Khalid – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019
In this day and age, it is rare to go to a gig and find a pure voice, not influenced by modern technologies. Thursday night at Spark Arena produced one of those rare gems with Khalid and his Free Spirit tour.
WORDS BY KJ PANUI | PHOTOS BY DAVID WATSON
Khalid’s interesting, unique sound is a beautiful representation of soulful music. His smooth voice and ability to feel the music makes him the modern-day version of Barry White. But with the energy and sick dance moves of James Brown. And he is only twenty-one.
To me, the stage always reflects the personality of the artist. A floor to ceiling screen centre stage and two smaller side screens defined how modern-day gigs were about visuals as much as the sound. However, the visuals and lighting were both simple, with influences from the 80’s.
This boy was born in the wrong era I tell you.
Khalid comes on stage and the crowd goes wild. The intensity of the volume has the crowd jumping out of their seats, and it seems only fair that Khalid starts the night with the song that is replicated in the title of the tour.
During the night, Khalid is supported by some great dancers. Their attire in itself is one to be admired in a 90’s hip-hop video. However, with the demographic of the crowd, they do bring the pop feel in and give a more family-friendly approach then.
He smashes out hit after hit, the crowd loving it, singing every word and bopping their lit-up phones in time to Khalid’s beat. “8TEEN”, “Hundred”, “Saved”, “Right back”. They just keep on coming.
My favourite part about the non-stop hits are some of the smoothest dance moves I have ever seen performed by a musician. Dance moves such as ‘Hit dem folks’, ‘Milly rock’ and ‘Shoot’ (how brilliant are the names right?!) make numerous features throughout the set.
Part of the fun writing reviews is crowd watching. It has been a while since I have been to a gig where you need an R18 wristband and I see one. The crowd is predominantly young. As a 29-year-old I am sure I almost hear the words ‘OK Boomer’ being yelled towards my vicinity.
People watching continues. It is almost like a school disco. Families and young couples all spread out. On one side of the arena were the teenybopper fans, snapchat-ready and really expressing themselves through their attire. On the other were the mothers, enjoying the gig from their seats showing this through finger tapping and a bit of side-to-side head movements.
Khalid has collaborated with some great artists. Marshmello, Hasley and Benny Blanco and Normani to name a few with their songs featuring on the setlist. He does well to continue the songs without the featured artists, only cutting the song “Eastside” up and mashing it with his next hit well known hit “Love Lies”.
Khalid stops for a moment to show how humble he is. He gives a shout out to Lucky Daye who has been nominated for four Grammys. His set prior showed us why he was nominated, and it is pretty cool seeing Lucky Daye in their debut in New Zealand. And the crowd shows their appreciation for him and the music.
Khalid also takes this time to gives his opinion on life and what it is all about. ‘Just to live we gotta live’. And at twenty-one. The wisdom on this guy’s crew cut. I think the Boomers have it wrong…about some of them anyway.
The 24 track setlist wraps up with “Salem’s interlude” a track that looks into one’s fears in life and the paths taken to be overcome these and be generally blessed and happy. A track that can identify to many young people of today’s world. Don’t let fears get to you, and enjoy all the life has to bring.
The interlude finishes the perfect segue into the last song of the night “Saturday nights”. And what better way to remember the night with a group selfie with his dancers and the crowd.
One of my favourite crowd moments was when I heard a woman around my age discuss Khalid as we were leaving the arena. ‘I fell in love with him about five times during that concert’…Seriously if that isn’t another example of him being the modern-day Barry White then I don’t know what is.