From the opening chords of Monarchy of Roses from their latest album I’m With You, to the last note of Give it Away and every chord of the final jam, the Chili Peppers had their Calgary fans on their feet and screaming for more. There’s a reason their music rarely leaves my CD player, and clearly I am not alone.
Every voice in the Scotiabank Saddledome joined in, not missing a word of Under the Bridge or Californication. There was dancing in the seats and what few smokers were in the crowd lit their lighters in honour of Dani California, Can’t Stop, I Like Dirt, Parallel Universe, and many more. We swayed to each chorus of By the Way, and rocked out to the frenetic parts in between. With the last chord, they thanked the crowd and walked off the stage.
Oh no, you’re not getting off that easy.
The Dome shook beneath our collective stomping feet, unrelenting clapping and screaming and whistling vibrated our bodies, until finally, after what seemed like forever, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer thrilled us some more with one of my favourites, Suck My Kiss. Then they paid tribute to “one of their favourite Canadians” – and a great one at that, Neil Young, with their rendition of Everybody Knows this is Nowhere from Neil’s album of the same name, released when most of the Chili’s (and yours truly) were about six years old. They breathed new life into a Canadian classic.
The Chili Peppers music was my writing soundtrack and fueled the completion of my first novel, Suicide City. Their songs, the themes, the raw energy and emotion, despair, love and joy of each piece fit the story, fit the character’s transformations. To hear it all live for the first time was exciting. Exhilarating. And a hell of a lot of fun. The music is more raw, more energetic, more emotional than the recorded versions. It was everything a live performance should be.
Our local Sun ran an article a while back in which one of their music critics listed bands and artists who should hang up the microphone. Included was RHCP - and specifically Anthony Kiedis. Why? Something about bad rap, a rhyming dictionary, and not carrying a tune in a bucket. I think that particular critic has his head up his . . . ego.
In this day of The Voice and American Idol and the search for perfect pitch and perfect hair, it seems that people have forgotten what makes the greatest rock and roll. It’s feeling, people! Raw feeling. Raw energy.
Give me Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Give me Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. Give me Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin. Artists who have lived what they sing. Experienced the real world, all its warts and flaws and hardships and joys. Artists who’ve stepped outside the vacuum seal of the studio bubble.
Please, give me Anthony Kiedis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. May they rock my world until I’m rocking on my porch with a shotgun across my lap warning the neighbour kids to stay off my lawn.