The peppers were definitely served up piping hot at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.
Veteran California rock-funk outfit the Red Hot Chili Peppers - inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame earlier this month - played a lively, fresh-sounding show in front of 14,200 fans in the first of two-sold out gigs at the hockey hangar.
And it felt as if new, noisy and commanding guitarist Josh Klinghoffer may have been the reason for the Peppers’ newfound spark and energy as the musicians often jammed together before, during and after each song.
They seemed jazzed and jazzy at the same time.
Klinghoffer also scored major points with the local crowd by donning a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey during the first encore jam while bassist Flea showed off his upper body strength by walking on his hands right before the second encore song Around The World.
Touring on behalf of 2011’s Rick Rubin-produced I’m With You, their first since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, the group - powered by muscular drummer Chad Smith (who reminds me of Will Ferrell’s cooler, younger bro) - kicked the night off with the new song Monarchy of Roses.
But it was the trio of oldies that followed - Can’t Stop, Dani California Otherside - that really riled up the crowd and got them singing along.
Playing on a large stage with a slick light and projection show that appeared on four screens above them, a huge screen behind them and the floor below them, the group otherwise let their music do most of the talking although both singer Anthony Kiedis, with a moustache and wearing a baseball hat that said, ‘OFF!” and blue-haired and shirtless Flea also made quirky fashion statements.
They were both wearing mis-matched pants/shorts with jock socks - as in one pant leg was long while the other was cut off at the knees.
I’m pretty sure scissors were involved right before show time.
The band was also bolstered by the inclusion of a touring percussionist, Mauro Refosco from Brazil who played on I’m With You, and keyboardist Chris Warren.
“It’s the first time we’ve had someone with us on our album,” explained Flea. “(Mauros’) so f---ing good - that’s why.”
And while they had a new album to promote, they only played four songs from it including catchy first single, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.
It was definitely the Peppers’ back catalogue of hits - Under The Bridge, their cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, Californication, By the Way, Around the World and the show ending Give It Away - that really moved the crowd.
“We’ve been coming here for nearly 30 years, we’re so grateful to you for coming this evening,” said Flea after the band closed their hour-and-40-minute show with Give It Away.
But it was Smith who took the final bows alone on stage dressed in sleeveless bright blue overalls while he threw drum sticks into the crowd.
“Thank you Toronto, you’ve been so f---ing cool,” he said before adding: “And I love Rush!”
Monarchy of Roses
Throw Away Your Television
Hard to Concentrate
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Right On Time
If You Have to Ask
Factory of Faith
Under the Bridge
Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
By the Way
Chad Smith, Mauro Refosco & Josh Klinghoffer jam
Around the World
Give it Away