You could probably count on one hand the number of bands these days that give live performances as intense and zestful as those of Stone Temple Pilots, so playing after them is certainly a considerable challenge. But the Red Hot Chili Peppers held their own under the stars in Irvine, as the two multiplatinum acts joined for one of the summer’s best large-venue rock shows.
Following a turn by ex-Thelonious Monster leader Bob Forrest’s current band the Bicycle Thief, animated singer Scott Weiland led his Led Zeppelin-influenced STP cohorts through another of their standard powerhouse performances, the first of two here with RHCP.
Hit after rock-radio hit from their four-album Atlantic Records catalog (“Plush,” “Down” “Vasoline,” “Sex Type Thing,” “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart,” the latter featuring Chilis drummer Chad Smith sitting in) during the quartet’s 50-minute slot sounded as immediate and fresh as they did the first time, owing no doubt to a renewed sense of purpose among the band members since Weiland’s release from jail in L.A. earlier in the year.
“Sorry for making you wait three years,” the mohawked frontman remarked following the melodic vagabond charm of “Interstate Love Song,” referring to the band’s lack of touring before this year. But STP more than made up for it with a rock-solid display that only a band with as much empowering history and as many great songs as the Chili Peppers could hope to adequately follow.
Weiland — who at one point ventured about 10 rows into the crowd and sang while surrounded by jubilant kids — also imparted some election-year wisdom that earned a round of Bronx cheers from the packed house. “Half the country looks like they’re ready to vote for a fascist, and the other half looks like they’re ready to vote for a Nazi,” he said.
Known as an inconsistent live act since the early ’90s, the hot-again funk-rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing near home for the first time since New Year’s Eve (not counting a private KROQ show at the Whisky on Thursday), reached down deep and came up with an impressive 90-minute headlining presentation featuring many of the best tunes from throughout their up-and-down 17-year history.
They opened their set, as they have for a year, with the elastic “Around the World,” from their superb 1999 comeback album “Californication” (Warner Bros.), and followed with two more of their finest tracks, the 1991 party anthem “Give It Away” and last year’s poignant smash “Scar Tissue.”
The ensuing fine assortment of material old (1987’s punk-thrash-funk workouts “Skinny Sweaty Man” and “Me & My Friends”) and new (from “Californication,” “I Like Dirt” and “Right on Time,” which had a cool Clash riff intro), as well as plenty of favorites from 1991’s superior “Bloodsugarsexmagik” album (“Suck My Kiss,” “Under the Bridge,” “If You Have to Ask”), made for a diverse and satisfying mix.
Further highlights included the repentant “Soul to Squeeze,” as well as an extra-long version of Iggy and the Stooges’ 1973 garage classic “Search and Destroy.” Former song, from 1993’s “Coneheads” soundtrack, is an elegy to former guitarist Hillel Slovak (who overdosed in 1988) that here included an intro tease of Led Zep’s “How Many More Times.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the future looked quite bleak for both the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Stone Temple Pilots, but against very long odds, both are enjoying successful comebacks that include excellent albums and reinvigorated concerts.