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Live Photos + Review: Anderson .Paak + The Free Nationals - Spark Arena, Auckland

Live Photos + Review: Anderson .Paak + The Free Nationals - Spark Arena, Auckland

Photography by Knucklehead / Review by Fluffy / Monday 14th January, 2019 11:44AM

California hip hop / R&B star Anderson .Paak made his triumphant return to Aotearoa on Saturday evening, rocking Auckland's Spark Arena with his incredible backing band The Free Nationals, with support from the seraphic vocal tones of Hiatus Kaiyote's Nai Palm. Photographer Knucklehead and UTR live review maestro Fluffy were there to document the jaw-dropping stadium headline debut of Anderson .Paak and his pals. 

It crosses my mind that the final week of seasonal summer holiday freedom for many has been jam-packed with big name performances, as I venture to downtown Auckland’s Spark arena for the second time in a few short days with the syrupy vocal tones of Kali Uchis and Nicki Minaj still echoing in my ears from FOMO By Night festival. Maybe, just maybe, the super city is starting to live up to its UNESCO City of Music title after all.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Hiatus Kaiyote frontperson (and, tonight, Anderson .Paak’s opening act) Nai Palm. Her recent performance at neighbouring venue The Tuning Fork sent shivers down my spine and jolts of joy into my smiling face, so it was wonderful to be treated to her idiosyncratic take on vocal-heavy neo-soul once again. This time a merry band of back-up vocalists assisted her into breathing harmonically-full life into tracks from her excellent offering Needle Paw. To see someone who recently recovered from a major surgery dig so deep inside themselves to give such a musically sharp and emotionally eloquent performance was nothing short of absolutely moving and thoroughly commendable.

As the evening settled in, the floor section of Spark became just as packed and writhing with anticipation as the stage at Anderson .Paak’s Laneway Festival appearance almost a year prior, and it soon became apparent that upgrading the show’s venue from Logan Campbell Centre was most definitely a move that needed to be made. It was clear that working with big wig producer Dr Dre for his latest offering Oxnard had paid dividends for launching his always-immaculate songwriting into the upper stratosphere of hype. Anderson .Paak's immaculate live band The Free Nationals had his back throughout proceedings, moulding around him like a morph suit as he darted from frontman-mode on the stage’s extended catwalk to the coordination miracle of singing while playing the drum kit, to a skillful stage-dive at a moment’s notice.

Standout track ‘6 Summers’ was felt prevalently through both the sunburnt skin of partying punters, as well as in the hearts and minds of socially aware and sympathetic gig goers. Hooks like “Trump’s got a lovechild, I hope that b*tch is buckwild. I hope she sip Mezcal, I hope she kiss senorita's and black gals” echo through the post-millennial social landscape where it seems increasingly impossible to separate politics and sexuality from any facet of day to day life. .Paak’s mix of thought provoking honesty and downright sexy and soulfulness is nothing short of masterful and mesmerising, to see this manifest in the flesh was a treat to rival recent star-studded live experiences.

The setlist was a happy spread of fresh material from the aforementioned Oxnard, as well as bangers from time-proven fan-favourites Malibu and Venice, along with ‘Dang’, a duet with .Paak’s late pal Mac Miller. Proceedings wrapped up with recent stadium show staple of waaaaay to much confetti being blasted into the gig’s atmosphere. I send my condolences to the arena’s cleaning team, you guys are champs.


Click on the thumbnails below to view Knucklehead's snaps of the show...


Anderson Paak And The Free Nationals
Anderson Paak And The Free Nationals
Anderson Paak And The Free Nationals
Anderson Paak And The Free Nationals
Anderson Paak And The Free Nationals
Anderson Paak And The Free Nationals

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Links
andersonpaak.com
facebook.com/FREENATIONALS
naipalm.com
instagram.com/knuckleheadphoto/

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