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I'm not one of those who can say I've been a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan since the beginning, due to the fact that their first couple albums came out before I was born. It wasn't until about eight years ago when I got a copy of their then-latest album, 1999's "Californication". After that, I started exploring their previous work, and have continued to follow them since then. Before getting this concert film on DVD, I had seen some Chili Peppers concert footage, but this was my first time seeing an entire concert film of theirs, and it didn't let me down.
"Red Hot Chili Peppers: Live at Slane Castle" features the California quartet (Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante, and Chad Smith) performing (as the title says) at Slane Castle in Ireland, in front of a crowd of 80000 people filling the field, on August 23, 2003! It shows them performing a set of songs from what were their last two albums at the time, "Californication" and "By The Way", as well as songs from their 1991 smash hit, "Blood Sugar Sex Magik". The set also includes interludes, brief solo performances from guitarist John Frusciante, and a ballad version of "Havana Affair", by the Ramones. Apparently, the band also played "Soul To Squeeze" (their contribution to the soundtrack for the 1993 film, "Coneheads") at the show, but it was cut out because a string on Frusciante's guitar broke during the song.
Slane Castle is definitely a good place to shoot a concert film. I usually find that concert films are better when they take place at outdoor venues with big crowds, and this is one of those. Also, the band who lured those tens of thousands of people to the venue to see them that day in 2003 definitely made it worthwhile for them! All the band members are in excellent form, playing so many great songs, and not failing to make them sound impressive live! They also know how to keep the audience enthused with their energy and charisma, and there is occasional humour in between some songs. The cinematography in "Red Hot Chili Peppers: Live at Slane Castle" isn't disappointing, either. As you would probably hope for in a concert film, this one shows multiple perspectives; from the stage, from various parts of the crowd, from overhead, etc. I've noticed some brief slow motion scenes around the beginning, which are unnecessary, but, no big deal.
Although I've been familiar with Red Hot Chili Peppers for many years now, I still haven't gotten the chance to attend any of their gigs, but certainly wouldn't mind doing so. In fact, I wouldn't have minded doing so years ago, and this "Live at Slane Castle" video, which I have now seen several times, certainly hasn't made me change my mind! This well-crafted 2003 concert film really doesn't have a lot, if anything, to disappoint fans of the distinctive California quartet! If you've ever been lucky enough to see the group's current lineup in concert, this will likely bring back memories. While I can't talk from a first-hand experience, I haven't found much criticism of this video from those who can, so I guess it does the band's live performances justice, pretty much at least. If you're like me, a fan who hasn't seen them in concert, "Live at Slane Castle" just might make you more determined to go and see them if you have the chance!
May 1, 2012 Update: A few days ago, I finally got to see the Chili Peppers in concert for the first time, and was not let down. It obviously wasn't QUITE the same without John Frusciante and with Josh Klinghoffer in his place, but all the members still managed to deliver, including him. Now that I can talk from a firsthand experience, I can say that the band sure knows how to put on a show, and "Live at Slane Castle" is a great representation of what their live shows are like!
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