<i>Red Hot Chili Peppers in Auckland</i>

ENERGY BURST: Bassist Flea doubles over as he performs with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in front of a packed crowd at Auckland's Vector Arena.
LAWRENCE SMITH/Sunday News
ENERGY BURST: Bassist Flea doubles over as he performs with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in front of a packed crowd at Auckland's Vector Arena.

An older, wiser Red Hot Chili Peppers ripped it up at the first of two sold out Auckland shows. Music reviewer Chris Schulz finds some filler - and a dodgy trumpet solo - amongst an otherwise killer set.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Saturday, April 21

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are starting to act their age.

Based on the first of two sold-out shows at Auckland's Vector Arena, the relentless energy the world's premiere funk-rock act is famous for can no longer be sustained for an entire two-hour show.

Nope, as Anthony Keidis and the boys near their 25th anniversary, they've swapped their thrilling intensity and gravity-defying stage antics for something a little less exhausting.

That means anyone expecting the same Chilis that made 1991's funk-rock feast Blood Sugar Sex Magik to hit the stage would be disappointed.

But that didn't mean it was a bad show. Fans instead had to be patient during the inbetween bits as the band played slower songs and jammed.

Luckily, the Chilis hit their straps regularly, and with style.

It started like the good old days, with thrilling versions of hits Can't Stop and Dani California. They had the crowd up on their feet and pogoing along with front man Keidis, who was sporting a new moustache.

Later on, crowd-pleasers Suck My Kiss and Sir Psycho Sexy bounced the mosh pit and gave the Vector Arena's new floorboards a solid test. They passed - like the rest of the arena - with flying colours.

But because of the stop-start nature of the show, the band failed to capitalise on its momentum. Too often the Chilis would appear ready to take off like the days of old, only to pause to catch their breath.

Still, the crowd didn't seem to mind, singing along word-for-word to Scar Tissue, Californication and Snow (Hey Oh), and cheering on Keidis' scissor-kick routines and Fleas' furiously fast bass exploits.

But the night was held together by John Frusciante's guitar playing, which was nothing short of scintillating. He lit up every song as solo after solo scorched around the venue.

The show's only real shocker was when Flea's embarrassing trumpet solo became an aural assault on the ears. Stick to that bass, buddy, because you're bloody good at it.

There's good news for those attending Sunday night's show.

After a thumping climactic cover of Higher Ground and an overly-long but energetic closing jam, drummer Chad Smith told the crowd the Chilis would "bring the roof down" at the band's second show.

Cut the jams short, maintain that intensity - and take that damn trumpet off Flea - and the Chilis might just deliver on that promise.

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