Why has so much anger and confusion been allowed to grow after the Californian band's late pull out?
£91. Yes, £91! That’s how much the gig ticket cost. It was a figure I initially scoffed at when I read how much the Red Hot Chili Peppers were charging for their 1 July 2022 set in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park. My attendance was immediately ruled out considering it was around three times higher than what I’d paid to see them put in a lacklustre performance at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium in June 2004 and that I’d only really be going for nostalgic purposes anyway!
You see, my teenage years saw an unhealthy obsession with their music and in particular 1999’s Californication, 2002’s By the Way and 2006’s Stadium Arcadium. As I approached my twentieth birthday things changed. My love for the Californian funk-rock band rapidly declined, finding a more relatable solace in Radiohead, The Smiths, Arctic Monkeys and Interpol. My days of seeing them live were over.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, my mate sent us a message asking if I’d like to attend. His reason being that his favourite artist Anderson .Paak was supporting the act and that he didn’t play Scotland very often. Made sense. Having been deprived of summer outdoor gigs and the potential of a, erm, sunny day drinking beer in Glasgow (FYI it hit the lofty heights of 19 degrees...), I was more easily won over than predicted.
As the days, weeks and months passed, I woke up on the morning of the gig with quiet excitement for the day ahead. Then I checked my phone. Big mistake. As I rubbed my sleepy eyes awake, my home screen was alive with messages regretfully proclaiming that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were having to cancel their Glasgow performance due to “illness”. From being unfussed a few months prior, suddenly a wave of disappointment gripped me. Judging by the thousands of comments on their Facebook post and Twitter feed, I wasn’t the only one.
Fans and support acts let down
I suddenly became aware that it wasn’t just locals who'd been let down, with tonnes of people travelling from the length and breadth of the UK and further afield to attend. Most of them were in Glasgow already and at odds with what to do with themselves. My mate and I met up anyway and headed into Glasgow city centre. As we sat drinking our Cuba Libres in Cuba de Revolution, the number of tourists proudly floating around in RHCP t-shirts became noticeable. We’d later speak to a Welsh fan and a Scandanavian couple who’d made the wasted journey, all heavily frustrated at the situation.
As the night wore on, we became aware that support act Anderson .Paak was in fact in Glasgow playing with fellow support act Thundercat at a last-minute show at Saint Lukes and later tracked him down to Corinthians Club in the city’s Merchant City. As we loitered around like a couple of sheepish fanboys, we eventually got the chance to speak to the rapper himself and a member of his band (The Free Nationals). However, they remained tight-lipped as to why the Red Hot Chili Peppers had cancelled, revealing that the vague “illness” line was the only excuse they’d heard too. It later transpired that the Californian band hadn’t even travelled to Glasgow, leaving both support acts in the lurch.
Over the weekend, no further information was provided and the more time passed, the more anger rose amongst those who had bought tickets. In fairness, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea even replied to one Tweet from a fan who’d travelled across the world for the gig, but his offer to “play our hearts out with every fiber of our beings”, whilst well meaning, didn’t address the fact so many had poured out hundreds if not thousands of pounds to see the band for them to be left out of pocket.
Conspiracy theories arise
In a further plot twist, the band headlined the Rock Werchter festival in Belgium just two days after cancelling and even announced new tour dates for 2023 in Australia. Suddenly, many of those who had been understanding at the "illness" line were now not so empathetic, flooding each official Tweet, Facebook and Instagram to demand more information. With it being almost a week since their cancellation and no further update provided to the Glasgow gig, fans have been quick to come up with their own theories as to why the concert didn’t go ahead.
To be taken with a pinch of salt of course, but poor ticket sales was one theory you could read on social media and on online forums, many now believing the band’s account of “illness” to be exaggerated (which is hard to clarify, of course). Some even blamed Glasgow and Scotland itself, the terrible transport situation and the train crisis engulfing the country ensuring less and less people were eager for big outdoor events. Questions were now being asked about whether the Red Hot Chili Peppers simply wanted to avoid the embarrassment of poor crowd attendance. This reason was given further credence when Guns N’ Roses cancelled their Glasgow Green gig a few days later for a similar illness reason.
It's important to state that the above are just theories and we have no reason to disbelieve the official account. What is clear though is how poor the communication has been since the cancellation and frustrations mounting from their fanbase as a result.
Red Hot Chili Peppers vowed within their cancellation message to return to Glasgow and there’s little reason to not believe that they will do so either at the end of the summer or next year. However, the silence from the band has simply allowed rumours and conspiracies to spread, and the longer it remains fans will start chasing refunds. Refund or not, the cancellation was gutting to thousands of fans who simply deserve better than to be kept in the dark. £91 is too much money for a gig anyway!