Red Hot Chili Peppers serve up an energized set at ACC
Maybe it was their newfound status as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, maybe it was the addition of new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who stepped in to replace founding member John Frusciante in 2009. Whatever the reason, the Red Hot Chili Peppers served up an energized, inspired two-hour set at the Air Canada Centre Friday night in the first of two back-to-back shows, the Peppers’ first tour dates since being enshrined in the Rock Hall two weeks ago.
After opening up with “Monarchy of Roses,” a single off the mixed-reviewed album I’m With You (2011), the band jumped right into a string of classic, reliable hits that included “Can’t Stop,” “Dani California” and “Otherside.” In typical Peppers fashion, frontman Anthony Kiedis limited his crowd interaction, keeping the set compact. But bassist Flea did show Toronto some love at the end of the three-song encore by shouting out to what’s been nearly 30 years of the band performing here.
The group demonstrated the maturing effect that those 30 years have had within their performance. Sure, the Peppers had their fun, with Anthony Kiedis and Flea rocking a pair of signature quirky fashion statements and the bare-chested bassist busting out a handstand before launching into “Around the World”. But the days of Kiedis and co. recklessly bouncing around the stage are over. Kiedis, for the most part, remained behind the mic stand and, as a result, conserved the necessary energy to let his vocals echo throughout the arena, particularly during “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” and “Californication.”
When Kiedis’ booming voice wasn’t being prominently featured, the band had some powerful instrumentals to fall back on. In addition to Flea, Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith, the band boasted Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco, who was featured on “I’m With You” and is currently touring with them, and keyboardist Chris Warren. The two founding members gave Klinghoffer, Smith, Refosco and Warren a moment in the spotlight as they all jammed to open the encore.
The only downside of the evening was that the set could have been a longer. With 10 albums to fall back on, the raucous crowd of 14,200 (which clearly featured some of the band’s original fans as well as some new, younger supporters) would have gladly stayed on their feet another hour to hear the Peppers continue cranking out hits. “Scar Tissue,” “Snow (Hey Oh)” and “Aeroplane” were among the notable songs not played.
Red Hot Chili Peppers play the Air Canada Centre again tonight (April 28).