Never in my life and 127 concert goings have I ever experienced a crowd like the one that filled Auckland's Civic Theatre, almost to capacity last night. All credit of course goes to Michael Rosenberg, whom most will know as Passenger, the Brighton based folk singer we were all there to see.
When listening to some artists' records it's fairly easy to imagine what their live show would be like. For me however, Passenger isn't one of those artists. When listening to his emotive and melancholic, folk tunes, I've always wondered how they would translate into a live scene, and let me tell you that the way they did was beyond my highest expectations.
Rosenberg is not a shy man that's for sure and the warmth and energy that radiated off him didn't take long to sink into the crowd, as he bounded on stage welcoming us with a broad smile and his arms wide open. "You realise Paul Simon & Sting are in town tonight," he informed the audience.
"Yet you're still here..." he laughed. "You've definitely made the wrong choice, but thanks none the less!" he laughed again before kick starting the night's entertainment with the sweet, melodic 'Rolling Stone' from his most recent album 'Whispers.'
By looking at the stage one could have easily thought it's too big for just one man and his guitar, but within seconds Passenger had the entire audience transfixed and quite comfortably sitting in the palm of his hands.
"Most depressing start to a gig ever, Wooohoo!" he enthusiastically beckoned as the song came to an end. Happily chatting away to the audience telling stories and jokes between each song, Rosenberg joked that his jeans "haven't always been this skinny. I washed them and put them out to dry and then something terrible happened, so just ignore my legs tonight if you can," he chuckled, before someone in the audience responded, "you said that last time." "Oh shit did I?" Rosenberg laughed in response, "well let's just ignore that fact too," he smirked before continuing on to play 'Life's For The Living' from his 2012 album All The Little Lights. Which saw Rosenberg put his sound effects to the test at re-creating the trombone instrumental, while the big projector screen behind him shone with simplistic and beautiful moving images, adding an even more magical atmosphere to the surroundings.
"Take it off, take it off" someone in the audience shouted at one point during the night. "Did you just say take it off?" Rosenberg asked. "I actually psychically can't, I've been wearing these jeans for two weeks now," he responded laughing.
Numerous different emotions floated throughout the room over the course of the night, but the heart-wrenching story of a man with lung cancer riding a motorbike from the west coast of America to the east coast to spend his last moments with his children and grandchildren was enough to reduce anyone to tears. Upon asking everyone to be as silent as possible, no one needed to be asked twice, as Rosenberg went on to dedicate 'Riding To New York' to this man who had helped him give up smoking. The entire audience in mesmerisation from the story sat completely still in silence, entranced in what was the most emotional and stunning performance I have ever witnessed at a concert in my entire life.
'The Sound of Silence,' and oldie 'Underwater Bride (featuring Eye Of The Tiger)' from his 2009 album Wide Eyes Blind Love both proved crowd favourites, although nothing was able to overshadow the highlight that was 'I Hate.' The swear-word filled song received many cheers as people clapped and sung along as Passenger went on to diss the likes of X Factor for murdering music, and beauty magazines for encouraging ten year olds to race to grow up and be anorexic.
'Let Her Go' Passenger's hit single was surprisingly next, followed by his own realisation- "That song is my only hit single, so I probably should have saved it till last," he joked. "You can play it again!" someone in the audience smartly responded, which was followed by a number of laughs and cheers from both Rosenberg and the 2000+ audience members. 27 saw everyone rise from their seats for a dance, sing and clap around, proving yet another highlight and favourite for many.
Next we were treated to a brand new song- so new in fact that it is still yet to be titled. "Let Him Go" someone from the audience humorously projected offering their suggestion of a name for the new tune. Rosenberg trying to hold back his laughter replied, "It's not called 'Let Him Go..." before taking a deep breath and announcing, "I'm just not even going to say anything," before he launched into what proved to be another great emotive love song.
Before too long Passenger had unfortunately reached the end of his set, finishing on a high with 'Scare Away The Dark.' The song about everyone wasting away their lives and dying in front of computer screens saw Rosenberg ask everyone to stand, clap, dance and sing-a-long, politely asking if all cameras and phones could be put away for the song. Not one audience member disrespected his wishes, as the 2000 strong crowd sung along at the top of their lungs with not one single screen in sight.
What happened next was the most heart-warming and incredible thing I have ever witnessed at a concert in my life. Rosenberg disappeared off the stage as it faded into black, but rather than the usual repetitive calling of "encore" or "we want more," the entire audience in unison clapped and continued singing the "ohh, ohhh, oh, ohhh's" of 'Scare Away The Dark' for the next five minutes, showing their immense love and adoration for Passenger. The 'Ohs' continued to ring and echo around the entire venue as Rosenberg blown away by this response re-appeared on stage touching his heart, looking almost surprised and more than thankful for this immensely touching gesture.
Running to the microphone to join in with the 'oh, ohhh, oh, ohhh's' which were still being projected in full force from the audience, Rosenberg eventually processed this overwhelmingly stunning reception and beckoned, "Thank you so much Auckland. Do you have time for three more songs?" which of course didn't even require an answer.
