Red Hot Chili Peppers, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

Tickets for the biggest-ever Chilis show north of the border reportedly sold out in four hours. For your average Scottish music fan, the prospect of an evening with the veteran funk-rockers was clearly more appetising than England's Euro 2004 tussle with France. Be that as it may, the tattooed and toned torsos of singer Anthony Kiedis and his bandmates rarely found an echo in the Murrayfield crowd. Indeed, on a day when it was announced that one in five Scottish teenagers is clinically obese, the Chilis' hyperactive show came over like a workout video commissioned by NHS Scotland.

Tickets for the biggest-ever Chilis show north of the border reportedly sold out in four hours. For your average Scottish music fan, the prospect of an evening with the veteran funk-rockers was clearly more appetising than England's Euro 2004 tussle with France. Be that as it may, the tattooed and toned torsos of singer Anthony Kiedis and his bandmates rarely found an echo in the Murrayfield crowd. Indeed, on a day when it was announced that one in five Scottish teenagers is clinically obese, the Chilis' hyperactive show came over like a workout video commissioned by NHS Scotland.

Naff map of the night sky aside, the stage show, featuring four state-of-the-art video screens, was as impressive and expensive-looking as you might expect from a band whose last album, By The Way, was a multi-million-selling global success. Early set highlights included an unlikely version of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" and "Scar Tissue", an impressively subtle song in which Kiedis's fluent rapping segued into a mellifluous, hook-laden chorus. Less pleasing were the band's in-jokes and apparent indifference to their audience: when Kiedis finally addressed the crowd some eight songs in, his spiel about wanting to retire to a Scottish castle sounded contrived.

Despite the Sex Pistols sticker on the instrument of the bass guitarist Flea (aka Michael Balzary), there were moments when the Chilis sounded as indulgent as Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Indeed, the arrangements on "Television'' and "Leverage of Space'' were so stodgy that it took an odd little interlude to regain our interest. Explaining that his rock-star pal, Johnny Ramone, hadn't been well, the guitarist John Frusciante proceeded to phone Ramone at home from the stage. At a given signal, the 50,000-strong crowd was asked to shout "Johnny, we love you!'' as loudly as possible. This was one of the evening's few inclusive moments, and Frusciante seemed genuinely grateful when the punters did the necessary.

Unfortunately, the self-indulgence that marred parts of the main set was also a feature of the encores. First came a kind of "name that beat" session in which the drummer Chad Smith played the opening bars from Led Zeppelin's "Rock'n'Roll'' and U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday'', then Flea reappeared to "entertain" us at length with an avant-garde trumpet solo.

When Kiedis and Frusciante rejoined their rhythm section, it was for the inevitable double whammy of "Under the Bridge'' and "Give It Away''. The former is a lighters-aloft anthem of some class, but the latter typifies the kind of taut, manic funk the Chilis do so well, and - having relied upon this same set denouement for many years now - the band were unable to deliver it with much conviction.

"We have some news for you,'' Flea said at the death: "France have just kicked the shit out of England." One suspects the script will be different when the band reaches Hyde Park.

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