I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard plenty of feel-good stories about Aotearoa’s handling of Covi-19, and to be honest with you, it didn’t quite sink in for me until Sunday night. Crowded House’s last gig in Auckland certainly lived up to my childhood expectation of them – and it was very, very cool to be at the biggest gig happening on the planet. It was even cooler that the gig was Crowded House. Growing up in Aotearoa, you have to try pretty hard to avoid songs like ‘Fall At Your Feet’ and ‘Distant Sun’, and seeing them live gives you a very good idea of why this is.
Before we get to that, though, let’s take a moment to enjoy the megastar that is Reb Fountain. She was an enigmatic performer, capturing the audience’s attention from the second she walked on stage, wearing an absolutely killer suit. Her entire set commanded attention, even if you didn’t know the songs. I missed Reb’s show at the Mercury a while ago, and was stoked to find out she was the opener. Starting with an ethereal iteration of ‘Hawks and Doves’ from her 2020 self-titled, the act continued that well from there. A lot of the time, it seems like she’s on stage, communicating with a world we don’t quite have access to, but she wants to show us what it’s like, which, to be honest, is an honour.
I could go on for Another 800 words about Reb, but bit this is technically a Crowded House review, so onto that, I guess. ‘Weather With You’ was the opener for Crowded House, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and please the crowd is exactly what it did. If the crowd hadn’t been quite woken up by Reb’s set (which they should’ve been), they certainly were now. Normally when gigs start with such a strong note, it’s a bit of a coin toss as to whether they’ll continue such a high. With Crowded House, no coin toss was necessary. They didn’t have a single bad song, despite their hectic touring schedule (Auckland one night, New Plymouth the next, then back to Auckland), and you could tell that they really, honestly, wanted to be there performing for us. A couple of highlights from the set can be found in a hair-raising rendition of ‘In My Command’, one of those songs I’d always known but never known the name of, and easily one of my favourites from the gig & a jazz-influenced, animated version of ‘Chocolate Cake’ (Seymour’s finest moment). Finn provided the crowd with a lot of quite-witted repartees, never once feeling rehearsed or strained. Nick Seymour, while being an incredible bassist (wearing a Zambesi kilt, no less), managed to keep up with Finn, and outwit him in some instances.
The gig felt more like a pub gig, rather than a stadium one, they managed to make Spark Arena feel small and intimate like they were jamming on the stage in Whammy’s backroom. Crowded House’s command of the audience is truly something to be witnessed in person, and boy am I glad I did. It was also pretty cool to be in attendance at the biggest gig happening on the planet that night. Normally I’d have a couple of critiques after a gig, but I’m really struggling to find anything even half bad to say.
“An incredible night, ten out of ten.”