Red Hot Chili Peppers
Torhout and Wechter [sic] festivals
Verdict: Red hot and wired.
Set List: Give It Away/Organic Anti beat-Box band/Bullet Proof/ Suck My Kiss/ Subterranean/ Funky Crime/ Nobody’s Weird Like me/ If You Have to Ask/ Stone Cold/ Blood Sugar Sex Magik/ Higher Ground/ Magic Johnson/ Under the Bridge/ Subway to Venus/ Party on Your Pussy/ Me and My Friends
ENCORES: Crossstown Traffic/ Year of the Turtle
HIGHLIGHTING THE electric nature of festival bills in Europe, the Belgian rock Torhout and Wechter [sic] events brought together a collection of artists from all ends of the rock spectrum. Smashing Pumpkins and Urban Dance Squad, Bryan Adams and Extreme, Crowded House and Lou Reed. It was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though, who attracted the most attention. playing one slot below headliner Adams, the Chilis were appearing for the first time in public with new guitarist Erik [sic] Marshall.
Imagine being of a shy and reserved disposition, from a background of gigging in the small clubs of your hometown, when you’re offered a job with a band currently hitting Platinum in the US. On top of that, you’re given a mere three weeks to become acquainted with the rest of the band and learn their repertoire before your debut appearance in front of 60,000 people! No wonder Arik Marshall looked more withdrawn than normal, as the band took to the stage for the first of their two weekend shows to a huge roar of approval. Most of the people I know would have crawled up their own arse and died! (There’s nothing like a photographer’s turn of phrase! Ed.)
The Chilis plugged in and went straight into their first number, the ball-breaking Funk of ‘Give It Away’. Flea instantly assuming lunatic mode as he ran around like a complete madman, with Anthony Kiedis following suit when he shook his bowler hat off. And what about Arik? He calmly stood his ground, remaining in his own part of the stage, looking amazingly unaffected by his first major ordeal.
As for the gig itself, all the expected favourites were present and correct. ‘Organic Anti Beat-Box Band’, ‘Suck My Kiss,’ ‘Nobody’s Weird Like me’ and a newly arranged version of the still unrecorded ‘Bulletproof’. The band quickly moved unto full-on groove, with every song nailed down in their note-perfect fashion. The crowd, on the other hand, were doing their best to blend in with the surroundings. The day before the gig torrential rain had swept across the site and the field had been transformed into a bog, with mud up to two feet thick in places and large pools of water everywhere. By the time the Chili Peppers arrived most of the audience had given up trying to stay clean.
One of the biggest cheers was for ‘Under The Bridge’, a number one single in the States and a hit everywhere in Europe except for the UK. Come the inevitable encore the band returned to the stage with Urban Dance Squad frontman Rude Boy for a scalding version of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Crosstown Traffic’. Midway through the song Kiedis did a graceful swallow dive off the stage into the crowd, expecting the be carried aloft. Instead, the Belgians decided they’d rather remove several of his limbs to take home, causing several anxious moments as then band’s crew and security tried to rescue the ambushed singer. Unfortunately, as Kiedis was dragged from the mass his arm was dislocated. A strange conclusion to an excellent gig! When the fans realised the band would not be returning they pelted the stage with mud missiles. Bryan Adams had to wait for half an hour while the mess was cleaned up.
Before the second gig at Werchter Arik Marshall was already enthusing about the Torhout performance, and looking forward to his next appearance. The band played exactly the same set, apart from an extra encore in the shape of ‘Year of The Turtle.’ Once again the stage was pelted with mud, only this time the band walked out onto the stage before the encore and asked if this was “A Belgian sign of love”. If it was, they continued, then the crowd should throw some more. At this point all hell broke loose, with tons of the stuff flying at the band, who proceeded to pick it up and throw it right back! Flea dropped his pants and stood at the front of the stage, giving the perpetrators something to aim at. When it finished the Chili peppers were probably off the Bryan Adams’ crew’s Xmas card list.
All in all, the band are back to their very best with everybody happy and relaxed again and a shredding live set. Roll on Lollapalooza!