Things That Stop You Dreaming another tune from hisAll The Little Lights album spectacularly began the encore.
Following this, Passenger's opening act, Canadian trio The Once returned to the stage again to perform a medley together which featured Van Morrison's, Brown Eyed Girl, Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark, finishing with Fleetwood Mac's, Go Your Own Way. The combination of the trio who sang the most stunning three part harmonies backed by guitars, lutes and mandolins, and Passenger on stage together made for something absolutely beautiful and memorable from both sides of the stage.
As The Once departed the stage for the last time, Passenger continued on a high with a fast paced and energetic performance of 'Holes' for the audience to boogie away to one last time before the night drew to an end. A lot of clapping, singing and dancing of course followed and eventually the goodbyes came and went as Rosenberg disappeared from the stage for the last time.
Not only was there music being played, but I think Rosenberg talked as much as he sung, which isn't something you always see from an international artist, therefore making it an even more special affair. His rapport with the audience was beyond impressive and the interaction and personalisation he created between himself and the crowd is something in itself he should be congratulated for. But in terms of the instrumentation, the lyricism and overall performance that sunk right into the soul of every single audience member, Passenger is one of a kind- and has more than perfected the craft of live performances to the point where I could personally watch him over and over again and never fail to be impressed, blown away and mesmerised by his art, and in saying this I think I can quite confidentially speak for the majority if not every single person who left the Civic Theatre last night, taking away more than I think they bargained for upon arrival.
One of our writers sat down with Amy Mansfield, writer of I Didn’t Invite You Hear To Lecture Me, ahead of the Basement shows. Most students throw out their study notes, but not Amy. She has kept hold of them for the past 20 years--vertibiam quotes from her lectures that are too good to ever get rid of. The play was shown throughout the Auckland Fringe Week 2018, and even in some personal living rooms, the vibe is very independent and witty.
It was a cold bleary eyed Saturday night as the clock struck midnight, and counted towards 1am… the time set forth to conjure Richard Shaw, guitarist for legendary UK black metal act Cradle of Filth. We talked ahead of their sold out, first ever performance here in New Zealand.
NZ is about to get OBESSED, with the newest in kiwi music. Local Tauranga sweetheart, Amelia McNabb comes to us fiercely, independently, and with more fire in her lungs than I've heard from any kiwi artist in while. THIS is what we’ve been waiting for.
Elgusto, one part of the innovative electronic/dance music duo, Hermitude, sat down with one of our interviewers this past week; chatting about their loaded schedule, the bands ethos, how they communicate an instrumental show, and their creative collaborations.
Catching up with friends who are musicians at their gigs is always an odd, awkward, rushed affair between sets, pack-down, or a series of inaudible shouts as another band plays. So with the release of the new Seas of Conflict single Monachopsis, I thought it was time I simply scheduled time for a chat, not only once but twice--due to technical issues--with guitarist Declan Storrie.
I recently ventured back to my old festival haunting grounds - or at least the successor thereof. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and after juggling band members between their Festival One main stage duties and their prior commitments off-site, I managed to sit down with the guys and gal from Amanaki - one of the few hardcore-metal acts to perform at the mostly radio-friendly festival.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
Featuring Future of the Left members Andrew “Falco” Falkous and Jack Egglestone, with the addition of Damien Sayell from the St Pierre Snake Invasion, the Cardiff outfit will be playing venues in Wellington and Auckland this January.
Andrew Fagan returns with a satirical take on today’s social media preoccupied society. Being an amateur social anthropologist, it is a topic close to his heart. Listen to new track On Channel Me below, off Fagan’s forthcoming solo album Act Normal, due for release in October on Southbound.
Brisbane’s own indie rock royalty, The Grates, have been invited along for the ride, and will treat their hometown crowd to classics from their extensive and impressive catalogue of tunes including 19-20-20 and Turn Me On.
Pixies, one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time, have announced a second show for Brisbane fans due to overwhelming demand. Following on from Melbourne’s second show announced on Friday (on sale 12pm today!), Brisbane fans have been just as eager to see catch the influential music pioneers, selling out the Fortitude Music Hall date on March 13. A second show has been added at the same venue on Thursday March 12 as part of their mammoth world tour, Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.
The Ugly Kings, featuring Devil Electric guitarist, Christos Athanasias, are four powerhouse blues rockers drawing influence from an eclectic and dynamic musical background. They offer a powerful injection of energy and emotion to the modern rock scene, formulating what can only be described as power blues. They have released a new music video for Black Widow, featuring an award winning burlesque dancer Ferri Maya. Plus announced a live show this weekend!
Fame and fortune on the Kiwi music scene are a step closer for the top 10 acts just announced in Smokefreerockquest, New Zealand’s biggest live, nationwide all original music event for high school students.
