Canada (Montreal), September 29, 2006
unregistered, on september 30, 2006 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: When The Mars Volta hit the stage, the sound was as you'd expect for an opening band, muddy, unbalanced, with undiscernible vocals. It was complicated further by The Mars Volta's eight piece ensemble, the mix couldn't handle the subtleties of such a thick rythm section and it all came out in a sheet of white noise. Yet the grooves still came through, and the enjoyability was all but lost. The Red Hot Chili Peppers mix was crystal clear, the separation on each track was immaculate. More so than any other concert I've been to you could hear every instrument, and Anthony Kiedis' vocals were crystal clear. It didn't sound that loud due to the scalpel like Precision of the mix, but when Flea slapped the bass or Chad stepped hard on his kick drum, it felt loud. // 10
Perfomance: In a venue the size of the Bell Centre, it's easy to feel like a grain of sand in an ocean of people. This show didn't feel like that at all. The Peppers were on. They were on like only a band that had been playing for 20 years could be on. The stage was stripped down and clean, only a few neat stacks of amps, drums, stands, and the players themselves. The stage was spacious with lots of room for Flea, Anthony, and John to move around, which they did. The backdrop was a huge wall of lights which contained four TV screens featuring extremely high resolution images documenting the show, as well as lighting and film cues to accent the performance. A major factor lending to the intimacy of the show was how the ceiling of the stage extended approx halfway over the floor, and the lightshow extended toward the crowd in addition to the band almost at all times. This very effectively made it seemed like the show was looking out at the venue, and not like the venue was looking in at the show. I'd never seen this before, and coupled with 20000 people singing to every song in unison, it was hard to feel like an outsider.
If you are like me, and can listen to BloodSugarSexMagik through to the end of Stadium Arcadium and miss only the most obscure lyric, there are going to be songs you'd like to hear but won't. The set was heavily bent on Stadium Arcadium, of course, but also on By The Way. Based on the relative newness of Stadium Arcadium and the sheer volume of material, there would be some unfamiliarity in the songs from this album, but By The Way would definitely be the recommended listening for anyone seeing this tour. They kicked off the concert to Can't Stop, and over the course of the show stopped at Throw Away Your Television, Don't Forget Me, and of course, By The Way. A highlight of the show, also mentioned in every other review I've read, was John Frusciante's rendition of For Emily, the Simon and Garfunkle favorite. Stage presence, he's got it.
Other favorites played covered the albums BloodSugarSexMagik's title track, and the encores Under the Bridge and Give it Away. One Hot Minute was completely omitted (surprise, surprise), and Californication was well represented with the title track, Scar Tissue, and Right On Time. Naturally, a great deal of material was dealt from Stadium Arcadium including Dani California played early which whipped the crowd into a frenzy, Warlocks, Charlie (which sounds amazing live), Hey Oh, and a rousing Tell me Baby.
For anyone not having seen The Red Hot Chili Peppers before, you have to understand that you aren't just getting to see the band play the songs you love. You get to see four of the best, Who could easily hold a lesser band on their own, play together. You get their humanity, you get to see John Frusciante, one of the most under-rated guitarists of all time's gut-wrenching faces as he tortures his mid-'60s Fender Strat. You get to see Flea (who's 10x as intense in real life) jump around the stage, eminating those wall-of-sound grooves, he's not just playing them, he's being them. Chad Smith can turn your brains into mashed potatoes with his hard-hitting style, and just his expressions give you an idea where the humour in The Pepper's music comes from. Anthony, who next to Flea is the most recognizable Pepper is everything you'd expect. Although not lauded for his singing, but for his showmanship, his vocals live are just as strong as on CD, and although he doesn't sing every song like on recording, what he does sing could just as easily been recorded. And the chicks dug HIM, he took every one of their little furry creatures and put them firmly in his shorts pocket. He's a rock star, plain and simple. // 10
Overall Impression: Montreal Canada, Sep 29th, 2006. $75/ticket, price includes The Mars Volta. Worth it? Without a doubt, yes. I'd like to check out The Mars Volta again, this time with them headlining. I need to hear more of them with a better mix to really get it. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, I won't miss them long, I have tickets to see them in Ottawa tonight, again. They were the last band to see on my must-see list, which meant that I had a tonne of anticipation for them to live up to. They lived up to it in spades. They are your quintisential band with uber staying power at the top of their game. A not to miss for anyone even vaguely familiar with their music. // 10