They can’t stop. They are addicted to the shindig. And their audience is absolutely likeminded.
Given the lukewarm critical response to their latest album, I’m With You, the Red Hot Chili Peppers in many ways have never been less red or less hot as they are now. But on stage, whether they feel they have something to prove or not, the bouncy Los Angeles funk-rockers carry on stoutly and sexily. They’re all about tension and release, verse and chorus – Californication, if you will.
At a sold-out Air Canada Centre on Friday (the first of two shows there, and the opening concert of 10 in Canada altogether), the recent inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gave “arena rock” the best possible name. The quartet (plus a keyboardist and a percussionist) sprinkled in tunes from I’m With You (including the cow-belled, typically Peppered The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie) but leaned heavily upon material more well-known and clearly well-received. “Take me to the place I love,” frontman Anthony Kiedis flatly crooned on Under the Bridge, “take me all the way.
The shirtless bassist Flea was in taut form torso-wise but more rubbery when it came to note-popping. On the Peppers’ classic cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, his thumb was a superstar.
Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who replaced the fluid virtuoso John Frusciante in 2010, neither stood out nor disappointed. He kicked up a noisy commotion at times, and generally countered strongly against his band’s excited groove.
A two-song encore of Around the World and Give it Away seemed a bit chintzy. We didn’t hear Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, one of the cuts on the band’s new covers EP We Salute You, out May 1.
The true north strong and free was saluted, mind you. Klinghoffer changed into a blue Maple Leaf jersey and the Will Ferrell-lookalike drummer Chad Smith walked off the stage last, departing with “I love Rush.”
Loving the rush, the Chili Peppers aren’t ones for going through the motions. Stopping doesn’t seem to be in their DNA. And so, the shindig continues, all the way.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers I’m With You tour plays Toronto again, April 28; Ottawa, April 30; Montreal, May 2; Vancouver, Nov. 17; Calgary, Nov. 19; Edmonton, Nov. 21 and 22; Saskatoon, Nov. 24; Winnipeg, Nov. 26.
Monarchy of Roses
Throw Away Your Television
Hard to Concentrate
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Right on Time
If You Have to Ask
Factory of Faith
Under the Bridge
By the Way
Around the World
Give it Away