The Red Hot Chili Peppers aren’t exactly a young band. Thirty years in the spotlight have proven these men are not ageless, but their unassailable energy on stage, their relentless devotion to creating new art and the timelessness of their classics prove they have earned their title as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame syndicated geniuses.
They alluded to their extensive record well before the start of the show as concertgoers were just beginning to find their seats in the BOK Center.
“We’ve been coming to Tulsa since the ‘80s. We love to rock for you motherfuckers,” said vocalist Anthony Kiedis to those dedicated enough to be in their seats a half hour early.
Kiedis reintroduced the band’s original drummer, Jack Irons, back on the stage for a four set drum solo that ushered in what would grow to be nearly 12,000 attendees. Irons pounded away while synthetic electronic tones and psychedelic imagery played behind him, setting the stage for the throwbacks to follow.
An upbeat ska band took the stage next, named for the lead man, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. The spectacular use of brass instruments got the crowd visibly riled up. Shorty’s palpable enthusiasm and sinful trumpet skills were a perfect segway into a night of dancing.
After an intermission so brief you couldn’t lose the excitement if you wanted to, the ever exuberant and iconic bassist, Flea, jumped onto the stage and shouted, “We love Oklahoma!” The resulting roar of approval shook the very air, and the stadium transformed into a hot conglomeration of unbridled glee.
The current drummer, Chad Smith, followed closely behind with drum sticks raised as if he had already won the night. Lead guitarist Josh Klinghoffer entered as well and the three launched into an intro to welcome Kiedis onto the stage.
Not only did the crowd go wild, but to see the grown men beside me weep with excitement was an astonishingly salient vibe. The stage set came alive with hundreds of lights dangling above the band and audience, moving in time and pulsing with the music.
The band immediately jumped into their 2002 hit “Can’t Stop,” and played a quick succession of crowd favorites, culminating in their newest hit “Dark Necessities” from their 2016 album “The Getaway.”
The next few songs were newer as well, and fewer people were singing along. However, when the opening bars to “Californication” were heard, the party resumed. Flea and Klinghoffer continued to shred and jump around the stage as if they weren’t a day over 22.
“Californication” was immediately followed by another 90’s classic “Aeroplane” at which point the very intoxicated middle-aged man seated directly in front of me seemed to lose his shit.
They played another song from “The Getaway,” and then the anthem of the hard-core 90’s teenager, “Suck My Kiss.” After a few more songs which I was not an aggressive enough fan to recognize, they ended their initial set on the 2002 hit “By the Way.”
The brief intermission before the obligatory encore was beautiful. Nearly every phone in the auditorium with a flashlight app came alive, and danced across the crowd like stars. Flea returned to perform a duet with the piano man called Goodbye Angels that fit beautifully with the dancing lights.
Smith, Klinghoffer and Kiedis came back as well, Kiedis hobbling from a leg injury he sustained at some point in the show. The band closed the night out with the energetic hit “Give it Away,” in what ended up being a wonderful, upbeat send-off.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers proved once again why they are counted among the greats of rock and roll, and just how timeless their 30-year reign has been.