Arriving to Spark Arena, we saw that the line went down the road in both directions and continued to grow. Doors were advertised to open at 18:00 but didn’t seem to open until around 18:30. The crowd was very young which meant parents were either attending the show with their kids or dropping them off at the doors. This also helped me prepare for the fact that there was going to be a lot of screaming.
I don’t know if it was due to Festival X Rising the night before or just ticket sales but the stage was bought up the floor about 2/3 of the way. Though I wasn’t complaining as I thought the intimate show was not only better for me, but the fans as well. Particularly those who’d are quite small or decided to make the most of the seats if needed.
First act to take the stage was American Taylor Grey. I was unsure of what to expect form her as I didn’t know there were opening acts until the day before. Taylor’s name lit up the screen as her band took the stage (drummer & guitarist). She took the stage in what I would consider to be a very country outfit, sparkly flared jeans paired with a sparkly denim jacket and matching tassels. Taylor was all about the crowd participation! Throughout her set she constantly addressed the crowd with excited screams and movements. I have to say, considering the stage is essentially barren, she had a great voice and stage presence! She moved about making sure she gave love to every part of the crowd . But Taylor also believes in using her platform and let the crowd know that at the merch stand she was selling a metal straw with the proceeds going to the Australian Bushfires. I thought her music had a bit of 90’s pop sound and I really enjoyed it. Taylor told fans to meet her after the show in the foyer because she loves meeting her fans. I decided I wanted to meet her and I found her super lovely & really all about her fans.
Why Don’t We really kept the lineup with another American taking the stage next, Eben. The first thing I noticed about Eben was how happy he was. He just seemed to be having the best time and his energy was infectious, as was his smile. He had a drummer onstage with him and that was it. A simple layout like Taylor but he knew how to make that work as well. Eben was dressed pretty casually with a white shirt spray painted with “NOT GUCCI” on the front, blue pants and an orange beanie. Eben has a bit of a pop-rap sound and I felt like that provided something different to the show as a whole. It was a fun set.
Now the earplugs were definitely in as the lights went out. An intro played out of letters flying around to form the words “8 LETTERS”. Then lights lit up each member of Why Don’t We one by one. Just before the guys took the stage, a couple fo young girls were giving out papers with pieces of cello tape attached that had a coloured square on it and said to place it over your phone light during ‘In Too Deep’. Well the crowd followed instructions and it was a mixture of purple and white lights. “Your lights look beautiful! It’s like a galaxy. That’s crazy”. Throughout their set they had few out fit changes and a lot of choreography. The choreography was a bit awkward at moments. I didn’t know if it was because they were clearly tired or just not really into the whole synchronised dancing. Because a couple of them were definitely into it more than others.
The visuals that played out on the screen were good and the stuff that played during the outfit changes gave fans a glimpse behind the scenes and back in time with them all. This show was their 92nd show and the last show of their tour. “It’s going to feel weird not doing it anymore. This all started 3 years ago. Thank you for everything, you’ve completely changed our lives”. They then grabbed a NZ flag from a fan in the front row and took a photo with the crowd.
They continued with their set and said they can’t wait to come back. Sadly for them this was an in-and-out trip but they want to visit Hobbiton next time and see NZ properly. Another fan moment I noticed was when they performed ‘8 Letters’ fans held up paper signs that said “Thank you for everything”. It was beautiful to see and I’m sure the guys really appreciated it.
The show as a whole was a lot to take in and there was a lot going on. Thought the boys were clearly tired, they made it work and gave NZ fans the show they had been waiting for. I have to admit it was a fun time!