Red Hot Chili Peppers – Air Canada Centre, Toronto – April 27, 2012

Review and Photos by Scott McAlpine

To kick off the first night of back-to-back performances in Toronto, it appeared as though the Red Hot Chilli Peppers played a last minute game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ to decide their fashion statement for the show. Clearly ‘Scissors’ won, as frontman Anthony Kiedis took the stage with the right lower leg of his pants shorn off to reveal a black, knee-high sports sock, and flamboyant bassist Flea (Michael Balzary) appeared much the same, using his left leg and a white sock to reveal the similar look. If the intent was to demonstrate the fun-loving energy of this veteran California punk-funk rock band, it wasn’t necessary, because the show itself exuded the attitude ten-fold.

Opening with “Monarchy of Roses” from their latest album, I’m with You, the Air Canada Centre quickly took on the aura of a block party, with the crowd on their feet and dancing, right along with Flea, who bounced around the stage and interacted with the always-comical Chad Smith on drums. With his foot up and leaning on the kit, Smith did his impression of Captain Morgan while overseeing a bass and guitar jam between Flea and Josh Klinghoffer, who stepped up to replace guitarist John Frusciante in 2009. Overall, however, the band’s new material from I’m With You didn’t get much of a workout during the set, as they played only four tracks, including “Factory of Faith”, “Look Around”, and “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”. Instead, the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees relied heavily on their older material, proving the song choices to be crowd favourites.

RCHP’s energized cover of Steve Wonder’s “Higher Ground” had show goers partying hard, while “Under the Bridge” began with Klinghoffer in the spotlight and playing on his knees, as the crowd lifted lighters and cell phones high into the air for a sing-along. The songs were enhanced and given a new edge with the assistance of keyboardist Chris Warren and Brazil percussionist Mauro Refosco, who played on I’m With You and is now accompanying the tour. With high def video screens a-plenty mounted above the stage and delivering stellar visual quality to match the band’s exceptional audio, Klinghoffer and Mauro introduced “Californication” with a Spanish Flamenco vibe, while the audience was treated to a ballet of pills and prescription bottles on the big screens, labelled as youth, happiness, and beauty, etc.

As if the main set wasn’t enough to please fans, the encore lifted spirits even higher, beginning with Smith returning to the stage wearing overalls and enticing fans to clap. At six foot three inches tall, Smith’s stature is as big as his personality, as seen when he dropped back into place behind his drum kit and led into an aggressive percussion jam with Mauro. Cheering was boosted when Klinghoffer re-appeared wearing a Toronto Maple Leaf’s shirt and Flea returned via walking on his hands, before grabbing his bass and giving it hell with the onset of “Around the World”. The evening ended with “Give It Away”, from the band’s 1991 album Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik.

Though Kiedis, Klinghoffer, Mauro, and Warren bid the crowd good night and exited the stage, Smith hung back for a minute or two to toss his drumsticks to fans while proclaiming his love for veteran Toronto rockers Rush and shouting, “Thank you, Toronto. You’ve been so fucking cool!”

No Chad, thank YOU, and to every one of the Peppers! YOU’RE the ones with the cool factor down pat, and your fans couldn’t be more grateful.

Set List:

1. Monarchy of Roses
2. Can't Stop
3. Dani California
4. Otherside
5. Look Around
6. Throw Away Your Television
7. Hard to Concentrate
8. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
9. Right On Time
10. If You Have To Ask
11. Factory of Faith
12. Under the Bridge
13. Higher Ground
14. Californication
15. By the Way
16. Chad and Mauro Jam
17. Around the World
18. Meet Me at the Corner
19. Give It Away