As the sun set over Auckland on Saturday night, 40,000 revellers packed into Mt Smart Stadium to catch a glimpse of two of modern music’s most popular acts, and the night packed a punch that will be a lasting memory for those who made the most of it.
Post Malone couldn’t have been a better fit to get the party started. Constantly joking with the crowd, he showcased an energy that matched the enthusiasm he has for his craft.
Bouncing between his well-known hits, including “Stay”, “I Fall Apart”, “Rockstar” and “Circles”, he casually demanded attention, belting out his surprisingly deep lyrics with endearing ease.
“Thank you guys so very f***ing much for hanging out with me tonight. This is so very fun. Cheers!” he exclaimed at one point, and everyone in the crowd had no reason not to believe him.
As he punched through cigarettes while constantly being himself – this is a man renowned for his love of tobacco after all – he easily won the Auckland audience’s adoration.
Hyping up the crowd just came so naturally to Post, with him insisting at one point, “every time I come here it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world.” It was touching just how full of gratitude he was throughout, donning an ‘I Love Auckland’ t-shirt that really went down well with those watching.
Post signed off with a sincere thank you, finishing with “Sunflower” from the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
It was then time for the age-defying Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were given a mighty welcome onto the stage.
Since founding members Anthony Kiedis and Flea launched the group in 1983, the band have stood the test of time, remaining relevant with 13 studio albums and frequent world tours. Four decades into their career, they showed plenty of fighting spirt was still left in the tank, even if there were slight missteps.
They opened with a strong instrumental, and fans were quickly reminded of the immaculate talent that’s carried them through those four decades.
Energy oozed from the stage as the technical skill of bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith was made immediately apparent, working together to reacquaint fans with their signature sound.
And the decision to go straight into one of their most renowned hits – “Around The World” – was the right one. Fans were transported back to 1999 when the song first came out as the opener of their striking seventh album Californication.
“Dani California” came next, their exquisite sound somehow made more heightened with high resolution visuals switching between each of the band members doing their thing.
It wasn’t polished in every way that it could be expected from a band with members who have been playing together for 40 years, but automatic perfection has never been the RHCP way.
The performance was undeniably rough around the edges, with Kiedis notably disappearing from the stage at times, but there was the sneaky suspicion that this was merely down to some last-minute set changes.
Flea and Frusciante seemed totally unphased by this, though, filling the spaces with instrumentals which were utterly enjoyable and a privilege to watch. It might have been a bit raw but it was real – a fitting demonstration to represent who they’ve always been as a group.
This wasn’t a greatest hits tour – to the disappointment of some in the crowd – and the deal was always to play tracks from their 2022 album, Unlimited Love. And that’s what they did, covering 2022 releases “Aquatic Mouth Dance”, “The Drummer”, “The Heavy Wing” and “Tippa My Tongue”.
It was just another day at the office for Kiedis, with the rock icon coming across a little too eager at times to punch-out at the end of the day. To his credit, he mustered up the energy for a few loose dance breaks throughout, including one which saw the frontman lifting his t-shirt over his face. He did what he needed to, his growling voice guiding fans who chanted the lyrics right back to him on-stage.
If you know the band well or have just seen them before, you’ll know that the showmanship has in recent history been left to Flea, and once again he was more than willing to do this.
He appeared to be in his element, classically shirtless and standing out with his purple hair. Arguably the stand out of the night, he acted as the foundation holding the rest of the group together.
Alongside Smith and Frusciante, the trio enthusiastically jammed between songs and conducted impromptu instrumentals. Quickly exchanged smiles reassured fans that they were having a good time.
“Californication” and “By The Way” were welcomed inclusions to those who maybe haven’t kept up with more recent Chilis’ offerings, with the stage production of the latter helping it go down well with the crowd. Kiedis then found his energy for the last two songs, giving his all to send fans home to “Give It Away”.
It wasn’t perfect, but just being given a chance to see the group whose music reigned so resoundingly throughout the ’90s and early ’00s is a memory that will be locked away forever.
Kiedis briefly thanked fans before leaving the stage, but the trusty Flea was there to offer some love: “New Zealand forever. Be kind, be gentle.”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform in Dunedin this Thursday, January 26th, before heading to Australia for six shows throughout January and February (see full information below).
Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 New Zealand and Australian Tour
With Post Malone
Full ticket information available via livenation.com.au
Thursday, January 26th
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, NZ
Sunday, January 29th
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday, February 2nd
Accor Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Saturday, February 4th
Accor Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday, February 7th
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday, February 9th
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday, February 12th
Optus Stadium, Perth, WA