Against my better judgement, I headed to Boucher Road Playing Fields for Tennent’s Vital, this night headlined by Red Hot Chili Pepepers. Basically, because I love RHCP, though not so much love for the joyless event that Vital has become in recent years
It almost saddens me when a band I like headlines Vital.
It was the Chili Peppers first Belfast gig since 2011, when they performed at Ulster Hall as part of the MTV EMAs. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a ticket for that gig.
Their last Belfast gig before that, was in the same venue in 1992. I was a bit too young for that gig.
Having arrived at the venue, I was greeted by Airport Security. Yes, Airport Security. For a concert. We didn’t even have that during the troubles.
The main support came from Fall Out Boy. I like Fall Out Boy, and not just because they get their name from The Simpsons.
I wouldn’t have been rushing if they were the headliners, but as support acts go, not too shabby.
I was far back with not a great view, as I looked on in amazement at seeing The Pit being half empty.
An invention at Vital is to have a pit for VIPs while the plebs have to fight for scraps, as music fans get divided into the haves and have nots.
Belsonic might not be perfect, but at least I know if I want a decent view, I have to turn up early.
Want a decent view at Vital? Have a mate who works for a sponsor or a PR company.
Eventually, the Chili Peppers appeared on stage, rifling through hit after hit, even though the UK Record Buying Public has only rewarded them with one Number One, and that was when All Saints covered one of their songs.
They sounded good, the only downside was that I couldn’t see them, due to being so far away.
As an added bonus, I was surrounded by Shitebags.
One person grabbed my throat for simply being an onstacle on his route to the front of the stage. Thankfully, I managed to push him away from me, but it was too dark to get to get a look at them as he ran off.
It’s not a particularly nice feeling when you are trying to watch the gig while having to keep an eye on what is going on around you.
Big events in Belfast usually attract Shitebags sadly, and this was no different.
I’ll never understand the mentality of throwing beer at concerts.
The tightwad in me can’t understand buying something and not fully consuming it. Then there’s the factor that you’re being a cunt.
I’m not being precious, and you’re not “Rock n Roll”, you’re just being a dick. People are coming out to watch a band, and not to have drinks and (plastic) glasses thrown over you.
If it’s not acceptable behaviour in any other environment, why would it be acceptable at a concert?
From Shitebags to another type of bag, namely backpacks. A curious phenomenon of this gig was the sheer volume of people wearing backpacks, on two straps, taking up space, and then banging into you as they walk past.
Why on earth do you need to bring a backpack to a concert?
It’s only a one day event for group out loud. All you need is money, keys, phone and a camera if you wish. You don’t need to bring a packed lunch, there are food stalls there.
And then there was the joy of having people walking from side to side aimlessly.
“How was the Chilli Peppers gig?”
“Oh it was grand aye, I just walked about from side to side”
Onto the music, it was a hit filled set, with fans being treated to Can’t Stop, Dani California, Scar Tissue,
Snow, Otherside, Californication, Under the Bridge and By the Way.
Surprisingly, Under The Bridge was in the main set. I thought that would have been saved for the encore.
Amongst the new songs played was the lead single from their new album The Getaway.
It’s a grower, but when it grows on you, you will love it.
If they are still playing live in five or ten years time, it’s a song that will be cemented in their setlist.
The only downside of the setlist was that it got a bit self indulgent, veering into Spinal Tap territory, like duelling banjos but with guitars.
For the encore, we got a special treat, an instrumental version of We Will Rock You merged with an instrumental version of We Will Rock You, before performing Give It Away.
Can’t help but feel that an Odyssey gig in December would have been preferable to being sat in a field surrounded by Shitebags.
It wasn’t all bad. As I was walking along the Lisburn Road, a woman kindly helped me put on my poncho (Don’t laugh, I had one in my back pocket. I’d gotten it free at a Northern Ireland match when I sat in the roofless pre-redevelopment Railway Stand)
I guess Belfast folk aren’t all knobs.