An Exceptionally Honest Review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Toronto

[A very honest review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers performance in Toronto Saturday night by contributor Elisa F. G. – AC]

No one could believe it. Well, no one sitting in the 300‘s at least, I couldn’t very well survey the entire Air Canada Centre, so I will speak for myself and my nosebleed section when I say, last nights Red Hot Chili Peppers concert… lacked Red Hotness.

Trigger warning Chili fans, this ain’t no rave review.

The night began at an exceptionally packed Jack Astor’s on Front Street. Nearly everyone in the joint was proudly sporting the red eight-pronged asterisk, the iconic emblem that front man Anthony Kiedis drew up, when asked by their label to create a logo for promotional purposes.

A bar filled to its brim, swarming with strangers sharing the same game plan: Kill time, pre-drink, swap Pepper stories, get psyched. My concert was my childhood friend of twenty some odd years, we had been listening to the band together long before we were ever taught to choose not a life of imitation, but a little bit after we didn’t ever wanna feel like we did that day. All in all, last night was a pretty big deal, for we would be Chili virgins no more.

By the time we arrived at the ACC, the vibe was palpable, it was going to be a good night. A blur of black, red and white t-shirts sung tunes, and scoped seating, while we made our way to the bartender who would sell us the beer we’d cheers with, the moment the band took the stage. We had it all planned. The bartender was just as excited as we were. She gushed about how working there gave her the opportunity to hear free concerts. One would argue that it’s not the same as having a seat, but she was living proof that her job was a sweet deal. When you adore the music, seat or no seat, it’s all the same to a fan.

“Forty-five dollars for a t-shirt?” was the only complaint swirling around at that point. The tour t’s price tag didn’t detract though, cause the line up to nab one was never ending and people happily forked over the dough to show their affinity with the band.

Once we found our seats my gaze began alternating from the clock to the stage.

“What the hell is taking them so long? They don’t even wear clothes half the time! What could they possibly be doing?” We were getting impatient. The Chilis were tardy and we were rowdy, a combo that wasn’t doing anybody a lick of good.

At 9:15pm you could have had earplugs in and covered your eyes, and you’d still know The Red Hot Chili Peppers came on stage. You could feel them, their energy, their awesomeness, their blood, sugar, sex, magik—whatever you want to call it—it had arrived and we were stoked. My friend and I clanged beer cans, took sips, exchanged “Holy shit! I can’t believe this is finally happening” facial expressions. And then let Anthony Kiedis sing us into the night.

They opened with an instrumental jam that had everybody on their feet and hands in the air, which was convenient cause that jam soon bled into “Around the World,” and where else would you want to be during that song but on your feet, dancing up a storm.

Kiedis pumped his voice into his mic like a machine, while Flea bounced around on stage with dance moves I’m still trying to nail after all these years and hand stands that I should probably just give up on. The band was amazing—they always have been and they still are. Funky, fascinating and so damn exciting, but there was an aura of disconnect, as if they were just there to play. Feel me?

They told us how long they had been coming to Toronto and how special we were to them, and I couldn’t help but think “You must say that to all the girls…I mean cities.”

Maybe I was expecting a little more interaction with the audience. “Am I being needy or does this performance feel a little cold?” I thought.

Every concert I’d ever been to, I’d been told to get the f*** up! or asked how we were doing, or told how hot our chicks are or there was band story time, where they’d tell tales of Toronto and all the places they partied. But last night, RHCP came, conquered and left the building.

I had waited decades to have a few hours with a band that drove so much power and meaning into my speakers, that wrote lyrics that matched my thoughts and wore outfits that inspired a sense of ease to be weird and different. I thought we had something special, as most virgins do, but sadly we were just another notch on a tour belt. Where was our love? The love that was going to help justify paying over a hundred bucks to sit in the middle of nowhere? The love that would probably get us to pay it again and again?

The concert ended with “Give It Away” followed by a “K thanks bye” kinda exit off the stage. Everyone in our section was looking around puzzled, wondering if that was the end of the show, and if there was an encore, or if “Give It Away” was the encore? No one knew. There was no communication from the band. But before we could come to any sort of conclusion, the Air Canada Centre’s lights turned on and gave us our answer – ya, that’s all folks.

