On Wednesday night I didn’t really know whaat to expect. As I arrived to the arena, the crowd was quite small and I wondered if that may be it. Frank Walker (Canadian EDM DJ & Producer) kicked off the night. Now I can’t say his set blew me away but you couldn’t help vibing along. Even us photographers in the pit had to have a bit of a dance. Also you could see he was enjoying himself and that smile and positive energy could be felt in the room.
The crowd was slowly growing at this point and the arena was a free flow. So people could choose to sit for a bit then hit the floor to party, it was the perfect fit for this type of show.
Next to take the stage was Australian singer/songwriter Conrad Sewell. I have been following his music for quite a while and was excited to see him again. He last played in Auckland in 2015 on his ‘All I Know’ tour. So it was awesome to see him go from playing Galatos to Spark Arena. Conrad may not have been the best fit for the show as his music was probably a bit slower for the crowd who was here to party. But at the same time it was probably a good decision as people got to relax and listen to his incredible vocals, while also saving energy for Kygo’s set. Conrad started out his set on the keys as he performed a couple of songs, including his hit single ‘Start Again’ and one of his new tracks ‘Come Clean’. He then took to the centre of the stage and was joined by his longtime friend on guitar and backing vocals, Matthew Copley. After a couple more tracks, Conrad was joined on stage but local kiwi Nick Dow, who covered the keys and violin. Conrad has always cited Michael Jackson as a major influence so it was no surprise when he covered ‘Man in the Mirror’ which the crowd seemed to love and sing-a-long to as well. Though Conrad broke up his performance with a few speeches and random chats. I have to say the majority were more funny than anything with his jokingly dedicating a song to Scribe and also telling the crowd that “Kygo is asleep in the back. Nah jokes love you babe”. I have to say though, closing out the set with his recent release, ‘Healing Hands’ was a great way to keep the crowd feeling good. Conrad paced the stage, got the crowd to sing and clap along. Then energy was lifting.
The crowd was really packing in now and people seemed to be preparing themselves as the floor became more crowded as people left the seats and joined the party. As Kygo (Norwegian DJ, producer, musician and songwriter) took the stage, the visuals overtook the massive platform and screen he had set jump. Then with an explosion of fireworks, Kygo appeared. I don’t think I could tell you all the tracks he played as it was a 2 hour set and that was a lot of music. But there is no doubt he played a lot of his big hits including his track with Selena Gomez ‘It Ain’t Me’. His visuals accompanied every song so well and there was such a range. From crowd shots, nature, geometric patterns and music videos to live shots of Kygo. And they transitioned well between the back screen and the platform he was on. As if the fireworks and visuals weren’t enough, there was also a lot of confetti, CO2 canons and pyro. It was crazy! The floor was becoming insanely full with the crowd being pushed right to the edges.
Kygo also brought some guests with him. Justin Jesso came out to perform ‘Stargazing’ with him while later in the set, Bonnie McKee came out to give her incredible vocals to ‘Riding Shotgun’ and ‘This Town’ in a fun, flowing outfit.
Though Kygo is not just a DJ and he showed that during his set as he came off the large platform and took to a piano to play some classics such as ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and his own mix of ‘Sexual Healing’. He then gave the crowd some of his own tracks such as ‘Remind Me To Forget’ and new track ‘Happy Now’. It was a really nice way to break up the show.
The set had finally come to the end. Kygo came down to play the keys one more time. He brought out “his buddy Conrad” and asked the crowd to sing-a long if they know it. Of course they knew it. They began to play ‘Firestone’ as a beautiful acoustic rendition before taking to the top of the platform and turning into the mix Kygo originally made it to be. Conrad’s vocals were incredible as he really gave his all into the performance. The show finished with a bang of pyro, CO2, fireworks and confetti. The crowd left covered in colourful confetti and red streamers with high energy. Though DJ type sets aren’t for everyone. I have to say you should definitely give Kygo a chance. His set was incredible and it was so much more than just a guy behind a station playing music. He held a smile the whole night and you could just feel his positive energy. There was no doubt this was a great first show here and I can’t imagine how it may be when he returns. I think New Zealand definitely enjoyed their first taste of Kygo, I know I did.
– Reviewed and Photographed by Shelley Te Haara