Funk-rock foursome Red Hot Chili Peppers tore the roof off of a sold-out Rogers Arena on Saturday night, giving Vancouver fans a two hour tour-de-force of grungy goodness.
The Grammy Award-winning band have been on the road for a year promoting The Getaway, their eleventh studio album and first with producer Danger Mouse at the helm. RHCP and Vancouver go way back: this weekend’s concert marked their 17th (!) performance in our city, the first of which dates back to a 1985 New Year’s Eve show at the long-gone Graceland bar in Yaletown.
There was no mention of that gig last night or anything else, really; with the exception of a quick shout out to rock legend Chuck Berry (“we wouldn’t be here without him”), frontman Anthony Kiedis let his lyrics speak for him.
After a ten-minute “Intro Jam”, a staple at every Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, the guys tore into “Dani California” and “Scar Tissue”, neither of which made the setlist at their Seattle show the night before.
But with a hits catalogue as deep as theirs, the band was forced to skip over some anthems in favour of others. Head-banger “Higher Ground” was nowhere to be found; “Aeroplane” and “Otherside” were missing too. But fans who came expecting “Under the Bridge” weren’t thrown under the bus – the band’s 1992 power ballad made the cut, accompanied by 20,000 screaming back up vocalists.
With setlist changes abound, the only two things you can really count on at a RHCP show is that bassist Flea will walk across the stage on his hands, and that Kiedis will tear off his shirt at some point. And to the delight of fans standing in line to see the show last night, both happened (and by the way, both were awesome).
In addition to longtime members Kiedis, Flea, and drummer Chad Smith, The Getaway Tour is the second RHCP trek to feature guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined the group in 2009. Their Vancouver show was a bit of a reunion for the outfit; founding member Jack Irons, who played drums on their first demo tape, was one of Saturday night’s two opening acts.
RHCP were forced to postpone this tour after Kiedis tore a tendon in his ankle and needed surgery (he previously broke bones in his foot after jumping off a drum kit during their Stadium Arcadium tour a decade ago). But the singer didn’t rely on a wimpy guitar throne a la Dave Grohl or Axl Rose to power through the show; he leapt across the stage and bounced along to hits like “Suck My Kiss” and “Californication”. And Kiedis’ enthusiasm was contagious: when he bounced, we bounced.
Saturday night’s spectacle included more than 800 LED tube lights that stretched across the arena’s ceiling and moved and changed colour depending on the song. The intricate staging kept fans entertained during ho-hum tracks like “Dark Necessities” and “Go Robot”, both from the new album.
RHCP wrapped up with “By The Way” from the album of the same name and briefly left the stage while an image of Chuck Berry was projected on a giant screen (they paid tribute to the late rocker earlier in the evening with a cover of “Johnny B. Goode”). The boys returned moments later with an encore of “Give It Away” and the feeling in the room was downright giddy, as fans scanned their rows and sections for other like-minded souls to squeeze.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at Rogers Arena on March 18. The tour continues through June with stops in Calgary on May 29 and Montreal on June 20 (tickets available for purchase here).