It was an unsettling start to the night. Just over an hour before The Eagles of Death Metal were due to take the stage at Auckland's Powerstation, news broke of the Brussels terrorist attacks.

They are the first attacks to hit Western Europe since the Paris siege in November, where 90 concert-goers were killed at the Bataclan theatre during an Eagles of Death Metal show.

The band has kept touring since then, returning to Paris in February to complete their original concert and pay tribute to those killed.

Anyone who has seen an interview with the band since then will know it is something that has affected them deeply.


As news of Brussels spread, it would have been entirely reasonable for the band to call the whole thing off.

Instead, they came out as planned, playing the blistering and brash rock 'n' roll for which they are so loved.

The first and only sign that anything was different was the heightened security to get into the Mt Eden venue. Every pocket and zipped compartment was searched, along with full body pat downs before entering.

But from there, it was defiantly business as usual.

It had been nine years to the day since Jesse Hughes and his band last played Auckland. A concert I have repeatedly cited over the years as one of my all time favourite musical experiences, a night of "outrageous rock 'n' roll magic".

Over the years, I've forgotten the exact details of what made that show so great, remembering only the feeling of frenzied joy.

But as Jesse "The Devil" Hughes strutted on stage, sporting his trademark red braces and posturing for the crowd, it all came flooding back.

Hughes is ridiculously likeable. You can't help but smile to look at him. He is magnetic.

Tonight, he has learned hokey pokey is not simply a dance in New Zealand, it is also an ice cream. His mind is blown.

He comes back to it again and again, blaming it for forgotten song lyrics and promising to include it on his next album.

It's silly but incredibly endearing.

And then there's the music, which defies you not to dance like a maniac.

The great joke of the Eagles of Death Metal, of course, is that they are not a death metal band at all.

Eagles of Death Metal in Auckland #rocknroll #eaglesofdeathmetal

A video posted by Spy (@seenbyspy) on

Rather, they hide secret pop hooks beneath the noise of a heavy rock band.

Tracks like Whorehoppin', I Want You So Hard and Silverlake have the room shaking but none more so than Cherry Cola, dedicated to all the ladies.

Musically, it was a fairly loose affair. At times, the clashing of guitars lost any sense of melody, simply turning into a wall of noise.

Likewise, the evening lost momentum during Hughes' solo encore, where he sang an accapella version of I'll Blow You a Kiss in the Wind from Bewitched, claiming to have forgotten any other songs.

But as the rest of the band returned to the stage and Hughes stormed the mezzanine for a blistering guitar solo amongst his fans, order was restored.

The night ended with the swaggering Speaking in Tongues, Hughes surrounded by female fans invited to join him on stage as he stripped off his shirt and struck one final pose.

Defiant. Proud. And bloody great fun.