Tel Aviv’s Ganei Yehoshua came alive on Monday night when the Red Hot Chili
Peppers rocked Israel for the first time. Depending on whom you ask, the concert
either began 10 minutes late – pretty punctual for rock stars – or 11 years
late, after a canceled 2001 show.
Yet when the California rockers took
the stage to play “Monarchy of Roses” from the band’s latest album I’m With You,
the crowd of 50,000 fans in the audience didn’t care about timing, swaying to
Vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary
forgot their shirts at home, as usual – and many young men in the audience
followed their lead.
Longtime drummer Chad Smith and guitarist Josh
Klinghoffer, who has been with the Chili Peppers since 2009, rounded out the
performance; but the two original band members made the show with their
Kiedis and Flea brought the same crazy energy they have been
emitting since their first album in 1984, with the vocalist skipping and jumping
around the stage, and Flea occasionally shrieking “Woooooooo!” and walking on
his hands. The two interacted with the audience; Kiedis shouted “What’s up Tel
Aviv!” and thanked the crowd for its support, while Flea seemed to exhaust his
entire Hebrew vocabulary, peppering the performance with cries of “L’chaim!" and
The band played a handful of singles from their most recent album
but stuck to their better-known hits for most of the nearly two-hour concert.
There hardly seemed to be any breathing room in Ganei Yehoshua, but the audience
found space to jump and head-bang along to “Can’t Stop,” “Give It Away” and “By
the Way.” Fans knew every word to “Under the Bridge” and “Californication” and
clapped along with the Chili Peppers’ excellent cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher
The most poignant moments of the concert were dedicated to
Israeli-born Red Hot Chili Peppers’ founding guitarist Hillel Slovak, who died
of an overdose in 1988. The band dedicated “Otherside” to Slovak’s hometown,
Haifa, at the beginning of the show, and later paid a more obvious tribute, with
Flea saying, “Hillel Slovak forever!”
“Hillel had his own brand of Israeli funk.
I’m pretty sure he invented it – Israeli funk,” Kiedis said. Flea added,
“We grew up with Hillel in LA. When he was a teen, he went on a trip to Israel,
and he came back so lit up and full of life.”
Kiedis then sang the first
line of “Dream a Little Dream” before transitioning into “The Adventures of Rain
Dance Maggie” and going back to singing, jumping, and energizing the crowd in
the Chili Peppers’ distinct style.