Words by Shelley Te Haara
Goth. Pop. However you want to define them, Pale Waves played in Auckland for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I got to go along and check it out. The English 4-piece played to a packed crowd at the Tuning Fork but I personally think it was the locals that were the highlight of the night.
Daffodils, a local 4-piece, kicked off the evening. The crowd was rather motionless for the set but seemed to be vining along and enjoying it nonetheless. Lead vocalist Theo Spike Salmon even got the crowd singing along without even trying, “I don’t wanna touch your heart again”, before encouraging the crowd even more “Sing it with us!”. Theo then introduced the rest of the band: Isaac Keating on drums, Jade Bryham on synths/keyboards/backing vocals and Louis Graham on bass/backing vocals.
As the band got further into the set their energy picked up. Isaac was hitting the drums so hard that the microphones around him were shaking. “At the beginning of the year we had no idea we would be doing something like this so it’s really cool”. Daffodils’ single Two Angels is clearly a well known track, as the crowd cheered when they launched into it, the majority of the crowd bopping along with Theo. But the track that definitely stood out for me was their new single First Time Party Nightmare. It’s a great track and it was awesome to hear it live. I’m sure there are going to be big things coming from Daffodils in the near future and I think this band is worth keeping an eye on.
An instrumental track began to play as the lights went out. Then a “Pale Waves!” chant erupted from the crowd before the band took the stage. Lead vocalist, Heather Baron Gracie, seemed to be into it from the start as she flicked her black hair around and pranced about the stage. The whole band seemed to have a black and white aesthetic and it worked for the way they had lit their stage in strong, bold colours. After a few tracks in, Heather let the crowd know they were from Manchester and introduced the rest of the band Ciara Doran on drums, Hugo Silvani on lead guitar and Charlie Wood on bass.
“Alright lets fucking go for it!”. The lights brightened and lifted the crowd into a jump while Heather head banged along with her guitar. Pink lighting illuminated the crowd when they played the track Favourite Obsession, with Heather letting the crowd know “we are going to get a bit emotional now”. The whole band was clearly into it as they moved about the stage. Heather seemed to pour herself into the very instrumental track She.
Knowing they couldn’t keep the mood low for long, they picked the crowd up again by diving into The Tide. The whole band got into it as did the crowd. When the music fell silent multiple screams of “I love you!” rang out over the crowd.
“We have a music video coming out for this next song very soon. I think you guys are going to be shocked by it”, a great way to get the crowd excited before playing the track Noises, seemingly putting everything they had into the performance. The next track was even more of a tease with it being “off our new album which is coming out soon / It’s about being 18 & in love”, exciting us even more at the prospect of more new music being just around the corner.
The crowd’s energy was going nowhere as the band dove into When I Met You, a song the crowd had evidently been waiting for for quite some time.
“You guys are fucking legends. Thank you for being at our first show in New Zealand ever!”
Heather called them legends once more as the crowd sang out the chorus for New Years, which is a fun dance track.
The set was coming to an end but Pale Waves wanted to go out with a bang with Heather saying “One last fucking time c’mon New Zealand!” As they went out on a high with the track There’s a Honey. The track lead into an instrumental which ended the show.
It was a very short set, clocking in at 45 minutes, and as incredible as it was, and as much as the crowd clearly had a great time, there were moments that left me wondering how much backing track they used, as sometimes it appeared to be out of sync and just a little too clean for live instruments. Either way, the crowd got a show they enjoyed and I’d have do admit they put on one hell of a show.