26 May 2018
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Gig Review: Simple Plan with Ekko Park @ The Powerstation, Auckland - 19/04/2018

20 Apr 2018 // A review by butch181

An hour to go before doors open and there is already a group of fans lining up outside of the Powerstation. An impressive feat but considering that it has been 13 years since Simple Plan last performed in the country, one would expect the big fans to be ready to get their spots at the front of the stage.

But before they hit the stage, their support act must warm up the crowd. Auckland’s own Ekko Park head out and charge straight into what is debatably their most well-known single, My Crime. Nick Douch is a powerhouse on the drums and manages to steal the spotlight at many stages throughout the performance causing members of the crowd to shuffle about, trying to capture a glimpse of Douch behind the kit and crates. It’s not often you get to see Ekko Park without them performing with the Jordan Luck Band, and tonight’s show seems a brilliant opportunity for them to expand their audience, especially with the upcoming release of their third studio album. Unfortunately, tonight was not vocalist Joe Walsh’s best performance, he admitted to “f**king up the old ones” as he struggled to hold the long and reach the high notes. Despite a wavering vocal performance, the crowd was receptive and supportive. Douch and guitarist Alex Papercity were the stand-out players of the set exhibiting great energy. With a set list that included songs both new and old, Walsh did well hitting the notes when singing the lower melodies. Instrumentally, the performance went off without a hitch, and the band looked at home on stage, before they finished up their set with Uh Oh.

The crowd started to move forward as the techs and roadies started to prepare the stage for headliners, Simple Plan. In the meantime, the sound desk was playing a selection of pop/alt-rock tracks from the early 2000’s, much to the excitement of the audience. From Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue, Good Charlotte’s Anthem, Fall Out Boy’s Sugar, We’re Going Down, to Panic! At the Disco’s I Write Sins Not Tragedies, the audience on the floor were getting rowdy and singing along with volume and passion as they waited.

Well warmed up, the music cut out halfway through Will Smith’s Getting’ Jiggy Wit It, and the crowd erupted into a plethora of high-pitched squeals and screams, overpowering the sound of the air siren that was announced the arrival of the band on stage. Cracking straight into I’d Do Anything, vocalist Pierre Bouvier made the most of the crowd’s excitement, taking every opportunity to get the audience involved with singing, clapping, and general cheering. Every time he pointed to the crowd or mentioned New Zealand the crowd would again erupt in applause and ear-splitting screams. Carrying on through The Worst Day Ever, and You Don’t Mean Anything, it was clear that the band was following the same set list that they have been using throughout the tour, which consisted of playing No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls in album order until the end, where they squeeze in Grow Up before Bouvier starts Perfect acoustically. A solid display from the band, with a lot of movement and good banter. You can’t help but feel that Bouvier’s performance didn’t feel overly authentic, however, with the band completing the same set list for over a year around the world, it felt a lot like Bouvier was going through the motions, even though his vocals were on point. 

In a move similar to Villainy at this year’s Homegrown festival, the band released large beach balls and shot confetti cannons above the crowd showering them in red white and blue, while they all fought to handle their balls. Compared to other recent album anniversary shows, this show is superior in sound quality and energy, and the crowd soaked up everything that the band gave out. The band has been around since before MySpace and Facebook and they frequently remind the crowd of how long it has been, but it’s a double-edged sword; every time serves as a reminder of how long it has been since they were last here. Having released three albums since their last NZ performance in 2005, it was unfortunate that they chose to make the first show back an album anniversary. Having completed their debut album in its entirety, and Bouvier stripping the shirt of his own back and throwing it into the crowd, they returned to the stage for a 7-track encore performance which only included one track from each of their three latest albums. Simple Plan does have a varied performance, with Bouvier and drummer Chuck Comeau switching roles for Grow Up, bringing fans on stage for a photo, and Comeau completing a risky stagedive (full-speed with a roll). The crowd maintained the energy throughout the set, following Bouvier’s directions to the letter, until the night finally came to an end, with Welcome to My Life. A well-handled show, which really should have happened in an arena 10 years ago. Better late than never, I guess.


Photos and review provided by Alex Moulton

About Ekko Park

Since the release of Ekko Park's debut album Tomorrow Tomorrow Today in November 2013 and the nomination for Best Rock Album at the 2014 New Zealand Music Awards, the band has had a whirlwind couple of years. With an honest, unique and energetic brand of rock ‘n’ roll Ekko Park has played sold out tours of NZ, headlined a tour of the UK & Ireland, supported international touring acts as well as playing several big local festivals including Homegrown.

The bands new release Know Hope (30 October, 2015) is the culmination of all of these experiences. The band wrote the album while on tour and this energy and perspective is really captured both lyrically and sonically. Joe Walsh comments: “Know Hope is the sound of 4 guys who have really become a unit, channelling all the touring and live experiences...”

Recording of the album, produced by Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers, Bullet For My Valentine, Super Furry Animals) and mixed by Adrian Hall (Depeche Mode, Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Goldfrapp) began in June. “Initially we recorded the single Validation together and we were so energised by the whole process that we knew it was the formula for our second record” says Joe. “As we played these songs live it was clear just how big the raw energy was and that was exactly what we wanted to capture on this record.” After three sessions at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studios, Ekko Park relocated to a Kiwi bach on the Coromandel Peninsula where they recorded the album. “Being by the ocean and having no distractions helped create the album’s unique energy and forged its identity. It wouldn’t be the same album if it wasn’t made there.”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ekko Park

Releases

Know Hope
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Tomorrow Tomorrow Today
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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