Shocked. Stunned. Pissed. We began making our way to the exits. “What the hell was THAT!?” was the general consensus as we all poured out of the stadium. My eyes continuously locked with other concert-goers, who were also wearing the disappointment on their face. One guy just stood there shaking his head dumbfounded, as his girlfriend patiently waited for him to get over it and take her home.

“Pfft! More like The Red Hot Silly Peppers! Am I right?” I love a good pun, but that statement was more true than funny.

“And how in the f*** do you not play “Under the Bridge!?”” Where were the classics?

We all understood the tour was for their latest album The Getaway, but if fans have followed you all the way up to 2016, wouldn’t you hit us with a set list that reminds us how far we’ve come together? And stick around on stage longer than an hour and a half to do so?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the band unconditionally like a parent loves their kid but even a good parent, with nothing but love, knows when their kid is slacking in school and knows when to call ‘em out on it. Why can’t you be more like your younger brother Dave Grohl? Who can tear the roof off the Molson Amphitheater for three plus hours, pay the fine for going over his set time, all whilst sitting in a chair with a broken leg.

Great. Now I sound like a terrible mom.

Here’s the setlist courtesy of

  1. Intro Jam
  2. Around the World
  3. Otherside
  4. Snow ((Hey Oh))
  5. Dark Necessities
  6. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggi
  7. Right on Tim
  8. Go Robot
  9. Emit Remmu
  10. Sick Love
  11. I Like Dirtyb(Tour debut)
  12. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
  13. The Getaway
  14. Soul to Squeeze
  15. By the Way (Preceded by a tease of “YYZ”more a0



(“Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin tease)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

14 thoughts on “An Exceptionally Honest Review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Toronto

  • February 6, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I was there (in the 300’s) and I agree 100 percent with everything you said. That concert cost me about 500 bucks sue to hotel etc and was a huge disappointment. Underwhelming to say the least

  • February 6, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Hmm… thin set list, too. I hope things improve before they get to Calgary.

  • February 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I actually totally disagree with this….Maybe it’s because of your nosebleeds but I was also in 300 section and thought it was a fantastic show. I think this was about my 14th time seeing them as well so it wasn’t just great because it’s something I havnt seen before. They announced the set times as to when they were to come on stage and were only a couple minutes late, not as terrible as you describe. Also, under the bridge?? Are we not all sick of having that song crammed down our throats? Maybe they’re tired of playing it too? Whatever the reason I’m extremely happy they they have been playing Soul to Squeeze as a better alternative.

    One point I agree with is that it was too short….But I will always want more Chili Peppers….

    I’ll be seeing them in Hamilton and Ottawa and I expect an amazing show as usual.

  • February 6, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I have to agree. I enjoyed the Peppers last July in Ottawa but was surprisingly disappointed with this Toronto show. The music was great but where was the connection with the Toronto fans? No Toronto sports/band shirts worn or little solos sung by Josh, less than the usual little bit of banter from Anthony and next to nothing from the usually affable Chad Smith. The audience was pumped for the long-awaited experience and the band actually brought the vibes down. Looked like they just wanted to put in their time and get the heck out of there and the crowd reacted to that. Hate to say it but I think most people felt snubbed especially after the excitement of opening band Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Lots of time and money spent by loyal fans for quite a mediocre show. SMH.

  • February 6, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I agree with this article as well. I’ve loved the band for 30 years and seen them several times. I felt like they forgot their louder, younger days and have such a vast collection to draw from that I would have easily scrapped 7 of the 17 songs they played. I understand not playing Under the Bridge without John – it’s his song, he wrote and sang on it – and likely has rights to most of their best music. But playing B list songs off Californication when they could have picked some great Mother’s Milk tracks or Breaking the Girl, Could Have Lied… the list could go on. They are never at their best without John Frusciante and I think that’s where they lack in their concerts.

    • February 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      What are you even talking about? Not playing under the bridge without John because it’s “his” song?? Do you even know the history of that song? And for the record they’ve been playing it in the rotation throughout the last leg of the tour before their break…check your facts.

