Scott Kara: Here's to five great years at Vector Arena

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The Pixies perform to a large crowd at the Vector Arena. Photo / Greg Bowker
The Pixies perform to a large crowd at the Vector Arena. Photo / Greg Bowker

Vector Arena turns five years old next month and, by crikey, I have some good memories from that short time.

Even though I stood in someone's discarded fish 'n' chips during the Cure (one of my top five favourite bands) in 2007, and spent much of the concert slipping and sliding around, it remains my favourite Vector show so far.

Robert Smith and his band of glum men played a classic retrospective set over three hours, that included 35 songs and three encores and, as a fan, boy you can't ask for more than that.

Then came the Pixies in 2010 - one of my top 10 favourite bands - who I never thought I'd see here since they never made it to New Zealand the first time round, and they split up pretty much hating each other.

But they came, they played, and they conquered. I had been to the "intimate" Powerstation show the night before, but my wife and I went to the arena show and it was far better, because it was heaving, more wild and, well, we let our hair down and relived our youth.

In fact, we let our hair down a little too much for the people behind us, who tapped us on the shoulder and eventually pushed us in the back, because they didn't like us dancing.

You what? The Pixies are playing Debaser and Wave of Mutilation and you're asking us not to have a jump around? Come on, pilgrim. Where is your mind?

Then there was Metallica, also in 2010, playing in-the-round, with Vector transformed into a baying, Colosseum-style, metal fortress, which saw the band back to their epic and heavy best after a disappointing Big Day Out performance in 2004.

I've also danced on the ceiling twice with Lionel Richie at Vector. What a feeling. And I even enjoyed Simply Red, previously my most disliked of musical acts (apart from Creed and Nickleback, of course).

The Walking With Dinosaurs show was pretty special too, and that other dinosaur Roger Waters, with his epic The Wall Live concert (the four-show run ends tonight), was a bizarre rock 'n' roll sight to behold as the wall went up during the first half of the show.

Another momentous occasion was also turning up to a show - maybe it was Bon Jovi in 2010 - and finding the new operators who took over during that year had ditched the awful Aussie beer that they were serving in favour of Heineken and Monteith's.

A good call, that one, since a good beer at a gig is just as important as good sound.

Speaking of the aural experience, there have been many reports of Vector's bad sound over the last five years. The complaints started following the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, which was Vector's first big show in April 2007, and there have been consistent grumbles ever since. Though of the 40-or-so shows I've been to, I have never had a bad sound experience.

So my memories are good.

And this week, and the next few months' worth of upcoming shows, taking in everything from the current Waters' spectacular and New Order, through to Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, is testament to the impact the venue has had on the live music scene in New Zealand.

Yes, some of those acts would have come to New Zealand if the arena didn't exist, but many of them, such as Gaga, Kylie, and The Wall Live, would have bypassed Auckland because there was no appropriate venue for them to play in.

Now all the city is missing is a place like the St James - a classic, old school and intimate venue for shows that don't quite require the capacity of Vector. But that's a whole other story.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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