First Night: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roundhouse, London

Peppers turn up the heat with looping eroticism and incandescent solos
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The Independent Culture

At this one-off gig for lucky XFM radio competition winners the Red Hot Chili Peppers proved why they are undoubtedly the world's most thrilling modern rock band.

The instrumental three-piece core of the band arrived on stage unannounced. Drummer Chad Smith, hyperactive bassist Flea and enraptured guitarist John Frusciante launched into an electrifying avalanche of hardcore US metal funk.

Stripped off to the waist tattoo-covered Flea is a psychic marauder who provides the perfect entree for long shiny-haired waistcoat-wearing picture of boundless Californian health, vocalist Anthony Kiedis. A delirious sucker punch of Can't Stop and Dani California, stage flashing blue and purple is magnificent.

Music cascades through the high-quality hits leading to the looping eroticism of Flea's bassline on Scar Tissue a sensation heightened and sealed by a truly incandescent Frusciante guitar solo.

The guitarist's creativity has not come without its price. A Cobain-like descent into a netherworld of heroin and crack abuse has now been supplanted by a prolific solo output.

As soon as Kiedis gets up close and personal and he begins to uncurl the high-ringing riff of Snow (Hey Oh) he is the band's heartbeat. Bloodsugarsexmagik predictably sees all four in a dazed ecstatic thrall as Kiedis spits and howls the incantations like a sun god turned warlock. As showmen the Peppers are naturals, impossibly live and sexual beings.

Here, Frusciante's skyscrapingly beautiful guitar attains a palpable nirvana. He once again pierces the night sky, visible through the roundhouse roof, on Californication. Any notion that the Peppers were taking a leisurely stroll through their songbook before a 3,000 capacity partisan audience had been ruthlessly dismissed.

In the final minutes of his time on stage Keidis called a good conference at the Smiths drum riser. An unannounced guest rapper led them on a powerfully emphatic - and empathetic - cover of Public Enemy's You're Gonna Get Yours.

When Keidis departs, the final slam down mirrors the power-trio opening. Exuberant rather than exhausted by the evening's exertions Steam Hammer Engine is a wonder to behold. Crossing the boundaries between metal, funk, rap, hardcore and radio-friendly pop hits the Peppers burn through the heart through the American rock 'n' roll dream.

"Live long, live strong," says Flea, the last member to leave the stage. Now his band certainly sound like they can provide the sound track to do so.

This show will be broadcast on XFM at a later date.

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