The Chili Peppers rock Tel Aviv

California rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers play a high energy show to 50,000 fans at Ganei Yehoshua.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 370 (photo credit: Avihai Levy)
Red Hot Chili Peppers 370
(photo credit: Avihai Levy)
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 the music.
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 antics.
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 “Mazel tov!”
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 Ground.”
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.