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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chili Peppers Paint the Town Red




Among the more than 200,000 thrill-seekers, fans and curious folk who filled Vasilevsky Spusk behind St. Basil's Cathedral on Saturday to hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert, the first 30-odd rows enjoyed a great show.


As the initial guitar notes of "Under the Bridge" sounded about halfway into the set, lighters were held aloft while girls on shoulders swayed their heads back and forth. The nearby crowd wahoooed enthusiastically and attempted to sing along with a shirtless Anthony Kiedis caressing the microphone.


As for the masses swallowed in their own revelry farther from the only slightly elevated stage, the slower ballad gave some fanatics an excuse to still their head-banging, take a swig of Baltika, urinate on someone and dash the bottle on the pavement.


Depending on where you were stationed (or stuck) - from Hotel Rossiya to Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge to infinity and beyond - and your tolerance for two hours of Russian support bands, the free MTV-sponsored concert with the still-not-too-old-for-this- but-pretty-damn-close funk-rock L.A. band was either a waste of a Saturday evening or totally awesome.


But whether from near or far away, "Scar Tissue" is a nice li'l ditty, as proven by the many who mumbled along to the sentimental tune and sent up appropriate yelps of satisfaction at the waning notes.


Sure, Kiedis and bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary were lacking that definitive muscle tone they boasted in the early Magik '90s, but enough ripples remain to keep the girls squealing, and "Californication," their latest album, with recently-returned guitarist John Frusciante, is well worth 65 rubles at your local kiosk.


To the relief of the more easily offended concertgoers, Flea chose to keep his trousers on, and Kiedis did not ask the devushki, young women, to throw their used tampons on stage, as he did at a concert earlier this summer. Excepting Flea's blazing blue hair, the group seemed tame in comparison to their usual fare - perhaps because the event will be televised on MTV channels worldwide in October. The mostly young audience stayed upbeat throughout, from the frenzied, inevitable crowd pleaser "Give it Away" to the closing Hendrix hymn "Fire," which failed to inspire any Woodstock-like rioting.


Longer lulls in the music were usually filled by chants of pertsy! pertsy!, or "peppers!," and synchronized fist-pumping.


At one point, the refrain was countered with "Zhirinovskyyyyy!," and a friendly verbal brawl began over who, between Kiedis and Vladimir Vulfovich, would make the better Russian president.


For Kiedis, the band's first trip to that "mysterious land far away," as he described it, was a "dream" come true. In a pre-concert press conference the day after arriving in Moscow, band members acknowledged the country's captivating spirit - and the pretty women they saw on the street, one of whom Flea swore he would marry.


Kiedis recalled that in America just a few years ago people sat in their houses "scared that the Russians would drop the bomb." Now, he says, Americans think Russia is only full of "gangstas and prostitutes."


Misconceptions aside, the Pertsy should leave Russia satisfied that Moscow also has some hard-core rockers.