Live Music + Gig Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers @ MEN Arena, Manchester

11 March 2003

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers (Photo: Clara Balzary/PR)

The three minutes of The Mars Volta I saw suggested they’re a lot more entertaining than their recorded songs would suggest, with the lead singer even unintentionally tripping himself up with his mic cord. But it was left for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to arrive and entertain. They succeeded – and in some style. Opening with a brief instrumental, they launched into By The Way, gripping the entire audience inside the vast setting that is the MEN Arena.

The stage itself was eye-catching with constant lowering of light beams and an amazing backdrop which fell to reveal four massive screens. These showed the band on stage, as well as juxtaposing various video clips, but very little attention was paid to the background given the magic being produced by the band.

Lost in the music was Keidis and Flea’s interaction with the crowd, renaming Manchester “WoManchester” as well as making references to Man Utd that threatened to see the band booed off stage, allowing for Keidis to state “forgiveness is the key to happiness, it’s scientifically proven”.

With a set list built upon By The Way, Californication, hints of Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Mother’s Milk it was testament to see that almost everyone in the crowd was singing along to every word. Not only do the Red Hot Chili Peppers span 20 years of rock history, but they’ve captured the minds and hearts of different generations.

Highlights were Right on Time, Don’t Forget Me, John Frusciante’s acoustic solo in Venice Queen (actually John Frusciante in general was a highlight, looking completely stoned off his face yet playing a note-perfect set!), but special exception has to be given to Give it Away. I can’t see any song I’ll see live in the rest of my life topping that experience – everyone was in the air. I just felt sorry for those with seating tickets.

The four-track encore included the magical Under the Bridge, and an hour and a half set was brought to a close. The gig on the 9th of March at Wembley was dubbed “the best concert ever” – and I can’t imagine that things had failed to improve. The only criticism anyone could think of was the omission of the title track from Californication, but we didn’t really care – the Chilis’ set didn’t need it. No one’s perfect, but these four ‘ageing’ rockers are as close as it gets.

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