As if they were running late for a vital appointment, the Red Hot Chili Peppers zoomed into the Sprint Center on Sunday night, threw down a furious 16-song set list, including two encores, and then departed within 90 minutes after they’d started, leaving behind a crowd that was as riled as it was satisfied.
There was no shortage of energy all night, both onstage and within the crowd of nearly 15,000. Almost five years had passed since the Peppers had performed in Kansas City, so the arena was percolating with anticipation before the show. It erupted into a roar when slap-happy bassist Flea and head-banging guitarist Josh Klinghoffer took the stage and unleashed an unhinged instrumental to open the show, a prelude to what would follow. It was the first of several jams and interludes.
The full band opened with “Can’t Stop,” a track from the “By the Way” album, now 15 years old. It bears the Chili Peppers’ signature mix of funk, metal and rap, bound (and unbound) by a thick, rubbery bass line, lathered in a hailstorm of percussion from drummer Chad Smith and embroidered by metallic guitar riffs.
They followed that with the poppy and more melodic “Snow (Hey Oh),” which prompted a singalong, then “Scar Tissue,” a mid-tempo ballad that gave lead singer Anthony Kiedis a chance to flash his falsetto.
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The Chili Peppers are touring on “The Getaway,” their 11th studio album, released nearly a year ago. With some instrumental backup (keyboards, percussion), they dipped into its playlist: “Dark Necessities,” the first of three “Getaway” tracks that made the set list. It, too, bears most of the Chili Peppers’ trademarks, including a singalong chorus.
Kiedis and Flea were in constant motion, skipping, pogo-ing and bounding about the stage; Klinghoffer was more inclined to drop to a knee and swing and thrash his head, tossing about his substantial mane of hair.
Behind the band, a large video screen broadcast a stream of brash videos; above the band and the crowd on the floor, a tide of dangling lights hanging from the ceiling provided another visual distraction, ebbing and flowing in choreographed waves, changing colors regularly.
The set list included “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” the band’s first single to feature Klinghoffer, who joined the Chili Peppers as a full-time member in 2010, replacing John Frusciante. It’s a slinky funk number that erupted into bits of thrashy punk and gave Kiedis and Flea a chance to dance even more demonstratively.
The crowd showed affection for the new and latter-day material, like “Look Around,” but its biggest and loudest reactions were reserved for the biggest hits, like “Californication,” “Aeroplane” and their seditious remake of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” which were all delivered with plenty of fury and gusto and which ignited widespread singing, dancing and fist-pumping throughout the arena.
They closed with one of their biggest hits. After another “Getaway” track, “Goodbye Angels,” another groove-infested ballad decorated with peals of guitar, they tore into the incessant and bludgeoning “Give It Away,” a molten outburst of punk, metal and rap that is now more than 25 years old.
By then, Flea and Kiedis had shed their shirts, unveiling their well-honed dad bods, and were thrashing about the stage, reviving the spirit of the Chili Peppers circa “Blood Sugar Sex Magik.”
That felt like a taking-off point, the start of a voyage back to their heydays. Instead, it was the end of the evening. Sixteen songs after they’d started, the Chili Peppers were done, leaving a big crowd stoked and aroused and wanting more.
Can’t Stop; Snow (Hey, Oh); Scar Tissue; Dark Necessities; The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie; Wet Sand; Look Around; Go Robot; Californication; Encore; Aeroplane; Higher Ground; Soul to Squeeze; By the Way. Encore: Goodbye Angels; Give It Away.