A gloomy, overcast Auckland day didn’t put off anyone as hoards of fans in Red Hot Chilli Peppers tee’s stormed Spark Arena. Thankfully the rain held off for a bit, or at least until the lines were short enough that only a few people got wet. Apart from the dedicated fans still waiting in the merch line in the pouring rain. With big cheesy grins on their faces, everyone was still happy and excited for what was to come. Fans of all ages were packing into the arena, from small children going with their parents, to people who have been fans for 3 decades. After finally getting into the arena I was in absolute awe when they started playing one of my favourite songs “Can’t Stop”. The crowd and I sung along word for word not missing a beat. It was an unbelievable experience, I wondered if it was all just a strange dream at times. I was just shocked. I was seeing a band that had influenced my childhood and that was in the background of so many childhood memories. Just like the thousands of other fans. From first listening to them when my father brought home their 2007 album “Stadium Arcadium” when I was about 7. I remember listening to it for hours until we both knew every song word for word.
You could turn in any direction during any song and see everyone who was meant to be seated was standing, cheering and singing along. The crowd was amazing. I could tell everyone was having the time of their lives with big grins all around. The stage presence was one of the best I have ever seen at any show. From Michael aka “Flea” the bassist dancing around and using all of the stage space he has to his advantage. Jumping around and getting the crowd excited too forming a small circle in-front of drummer Chad Smith. All laughing and smiling at each other as they have fun and enjoy themselves. Forming small circles always reminds me of a jam session. It really shows after all these years they’re still having fun and aren’t just a band, more a bunch of mates enjoying themselves.
Before starting “The Getaway” after a small water break for the band, Anthony told the crowd “This is for your heart” which made the crowd explode with excitement. There were cheers all around as everyone recognised the start of “The Getaway”. It was a similar experience when Flea started off “Higher Ground”. We instantly knew what it was and started singing along. During a few songs I could barely hear Anthony’s vocals over the crowd’s singing. It was stunning that people of all ages could sing along together so well.
Flea entertained us with a small story during another water break for the band. “One time I was in an elevator with James Brown, I don’t usually ask for autographs but I asked him and he wrote ‘I love you – James Brown’ on a shirt but I lost it” it was a funny little story that gave the crowd a good laugh. We were also entertained by the most bizarre and beautiful way I’ve ever heard someone describe New Zealand water. “Sweet kiwi rain drops falling on the sidewalk, thank you for sharing this with me” Flea said as he held a bottle of water up to the crowd.
As the concert came to an end, the cameras then turned around and pointed to fans in the audience. I saw the joy on people’s faces as it went down the front row. I heard the crowd cheer and laugh as the camera turned to a woman dressed as a chili pepper sitting in the crowd.
The lighting and effects were done extremely well. You could tell a lot of time and effort went into making it just as much of a visual experience as it was an audible one. From the blinder lights in sync with Chads drumming, to the screen transitions and camera angle used, it made for an awesome experience even from the back of the arena. There was a giant half circle screen surrounded by lights and more mini screens surrounding it.
They ended the show by thanking the crowd like most bands usually do. It was a lot more heartfelt than it usually feels “Thank you all for coming to this show, your energy is amazing. it means the world to us, we don’t take you for granted. We love you” – Anthony. Also something from Flea that everyone should stick to and will stay with me for a long time: “Be kind, Be sweet, Be gentle” and then a final goodbye from Chad as he threw his drum sticks into the crowd. One surprisingly reaching the back of the arena. “Fuckin’ aye Auckland I’m proud of you, amazing! it was so fuckin’ fun to play here. What a great audience, come back tomorrow. Thank you so much, we love you, be safe.”
They shook Auckland with a killer setlist of some of their most popular songs, along with a couple others that I barely knew. It was a killer night, definitely not to be missed. Make sure you go tonight or next time around. Fingers crossed there is a next time. I know I wish I was going again just to relive the awesome experience and atmosphere.
- Can’t Stop
- Fortune Faded
- Scar Tissue
- Dark Necessities
- Strip My Mind
- I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges Cover)
- Me And My Friends
- Throw Away Your Television
- Go Robot
- I like Dirt
- The Getaway
- Higher Ground
- Soul To Squeeze
- By The Way
- Dreams Of A Samurai
- Give It Away
“Be kind, Be sweet, Be gentle” – Flea
Reviewed and shot by Matthew O’neill