Concert Review: Adele

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Eight years since I was first mesmerised by Adele’s epic ballads, the night I was waiting for for so long, finally arrived. Last night I was one of the lucky ones who got to witness this superstar bring down the house at her final show at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. This morning I’m basking in the afterglow of one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Not even a traffic jam that meant I was at risk of missing my flight back to wellington can bring this gal down today.

I wish I could relive that concert over and over. Adele has the best voice I’ve ever heard. In two hours of music, all of which soars across low and high pitch and has key change upon key change, Adele did not miss one note. Each song was sung to perfection. I spent half the show with my mouth gaping open in amazement, tears rolled down my face in awe at least five times and I laughed wholeheartedly on numerous occasions.

A huge part of Adele’s appeal as a musician is that she’s real and relatable. As this was the last stadium show of her overseas tour we were treated as an audience to a raw version of her. She spoke with tears about what an accomplishment finishing this tour is for her, she never thought she’d make it through 50 shows let alone 219. She confirmed the rumours we’d all hoped weren’t true – “I don’t know if I’ll ever tour again” – and we all felt incredibly grateful in that moment that we got to witness her magnificence.

Despite it absolutely pissing down the entire show, this artist – with no trace of diva – continued to strut the stage in her waterlogged dress. She had make-up dripping down her face as she batted away wet and sticky bits of confetti but no complaints were made! Instead she just laughed about getting eyelash glue in her eyes and falling on her ass – a little bit of water wasn’t going to stop her giving us a show to remember. At one point she even donned a poncho handed to her by a helpful fan and the crowd erupted into giggles as she looked like a pink marshmallow while singing a heartfelt ballad.

All of the big hits were played, reminding us why they’re the favourites. Chasing Pavements, When We Were Young, Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You certainly stood out. Hello was so powerful as an opener that I was completely overcome with emotion. It took me about a minute to shake off the tears. I realised then just what kind of concert I was in for and the anticipation was intense.

There were endless lovely moments but I was particularly taken by her performances of Don’t You Remember, Take It All and Make You Feel My Love – which she dedicated to her husband and son before struggling not to cry while delivering the most stunning rendition.

As we trudged home in the heavy rain, our faces plastered with grins, we knew this was a concert above the rest. “This will be the artist we rave to our kids about one day” we quipped. Thanks Adele, you’re going to be hard to beat.

The Ticket Pile

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The favourite thing I have in my bedroom is a large stack of tickets that sits on my dresser and takes pride of place.

I’m such a concert nerd that I keep hold of every ticket. I love nothing more than spending a few hours looking back through the pile, listening to the music and reminiscing on the best nights of my life. No exaggeration there. The best nights of my life are all concerts, there’s no question about it. However, when I look at the pile, I have so many good memories that I could never chose one particular gig as the best. I just have to count myself lucky that I’ve had so many amazing experiences.

Although my Coldplay butterfly confetti, that fell from the ceiling during Lovers In Japan on the bands Viva La Vida tour in 2009, is looking a little worse for wear, it makes me grin with happiness as I remember the truly magical moment.

My shiny, uniquely designed collection of Big Day Out tickets takes me back to the sun-filled days packed in at Mt Smart Stadium, rushing from act to act, with barely enough time to stop for food let alone a toilet break!

My Fleetwood Mac ticket has me craving a dance in the pouring rain at the Bowl of Brooklands and desperate for November to roll around so I can see them live again.

The Bon Iver stub reinforces my desperate need for new music from what is easily one of the best live acts ever to exist.

I could go on forever.

Memorabilia is the best!

