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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Red Hot Chilis Bring Spice to Town




They still like getting naked on stage, they had a No. 1 single this summer, and bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary recently shouted to a Baltimore audience, "By the way, fuck NATO!"


What's a rockin' Russian or a funk-crazy expat not to love about the Red Hot Chili Peppers?


They're back, baby, and givin' it away this Saturday with a free MTV-sponsored concert in front of St. Basil's.


After a mid-'90s lull, during which their best song came off the "Beavis and Butthead Do America" soundtrack, the L.A. funk-rock-rap-metal band is cool again. The Chili Peppers' globe-trotting summer and Russian debut serves to promote an already successful comeback album, "Californication," which reached No. 3 and boasts the No. 1 hit "Scar Tissue."


The revamping of the storied and once drug-smitten band has been spurred by the return of (a clean) John Frusciante, the guitarist who collaborated on the 1991 album "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" ("Under the Bridge," "Give it Away"), which sold more than 2 million copies. They've also rehired producer Rick Rubin, who first worked with the band on the same album.


Their trip to the top second-time around has been marred with rumors and truths, good music and not - and the drug problems that have long plagued the band and led to the death in 1998 of original memberHillel Slovak.


"Freaky tribulations," is how lead singer Anthony Kiedis described events in a recent online interview. "Yeah, there's an instability factor. I couldn't take the time to go over the history of discombobulation that this band has been through. We all know not to project how many years this thing is going to work. Right now, it's working like crazy."


It was like crazy at Woodstock '99, when toward the end of the Chili Peppers' performance young concert-goers decided to use "peace candles" to set fire to everything in sight. As the riots escalated, and the end of their set was suddenly imminent, the band broke into Hendrix's "Fire" - yet another hard-to-ignore antic from the band also memorable for its light bulb outfits at Woodstock in 1994.


Fans have swooned over Kiedis' vocal talents exhibited on "Californication," as he has been better known for his rap-style lyrics interspersed with "wordless hyperbark," as one critic put it.


The sentiment of the album as a whole hardly reflects its title.


"It's about California and Hollywood having such a profound effect on the planet," Kiedis explained, "of the good and the bad of that. Of how people dream of this weird, magical place that is really kind of the end of the world, the Western Hemisphere's last stop."


They can get sweet, at times. Though the extremity of the group's on-stage stunts may vary, the audience should expect a full range of songs, from hard and sassy to soft and pensive, a bit of the "Blood Sugar" old, a bit of the new and hopefully not the before and in-between.


"It's real honest and raw," drummer Chad Smith told E! Online, on the band's born-again musical chemistry.


As for the concert, to be televised by Russian and European MTV, the group's creative, funked-up recipe of visual shock, captivating guitar solos, melodious vocals and the occasional rap will try to knock your socks off (not those socks, if you'll recall where exactly they've been worn).


As the hypercharged, frantic bass-thumping Flea puts it: Expect an "explosion of color and sound that'll boggle your mind and bedoozle your booty."


So come do that to yourself, for free, tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the heart of Moscow.


The support bands lined up for Saturday's concert on Vasilyevsky Spusk are Gorky Park, I.F.K. and Zdob Si Zdub. Metro: Ploshchad Revolyutsii. Vasilyevsky Spusk is just off Red Square, behind St. Basil's.