American country singer Morgan Wallen brought his laid-back Tennessee attitude, and ironically pyrotechnics, to Auckland’s Spark Arena on Wednesday night.
The first leg of Wallen’s One Night at a Time World Tour was also his first trip to New Zealand, bringing an excited and vibrant crowd to the Tāmaki Makaurau venue.
Supporting artists Bailey Zimmerman, Ernest and Hardy paved the way for the premier act that played for over 1.5 hours.
After releasing the 36-track album One Thing at a Time on March 3, Wallen said it was hard to put together a set list so they played a mixture of his new and old tunes.
Within a week of the release of One Thing at a Time, every track entered the Billboard Hot 100. This broke Drake’s record set for most songs by an artist on the chart at one time, as well as the record for most debuts on the chart (27).
These are just a few of the records that Wallen and his music have set.
After opening with his 2017 hit Up Down, he addressed the audience.
“I really appreciate everybody being here tonight. This is mine, and my band’s, first time being in New Zealand. We got here yesterday morning and I was walking around the streets a little bit and I met some of you guys already. You guys were super nice. I could tell you were going to be pretty rowdy, looks like that’s going to be the case,” said Wallen.
“Most people in my family barely made it out of our county back home, so I sure as hell never thought that there would be an arena full of people in a different country singing my music. I appreciate you.
“We’re going to be playing a bunch of new songs, really for the first time as a full band here tonight so I’m really looking forward to it.”
With what seemed as many guitars as there were songs, a piano and many big firework-like bangs, Wallen grabbed the attention of the audience.
The story behind new track Dying Man tugged on fans’ heartstrings explaining that after his son Indigo was born “[he] felt like [he] had a new reason to wake up in the morning”.
He explained that Thought You Should Know was a song written for his mum.
“Some of ya’ll might know this about me, but I’m a momma’s boy. I wrote this song, I guess a couple of years ago now and put it out on Mother’s Day this past year for her. It most recently became my last number one on country music radio – I think that’s a pretty good Mother’s Day gift if you ask me.”
Cover Me Up lit up the arena as 1000s of people rose to their feet, turned on their phone torches and waved them to the music.
Ending his set with a classic “Thank you so much Auckland”, and a big pyrotechnic boom, the crowd responded with the chant of “one more song” and “Morgan, Morgan, Morgan” as Wallen exited the stage.
Unable to deny the fans, he and his energetic band re-emerged, performing popular song Heartless, recent hit Last Night and Whiskey Glasses – a well-received trio of ending tracks followed by more big bangs.
It seemed Wallen didn’t want to leave the stage, and although he sang Sand in My Boots earlier in the set saying, “but all I brought back with me was some sand in my boots”, I think he realised he was taking New Zealand home in his heart.