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Red Hot Peppers crank it up

Veterans of funky punk offer spicy smorgasbord

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Flea, left, Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante and Chad Smith.

Flea, left, Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante and Chad Smith.

Michael Muller, Warner Bros. Records


An aged pepper has more spice. And when you have four peppers in a group, you have an array of flavors.

That's what fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers found out Wednesday night when the veterans of funky punk offered a tantalizing smorgasbord of tunes.

Bassist Flea, singer Anthony Kiedis, drummer Chad Smith and guitarist John Frusciante — collectively known as Red Hot Chili Peppers — kept a promise and made a return engagement to the great state of Utah.

The band cranked it up after the controlled chaos of noise-rock band the Mars Volta.

With a major light show, complete with a wall and ceiling full of LED lights, video screens and computerized and manned spotlights, the Peppers did their thing.

From the saucy samples of "Can't Stop" to the sing-along chorus of "Dani California," the band connected with the audience and had a little party.

Frusciante, looking like a '90s grunge-guy throwback, bent his guitar strings to new heights with each clean and gritty solo.

Smith set the even, yet, syncopated rhythms as the ever-flamboyant Flea got funky with his bass-string push-and-pull style.

Then there was Kiedis. The charismatic front man became a Red Hot shaman as he danced, shimmied and shook throughout the evening.

New songs such as "Charlie" and "Snow (Hey Oh)," lifted from the new album "Stadium Arcadium," blended well with such older Pepper hits as "Scar Tissue" and "Tell Me Baby."

Even the dark-alley groove of "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" sounded current and vital.

The surprise came when Flea (born Michael Balzary) bent out a string of disco notes and Frusciante tapped into his falsetto for a tongue-in-cheek rendition of the Donna Summer hit, "I Feel Love."

The band capped the show with the dynamic "Throw Away Your Television" and slowed things down with "Don't Forget Me."

"Tell Me Baby" and "What Is Soul" were the bookends to the title track to 1999's "Californication," which became a lonely sing-along cowboy anthem.

And, of course, the band played "By the Way."

For a group that started way back in 1983, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have managed to survive line-up changes (namely the guitar spot) and music trends.

And by the overwhelming response of the crowd Wednesday night, the guys in the band have nothing to worry about for at least another couple of years.

E-mail: scott@desnews.com