Six60 have played to more fans than perhaps any other band in a live setting in the world since the pandemic began, and the Eden Park show was the most momentous yet.
The show capped off a summer playing Saturday concerts for the band. A small but vocalgroup of Mt Eden residents bitterly opposed letting music events take place at the central Auckland stadium. But a council ruling changed that, finally letting the music play at the stadium well equipped to cater for an eager crowd.
It made the show on an April evening all the more interesting – the slight chill in the air could be mistaken for a feeling of history in the making in these pandemic-hit times. It was a moment for New Zealand music that will be remembered for years to come.
And the band were prepared for this moment. Successful sell-outs of Western Springs meant the boys from Dunedin were simply running out of Auckland venues to play – and that meant setting their sights on arguably the hallmark of NZ venues. Gone was the red tape, the stage was set for Six60 to finally play the show they had been waiting for.
For this career-defining moment, they shoulder-tapped a group of legendary musicians and friends: Maimoa, JessB, Troy Kingi & The Clutch, and Drax Project. Recently-knighted Sir Dave Dobbyn was certainly most anticipated among the early-comers, and the Eden Park-sized singalongs of Loyal and Welcome Home were excellent. Drax Project was exceptional, and their set proved their sound could also fill a stadium.
But let’s not forget who the 50,000 fans were here to see: Marlon Gerbes, Matiu Walters, Chris Mac and Eli Paewai.
The band are polished crowd-pleasers, they know how to hype up their fans. But could they win over even the neighbours opposed to their music? A cynic not convinced of their talent? The crowd needed no such convincing.
Six60 kicked off the night with Don’t Forget Your Roots, a beautiful welcome that seemed low key at first before the stage lit up to reveal a stunning haka and Maori welcome. As if on cue, a small rain shower began when they took the stage, but it soon made way for the thousands of fans out in the elements.
“What’s up Eden park, you don’t know how long we’ve been waiting to say that, but we’re finally here,” Walters told the crowd with a big grin on his face.
“We did it! We’re the first band to play Eden Park.”
Launching into a string of their early hits, the band seemed like they were warming up at times to the massive crowd.
But then we heard Walters belt outstunning high notes during the song Purple, and saw the pyrotechnics light up the stage and it was clear they had complete control over their enthusiastic fans. During White Lines, they brought out the Defence Force band to level up the song – one of several special moments. And a highlight was bringing back Drax Project for Catching Feelings.
At two hours strong, it was a long set, but the band kept the huge crowd engaged as much as they could. They chose to perform an entire EP back to back because they knew their loyal fans would dance along to every note.
Even in moments where the singalongs dwindled and the laid-back nature of the crowd showed, the dancing and jumping were the signs the band were still maestros of the stadium.
And it was incredibly fitting the band were the ones to finally let the music play on full volume at Eden Park.
The show was the first chapter of a brand new era of live music at Eden Park, and Six60 met the moment effortlessly.
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