Six60 perform record-breaking gig at Western Springs - review

Fifty thousand people in an inner-city location is one thing on paper, but to see the reality is really quite something. Coming over the rickety metal stairs at Western Springs and staring down on to an endless crowd only growing by the minute, it was hard to put into words the sight.

"F**k this is packed," someone next to me observed, which pretty much did the job.

Six60 Western Springs
The record-breaking crowd. Photo credit: Amber K/MediaWorks

Six60's record-breaking gig at Western Springs had a lot of hype to live up to: the first Kiwi band to sell out the stadium, which has catered to greats like U2, Bowie and Eminem.

But this was all-Kiwi, even the (all-male, it must be said) warm-up acts of IllBaz, SWIDT and Sons of Zion.

If I was an entirely professional entertainment reporter I would have gotten there super-punctually to see all the acts. So of course, it was just Drax Project we made it to, clutching our beers (maximum two each). The former buskers from Welly could be considered as strong as the headliner - they held the crowd for their full hour-and-a-half set, and lead singer Shaan Singh must have been bloody KNACKERED what with all the saxophone-playing and singing and hair-flipping.

Fair play to him - I was tired from standing and bopping up and down in one spot.

Drax Project
Drax Project take the stage. Photo credit: Amber K/MediaWorks

In a sheer stroke of genius from the organisers, Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' blasted before our main boys took the stage.

Have you ever heard 50,000 people sing "Galileo, Galileo" at one time? It's really quite something, I would recommend. It brought the crop-topped uni students, picnic rug-clutching families and coked-up mums together for the main act.

Six60 took the stage to images of the Castle Street flat where it all began. Comparing that shabby brick-fronted unit to the crowds ascending up the embankment in front of him seemed too much for lead singer Matiu Walters. He took a moment to absorb the scene in front of him, before the band launched into their first song, smash hit 'Vibes'. It was an effective move; the crowd roared along and the show was off with a banger.

"It's just Six60, and their choir of 50,000 strong," Walters at one point told the crowd, and we were happy to fulfil our role.

Don't forget that key lyrics, boys.
Don't forget that key lyrics, boys. Photo credit: Amber K/MediaWorks

There were only a couple of sticky moments in their two-hour set, most of them stemming from times Walters encouraged the crowd to take the reins with singing, and being Kiwis we all panicked at the thought of looking like dicks and standing out even amongst 50,000 others.

But otherwise you can't fault his vocal performance, or the easy chemistry of the band of friends and former flatmates.

The band bounced from classic faves like 'Purple' and that unofficial modern national anthem 'Dont Forget Your Roots' to new material. Behind them was one of the slickest stage setups an NZ show could boast. Song lyrics interspersed with special effects ran on top of shots of the crowd and the band onstage. During crowd-pleaser 'Special', a giant neon SPECIAL was lit up behind the boys, just in case you forgot the main lyric, I guess?

Six60's Matiu Walters serenades the crowd.
Six60's Matiu Walters serenades the crowd. Photo credit: Amber K/MediaWorks

Finishing up with some radio stalwarts like 'Forever' and 'Closer' meant the crowd was kept singing their guts out to the very end. Full disclosure - I heard the echoes of the final song as we walked back to our car in Grey Lynn. Minor claustrophobia means I wasn't quite prepared to fight 50,000 other revellers for the already fairly strained stairs.

But strolling out on to the street with other hyped souls, all of us spontaneously singing along to the fading sounds behind us... the record-breaking night ended with pretty good vibes. (SORRY, come on, you were waiting for it.)