The mix of lighters and cellphones told the story at the Red Hot Chili Peppers show Monday night at TD Banknorth Garden. During a ballad sung by John Frusciante, a sea of hands shot into the air: Young ones waved glowing mobiles, older ones held flickering Bics aloft.
It was an impressive sight given how unlikely this level of generation-spanning success is for the members of the California quartet at this stage of their careers. Forget the well-documented substance abuse issues; this is a group composed of three insanely accomplished musicians fronted by a narrowly gifted singer, all of whom have been unafraid to let their funk flag flap in the breeze while making shockingly few compromises for mainstream success.
Yet a sold-out house of 14,450 fans -- a mix of frat boys, tween girls, indie hipsters, parents, and kids -- eagerly embraced the Peppers' angular and eruptive , near ly two - hour performance.
They cheered frontman Anthony Kiedis' s krump and jive as he rapped and sang his way through hits like the warped ``Can't Stop," the swinging ``Dani California" and the rat-a-tat rhythms of oldie ``Me and My Friends." They rewarded bassist Flea, monster beat man Chad Smith, and guitar alchemist Frusciante with rapturous whoops as they opened and closed with inventive instrumental jams.
While the set was a no-frills affair, a large and intricate arrangement of video screens and lighted bars behind and above the stage beamed images of the group and a dazzling array of lights into the arena as the band laid down the gentle grooves of ``Scar Tissue" and surged through the bottom-heavy funk of ``Blood Sugar Sex Magik."
A selection of tracks from the new double disc ``Stadium Arcadium" were well-received, even as they pointed up a sameness of style in the band's repertoire over the past few albums. After a heartfelt thanks from Flea to the crowd for ``giving our music life," the band put the night to bed with a bouncy ``Give It Away."
The Mars Volta's seamless opening set was a wild mash-up of acid rock guitar squalls, offbeat time signatures, chaotic percussive attacks , and Cedric Bixler-Zavala's robust shrieking.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers return to the Garden on Oct. 20.