Reviewer: Alex Robertson
Kia mau ki tō ūkaipō (Don't forget your roots): the message embroidered across the back of Matiu Walters jacket when he jumped onstage in front of thousands of adoring fans at Western Springs Stadium Saturday night.
And for nearly two hours Six60 brought the message home with their uniquely kiwi-mix of dance grooves, ballads and anthems, the crowd singing to every word.
From the first moment a clock counted down from 6.60 (7 minutes) the sing-along started to Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved", followed by "Sweet Caroline" from Neil Diamond and Nelly's "Ride Wit Me." It didn't stop for the entire show.
The infectious feel-good vibe commanded participation, as did Walters who frequently shouted "Sing it Auckland", waving his microphone crowd-ward as thousands of voices duly obliged.
The show opened with "Never Enough" from their latest album melding into "Vibes" as the words, helpfully, flashed up on the back of the stage.
Then came the first break in music, Walters acknowledging Western Springs as the band's home for the last few years – the first New Zealand band to pack out the venue (2019). This year was no exception.
"It's about whanau, families together. We do this together," said Walters introducing their hit song "Special" as he pointed out pretty much everyone in the crowd.
Walters (and everyone else) sings "ain't it good to be alive" during "Only To Be". Bassist, Chris Mac, proves the point by spinning and dancing across the stage, the message "From The Bottom Of My Heart" painted on his guitar.
The crowd haven't just come to sing; they're dancing their hearts out, too, in a sort-of reverse rain-dance that keeps the showers from earlier in the day at bay.
Walters disappears at one point, only to reappear on a tower central field to "be close to the fans up on the embankment."
He plays a short solo set from his new home – "Tomorrow", their first-ever No.1 "Rise Up" and the old-school classic "Ten Guitars" played on a special instrument just for this song. The set ends with a shout out "to our good friends Drax Project" and a cover of their song "Catching Feelings."
Back on the main stage Walters starts the next number silhouetted against a masterfully-lit stage, tapping out rhythms on an electric beat-box. The rest of the band joins in gradually to play a stripped-back version of "Rivers": 2 guitars, tom-tom, snare and Walters' box.
At some point Walters tells the crowd that he grew up down the road – "I played rugby here on this field." The crowd went wild at that one as the band breaks into "Purple." This was the first of two 'jams' the band perform, recreating the place where it all started in Castle Street, Dunedin.
A ukulele appears in Walters' hands. "There's nothing like singing together," he tells the fans before teaching them the chorus to another song. "Us Kiwis do fly! Never forget your roots!" he warbles, the cue for a stick-drawing of Castle Street to appear as a backdrop.
The energy goes up another level halfway through the song when kapa haka group Ngā Tūmanako - the Matatini national kapa haka champions - march on stage. Walters switching to te reo.
"Kia mau ki tō ūkaipō," he sings. The lightshow goes ballistic as a haka is performed over the band.
The fans are frenetic, but what could be a spectacular finish marks just over halfway through this spectacular show.
The evening and the show must draw to a close, but the band is called out for one more. The extra one more springs another surprise. Walters sings "Can't stop believin' I'm the greatest" and UFC Champion Israel Adesanya joins him onstage waving his World Championshp belt - yet another cue for the house to erupt.
The song's final refrain, "til the lights go out," are the last words to be sung this night.
Walters leads the band onto a promenade jutting out into the crowd, pumping his chest and pointing all over the stadium, delivering their other message.