As our regular readers might recall, Pop & Hiss didn't especially enjoy Red Hot Chili Peppers' appearance Sunday night during the otherwise-delightful Super Bowl halftime show by Bruno Mars.
Did our distaste for the band's rendition of "Give It Away" have anything to do with the fact that Flea appeared to be playing a bass that wasn't plugged in, as a number of keen-eyed observers pointed out following the performance? It did not.
Before it's a concert, the Super Bowl halftime show is -- like the football game that surrounds it -- a full-tilt TV spectacle, one far more dependent on energy and charisma and visual style than on whether actual instruments are being actually played before our eyes and ears.
A great live vocal performance, such as the one Mars gave at the end of his gig in "Just the Way You Are," is nothing to be dismissed, especially if the singer is also busy providing energy and charisma and visual style. But it's not crucial to a halftime's success.
Enough people have made noise about the Chili Peppers' miming -- though not nearly so many, we'll point out, as scrutinized Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance in the wake of her lip-synching "scandal" at President Obama's second inaugaration last year -- that Flea was moved Tuesday to weigh in on the matter with a statement on the band's website.
The takeaway? The Chili Peppers (or three-fourths of them) weren't playing their instruments at the Super Bowl.
But Flea has his reasons for doing so, and they're ones that strike us as pretty reasonable. In fact, he writes, "I would do it all the same way again."
Read on below for Flea's full statement:
The Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it. The last time we did it (or tried to) was in the late 80's, we were thrown off of 'The Top Of the Pops' television program in the U.K. during rehearsals because we refused to mime properly, I played bass with my shoe, John played guitar atop Anthony's shoulders, and we basically had a wrestling match onstage, making a mockery of the idea that it was a real live performance.
We mimed on one or two weird MTV shows before that and it always was a drag. We take our music playing seriously, it is a sacred thing for us, and anyone who has ever seen us in concert (like the night before the Super Bowl at the Barclays Center), knows that we play from our heart, we improvise spontaneously, take musical risks, and sweat blood at every show. We have been on the road for 31 years doing it.
So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it. We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell. Plus, we the RHCP all love football too and that played a big part in our decision. We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig. I met and spoke with Bruno, who was a beautiful dude, a real talented musician, and we worked out something that seemed like it would be fun.
We recorded a track for the day, just banged one out from our hearts that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh on guitar.
For the actual performance, Josh, Chad, and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not. Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance. It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people.
I am grateful to the NFL for having us. And I am grateful to Bruno, who is a super talented young man for inviting us to be a part of his gig. I would do it all the same way again.
We, as a band, aspire to grow as musicians and songwriters, and to continue to play our guts out live onstage for anyone who wants to get their brains blown out.