Red Hot Chili Peppers kicked off a stadium tour in Vancouver on Wednesday night (March 29) and also launched a year of big concerts at BC Place Stadium.
The American band’s 18-song set was played for a jam-packed stadium where people lined up for everything, including entry, toilets, tour T-shirts and, of course, the venue’s new $5 food items at two Dawson’s Hot Dogs stands.
Hitting the stage, the Chili Peppers launched into an extended, slightly delirious and entirely enjoyable opening jam without singer Anthony Kiedis. Truth is, I’d be OK with bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith touring as an instrumental act, such is the trio’s power.
Flea is a monster from another planet, a bass badass who really is the star of the RHCP show. Walking out with a wave to the crowd, he set the tone with a cartwheel before strapping on a four-stringed Fender graced with a “Support Your Local Freak” sticker. I very much support that freak, who gyrated and grooved all night long.
The stage featured vertical video screens on either side, and a cool display that curved up behind and above the band. The sound? As good as it gets at BC Place. Trust me, back in the 1980s concerts sounded like crap in that dome, but sound technology has since come a long way.
MY CONCERT REVIEW: Flea shines as Red Hot Chili Peppers kick off stadium tour in Vancouver and a year of big concerts at @bcplace:https://t.co/TKfxBEGG9M— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) March 30, 2023
Here's a quick clip of "Otherside" Wednesday night.
@livenationwest @ChiliPeppers #RedHotChiliPeppers #concerts #music pic.twitter.com/e3jkqjTSgl
The Red Hot Chili Peppers concert was unreal last night. These guys can still put on an unforgettable performance after all these years pic.twitter.com/uOjxasTv0A— Hazey (@hazeykthx) March 30, 2023
Until Wednesday I hadn’t seen the Chili Peppers since their groundbreaking blast of “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” three decades ago, first at the PNE Forum in 1992, then at the Lollapalooza festival date at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium a few months later. They were good then, probably better now, with a more diverse mix of songs, many with strong melodies.
Somehow I didn’t expect this band to make it this far, to play to this many people this many years later. Back then I figured they’d implode by the end of the 1990s, but here we are. The Chili Peppers are more popular than ever.
During Wednesday’s concert I caught Kiedis reading lyrics from a monitor a few times too many, but we’ll forgive him for that. But that “Bruno” look of his these days? Unforgivable.
Found on setlist.fm, the set list didn’t include many of the band’s biggest hits, including “Dani California,” “Under the Bridge,” “Suck My Kiss” and even the raging Stevie Wonder cover, “Higher Ground.” More of those would have been welcomed, but Red Hot Chili Peppers still delivered a hot show at BC Place on a relatively warm spring night.
The night’s highlights were the opening “Can’t Stop,” “Otherside,” “By the Way,” “Californication,” and the encore-ending “Give It Away,” which got everyone up dancing.
Wednesday’s openers were King Princess followed by City and Colour. The latter won with Dallas Green’s amazing voice. Seriously, I’d kill to have that guy’s vocal range. Green, the only Ontarian in an otherwise all-B.C. band, is grooving a Tom Petty vibe these days, especially with a sunburst Rickenbacker guitar over his shoulder. Look for a new City and Colour album out this week.
As for BC Place, the stadium has several other concerts booked for 2023 including Luke Combs (May 27), Ed Sheeran (Sept. 2), Beyoncé (Sept. 11), Coldplay (Sept. 22-23) and the return there of Guns ‘N’ Roses (Oct. 16).