“I said hey now, We’ve got to make it rain somehow.” These lyrics from “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” the lead single from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first new album in five years, turned out to be telling. After half a decade away the band landed back on the scene with a vengeance at the Roxy on Monday night, giving it their all to see if they could “make it rain” again nearly 30 years after forming the band as high school friends in Hollywood.
In advance of releasing the Rick Rubin-produced album “I’m With You,” the Chili Peppers have been playing a handful of intimate California club shows. Monday’s gig will air on Fuse TV on Aug. 30, the day of the album’s release. Although the Chili Peppers are old pros, things are different this time around. Their long-time guitarist, John Frusciante, has left the band for a second time, presumably for good, and has been replaced by 31-year-old Josh Klinghoffer. The Chili Peppers have a long history of running through guitarists, but Klinghoffer immediately seemed like one of the family, handling the complex guitar parts and improvised solos with ease.
During their nearly two-hour set, a shirtless Anthony Kiedis paced the stage like a prowling tiger, while Flea, arguably one of contemporary rock’s most talented bassists, kept the pace with his funky rhythms, bounding up and down and shaking his purple mane. Drummer Chad Smith seemed utterly thrilled to be there, smiling and wailing on his kit.
The Chili Peppers kicked off with “Monarchy of Roses,” the upbeat first track from the new album, and segued into 2002’s “Can’t Stop,” provoking a wild reaction from an audience largely made up of contest winners, friends of the band and industryites.
Despite the passing of time, the quintessential punk-funk band seems no worse for the wear, delivering a satisfying set of old favorites while leaving plenty of room to road test the new material. Stand outs from the new album included “Factory of Faith” with contagious, driving bass lines and funky guitar flourishes, and “Ethiopia,” a slow builder that showcases Kiedis’ smooth, sultry vocals and Klinghoffer’s able axmanship.
Concluding their set with “By the Way,” the band returned to the stage for an extended instrumental jam before Flea quipped, “We’re gonna play one you’ve never heard before.” They then launched into “Give It Away,” one of their biggest hits, sending the audience’s energy level into the stratosphere.