Pluto’s nascent trajectory has covered the spectrum of the New Zealand musical stratosphere, bursting brightly onto the scene in 2001 just to have their star seemingly burn out just as abruptly in 2009. It would have been a suitably intriguing end to befall one of the finest, most exciting and alluring bands New Zealand has ever produced.
Exhilarating and high energy New Zealand rock band, Written By Wolves, have just released their killer new track, Tell Me What You’re Running From? This is the first single from the band’s upcoming new album, set for release later this year.
Australia’s foremost authority on progressive rock, Caligula’s Horse, are just weeks away from kicking off their Let It Grow tour which will celebrate their cult classic The Tide, The Thief & River's End and breakout progressive masterpiece Bloom by playing them back to back!
Within the four walls of The Fortitude Music Hall, lies The Outpost. Brisbane’s newest 300 capacity multipurpose venue that will feature a diverse program of artists, an impressive drinks menu featuring a cocktail list curated by the talented team at Proof & Company.
After spending the past year pulverizing the world with their stupefying live performances, Tropical Fuck Storm return home to tour their new album Braindrops and put the Antipodean public to the sword! Braindrops, the follow up to 2018's epic odyssey, A Laughing Death In Meatspace, will be released on Flightless Records in August
It’s been 20 years since The Flaming Lips released the one-of-a-kind aural hallucination that is The Soft Bulletin. To celebrate the anniversary of its release, The Flaming Lips will play a special show at Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall.
15-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer Alicia Keys makes her musical return with the powerful track and visuals for “Show Me Love,” featuring Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and producer, Miguel via RCA Records.
Backstreet’s back, alright! Get your group together, because the biggest selling Boy Band of all time (100 million albums), the BACKSTREET BOYS are heading back to New Zealand in 2020 for a show at Auckland’s Spark Arena on Saturday, May 16.
Platinum-certified independent singer, songwriter, producer, and pop visionary Lauv has released new single 'fuck, I'm lonely' with Anne-Marie today. The track will be featured on Lauv’s forthcoming debut album titled ~how i'm feeling
Frontier Touring and Roundhouse Entertainment are excited to announce that Norwegian pop icons a-ha are returning to Australia for the first time in 34 years, before heading to New Zealand for the very first time! They’ll be joined by very special guest Rick Astley at all February & March 2020 shows, taking in Sydney, Melbourne, and Christchurch, as well as a day on the green events in Australia and New Zealand.
Hitting a massive nine centres on his regional tour this September, Stan will take the stage to perform songs from his impressive catalogue plus his brand new pop smash single Give (co-written by Matiu Walters of SIX60) for his beloved fans. The Springboard tour will also boast three of NZ’s most up-and-coming new artists – Lepani, Niko Walters and Jordan Gavet.
TEG DAINTY and THE MISSION ESTATE WINERY CONCERT announced today that global superstar Michael Bublé will return in February 2020! Accompanied by a 36-piece orchestra and ready to to thrill his New Zealand fans for one night only; this will be Michael Bublé’s only show in New Zealand.
Elton John will perform a third and final show at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, to satisfy New Zealand’s insatiable demand. It has also been announced that, due to a scheduling conflict, three of Elton’s sold out New Zealand concerts have been delayed by one week. Rescheduled dates affect the second show at Mission Estate Winery, and the first two Mt Smart Stadium shows in Auckland.
Vocal prodigy RUEL is returning to New Zealand for one show in Auckland at the Bruce Mason Centre in May. Counting Elton John and Khalid among his fans, RUEL is taking the globe by storm, smashing show records, and he’s only 16 years old.
Exactly six years to the day since the release of Vance Joy’s debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, Liberation Records are pleased to reveal an extremely limited run of the EP have been pressed on vinyl for the first time ever for release on Friday 26 April. Vance Joy has also announced he will bring his Ukuleles For Kids program to Australia in a new partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia. Launched in the USA last year the program delivers ukuleles and how-to video tutorials lead by Vance Joy to children’s hospitals.
LA two-piece Moby Rich have announced two headline shows on their debut Australian tour this May. With their latest single Blink bringing further attention to the duo, this Australian tour is the perfect opportunity to catch two indie stars on the rise. Support on the tour comes from yergurl in Melbourne, whose lo-fi beats and unique pop style made her a Triple J Unearthed favourite. Sydney support will be from Hoodlem, a streaming sensation with her mix of experimental soul and future R&B.
Darren Middleton (POWDERFINGER), Mark Wilson (JET), Davey Lane (YOU AM I) and Kram (SPIDERBAIT) have joined forces to become ARC, one of the most collectively celebrated and successful supergroups in Australia’s rock history will be performing Abbey Road live, commemorating 50 years of existence.
Abbey Road, The Beatles' swansong and their crowning achievement as a recording group - is a stately, majestic, playful yet fiercely rocking masterpiece of pop music, regarded as one of the greatest records of all time.
TEG Dainty and Nice Events are excited to announce that Emmy-nominated television personality, podcaster and hairstylist to the stars, Jonathan Van Ness, will bring his Road to Beijing world tour to New Zealand
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.