RHCP heat up London for an unmissable stadium show full of hits and headstands
There’s no denying that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are cool.
With bassist Flea making his entrance to the stage via a handstand walk, his flowy skirt dropping down to reveal his underwear to the crowd of near 60,000 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, that much is clear. It’s hard to envision anyone else making the act look cool, let alone a 60-year-old man, but the Chili Peppers’ secret? They’re not really trying.
Whether it comes as a result of monumental global success or through growing older (most likely a combination of the two) the Red Hot Chili Peppers simply aren’t trying to be cool anymore – and they never really have. Bringing their Unlimited Love tour to north London for the night, the legendary four-piece know exactly what the people want to see, and with little to prove now four decades into dominating the rock sphere – they’re ready to give it to them.
Wasting no time barrelling through the hits, ‘Can’t Stop’, ‘Snow ((Hey Oh))’ and ‘Suck My Kiss’ make early appearances, with frontman Anthony Kiedis dedicating a mass sing-along of ‘Scar Tissue’ to the late American singer Tony Bennett.
Darting from left to right throughout the set as an everchanging psychedelic backdrop blurs his movements, performers don’t come much more charismatic than Flea. Whether he’s delivering high kicks or bunny hopping in front of Chad Smith’s drum kit, his playful act verges on downright silly at times, the polar opposite of guitarist John Frusciante – the undeniable star of the show.
An effortlessly cool presence on stage left, Frusciante is the glue that binds the Chili Peppers personality and musicality into one epic package. Rejoining the band’s touring party in 2020 after a 13-year break, the chemistry between each of the four men onstage is palpable. With the guitarist arguably inspiring much of the band’s best work, newer cuts from 2022 albums ‘Unlimited Love’ and ‘Return Of The Dream Canteen’ find their home seamlessly within the set, with ethereal riff-laden ‘Black Summer’ and upbeat funk number ‘Tippa My Tongue’ proving highlights of the evening.
Testament to the Chili Peppers impressive longevity, after blending a brief cover of ‘London Calling’ into a frenetic rendition of 1999 track ‘Right On Time’, Flea takes a moment to reflect on one of the band’s first London shows at Camden’s Dingwalls:
“We stayed in a youth hostel, and we just wanted anyone to listen to our band… We were begging people, ‘Please listen to us!’… Now, here we are,” the bassist grins as darkness falls on the stadium.
The screams of tens of thousands ring out, softening as phone torches make their way into the air whilst Flea and Frusciante stand facing one another. The lively crowd now near silent watching on in awe, there’s a feeling of mutual respect as the two musicians play in unison, finding rhythm in one another. A reminder of the calibre of musical talent onstage tonight, the jam draws to a close as Frusciante teases the opening notes of ‘Californication’, snapping the stadium out of their trance.
Saving the biggest singalongs for the end of the night, a triple whammy of hits ‘By the Way’, ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘Give It Away’ bring proceedings to a close as a shirtless Flea commands the crowd from atop a stage monitor. With fans hoisted onto shoulders as Kiedis leads a final singalong, the frontman makes no attempt to put on a rockstar façade, grinning as he takes one last look at the gathered masses before softly offering his parting words: “Until we meet again, be good to each other”.
Photo credit: Samir Hussein / Getty