It’s funny how some moments remain unchanged in your memory despite the passing of years and despite the fact that even while you’re living them you’re unaware of what they will become. So it was for me in May 2002, when I just happened to be watching Festivalbar.
Among the many artists who competed that night, my attention was caught by the guests of the evening: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was eleven years old and I grew up playin’ with Barbies, girly clothes and pop songs so when they were announced, I did not even know how to write their name (“papers”? “Peppers”?); then an electric little blue-haired man came on stage to play a incendiary version of “By the way”, accompanied by other shirtless tattooed boys.
From that moment on I couldn’t stop looking everywhere, on the radio and the web, for that song. Very soon my dad bought me their cd and, without him knowing it, those 16 tracks gave birth to an unexpected and infinite passion that will not stop burning.
The first time I saw them was on June 8th, 2004: San Siro stadium, thousands of pieces of advice from my parents and an irresistible urge to jump on the notes of “Give it away.” I was happy, with a flushed face, but disappointed in my seat … Needless to say, of course, I demanded standing-room tickets for the following concerts and believe me, there were a lot of them! During the long stretches of time between concerts, I continued to write and sing my songs and with an incredible determination and tried to learn to play the guitar, all while I waited for the perfect opportunity to meet the Red Hot Chili Peppers personally.
The opportunity came April 28th, 2006 at the end of the concert they played at the Alcatraz club in Milan to promote their latest studio effort “Stadium Arcadium.” Very few people (who had been lucky enough to win tickets thanks to MTV) were huddled by the stage to attend an amazing performance recorded for MTV Italy’s cameras. Just when a sweaty Kiedis finished the greetings (in Italian!), I ran outside to look for them.
Unfortunately that night it had rained heavily and I did not know where to go or where to find the Red’s stage exit, so I arrived late and met “only” two of the four beloved guys: Flea firstly, and then Chad! Anthony and John who had already boarded on the Mercedes bus that would take them to the hotel… Needless to say that the St. Paul’s boy and the little man of Melbourne were very cute, and although I was without a camera (because of the concert rules), they agreed to take a very dark picture with my prehistoric phone, without flash!
The Stadium’s tour also took me to Paris, where I attended two absolutely epic shows in a very hot June! The summer of 2006 I even went to the United States for a coast to coast trip that allowed me to visit the places of the Chili Peppers. When I returned from America I waited for two more concert dates on which I could really focus for the fateful “meeting”: Milan! Incredibly, the dream came true and I was lucky enough to meet them all and see them in their “daily life”. Between a tea and a tisane we also took some pictures together and talked about my various “adventures” on the road to meeting them.
The only one who I didn’t have the courage to ask for a photo was Anthony, accompanied with his tall ex-girlfriend Heather. She was very annoyed due to the many fans who were there waiting to see the guys and she tried to shirk into more “secluded” corners. Anyway he was magnificent, and we chatted a bit together, even with my parents. I was in front of my myth, I was talking with him … amazing!
Probably all the disbelief, the excitement and the fear of a possible rejection, kept me from asking to take a photo together. However, one of the things that I will never forget happened the last of the three days in Milan; in fact, a very shy and awkward me found the courage to give, to a more timid Frusciante, a white rose to thank him for the wonderful concert I had just attended. John, humble beyond belief, was wide-eyed and amazed asked, “Oh, really for me? Thank you “and bowed in front of me … this still seems completely absurd! Everything was great, but I still wanted that picture with Kiedis and I had no intention of giving up the four Californians!
In June 2007 they returned to Italy to tour the aftermath of the Stadium, I’d had my tickets in hand for months, but unfortunately this time something stopped me: surgery forced me to stay in bed during the same week in which there was the concert. Needless to say, I was completely “destroyed”, ‘cause probably it would have been the last chance to see them live before the break at the end of the tour.
So it was, but nobody would have imagined such a long break … four long years of silence, of scenes of abandonment; but of course, I continued to follow all their adventures on the internet, anyway no news of their return came out. John quit the band and the two years of total inactivity began to weigh too much, but fortunately, with the tribute to Neil Young in January 2010, I realized that things were beginning to move forward again, thanks to the new talented guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.
I had already been following Ataxia and all the collab works of the Frusciante-Klinghoffer duo, and I was excited about the newcomer, despite the departure of John … now I wanted a new album, of course! Months passed by and totally unexpectedly in March 2011 facebook gives me incredible news: Benefit dinner with Flea and Anthony Kiedis for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. Yeah, I absolutely had to go! In three days I had decided and organized everything and I went (despite to the despair of my parents) totally alone, to pursue my dream.
I already had been to LA twice, so I knew how to get around and where to go and finally the fateful Tuesday of the dinner came. I met the beautiful Kim on facebook and luckily we met at the corner of Cafe Stella on Sunset Blvd (where the evening was going to be held), encouraging each other, we went to the event. Anthony was there, seated on a sort of cask talkin’ to other girls … After saying our names at the entrance, a pretty girl led us to the table that, amazingly, was next to two of Fairfax and Josh’s! I still couldn’t believe it, when Flea and Anthony entered the room and they walk in our direction with dazzling smiles. I was stuffed and could barely move my head. The first to come forward was Flea, who gave me his hand and started talking to me as if we had always known each other.
After him, came Anthony and he said to me: ”Anthony, it’s a pleasure to have you here” … yeah, I almost died! Gossip, photos and autographs and then gossip again and a funny situation in the bathroom with Anthony… I, showing a bit of the wine I drank, I ran to the bathroom’s mirror to put lipstick on, when Anthony came in and asked me “Are you havin’ fun”?, I was going to respond (stuttering) when another guy, who was waiting to into the bathroom, switched off the light: blackout! Quiet … we were able to turn it on again in a few seconds, and during all that incredible night the wonderful Patti Smith was playin’. It was a long night, so I can’t write down what exactly happened, but it was certainly unforgettable and unrepeatable, perfect!
Finally in June a lot of news about the new album came out and more concerts were announced, but I wanted another adventure. In August, I left Italy for another crazy experience and I attended, with a VIP ticket, an exclusive concert at Club Nokia in Los Angeles; where the four played for charity once again in honor of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. Thanks to my ticket I was able to enjoy a good view, a fantastic (and a little alcoholic) pre-show and an unforgettable after-party with the guys on the private Target Terrace at LA Live… and even this time everything was amazing!
The return to Italy was a bit traumatic, but now I’m waiting for the European tour, accompanied by “I’m With You,” the tenth and gorgeous album from the California guys. Yes, even if I am a fan of the old pepper’s style and of masterpieces like BSSM, I unconditionally love the 14 new tracks and the new sound that Josh has brought to the band.
I had the chance to meet him a couple of times and, talkin’ together, I discoverd not only a wonderful and humble person, but an incredible artist too. I also had the opportunity too see his strength and his creativity live on stage and I must say that he’s amazing! Obviously, he’s different from John but “different”doesn’t mean worse. “Factory of Faith”, “Police Station” and “Monarchy of roses” are just some of my favorites …
I don’t want to judge and share even more of my opinions about their new work, because I think it’s too personal givin’ a value to the songs and to the feelings you can bring to them… everyone is different, so all the songs can be savored, loved and hated in different ways. Personally, I love the old Peppers, I love the new Peppers… there’s nothing else to add!