So Pop – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019
Expecting a huge night last night at Spark Arena at the SO POP Concert, I was most definitely not disappointed. At the risk of sounding cliché, it sure popped!!!
WORDS BY KIMBERLEY JONES | PHOTOS BY BRAD HOLLAND
DJ Nick Skitz got the crowd amped playing a lot of classic 90’s songs, which was to be expected. It was a surprise how many people were already out seeing as this started at 4.45pm on a work day. Outhere Brothers and Mr President started the night with the crowd really escalating when Lou Bega came on stage.
Finishing off his set, looking suave in his signature hat, Bega ended with Mambo #5 encouraging the audience to finish it off for him with a final chorus solely sung by those in the arena. As the volume slowly increased, more and more gave their all to show the artist their appreciation. Our host for the evening was Suzanne Paul, who commented that Lou has a “natural glow about him”. To which I am sure there was a audible groan from the crowd. Suzanne proceeded to get Christchurch man Taylor on stage for lip sync battle. Suzanne choose song, Man I Felle Like A Woman. Omg what a show!!!
2Unlimited got straight into it with epic bass and hip hop dancers to keep the crowd amped. The duo looked like they were zapped right out of the 90’s with her wearing thigh high velvet leggings and both leather clad with chains. Much like many out last night there were all types of clothing accessories that I haven’t see in decades. Leg warmers, neon sunglasses, head bands from aerobic type classes, sequins and more sequins. Belting out classics like Twilight Zone, No Limits and Jump for Joy I was pleasantly surprised at his cub if this techno I actually remembered. It was time to get my dance on.
Like Lou Bega, 2Unlimited were meant to come to NZ in the
In between acts, there were old ads playing o
Being asked to turn torch lights on for the next song being dedicated to a sad loss in the music world, I was confused for a moment what was happening. Then how could I forget Avicii. Moving on to a cover song of Bloodhound Gang, The Bad Touch also known as Discovery Channel. Now this one brought back memories of a good friend singing this to me while we were in classes at High School. What a great way to end the set with a mash up of We Will Rock You and Thunderstruck. Off stage to get an All Blacks shirt on, both came back on for an encore of their own and finally their biggest single, Blue (Da Ba Dee).
When B*Witched came out it was the loudest the crowd had been all night! With one of the twins wearing a gorgeous white sequins suit and the others in denim jeans in skirts with sequins they lit up the arena themselves. We started with Roller Coaster, Jesse Hold On and the ABBA Medley they performed with Steps etc back in 1999. As they started to run off stage, we were asked to sing Georgia Happy Birthday as a cake was brought out from behind stage.
Keeping the momentum going, the girls were handed large white umbrellas to perform Weatherman and getting the crowd involved in a vocal circle. After raucous chants from the crowd, the band came back on stage for their own encore of highly anticipated Cest La Vie with a touch of Ed Sheeran’s, Galway Girl in the middle. With the most energy I had seen in the stage at that point, these girls were just like I remember them in the 90’s. Amazing outfits, heaps of energy and vocals on point with to holding mics and 2 with mics in headsets. As the CO2 canisters went off to signal the end of this set, the crowd absolutely went off!!
Four concert goers were taken to stage for a chance to win back stage passes to meet Aqua by guessing the 90’s TV show with only a 10 second snippet to listen to. Needless to say none of them got it and they turned down Suzanne’s offer of Steak knives.
My favourite of the night and judging by the noise level in the arena the favourites to the majority there was Blue. As Duncan, Simon, Lee and Antony cruised out on stage for opposite corners of the inverted triangle stage towards the peak, you would have struggled to hear a siren over the greeting they got. Streisght into All Rise, Lee could be seen to tap his chest over his heart as the crowd started the song off for the band who quickly showed that they haven’t changed at all.
Oh damn, Bubblin was backed up by Fly By and I was taken back to when I was a teenager at my first ever concert going to see Blue at the Auckland Town Hall. Watching Lee And Simon banter over who was getting the mic stands, there is clearly still a comradery keeping these guys together. Some slightly funky vocals in the higher ranges being the only hiccup to this performance, each member had their time to shine and I ca assure you they have all aged very well indeed. Still as sexy as ever.
Finishing a few of their songs with harmonic acapella pieces in U Make Me Wanna and Too Close have them the edge that secured their spot as my favourite for the night. Also performing their cover of Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word and finishing their set with a tantalising rendition of One Love.
I was really looking forward to seeing the Venda Boys as I missed their recent visit to NZ. They started with a shirt medley of their sings as an intro to which the crowd loudly sang along to. Dealing with a small technical glitch with Kim’s mic not working too well they put on a wonderful show. Showing us they can still shake it like they used to they delivered We’re Going To Ibiza with one playing the ukulele.
Kim said, “Coming to NZ is like coming home. To our whanau!” They travelled all the way from the Netherlands to perform last night but there was no sign of any jet lag. The outfits were perfectly reminiscent of their 90’s music videos and with song lyrics on the screen any that possibly didn’t know them could still partake. Shalala Lala was a hit followed by Up and Down giving them a chance to really show off their dance moves.
A quick remark of “Here’s to NZ’s best habit” the Venga Boys showcased their new song, I Wanna Get Drunk. As this ended a huge explosion of streamers came from the stage covering the people standing in the front half of the arena. With pyrotechnics and also Venga cash, this was definitely the most showy performance of the lineup. . Kiss kisss kiss
With huge rainbow inflatable balls thrown into the crowd, we heard Venga bus, Uncle John from Jamaica and Going to Ibiza.
“Aotearoa, do you want one more!?!?”
Celebrating being together for the last 22 years and with 2001 being their first time in NZ they took the time to sit at the pinicle of the stage for photos from the crowd.
I hardly had a chance to sit as there were just so many reasons to party like it was 1999! Who would have thought the lyrics of songs I hadn’t heard in decades all came back to me after a couple of lines. Also have to mention all the people that made the set changes work so seemlessly. Often going unmentioned, with such a big show last night and so many different preferences, it was a job welol done.
Wearing an All Blacks shirt seemed to be a theme as Aqua came out from back stage to start their set with Around The World. With a full band in support including a pink piano, drums, bass and electric guitars and 2 back up vocalists. Happy boys up next followed by My Oh My bringing Rene into the camera pit area to get up close with the fans and both of them taking time to sit down and sing with those right up front.
Barbie girl was of course their biggest hit here and was highly anticipated. They took turns getting down into the crowd however opted for mic stands with Mama Said. Dr Jones of course was my favourite for their set closely followed by Turn Back Time when we were all coached into turning on our torches again. Even so much so that the lady behind me tapped me on my shoulder to make sure I had my light on.
For Cartoon Heroes, she grabbed a security guard and jumped on his shoulders for him to walk her around the front row for some one on one time. Getting some audience members on stage to have a dance including a couple of spectacular girls that ended up doing some cartwheels and one woman that had a very unfortunate wardrobe malfunction more than once. Sorry kids, turns out this was an R18 show……
A very techno based Lollipop (candyman) was followed up by Roses Are Red to finish the set for Aqua. Quite an amazing thing to watch as they got everyone down on the floor to crouch down and in cue they all jumped up. This was done a couple of times and was very effective.
With that final song drawing the evening to an end, I had to reflect about what an evening it was. Happy endings aren’t just a thing from the movies, it was a great night out and when Suzanne had asked the crowd earlier in the night if we would be interested in going again next year there were no 2 ways about it. A bigger venue than the last time they put together this epic “throw back” concert.
A novel idea that seems to be a hit with a lot of people.