At Rogers Arena on March 18.
L.A. alternative rock relics and punk-funk pioneers the Red Hot Chili Peppers played to a stacked-to-the-rafters Rogers Arena on Saturday. While the lighting rig was the biggest spectacle, the band was tight and energetic the entire night, and, at least towards the end, frontman Anthony Kiedis was too.
The Chili Peppers began the show with a jam worthy of closing the night, with drummer Chad Smith, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, and the infamous Flea (wearing what can only be described as “hobo chic from the future” in ragged neon quilt-pants) coming out of the gates at 100 miles an hour, feeding off each other’s energy. Starting a string of hits, the jam morphed to the intro of “Can’t Stop”, one of their biggest tracks, to get the party started.
As soon as the first song kicked in, the large fixture of cylinder-shaped lights hovering above the audience illuminated and started moving, not stopping for the entire show. They were versatile, changing colours and dancing like waves of water 10 to 20 feet above the floor seats. Although the spectacle was mesmerizing, it was impossible not to think of those in the upper balcony, who might have struggled with the view.
Immediately after “Can’t Stop” the band launched into the punk-funk “Dani California”, with trippy reverse-colour and negative images of the band playing behind them on four separate screens, and the lights moving in sync to parts of the song. With Flea doing his best impression of the running man, and Klinghoffer flinging his hair and limbs violently in every direction, they moved into “Scar Tissue”, with the crowd cheering loudly during Klinghoffer’s rework of John Frusciante’s epic guitar solo.
“Hello beautiful Canadians!” singer Anthony Kiedis exclaimed to a wall of cheers before saying that the show was “dedicated to Mr Johnny B. Good, Chuck Berry”, and that “We might not be here without him”—a fitting tribute to the musician, who passed away earlier that day at the age of 90. While he spoke, the band started up another jam that transitioned into new single “Dark Necessities” from its latest album The Getaway. Later in the set, the Chili Peppers would play a shortened cover of “Johnny B. Good” as a homage to the influential rock ‘n’ roll pioneer.
Flea played “Pea” from 1995’s One Hot Minute on his own, with the bassist exclaiming “I’m a pacifist, so I can fuck your shit up”, drawing applause and jeers from the audience. The band joined him and played a punk-rock outro to finish the song.
The group played passionately and rocked out with minute-long jams between many of the songs. The Hollywood quartet proceeded to play favourites such as “Wet Sand”, “Californication”, “Parallel Universe”, and “Under the Bridge”, which had everyone’s lighters out and the crowd singing every word their biggest hits of the ‘90s.
While the band was vibrant and spirited throughout the entire set, Kiedis was untypically reserved for much of the show. Wearing a white t-shirt and black shorts with what looked like pyjama pants underneath, Kiedis primarily hung off the mic stand, and disappeared offstage at the end of many of the songs. While it was possible that he may still be recovering from a tendon injury from earlier in the tour, he did, at various points in the set, choose to run and jump around the stage.
The final three songs before the encore started with the massive ‘90s single “Suck My Kiss”. Kiedis returned without his top with a hop and a skip, full of newfound energy, as if he had chugged a Red Bull or even snorted a line before coming back onstage. With his fresh vitality, it seemed as if his shirtlessness had unleashed his superpower. To which we say: “Keep your shirt off, Anthony. Please.”
The two-song encore had a flimsy start, with “Goodbye Angels” from their newest release. Though a decent recent track, a deeper cut from the back catalogue may have created a bit more emotion in the room, rather than the tepid reaction the audience had to some of the new material. Predictably, the band closed the show with “Give It Away”, letting the audience become more animated for a few minutes.
As the band left the stage, Flea went up to the mic and said, “Spread peace and love wherever you go—it’s the only true power we have”, eliciting an even larger reaction from the crowd. A solid performance with an extravagant lighting rig made for a memorable show with one of the most iconic acts of the ‘90s—but let’s just hope that Anthony Kiedis transforms into the shirtless superhero earlier in the set next time.