Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Gig Review 4th February @ Accor Stadium, Sydney NSW
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Accor Stadium, Homebush NSW
Saturday 4th February
Support: Post Malone
If you’ve ever been to Accor Stadium you know that even the closest seats in the stadium are a full pubs length away from the front of the stage. The furthest seats in this venue might as well be in another suburb and it’s fair to say this isn’t the type of place that hosts your local punk band on a Wednesday night. This enormous stadium that’s the size of a small town is a chore to get to and is only ever reserved for the biggest bands on the planet. Since it’s inception as an Olympic Games venue it has hosted the likes of AC/DC, U2, Guns N Roses, Taylor Swift, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, and tonight, Red Hot Chilli Peppers with Post Malone in tow.
I’m sitting in the stands, first tier up on halfway and tonight’s punters are piling in early. There’s no seats on the dance floor like GnR had back in November so it’s a lot more sociable on the ground. Tonight is a multigenerational affair, with the occasional family coming in. Everyones on their feet and mingling, energy is already high and so is Post Malone.
Do I know anything about his music? Fuck no. The most I’d heard from Posty was when he played Nirvana with Travis Barker during lockdown, the song he made with Ozzy Osbourne and the time he took mushies on Joe Rogan’s podcast while talking about Nekrogoblikon for four and a half hours. There’s no denying he’s a fascinating bloke though. This is the lad whose face tattoos influenced an entire generation of weird looking millennials to fuck their faces up with tattoo kits they bought online.
So was he any good tonight? Bloody oath he was. It takes a lot of mustard to stand in front of 50,000+ people with nothing more than a few lights and a backing track to deliver for a good hour. He held the gaze of an entire stadium and looking around, I saw a few older people quickly understand what all the fuss was about. This engaging young bloke covered every inch of that stage, spoke beautifully with the audience, all whilst carrying the biggest shiny smile on his inked-up dial.
No smile was bigger than when Chilli drummer Chad Smith brought out a guitar to Posty as he yanked a young fella out of the crowd. The young fella started off with a little ‘Under The Bridge’ and gets a laugh, before sliding into ‘Stay’. The young lad will talk about that moment for the rest of his life. Post grabs a beer and talks about Ozzy Osbourne, the dark prince’s retirement from touring and the time he got to make music with the legend. He launches into ‘Take What You Want’ as I witness the best fucking thing ever. I look down to the barricade and see a whole family jamming together. A skinny old bloke with a RHCP shirt is dancing with his 20-something-year-old daughter as she sings every word of Posty’s song. Mum was there too with a bunch of other friends but this moment is everything. You could see the pride in the mans eyes.
Posty finishes up with ‘White Iversion’ before telling this now rowdy crowd to “have a great fucking night, LET’S FUCKING PARTYYYYYY!!!!!”
The rush for the bar is on. I join the line for pricey mid-strength and the banter amongst the Gen X Boomers is loaded full of “he was alright ay?” and “I wouldn’t buy his CD, but I’d watch him live again for sure”. It’s a good vibe amongst this crowd and whoever paired Posty with the Chilli Peppers needs a medal. A good chunk of the younger crowd are here for Malone and would’ve grown up with their folks flogging Blood Sugar Sex Magik at high volume their whole lives. There’s a lot of positivity in the air and sets the scene perfectly for tonight’s main event
The lights dim as John Frusciante, Chad Smith and a shirtless Flea emerge to start off, not with a huge bang, but with an impromptu jam. Chad hits the giant gong behind him and the lads slip into a rocking back and forth that starts cruisey (as all jams do) before Flea takes the reigns, builds up the momentum to a crescendo and throws the entire stadium into ‘Around the World’. Anthony Kiedis runs out and kisses Flea on the head as if to say “you fucking nailed that mate.” Camera phones are raised in the air as the crowd sings “I know, I know for sure. That life is beautiful around the wor-orld….” The Chilli Peppers have come out charged and this is the most hyped I’ve seen a Sydney crowd in a long time. They rip into ‘Dani California’ and the crowd is buzzing. Everyone is moving and even the ones that don’t know half the words are singing every note. Even a song as solemn as ‘Scar Tissue’ carries through this enormous stadium when the mob belts out “With the birds I share this a lonely view.”