Concert Review: The Eagles

Eagles fans flock into Mt Smart Stadium
Eagles fans flock into Mt Smart Stadium
Last night people lucky enough to be at Mt Smart Stadium for the Eagles concert were transported through a magical three-hour music journey.
The songbook for this gig showcased forty years of hits, so the band probably could have played it safe and put on a predictable show and the fans would have still been happy. But I don’t imagine that could ever be the case when Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit get on stage together. Each tune is performed by these brilliant artists with such style, skill and showmanship.
All four are amazing musicians in their own right and I think that’s why their music has stood the test of time. How many bands do you see today who play a variety of songs written by all four members? Each of them has a different sound and they could all put on their own solo shows, yet still they work so beautifully together.
On stage you can see how much they love each others music. You can tell they are thrilled to be working together, even if there have been a few rough patches over the years. All four of them are the stars, and their attitude as you watch them support each other reinforces that.
The concert last night was about telling the history of the Eagles. The players talked us through the years, the ups and downs, the lessons learnt and most importantly, the best music that was made.
Although I thought the gig started off a little slowly, with two relatively unknown songs, Saturday Night and Train Leaves Here This Morning, and the lack of Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit on stage, the tunes told an important part of the story of the Eagles. It took the crowd back to the very beginning when these two weren’t a part of the group. It was wonderful to see Bernie Leadon, an original member of the band, on stage for a number of songs and given the recognition he deserves for his part in their phenomenal success.
Before I knew it the full band was on stage and we were hearing hit after hit. I knew the Eagles had a massive career of number ones but the woman standing behind me put it so perfectly when she exclaimed – “everybody here knows every damn song”. And they did. Every song was a singalong, even if that ‘singing’ often ended up just being people imitating many a guitar solo with high pitched whines.
In the first half I was particularly taken by a brilliant version of Doolin-Dalton and a stunning vocal performance in Witchy Woman. These songs proved, with their high pitched harmonies, that all four members voices are still perfectly in tact, an amazing feat when they’re getting on a bit. Other crowd favourites were Tequila Sunrise, Best of My Love and Peaceful Easy Feeling.
The chills down the spine really started to emerge during the final song before intermission – Take It To The Limit. Frey took on the vocals as if he’d always sung them and blew everyone away. It was a very emotion evoking performance as the sun went down.
But for me, things really came alive in the second half when Joe Walsh started doing his thing. He is easily the best guitarist I’ve seen perform live. In every song with an electric solo he stole the show. I kept finding my mouth would drop open and my hands would raise to my cheeks as I was mesmerised by his ability.
The rocker, who spent some time here in 1989 (in the peak of his drug use) playing with kiwi group Herbs, was a charmer with the crowd. He told us it was great to be back in New Zealand before following it with one hell of a punchline: “I spent a month here one night”.
My favourite moments in the concert came when Walsh lead the group in In The City, singing with a hair raising effect and busting out a guitar solo like nothing I’d ever heard before. I was so overwhelmed I was lost for words for a while. When I got them back I was quick to exclaim that song was one of the best I’ve ever seen in concert.
Walsh also blew me away with a stunning performance of Pretty Maids All In A Row and in his talk-box sessions in Rocky Mountain Way and Funk #49 which made it impossible to keep a smile off your face.
There were many other fun moments like when Frey and Walsh had a guitar solo competition. Both of them leapt around on stage trying to outdo one another. It was hilarious but also a very impressive showcase of their talents. The narratives told between songs kept the story of their history flowing and showed personality. Henley was particularly interesting talking about how lucky they were to have made it this far in life and what it meant to still be performing together. This was a perfect introduction to The Long Run.
Heartache Tonight, I Can’t Tell You Why and Life In The Fast Lane all went down a treat with the crowd. That before they got what they really wanted – Hotel California. This, being the groups most famous song, was always going to be a popular one but when you see it performed like this you can understand why it’s always been the song on everyone’s playlist. The group gave it new life on stage, the vocals from Henley were faultless and the layers of guitar melodies were chilling. When brought together with an almighty electric guitar finale it was a truly spectacular moment.
The show came to a close with a stunning but simplistic Desperado and everyone was left 100% satisfied.
This concert told their history and what an amazing 40 years of work the Eagles have to put on display. In their performance last night – they certainly did every bit of it justice.

It’s a glorious day – Big Day Out is returning to NZ

The main stages at Big Day Out 2011 at Mt Smart Stadium
The main stages at Big Day Out 2011 at Mt Smart Stadium.

Neil Young, The Killers, Muse, LCD Soundsystem, The Violent Femmes, Iggy Pop, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They’re just a small selection of the world’s most famous bands I’ve added to my ‘Seen in Concert’ list thanks to Big Day Out.

When it was announced last year that the 20-year-old festival was no longer going to be held in New Zealand, I stood up and kicked the wall while screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” (no exaggeration). The pain I was experiencing was made three times worse a couple of weeks on when the line up for the Australian shows was announced. I’d been to every Big Day Out since I turned 15 and my mum finally gave into my begging. But this, this was the best line up yet and I wasn’t going to get to go!

I couldn’t hack it, I got on the phone to friends straight away, found one willing to splash a bit of cash and within weeks we’d booked our tickets and flights to Brisbane for the Gold Coast concert in January. The experience was great! We had a blast at the Aussie gig but the state of my bank balance afterwards told me I couldn’t do this every year.

So you’ll imagine my relief when it was revealed Big Day Out was making a return to New Zealand in 2014. Today brought the best news of all – a venue change from Mt Smart Stadium to Western Springs has been given council approval. This one small move is going to make the concert an even better version of itself.

The key to a festival with many stages is access between the different areas. I went to Wellington’s Homegrown in its first year, excited at the prospect of the water front gig showcasing Kiwi artists. But after missing the start of every band’s show by at least 15 minutes because it took so long to walk between each stage, I never wanted to go back. Logistically Homegrown was a nightmare.

In comparison, Big Day Out was much better but there were still a few issues at the previous venue of Mt Smart Stadium when it came to entering and exiting the main stage. It was set up on the rugby field and only accessible by stairs, which overflowed with fans pushing to get to the next act. Considering myself a bit of a ‘BDO regular’, I always attacked the stairs with my elbows out and ready to push. But if you were unaware of how to tackle the crowd, it could become an almighty struggle.

At this year’s Gold Coast Big Day Out the venue, Parklands, was fantastic. The three sets of stages were a close distance to each other and on the same level of ground thus avoiding the awful stairs. Yet the sounds didn’t overlap and food stalls and toilets were nicely scattered in between. The park setting worked perfectly, as will Western Springs, which is of a similar layout. I’m even prepared to push aside my fear of birds to dance with the swans if it means five more minutes with my favourite band. So sayonara Mt Smart.

Not to mention that by taking the festival away from the industrial part of Auckland with little public transport in place, bringing it to the city and it’s the perfect recipe for happy concert-goers. No more waiting in the rain for 45 minutes to get on the train feeling like your feet are going to fall off at any minute and your eyes physically can’t stay open. Now for most, it will be an easy walk home or an easy walk to a number of methods of transportation.

It’s a good day for Kiwi music junkies like myself now that we’re welcoming the return of Big Day Out and a revamped version. Organisers have figured out how to make the concert a logistical success so now we just have to hope the line up of acts is just as good.