Live In Concert – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slane Castle, 2003

This one stings a little. Eleven years ago, I attended one of the greatest gigs I ever have. In the ensuing years everytime I’ve seen this band they’ve taken a further dip in quality, yet for now I’m still able to cling to that one amazing evening all those years ago, just. To me, the Chilis never made it past the departure of John Frusciante and the years leading up to his departure didn’t help their live show. Phoenix Park 04, Oxegen 06, Croke Park 12. A series of diminishing returns compounded by a terrible last album. But anyway, I digress for the millionth time.

My father attended the first ever Slane, Thin Lizzy headlining and a bunch of whippersnappers called U2 in support. To say myself and my brother had a significant build up to this gig around the house in the weeks before it would be an understatement. And as it was, Slane did not disappoint. Though no artist since has made me return, it will always be one of my favourite venues. Hell, even the walk, though torturous, is steeped in history and cool. If memory serves this was our first experience with having to remove bottle caps on entry to a venue (and our first experience of hiding them in our socks) and in we went.

Morcheeba, Feeder, Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age; that lineup alone was worth the price of admission. Foo Fighters in particular were exceptional, “One By One” still riding high at the time. Then came the main event. I’ll admit that at the time I knew little of the Chilis beyond “Californication” and “By The Way” but both of those albums were played on repeat by all three of us every car journey, free time etc. We even had one trip to England dubbed the “By The Way” holiday such was the ever presence of the CD in the car. Beyond those albums, I didn’t much know the band from Adam. Didn’t matter.

Much has been made of Anthony Keidis’ supposed nerves and stage fright but none of that was on show that night, aside from the fact that Flea was the one doing all the talking. In light of recent Garth Brooks related lunacy it’s tragic to think how big this gig was at the time. Filmed for their massive live DVD release, featuring a drum solo to the crowd’s “Ole Ole Ole” chorus and a rendition of “Amhrainn Na Fiann” kick started by Flea, this was a day to show your Irish pride. Wonder how many more opportunities we’ll get for that….

Highlights of the night included the always chilling “Under The Bridge” and the simply awesome extended intro “Californication” and the game of midget tossing my father had to partake in when some drunken moron decided to barrel roll down the hill right into my back (I was 15 at the time). Rows at concerts when my father is with me have become commonplace but, in his defence, he never starts them. Once it was all over then came a Slane ritual I don’t look at anyway as fondly and don’t wish to do again, the wall back to the car. Scratch that, the pilgrimage back to the car. Worth it though, pity every gig from them since then has been barely worth crossing the road…

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niallhetherington

Bachelors Degree in Arts from NUI Maynooth. Double Honours English & Philosophy.

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