After the massive success of 2019’s sell-out Western Springs concerts, the band are rightfully capitalising on this huge wave of popularity. With the ‘Six60 Saturday Tour’ proving to be equally as popular, if the rarity of the tickets is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to seeing how they can up their game this time around.

Word and photos by Jacko Andrews

After parking the car and walking the short stroll to the main field on a perfectly warm and nearly cloudless Waikato evening I managed to catch the full set of The Drax Project who were in great form tonight and tearing up the stage by the time I found my spot.

The powerful sound system pushed to full noise for the band’s mega-hit ‘All This Time’, the full impact and breathtakingly loud, perfectly ideal for the open field location and rapidly growing crowd filling the venue. ‘Woke Up Late’ worked its magic to get people in the dance mood followed by a selection of great summer-vibe bangers and slow jams.

Vocalist and dubstep-saxophonist Shaan Singh was in top form as was the rest of the band, who performed their main role of warming up the crowd perfectly. A tight act with a rapidly growing fanbase. Exciting band, great stuff.

A great job is done by The Drax Project, but Six60 are the master of ramping up a crowd. A total blackout and a low sub rumble followed by a cool 6:60 countdown clock, 24-hour style, did the job of heightening the excitement.

When zero is finally reached to a pure whiteout backdrop the band stands in silhouette to a rapturous crowd – pure theatrics and just looked awesome. Hitting the first guitar chords had every last hand in the air, the crowd roared and we were off.

Having seen the band on a number of occasions over the years this staging was totally new and truly next-level design. The extremely well-choreographed show unfolded track by track over the night taking us on a rollercoaster of emotions and moods.

Firstly, a well-deserved hats off to the whole production team. The lighting, sound and AV were spectacular.  As impressive as the stage tech was the synergy never lost touch or upstaged the core message coming from the music.

The first three songs flew past in a whirlwind of colour and energy. While Six60 will never be confused with a high-impact K-pop boy band, their onstage energy is best described as laid-back Kiwi-style cool.

Bassist Chris Mac, looking full Rock-God in his red PVC pants and surely holding the full attention of the vast majority of female members in the crowd, performed most of the bands’ antics running around the set and pulling off well-practised rock poses. Guitarist Ji Fraser going more for a Clapton-esk slow-hands cool theme, and Marlon Gerbes also keeps things low-key as well, with only the odd breakout of silliness when appropriate.

The band’s infectious kiwiana-good vibes is reflected in the lighting and AV production, driven home with a rousing rendition of ‘Roots’ accompanied by a full traditional Maori Kapa Haka troupe on stage. The message of togetherness is well received, the national pride heartstring on full boil for most there.

Vocalist Matiu Walters has modest humility but certainly knows how to work with a Kiwi audience, controlling the energy of the night and keeping the interaction and energy up from the band and crowd.

He performs a cool 3-song solo interlude atop a tower in the middle of the crowd ‘for the people at the back’ which was excellent. More a campfire singalong of sorts, the intimate moment for 25 thousand felt typical for a Kiwi group, yeah – this is how we perform to our fans in New Zealand. The rendition of ‘Rise Up’ was particularly well done and well deserved of the huge swell of applause.

The massive side video screens projected in incredible clarity across the field show each of the lads in action, the best shot being from behind drummer Eli Paewai’s position showing the full audience over his shoulder as he hammers out the rock-solid grooves and the inevitable cheers and waves from everyone caught in the camera’s view.

For the first time in my life, the silly game of splitting the crowd and asking each side to out-sing the other was actually damn fun, with the now slightly intoxicated crowd genuinely trying to out-blast each other. I think the sound engineer needed to push the levels a tiny bit to try to keep up with the volume of the audience. A cheap low-blow praising of the recent Chiefs victory over the Crusaders got the expected roar of support from the Waikato natives, and fair enough too.

Another sing-along moment for the bands latest hit ‘Long Gone’ with the waterfall backdrop was a memorable moment. Anyone at all unfamiliar with the song was in full-voice by the end, the catchy easily sung chorus perfect for the masses to catch on and participate. The decision to totally stop the band and hand over the song to the audience for a full verse was brave, but ultimately one of the most touching moments in the show. The look on Matiu’s face was priceless as 25-thousand sing back his song in full-voice.

The ambiguous ‘last song’ finished with Chris slamming his bass on the stage and walking off as it fed back through the sound system was true rock and roll theatrics, but there was no way in hell anybody was leaving without an encore – we knew it and of course, the band weren’t going anywhere either.

The final three tracks were a real treat and the final waves, bows and kisses thrown to the good looking girls in the frown row came all too soon, the sombre organ coda outro music as the lads walked back downstage to their starting position in front of the whiteout silhouette they started with, and it was over and it was amazing.

The lights went out and for 5-minutes the crowd clapped and cheered one of the best Kiwi shows seen this year.

The Six60 Saturday Tour is not to be missed, regardless of your feelings for the music. A well-rounded and professional band with a world-class production crew, not only is this amazing value for money, it is the memory of being there when this band truly reached world-class standards.

The Six60 Saturday Tour continues for Whangarei, Dunedin and Auckland this month. If you are a fan you will be there, of course. If you just like damn good Kiwi music and a great evening out, you simply must be there too.


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