Red Hot Chili Peppers - MEN Arena - 12.7.06

Wearing a pink blamonge all-in-one that is somewhere between Jordan does Eurovision and the older dad of Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters, bass player Flea is a walking fashion disaster. If you can bear to look away from Flea you'd find the rest of the band are equally badly attired with Anthony Keidis' surfer dude look, John Frusciante's Black Crowes chic and the redneck look of the unassuming Chad Smith. If you were to judge the book by the cover Red Hot Chili Peppers would be the worst band in the world, but the history books are already half written with them going down in history as one of our finest bands and although they've inspired more band tribute acts that Oasis all is forgiven for their exhaustive catalogue which they dip into throughout tonight's second show in Manchester.

If the band are mismatched then the audience is equally dysfunctional showing the breadth of their appeal. Goths share space with chavs, 3 generations of families come together ranging from 8 to 65 and there's a global sense of harmony for the band from the California's sunshine funk rock. Tonight's choice of support is equally apt with !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) taking influences from the Chili Peppers funk, but fusing it with a Rapture style disco biscuit rave fusion and it highlights the Chili Peppers stature as a band truly out on their own, unlike say Radiohead who have an obvious legacy with the likes of Coldplay and Keane following in the wake - the thing with this band is you're either the Chili Peppers or you're a very bad copy - there is no in-between!

As a live show tonight is relatively intimate compared to the City of Manchester Stadium shows a couple of years back and as someone who's never seen the band before it's refreshing to say it's all about the music despite the glamorous over the top nature of the videos. Literally no projections or backdrops, just a very simply light show and a set of songs with no dips or toilet break moments when they play the newer material.

The set is a mixture between the greatest hits collection and choice cuts of the recent "Stadium Arcadium" double album so for every "Give It A Way" or "Under The Bridge" there's a "Dani California" or "Tell me Baby". The set list can't be faulted but with a seemingly everlasting set the limitations of the bands sound are tested as songs merge into each other highlight they have been ploughing a very acute list of influences and although well executed they've not stepped far away from the winning formula that has served them well.

Although recent rumours have suggested there's tension in the camp and this tour could be the last one, on tonight's evidence it doesn't seem likely as the band seem closer than ever pushing each other to higher plateaux. Hell, they even did a disco cover which if they don't release even as a download only single is an opportunity wasted.

Tonight I came sceptical and I left as a fan. Some bands you just cant deny and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the best live bands Designer Magazine has ever witnessed.

Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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