Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 | 11:38 p.m.
By Jack Houston
On a chilly New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas, two of the night’s most anticipated performers chose to go shirtless -- and it was hardly a surprise.
Yes, Anthony Kiedis and Flea revealed their trademark bare chests during the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance at The Chelsea in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Monday night, Flea from the get-go and Kiedis gradually over the first several songs of a set that leaned heavily on the band’s nearly three decades of hits.
The large crowd was warmly appreciative, if not necessarily ecstatic, of the Chili Peppers’ first Las Vegas concert in more than seven years. They last performed here in July 2005, headlining the city’s centennial bash with Weezer, a band who, by contrast, has made Las Vegas a regular stop on its most recent tours.
Over those seven-plus years, things have changed in the Chili Peppers camp. Longtime guitarist John Frusciante left the band for a second time in 2009, replaced by touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who filled in sufficiently enough but had trouble battling the rhythm section in the mix all night long. The band also released a pair of albums, the double-disc “Stadium Arcadium” and “I’m With You,” for which their current tour is named.
But for all of the new material (which comprised about one-third of the set), it was the band’s long-established hits that not surprisingly drew the biggest crowd reaction: “Otherside,” “Under the Bridge” and show closer “Give It Away.” A testament to their massive catalog, several major hits went unplayed, and you could’ve built another whole show around them: “Scar Tissue,” “Higher Ground,” “Breaking the Girl” and “Californication,” among others.
When the band was locked in, you could sense it. Flea and Klinghoffer would frequently drop to their knees opposite each other and jam out a lengthy instrumental passage. Chad Smith, who moonlights with Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Joe Satriani in the rock supergroup Chickenfoot, was a relentless presence on drums all night, banging out the intro to show opener “Monarchy of Roses” with abandon and punctuating funkier offerings like “Suck My Kiss.”
At midnight, Flea led a countdown into the New Year as confetti rained down from above. An impromptu “Auld Lang Syne” followed, then the upbeat “Universally Speaking” from 2002’s “By the Way.”
Serving as the band’s de facto spokesman on the mic, Flea closed the Chili Peppers’ last performance of 2012 with a plea to their fans to support live music of all kinds, whether it’s rock or hip-hop, jazz or classical. “Even crappy music,” he added.
Not that there was any point of reference for that genre on this night.
Monday night’s set list: “Monarchy of Roses,” “Dani California,” “Can’t Stop,” “Otherside,” “Look Around,” “Snow (Hey Oh),” “Soul to Squeeze,” “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” “Me & My Friends,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Universally Speaking,” “Ethiopia,” “Suck My Kiss,” “Under the Bridge” and “By the Way.” Encore: “Around the World” and “Give It Away.”
Thanks to Jesse Grant of WireImage for his Chili Peppers photo gallery.
Jack Houston is editor of Las Vegas Magazine, and his two favorite Chili Peppers songs (in no particular order) are “Soul to Squeeze” and “Scar Tissue.” He has never been known to sport, at least in public, a sock on his …