Hot and ready

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are prepared to heat up the stage in Hayarkon Park on Monday night.

Red Hot Chili Peppers (photo credit: Courtesy)
Red Hot Chili Peppers
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nothing seems to stop The Red Hot Chili Peppers juggernaut from rolling on – not even losing a pivotal band member.
The position of guitarist has always been a hot seat in the California punk/funk hipstersturned- classic rock, hall of fame superstars. Ever since the day original guitarist – Israeli-born Hillel Slovak – died due to a drug overdose in 1988, the slot has been held by a half-dozen players accompanying the core group of vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith.
In between stop gap solutions like Jane’s Addiction alumni Dave Navarro, Arik Marshall and Jess Tobias, virtuoso John Frusciante became the anchor.
He holds the longevity record with two long stints – from 1988-1992, and again from 1998-2009 – periods in which the band morphed from an adrenalin-filled Los Angeles mash of punk, funk, rap and r&b, played more often than not in various stages of dishabille, to the more radio-friendly sound of today, but still without the clothes.
Blockbuster albums from 1991’s Blood Sugar, Sex Magik to 1999’s Californication and 2006’s Stadium Arcadium established the group as latter-day visionaries, tying up the fractured pieces into a splintered rock culture and bridging the gap between the underground street sounds of downtown L.A., mainstream pop and hip hop rhythms and energy.
So when the versatile and prolific Frusciante amicably left the band in 2009 during a two-year group hiatus to focus on his quirky but thriving solo career, it might have sounded the death knoll. But as so many times in its varied career, the band found what it needed to move forward, in the form of 31-year-old Josh Klinghoffer (reportedly a distant relative of Leon Klinghoffer, the passenger killed in 1985 by Palestinian terrorists on the cruise ship Achille Lauro).
Klinghoffer, who’s played on tours and albums by Beck and Gnarls Barkely, connected to the band in 2000 when his group The Bicycle Thief opened up part of the Peppers’ Californication tour, and he forged a lasting friendship with Frusciante. The pair eventually began writing and recording together, resulting in Frusciante’s first solo album, Shadows Collide with People in 2004, and subsequent releases up through 2009’s The Empyrean.
Frusciante asked Klinghoffer to join the Peppers as an additional guitarist and keyboardist during their 2007 Stadium Arcadium tour, and after the group’s subsequent two-year hiatus, the dust settled with Klinghoffer in Frusciante’s role when they started recording their latest album, I’m with You.
“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of a tight-knit unit, a band of family, a brotherhood. Since my earliest memory, they always seemed like a band with a lot of love for each other,” the guitarist said at the time.
And due to his being a good 10 years-plus younger than any of his band mates, Klinghoffer, who maintains his own band on the side – Dot Hacker – has evidently infused the Peppers with a jolt of youthful enthusiasm, not that Kiedis, Flea and Smith ever look like they are flagging.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers that’s arriving next week for a nearly soldout show at Hayarkon Park on Monday night is reportedly revitalized by its new configuration and, despite the less than stellar sales of the year-old I’m with You, the band onstage seems to be at the top of their game.
A review of their show last month in Los Angeles raved about the instrumental telepathy between the musicians, saying that “many of the best moments came when the band dove deepest into an instrumental jam. As an improvisational rock unit, the Chili Peppers are operating at a higher level than they were even a decade ago, and that special prowess comes most to life onstage.”
While the set list seems carved in stone (heavy on the hits like “Under the Bridge,” “Dani California,” “Give It Away” but also I’m with You tunes like “Monarchy of Roses” and “Ethiopia” and their frenetic version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”), there will likely be enough surprises and improvisation to make the show one of the musical highlights of the year.
Adding to the celebration will be the show’s opening acts – eclectic Los Angeles band Fool’s Gold, led by Israeli-born Luke Top, which combines African beats and 1980s danceinflected pop with Chili-style energy and the occasional Hebrew lyric. Top is a good friend of Klinghoffer’s, and the Peppers’ guitarists has often joined Fool’s Gold during their set.
Opening the show will be Riff Cohen, the Jaffa-based French/Hebrew/English-singing sensation who mixes the North African beats of her parents’ Algeria with French pop and urban hip hop.
Her song “A Paris” catapulted her to fame in European clubs and at home, where she’s a radio staple.
The gates open on Monday at 5 p.m. Cohen takes the stage at 6:30 p.m. and Fool’s Gold at 7:30 p.m. The main attraction begin to take their shirts off at 7:50 p.m.