Get ready to party Taupo - the 80s are coming!

Greenstone Entertainment, the company behind the Taupo Summer Concert has announced that its warm-up act for next year's concert on Saturday, January 26 is New Zealand covers band AutoMatic 80s.

AutoMatic 80s were last in Taupo in 2016 where they rocked the crowd at the Taupo Winter Festival's 80s party and the five-strong line-up will be busting out their dance-floor favourites when they open the Taupo Summer Concert.

They'll be followed by headline acts Toni Childs, James Reyne and Mark Seymour and Supertramp's Roger Hodgson.


AutoMatic 80s opened the Summer Concert at Whitianga in 2017 and frontman Justin Maclaren says while that crowd was pretty big, the band has been playing festivals for some time now and is used to crowds of 12,000 to 20,000 people.

"But in saying that, we do love those 300 to 400 capacity rooms where it's intimate as well. It just means in the big [concerts] you've got to put in more effort, you've got to make that connection. It's a little bit harder but you can still do it.

"We'll go out there and we'll give it everything from the word go, we always do…we'll be focusing on what we do and doing it as well as we can."

Justin says given the crowd is already keen on 80s music, it will simply be a matter of deciding which of the band's many songs they will play during their hour.

"We'll be handpicking the ones that we know work - it'll be the killer set. We'll hit the sure-fire ones but that doesn't mean we'll be playing the cheesy 80s. We'll keep some kind of cool about it,"

The band members - Justin, Pearl Runga (vocals/keyboards), Danny McCrum (lead guitar/vocals), Clint Harris (bass/vocals) and Jayden Lee (drums) perform together as AutoMatic 80s a couple of times a month and with the exception of Jayden, they all got together in the 1980s.

As Amez Amez, the talented teenage musos played around their home town of Christchurch and even put out a vinyl 45 record which reviewer Nik Brown called one of the best things to come out of New Zealand.

But back then it was almost impossible for home-grown bands to get any commercial cut-through and they forged separate careers before reforming in 2009 as AutoMatic 80s, which has gone on to be successful and sought-after, making a virtue of doing banging versions of well-loved 80s songs.


Justin says the band members all have families, children and other jobs and so they keep the AutoMatic 80s gigs to one or two a month. He attributes part of its success to the band bringing its own interpretation to each song.

"For us at our age it's a very strange phenomenon that's happening for us a band.

"You've got to take the ride and make the most of it and don't take it too seriously."

He says the band is successful because it is a team - "we don't have rock stars" - and everyone, including the lighting and sound crew members, works as a unit.

AutoMatic 80s will take the stage at the Taupo Summer Concert and play for an hour before the next artist, Toni Childs.

Hayden Dickason of Greenstone Entertainment says AutoMatic 80s was invited to be the opening act for the Taupo Summer Concert as part of the company's commitment to supporting New Zealand acts.

•Fewer than 1000 tickets remain for the Taupo Summer Concert. They are available at

Win tickets!

Enter to win! The Taupo & Turangi Weekender in conjunction with the Taupo Summer Concert and Greenstone Entertainment is giving away five double passes to the Taupo Summer Concert. To enter, email your name and contact phone number to us at, or text the code TW followed by your name to 021 241 4568. Winners will be drawn on Tuesday, September 18.