Eli Orzessek is Travel's Digital Content Producer.

Concert review: Sleater-Kinney, Powerstation

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Sleater-Kinney are, from left, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. Photo / Supplied
Sleater-Kinney are, from left, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. Photo / Supplied

I first saw Sleater-Kinney at the Kings Arms in 2002 as a teen punk, back when the stage was barely a stage. I loved them so much I flew to Melbourne to see them again.

So you could say I'm a fan - an extremely desperate fan, at that.

They're one of those bands I raved about to everyone, particularly when it came to their stage show. Known for their intense live energy, they're a band you haven't properly listened to until you've seen them live.

With that much history, a lot of questions were running through my head as I arrived at the Powerstation. Things like "Will that person from 10 years ago recognise me?" and "What am I doing on the Carrie side of the stage, when traditionally I'm a Corin fan?"

After support from Mermaidens, Sleater-Kinney opened with two songs from last year's critically acclaimed album No Cities to Love, Price Tag and Fangless.

The band had been on "indefinite hiatus" since 2006, also the year they last played Auckland, when I was still using disposable film cameras to take gig photos.

Since then, guitar hero turned TV star Carrie Brownstein has added new moves to her repertoire: theatrical hand gestures, a robot-like dance, and extra jerky and highly enunciated vocals, which she has experimented with on their later records.

She apologised for the band being "jet-lagged out of our minds", before launching into Oh, from 2002's One Beat. The crowd - ageing hipsters and a new generation of riot grrls - went predictably wild at the familiar opening riffs.

Unfortunately, there were some shaky moments, mostly when they reached further back in the catalogue. But they're a band that now inspires a lot of nostalgic feelings, which can lead to unfair expectations - it's got to be awkward performing songs about Corin and Carrie's brief relationship, nearly 20 years down the road.

However, despite the jetlag, that intense energy still showed itself, especially on their new material. No Cities to Love went down particularly well, as did A New Wave, and songs from their psychedelic masterpiece The Woods resulted in epic mid-stage guitar battles.

Corin Tucker's voice was as powerful as ever as she wailed through the intense ending of Youth Decay and the soaring chorus of Jumpers, while hard-working drummer Janet Weiss kept things together reliably from the back of the stage.

And you could tell that everyone was just so grateful to see them - some even yelled "Thank you so much" during the performance. It was definitely a reunion of sorts for many in the crowd, as well as the band.

At the end, I almost felt bad about cheering for an encore, because it seemed like they probably needed to go to bed. But like total troopers, they came back and banged out three fan favourites - Start Together, Modern Girl and Dig Me Out - going out with a sonic push for energy, exploding like the sun.

Who: Sleater-Kinney
When: Monday, February 29
Where: Powerstation, Auckland

- nzherald.co.nz

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