The between-song banter is mostly the Flea Circus and I’m not entirely sure that he hasn’t tripped and fallen into Posty’s secret stash. It goes from coherently yelling “YEAHHHH NEW SOUTH FUCKIN WALES THAT’S RIGHT MUTHAFUCKAAAAS!!!!” to jazzy made-up acid flash-back styled tales akin to Jim Morrison from The Doors asking us to ride the snake. He thanks Posty for coming to Australia, aka the place of Flea’s birth, then slips into a few lucid tales that I can’t get my head around, that could be along the lines of…
“I lost a shoe,
but a lace remained behind.
It changed colour,
from blue to pink.
They formed into lips,
and spoke to me.”
The next four songs consist of three new tunes and this is where I see a few punters make a sprint for the bar via the pisser. We get ‘Aquatic Mouth Dance’, ‘Otherside’ (from Californication which goes over well), and then the two brand spankers ‘The Drummer’ and ‘Tippa My Tongue’, the latter of which gets a nice response with the hard-to-learn lyrics of “YA – YA YA YA – YA YA YA – YA YA YAA YAHHH!!!” but overall the crowd only digs it a little.
Now the light display behind them has got to be six stories tall and looks like a billion lava lamps are having an orgy behind them. It’s a bloody massive stage, and all four Chilli Peppers cover some ground. But some of the coolest moments are when the fellas get into a small group and have a bit of banter and improvise musically amongst themselves. To see four old friends and colleagues share small moments together, even with a massive crowd leering in, is very cool. Especially with Frusciante back in the fold after all this time away.
After they get through ‘Eddie’ I overhear some old whining thing behind me say “why don’t they play more from Blood Sugar?” The Chillis kick off ‘I Could Have Lied’ and the same voice barks “ah not that one”. Some bloke yells at her to shut up and the whole stadium sways along while singing “I could have lied, I’m such a fool, my eyes could never never never keep their cool”
Flea steps up to the mic again while slapping da bass and says,
“In year 10, I started jamming with my buddies.
And now I’m 60
We’re still doing the same shit”
Sydney is then treated to the live debut of ‘Carry Me Home’ from their latest album Return of the Dream Canteen and while they trip on it a bit at the start, it’s great to be able to witness something this cool from a band that’s been kicking arse for nearly forty years. ‘Californication’ follows to much applause but it’s tonight’s version of ‘The Heavy Wing’ that will stay with me forever. When Frusciante leads the crowd through the chorus of this beautiful song it is almost a holy moment. Even Kiedis stands in awe and watches the great man embrace the stadium with the weight of his aura. At that moment I look at my best mate, he turns to me and all he can say is “WOW!” It is so good to see these four reunited. It is so fucking good to have John Frusciante back.
They close out with ‘Black Summer’ (Kiedis asks “did you know that song is about Australia”) ‘By The Way’ and an encore of ‘Soul To Squeeze’ and ‘Give It Away’. A great finish to a groovy night and with a back catalogue as thick as theirs it could’ve easily gone for another hour.
Now I have heard people moan about the recent tour but it generally comes from the people that haven’t bought a RHCP album since 1999. The truth is these guys aren’t a nostalgia act just yet. Nearly forty years after their self-titled debut, they’re still producing new music, including two 17-song albums in the last 12 months (our review of 2022’s Unlimited Love here) and why make new music if you’re not going to play it. So if I wanted to hear a best of 90’s RHCP set, I’d have saved myself the shitty commute to get here, stayed home, hit play on Spotify or gone and watched the RHCP tribute show at the local RSL. Tonight was unreal and anyone who didn’t enjoy it hates puppies.
Review by Duane James @duanejamestattoo
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