20 Dec 2018

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Gig Review: Katy Perry @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 20/08/2018

21 Aug 2018 // A review by Sarah Sampson

This is the story of how a heavy metal journalist ended up surprisingly enjoying themselves at a POP show – the amazing extravaganza that is Katy Perry’s ‘Witness’ tour. I knew that as a pop show it would be an amazing show - that’s an understatement! From fireworks, a shark doing splits, high energy dancers, soulful backing singers, incredible live band. Add to this giant props from lips, to giant roses, basketball hoop and a lion’s head it had everything a musical concert should – and at times the show had this metal-head, head banging and throwing the horns, not caring about people’s reactions around me. 

The show started late which normally really bugs me, especially on a week day, but I felt the show was high energy enough to keep everyone awake and dancing or moving in their seats. Although looking online at the expected set list of the show quite a few songs seemed to be missing. I hadn’t expected to connect on a personal level to many (or any) of Katy’s songs and had only listened to Witness for the first time today while doing other admin work on my business.  Katy was welcomed on to the stage with loud cheering and it definitely felt like 15,000 people were there to have the time of their lives. On the eye shaped screen (which took centre place for most of the show) flashing in red words on a black screen was the slogan ‘Existence is an act of rebellion’ which really struck a chord with me and echoed an earlier conversation I’d had with a friend. The introduction show was the single Witness from the album with the same name – also the name of the tour. The eye opened up and Katy came through the gap in a giant star and HER VOICE which has made her so famous was unleashed with all its power. While being visually stunning, I feel like the first few songs had sound or technical issues and there was issues with feedback and distortion which threw Katy and the singers – but by the third song this had been mostly ironed out, although was reoccurring during the show. 

I’ve reviewed 100’s of Metal and Rock bands by now and reviewing Katy Perry as my first ever giant pop show was an eye-opening experience. I’m used to bands taking the focus of the crowd’s attention with some sometimes having a light show (think Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Black Sabbath) but not many have such a visual show – the only bands I can think of that’s anything close to being similar would be Iron Maiden and Rammstein. With a career as long as Katy’s – spanning over 10 years there was something for everyone, including a few songs I knew which was pleasantly surprising. Chained to the Rhythm, Teenage Dream and Power were the songs I personally identified with the most and going through my notes these two songs also heavily featured individual contributions from the fabulous backing band. Through their powerful performance, including some solo moments, they were INCREDIBLE! Their solos and POWER! I didn’t get the sense that any of them were going through the motion, it wasn’t just a well-oiled machine, everyone on stage seemed to be loving every moment of it. Last week I watched an interview with Katy on one of the NZ TV shows and she mentioned that the people on the tour were family and also how they transport the props – 5 whole planes just for the gear!!!! Imagine packing it all down at the end of the night! Although after almost a year on the road, I’m sure it’s now done a lot faster. 

There were a lot of special moments during the show where Katy really connected with her fans – she talked of the cities she loves here and the mountains she’s climbed and the adrenaline junky that she is she LOVES all the bungie jumping we have here. She also accepted gifts from the crowd (including hand-made earrings) and sang a slow love song while kneeling in front of the mosh pit crowd. Later on, in the show before Swish Swish she got talking to a boy fan in the crowd and encouraged him to dance for her and she gave him a signed fan. There were a lot of special moments in this show that definitely do not happen at Rock and Metal shows. I think we have a lot to learn from the Pop world, but it was amazing to see that the sense of belonging and family that I love in the Metal Community also exists among the Pop world. Every rock and metal fan should get out of their comfort zones and go to at least one giant pop show in their life – I’m sure you will enjoy it and learn a lot about another side of the industry. I have and now I’m contemplating going to Pink too! Thanks Katy and team for an amazing show! Loved it!

Review written by Sarah Sampson


Other Reviews By Sarah Sampson

Eight Eyed Orchid - EP Review: One by One & Two by Two
16 Nov 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
About 10 years ago if I had heard this EP I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate its complex intricacies. As I write this, I’m on my 5th listen and I keep noticing more; more layers, depth, complexities I missed the previous times I’ve listened to it.
Levi Sesega - Gig Review: Levi with The Free Wind @ Wine Cellar, Auckland
18 Sep 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
I have seen both Brendon and Levi perform with their Rock bands before – Brendon Thomas & the Vibes and Tribal State and knew how talented and how sonically stunning their voices are but I wasn’t prepared for how these two truly talented musicians would sound with the emphasis being more on their voices, than being backed by full bands. Normally I find myself getting bored with too much clean singing and often prefer death metal growls to clean singing.
Gig Review: Left or Right @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 13/07/2018
10 Aug 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
After 6 months of traveling Europe and the UK I’ve found it an adjustment coming back to NZ for a number of reasons – one of which being shows not having the first band on till 9pm, when in UK and England 9pm would be the 2nd to last band as most shows finish around 11pm which is AMAZING – especially on a week night, another adjustment is that in New Zealand (well for 4/5 shows I’ve attended, worked or reviewed in the last two weeks) is that there’s hardly anyone at the show for the first band. It’s so hard going first in Auckland, as it’s common to pre-drink and not make it out till 10, but Leighton Fairle did an amazing job.
Farandicus - Single Reviews: Blue Funk and What to Give
04 May 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
Farandicus are a 7-piece soul funk band from Whangarei combing their different backgrounds to create a unique sound that will get your soul singing and feet tapping. They have recently released two new singles Blue Funk and What to Give, and I think are both songs everyone can relate to – especially their lyrical content.
His Masters Voice - EP Review: Woman
29 Sep 2017 // by Sarah Sampson
This EP is for all the beautiful souls that dance up the front of a His Masters Voice performance, it is for the people that close their eyes and feel the music, for those that loose themselves in the music, the souls that get Goosebumps and go on journeys in their minds when the music hits that perfect note.  This is a very clever recording with three songs the band already perform live but the crowning glory in this EP is their new song Woman, although that is a VERY hard call to make as the other three songs all invoke the memories in me of the different times I’ve seen His Masters Voice, in Wellington when I accompanied them down on the mammoth road trip down and back in two days, or Hamilton last year when Az blew my mind with some American Music opportunities, New Plymouth at Brutalitee’s Birthday Bash and of course all the times I’ve seen them in Auckland.
Gig Review: Static Era @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 9/09/2017
16 Sep 2017 // by Sarah Sampson
I had been looking forward to this show for a good month, if not longer. It was a FREEZING cold night outside with wind and rain and when I first got to the show I wondered if it was going to keep people away but by the time Animalhead took to the stage the venue was filling up nicely and temperatures were rising as everyone jammed in and started rocking out.
Gig Review: Primacy, Remote & Pull Down the Sun @ Kings Arms, Auckland - 12/08/2017
14 Aug 2017 // by Sarah Sampson
Last night's show was one of those really awesome ones where there are all those people you haven’t seen in what feels like a hundred years and it was definitely a night that could have gone on for a few more hours! The bands all added to that excitement though and I’m pretty sure when I see any of these bands again I will be reminded of this night and the people, music, laughter and memories.
Gig Review: Tribal State @ Kings Arms, Auckland - 28/07/2017
29 Jul 2017 // by Sarah Sampson
It was a cold, wet night, my nose was running and I couldn’t stop sneezing and coughing. I wasn’t feeling up to going out on such a miserable night but I’m more than happy that I did.
View All Articles By Sarah Sampson

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