Singer Matiu Walters smiled as he looked at the 50,000 ecstatic fans and greeted: “How are you, Eden Park?”
While much of the world remains confined, the group Six60 has been playing to large crowds in New Zealand, where social distancing is not necessary after the nation has eradicated the coronavirus. The closing of the band’s tour, Saturday night, it was billed as the biggest concert in the world since the pandemic began.
Equally momentous for a band that met playing rugby in college was getting to play the first concert held at the historic Eden Park rugby stadium. And finding themselves on the cusp of world music was a turnaround for Six60, who have enjoyed unprecedented success in New Zealand, but whose forays abroad have ended without the breakthroughs they sought.
One of the attendees, Lucy Clumpas, found it a surreal experience to be surrounded by so many people after having spent the past year living endless confinements in Great Britain. “It is very important for us as human beings to be able to get together and sing the same songs together.“, He said. “It makes us feel like we are part of something”.
Vocalist Walters said they desperately want their musician friends around the world to be able to play live again. “We know what it’s like to be locked up. It was bullshit. And we didn’t know if we were going to be able to give concerts again”He said in an interview before the show. “But we are lucky, for a few reasons, here in New Zealand”.
The tour began in December and consisted of seven shows, with an unimaginable closure (AP)
On most days, the country reports fewer than 10 new cases of COVID-19. Sometimes none. Since the pandemic began, it has registered 2,600 cases and just 26 deaths.
Guitarist Ji Fraser said that the reception they received during their summer tour had been incredible. “It was amazing to see how fanatical people were and how excited they were to go out and see live music, and see something that took them out of a long and brutal year,” she said. “It was very special”.
Walters said they were concerned that something might go wrong, that their concerts would become super-popular events. But he said there was not much to do, other than follow the rules and follow the government’s guidelines.
The use of masks was not mandatory (AP)
The band was formed 13 years ago after they started improvising in rugby locker rooms, so their concert on the sacred ground of the nation’s All Blacks rugby team was like completing a circle.
The band had lobbied for civic standards to be changed and concerts allowed in Eden Park, but not all the neighbors were happy.
One of those who objected was former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who said at the time that the concerts would be a “home invasion” because of the noise.
“But people wanted it. And the people spoke“Walters said. The singer added that Clark would have been welcome to the concert. “Six60 is for everyone. And maybe if he came and enjoyed it, he would change his mind. “
Promoter Brent Eccles said they got permission to use the venue only at the last minute. “And we think to ourselves, well, how crazy are we?” He said. And the answer was, well, pretty crazy. So let’s do it. “
It’s been a dizzying ascent for a group that started out as a hard-partying student cover band. His style has evolved and remains difficult to define, mixing elements of reggae, pop, rock and soul.
Bassist Chris Mac claims that his fans are rich and poor, young and old. “We are very lucky to have become the soundtrack to people’s lives. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, engagements, “he said, before breaking into laughter. “You know, gender reveal parties, which are all the rage.”
As the band’s popularity grew in New Zealand, it became something of a sport for critics to criticize them for being too bland. Walters said criticism of success is still a problem in New Zealand, and it was something that bothered him at the time. But he said it also energized the band.
“We take music very seriously,” he said. “It is important for us to express an emotion and tell a story, and that our songs are healing and magnetic for people. Because it is not by chance that we play in front of 50,000 people ”.
Matiu Walters entering the stage (AP)
The band have tried to gain more recognition abroad, although their six months in Germany and a record deal in the United States ended in disaster, as recounted in a behind-the-scenes documentary about the band, “Six60: Till The Lights Go Out ”.
But the band is keen to try again, with a European and UK tour scheduled for November. They hope that by then there will be many more places in the world where large crowds can gather to sing.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.