Benee stops her Spark Arena soundcheck to talk touring during a pandemic, dangerous dance moves and that Judith Collins comment

Benee's sound check at Auckland's Spark Arena is a pretty chilled out affair, despite the fact she's probably the only musician in the world doing a sold-out nationwide tour in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While nearly every pop star on the planet has been resigned to streaming performances from their living rooms, Benee is prancing around the stage in a pair of tiger ears, grooving through her enchanted-forest-esque set and waving hello to her dog Tui, who pops in for a visit. 

In a few hours, she'll be facing down a full house of fervent fans who have spent much of the year locked inside, starved of the sights and sounds of a live gig. For now though, she's happy to take a few minutes to have a yarn under one of the giant fake trees that flank the stage. 

"Next time we should make a version of these I can climb," she says, patting the trunk. "Actually, I reckon could probably climb up this one tonight." 

"No, please don't," says a mildly concerned member of her team. 

Last time the 20-year-old performed on the Spark Arena stage, she had just won four Tuis at her first New Zealand Music Awards in 2019, where she also pulled a muscle while executing an impressive - if slightly awkward - high kick. 

Since then, her fanbase has utterly exploded, and she's even managed to feature on The Tonight Show, MTV and Ellen, albeit in pre-recorded videos filmed in Auckland rather than brushing shoulders with celebrities in Hollywood green rooms. 

It's about time she gets in front of a live audience again - one she reckons has been teeming with a "weird new energy" on this tour. 

"It's been crazy, so cool," she says. "Everyone's just so stoked to get out." 

"It feels very weird, but pretty special though." 

When it comes to her onstage mannerisms, a distinctly unjaded Benee reckons she's still full of the unbridled excitement and energy that saw her pull that muscle at the music awards last year. 

"I still just get up here and end up regretting everything... but then laughing it off," she says. 

One such headline-making moment took place at her Wellington show earlier this month, where she admits she "shouldn't have used the b-word" with reference to National Party leader Judith Collins. 

The sentiment remains unchanged, however. "I don't agree with her politics," she says, adding: "I'm a musician, I can say whatever the frick I want to say." 

Too right - especially when you've got the spotlight at the biggest gig in the world.