  • February 6, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Have to disagree with this article. Was not at the show but the RHCP was always played between 70 to 90 minute set lists starting in 2000. Consider yourself lucky. On the 1st leg of the californication tour they played just over an hour only. Also they mix up the set list so u got soul to squeeze instead of under the bridge. They tend to mix things up so u never know. Enjoy the show for what is was and forget about the length – quality not quantity is what counts

  • February 7, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Was at the show with my son. It’s only the second concert he’s been to, and the first RCHP show for me. Maybe it’s not fair, since the last concert we made it to was AC\DC, which was what I think every fan wants out of a show. Felt the same way about the RHCP show though. I understand promoting the new album, but for a band that’s been around for a considerable length of time, with so much material to pull from, I was disappointed at not hearing more songs, or the ones i grew up with. It was still a fun evening out, and we enjoyed ourselves regardless.

    On a side note, did anyone else notice the cast on Anthony’s left foot? I’ve looked online, but can’t find any note about him breaking or spraining anything. I wondered if that possible explanation for the length of the concert?

    • February 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      I heard an audio interview with Chad yesterday and he talked about Anthony’s soft cast. Said it was from years of hopping and jumping around, affected his feet and legs. Apparently he heard a popping sound a few weeks ago (tendon) therefore the cast.

  • February 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I wasn’t in Toronto, but I saw the Peppers at Osheaga last summer, and I came away with basically the same impression. Technically proficient? Without a doubt. Flawless execution is one thing, but it just seemed to lack emotional connection with the crowd. Extremely little stage banter… it seemed like a very well performed job, but a job just the same. They came out, played their set list, and left. I’m happy I saw them, but compared to many other acts at the festival, they were more professional in their performance, but also more disconnected.

  • February 7, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    This seems more like a review of the lead singer than the band as a whole. The guitarist ad drummer spent at least five minutes when the show finished saying goodbye to the audience. The lead singer left assumably due to his leg injury.
    You could definitely tell give it away was the encore, considering everyone was chanting for it after they left the stage. And the stadium was never silent as fans continuously sang along with the crowd. I have to disagree with this article wholeheartedly. Especially if you expect certain songs on a tour that’s meant for their newest album – they only have so many song slots on their set list.

  • February 18, 2017 at 9:05 am

    How does Alan Cross get stuck in nosebleeds??? Hmmm… I know the scalper situation is bad but wow!

    I have always felt that this band (Anthony Kiedis in particular) is disconnected from the fans during their Canadian shows and also that they have some stereotypes about Canadian fans that are less than flattering. The tone of Kiedis’ opener at Lollapalooza ’92 ‘sung to the tune of our national anthem’: Oh Canada, you are so f*!king cool… was condescending rather than endearing.

    In the past, I just accepted it and enjoyed the high energy of their performance and the great music and that was enough. But as they get older, tickets get pricier and access to tickets is nearly impossible, I can see why this is more troubling to fans especially when you have bands like Twenty One Pilots and Foo Fighters who clearly value their fans above all else.

    One thing though… I’d be so happy if they left out Under the Bridge at a show I attended. I am so sick of that overplayed, unrepresentative song… if I never heard it again, it would be too soon. lol.

  • February 20, 2017 at 3:16 am

    i agree a million percent with this article. had the EXACT SAME FEELING a couple of years ago in Toronto when i went to see them. first time with Josh. I dunno. i was really disappointed, anthony seemed a bit snobish, no connection whatsoever with the audience. I thought “am I the only one feeling this?” i’m glad for this article. Anyway, this time I just simply refused to pay this crazy astronomical price after remembering the last show. and plus i don’t even like the latest album that much. I wish John would come back.Or Anthony would decide whether he is into it or not and then act accordingly. Sorry man.

  • October 9, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Just saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and walked away feeling the same as the author of this review. Not sure if it’s the result of injury, illness, or age, but Anthony didn’t connect with the audience and it seemed like it was just another day at the office. Too many interludes with Anthony leaving the stage while Flea and Josh jam and not enough songs from the early days.


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