By Poppy Tohill
Artist: American Authors
Date / Venue: Wednesday September 24th, The Powerstation, Auckland
Although being an R18 concert, the upstairs balcony for those underage was packed to the brim with young, very excited and predominantly female fans, which awaited the arrival of the much adored Brooklyn based pop stars, American Authors.
Our very own Benny Tipene took to the stage first, much to the young teens enthusiasm, welcoming the talented musician to the stage with a great deal of adoration, screams and cries. Performing a short 20 minute set which included songs from his EP, 'Toulouse,' and forthcoming album 'BRICKS,' the crowd was certainly more than warmed up by the time he got to his final song and popular hit single, ‘Make You Mine.'
Next to take the stage was American singer-songwriter, and rockstar Andy Grammer who has been touring with American Authors throughout NZ and Australia, as their official support act.
If you didn't know it was an American Authors show, you could have easily been lead to believe that Andy Grammer was the headliner. With the crowd of enthusiastic fans proving just as excited to see him perform as they were to see the American Authors, if not even more excited for Grammer in some cases.
As soon as Grammer set foot onto that stage and opened his mouth, it became clear that he was going to deliver an exceptionally energetic performance, and that indeed, he did. Armed with a guitar in hand, he opened with his popular hit, ‘Keep Your Head Up,' which the audience were signing along to from the very beginning.
Performing a few more tracks from his 2011 self titled debut album, he went on to perform an extraordinary cover of Macklemore's ‘Thrift Shop,' which proved an all time crowd favourite, who again joined in singing the chorus.
Moving on to perform his two biggest hits ‘Honey I'm Good' and ‘Back Home' from his latest album, ‘Magazines or Novels,' he showed off his exceptional vocal skills and talent once more, throughout another cover, this time of Snow Patrol's, ‘Chasing Cars,' adding a different touch to the song with some impressive beat boxing.
It's not often a support act has the potential to outshine the actual headliner, and although I'm not saying that definitely happened, it was pretty clear that Grammer has a large fan base of his own in New Zealand and undoubtedly has the potential and talent to become more of a star than he already seems to be.
Eventually it was time for the American Authors to take the spotlight and deliver what was a very enjoyable, energetic, and fun performance.
As the lights went down and the stage darkened lead guitarist, James Adam Shelley, bassist, Dave Rublinand drummer Matt Sanchez took to the stage and began the recognisable instrumental introduction to their popular hit, ‘Think About It' from their debut album, ‘Oh What A Life.' As the lights brightened and the screams grew louder, vocalist, guitarist and front man Zac Barnett came bounding on stage belting out the first verse, and banging on a drum which sat to the right of the microphone stand.
From the get go you knew they were going to be energetic, as each member of the band happily bounded around the stage, giving the opening tune their absolute all.
Wasting no time, they launched straight into, ‘Luck' where Barnett leaned over the front to touch the hands of the screaming, adoring, hardcore fans who were leaning right up against the barrier. Driven by the drums, Barnett's voice was unfortunately lost a little bit behind the surrounding instruments, but this didn't seem to bother the crowd, who still jumped, danced and screamed to their hearts content.
Stopping now to welcome and introduce themselves to the audience, the room of screaming fans showed their utmost admiration for the New York popstars, showering them with a welcome to the level I don't quite think the band were expecting, although seemed incredibly grateful for.
Soon after, the band launched into their popular hit single, ‘Believer,' which was, of course, a definite highlight for many fans in the audience. It was pretty easy to tell that the band loved performing, as the energy and enthusiasm that was apparent from each individual member lit up the stage even more.
Encouraging the fans to sing along by pointing the microphone towards those at the front, the entire room began echoing as everyone joined in singing along, building up to what was a very impressive and loud drum instrumental and solo, which also saw Barnett going crazy on his drum at the front, with Rublin slinging the bass around his back to smack the living day lights out of a bass drum which was situated just behind him.
Putting aside the guitar for a minute, Barnett picked up the mandolin for an energetic performance of ‘Heart Of Stone.' Although having a little bit of trouble with the strap falling off, this didn't seem to phase him as he continued on strumming and belting out the song as the lively audience continued to dance and wave their hands in the air.
Drummer, Matt Sanchez (who had just found his missing phone) made his way to the front of the stage as the foursome performed ‘Trouble,' which also saw Barnett on acoustic guitar and Adam on the banjo.
Soon following with a strong cover of Ellie Goulding's, ‘Lights,' Shelley then reeled off an impressive guitar solo, into ‘Love,' which again saw Rublin add a to the rhythmic drum beat once more, hitting the bass drum behind him.
"How are we doing down there?" Barnett asked as the song came to an end. "Can I come hang out with you?" he asked, jumping into the pit at the front, which of course encouraged many a loud shrieks and screams from the excited fans at the front. Chatting away to members of the audience, and asking various people different questions, it was fairly obvious that Barnett's charm and charisma undoubtedly helps him front the band, along with his dare do I admit. (good looks). Asking if the crowd would sing something else with the band, they launched into ‘Ghost,' as Barnett strode around in the pit, dancing and singing with a number of very happy young fans.
Jumping up onto the stage near the end of the song, they went on to perform ‘Hit It,' concluding their set with one hell of a performance of their most popular hit single, ‘Best Day Of My Life,' where Andy Grammer, much to everyone's excitement, joined the American Authors on stage, to help sing along. Proving of course an ultimate crowd favourite for many, myself included.
Then to the crowd's disappointment, everyone departed the stage and the foot stomping and shouts for an encore begun. Not much encouraging was needed of course, as the foursome took to the stage once more, as Barnett thanked everyone for coming along, and admit that "this has been the best city of the tour, and it's the last show on this tour, so we're extremely happy that we get to end it with you guys," which was received with a great deal of applause and adoring screams.
Introducing the next song as "the first song we ever wrote," all four members stood at the front of the stage and performed an absolutely stunning unplugged acoustic version of ‘Keep Dreamin,' without the aid of microphones. Backed by a soft touch of acoustic guitar and banjo, all four members sung, showcasing their vocal talent as they combined and intertwined their beautiful melodies, exquisitely.
Closing their set with the stadium-ready anthem and power ballad, ‘Oh What A Life.' Beginning quietly the song soon built up to it's full force and power, as the entire audience joined in singing the "oooohhs" and waving their arms in the air.
Coming off the back of numerous sold out shows throughout Australia, the American Authors although not selling out The Powerstation on their first brief visit to New Zealand, gave it their absolute all, performing as if the entire world was watching. With just one album to their name so far too, I have no doubt these boys will be back and if you missed them this time, don't be that silly person who misses them twice, because they sure know how to rock and it may just end up being the best day of your life... (sorry I couldn't help myself).