shots of the band members. Often put through some kind of filter, so you'd see black-and-white or jerky stop-motion versions of the musicians. But the most notable component was a big field of LED lights hung over the stage and the front portion of the crowd. Those lights moved up and down and flashed on and off in some neat patterns as the band played.
There were a couple of fairly emotional moments. Flea asked for a moment of silence for Hillel Slovak, a founding member who died nearly 30 years ago. Later on, Anthony Kiedis talked for a minute about his father, who is in the late stages of life. It wasn't a sad moment, but rather a celebration of a full life. That moment in particular really resonated with me - everyone eventually is in that situation where a loved one has passed on (or will shortly). Having that mindset of celebrating the time we had with them, rather than focusing on the loss, strikes me as a healthy attitude.
Overall it was an enjoyable show. Not my usual style, but I'm glad I was talked into going. RHCP is still worth seeing after all these years.

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