(As previously published on MOG)
They’ve essentially become Bon Jovi II. Or Rolling Stones III. When in fact, they could have chosen to ‘do an R.E.M.’. Personally I wish they had done the latter – leave a phenomenal musical legacy and either retire or move on to pastures new.
Because now they’ve done what neither the most wicked of their fans – think: beliebers on acid, alongside (mostly middle-aged, middle-class,) Under-The-Bridge-humming, s*xual-favours-on-ageing-roadies-performing housewives (“It made me feel, like, closer to ‘Anf’nay’“1) who feign ‘friendships’ with ageing rockers’ mothers only to hear the latest gossip (and pass it on), and other sycophants – nor any of the members of their extended families and entourage managed to do: to finally, after 25 years, put me off them.
They are big and rich enough to ignore critics, even when those critics write reviews like these2:
“We had to wait until the encore until we got to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers the way that made us cherish them all those years ago, as a tight funk bad. ‘Sir Psycho Sexy’ and Robert Johnson cover ‘They’re Red Hot’ finally saw the band blazing, before sending home the crowd – which covered the full width and breadth of the meadow featuring the Main Stage – with Give It Away.”
“If this festival wishes to grow bigger, it will become ever more important to feature big names like the Red Hot Chili Peppers in order to draw in the masses. The band’s performance, however, appeared to have become routine after all these years. Without guitarist John Frusciante, but with his successor Josh Klinghoffer (32), the music just seemed to lack the right balance. Flea’s bold disco bass was often drowned out by rampant guitar offensives and reverberating drum strokes, while Klinghoffer’s style is less fluid than Frusciante’s. That took some getting used to.”
“The band interspersed newer material with the more pop-ish tunes from Californication and By The Way as well as the funkier stuff from Blood Sugar Sex Magik. While there are no complaints on our part regarding the setlist, what’s the point of those jams between songs? Then when ‘Under The Bridge’ was choked by DJ Steve Aoki’s beats blowing over from the Pyramid Marquee there was definitely an issue. It’s not that they can’t deliver, it’s just that they don’t deliver quite enough. Well, not until the encore, anyway.“
They won’t have to bother with journalists writing reviews like this one:2
“In the encore I saw the super group. ‘Sir Psycho Sexy’, ‘They’re Red Hot’ (thank you, Robert Johnson) and ‘Give It Away’ proved beyond doubt: the Peppers are as HUGE as ever, and no band is better at marrying funk with rock ‘n’ roll.”
“But there was, of course, something preceding that encore: a rather doubtful set. Stuff like ‘Can’t Stop’, ‘I Like Dirt’ and ‘By The Way’ was delivered skillfully, and I trust they had they very best of intentions with their latest album – ‘Monarchy Of Roses’, ‘The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie’ and ‘Ethiopia’ didn’t sound bad. But I missed er, well, the chili peppers: the funk, the machismo, the humour. The illusion that they were there to play for you, and not just for the bank account, the glory and the Wikipedia update.“
Most of all, they’re probably best off ignoring yesteryear’s fans and go bland, because blandness suits more people’s tastes, more people equal more paying customers, and more paying customers equal more money in your pocket. And hey, who can blame’em.
When, as a band of musicians, you observe your music as business, that’s exactly the thing to do! Who cares if anyone says you’re “selling out” in the unflattering meaning of the term, when you can afford to surround yourself with an entourage of merely yes-men to affirm you are always right and great and fabulous, whose most ‘negative’ thing to ever tell you is that you will feel, look and be even better if you hire even more yes-men! (And cosmetic therapists and surgeons, of course; heroin BAD, fillers GOOD! A new hair style, with or without facial hair and *cough* trendy *cough* headwear will cover any scars nicely.)
Moreover, if you extend the yes-men-only principle to your fanbase and ignore anyone who is not willing to just buy whatever sh!t you’re selling, you significantly increase your profits! (Don’t fear the batsh!t crazy fans, they’re like born-again Christians spreading your gospel, including that hilarious evangelic lie that you’re only in it for the love of music. Security detail will keep these weirdos at safe distance from you.)
I totally get all this; it’s called music business for a reason. But I can’t help but wish some people’s mothers would just put the phone down on the sycophants and stop writing their “how dare you criticise my (quinquagenarian!) baby” letters and emails, to give their sons a good old “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” monologue. (Which won’t happen, I know, but it was worth a shot.)
I’ll crawl back under my rock now.