Red Hot Chili Peppers, O2, London
Chic, Forum, London

The Eagles of funk metal haven't noticed that their sound – and their puerile jokes – stopped being entertaining years ago

The phrase "sports metal" now resides in the Rock Terminology Graveyard. It's a shame it never caught on, because it perfectly describes the phenomenon of which Red Hot Chili Peppers were the shock troops and pathfinders.

RHCP, alas, are anything but a footnote in musical history. In the late 1980s, their very physical presence ran counter to alternative sensibilities. Their rude health, their big North American mouths with their jutting Greg Rusedski jaws and equine teeth spoke of people brought up on calcium and sunlight, not misery and drizzle. And things were never the same again: muscle and tattoos were where it was at, and semi-naked cavemen strutting about with elasticated socks on their members.

And this is where it's brought us: thousands upon thousands of music-agnostic drones shuffling into the Dome for a battery farm gigging experience, undergoing double bag searches and metal detectors and paying £5.45 for a pint of cider, all for the privilege of squinting at 50-year-old men in white vest tops doing bunny hops and pulling head-wobbling funk faces at one another.

Strangers to dignity, the Chili Peppers' main message is still priapic rather than profound. "Hey, who wants to see my penis?" offers bassist Flea, on more than one occasion, until even he has to concede: "It's not that good a joke to begin with." Much the same could be said for his band.

Oh, they've made the odd decent record over the years. Not so much the asinine assassination of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground", or the daft thrash of "Right on Time", as the late period Californian melancholia represented tonight by the likes of "Otherside" and "Hard to Concentrate": the material on which they became, effectively, The Eagles of funk-metal. And it's hard to argue with "Give It Away", tonight's finale and the moment on which their thumping, thug-ugly thing attained an undeniable might, and on which Chad Smith – a drummer who is louder than he is good – comes into his own.

Their musicianship leaves me cold. As Flea breaks off from blowing a stand-mounted oboe to play a show-off bass solo, it occurs to me that his real career highlight, playing a German nihilist in The Big Lebowski, is a role in which he doesn't play a note.

The departure of guitarist John Frusciante has hit RHCP harder than they admit. "If ever I'm feeling a little off," Anthony Kiedis tells us in praise of replacement Josh Klinghoffer. "I like to listen to Josh play guitar." But the new boy couldn't save the latest album from being a turkey. Between songs, Klinghoffer doodles a snatch of "Lola" by The Kinks, which rams home that it'll be a cold day in Beverly Hills before RHCP write a song with similar subtlety and wit.

Only a handful of humans can claim to have reshaped pop for the better, and Nile Rodgers is one. This year, we almost lost him. The guitar hero and production genius announced in January that he had an aggressive form of cancer, and has spent much of 2011 detailing his experiences in a blog, Walking on Planet C.

Now in recovery, he's fronting an incarnation of Chic bereft of his songwriting partner and bassist Bernard Edwards (who died 15 years ago) and drumming powerhouse Tony Thompson (who followed in 2003), but he's visibly loving it none the less.

In dreadlocks and an ice-white suit, the great man speaks of "coming through the fire" before leading his phenomenal backing band through one of the outstanding gigs of the year. In his hilarious and eye-opening autobiography Le Freak, Rodgers explains how Chic aimed to bring the class and panache of Roxy Music to black music, creating a positive feedback loop wherein the Eighties generation – the ABCs and Durans – tried to emulate Chic. They also, of course, gave hip-hop its groove when Sugarhill Gang sampled "Good Times" on "Rapper's Delight", as Rodgers reminds us by mashing those two tracks together.

It's a set that ventures beyond the Chic hits and the usual Diana Ross/Sister Sledge medley into other Rodgers productions, including Bowie's "Let's Dance", Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and, to my utter delight, Sheila & B Devotion's sublime "Spacer".

There's something thrilling about hearing the church-bell cascades of "I Want Your Love" or the disco rapture of "Thinking of You" while watching the hands that created them chopping out the licks in that upturned-palm strum. Aurora borealis seems to spark from his fingertips.

Tonight was, Nile says, all the more special because "I didn't think I was gonna be around". One way or another, Nile Rodgers will always be around.

Next Week:

Simon sees sofa-lipped Hollywood sadcore heroine Lana Del Rey

Rock Choice

An insanely stellar line-up including Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Elbow, JLS, Jessie J, Hugh Laurie, Snow Patrol, Kelly Rowland, Andrea Bocelli and Michael Bublé plays the BBC Children In Need Rocks concert at Manchester's MEN Arena (Thu), while The Cure perform their first three albums in an epic set at London's Royal Albert Hall (Tue).

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all