‘Energy in the room tonight is mentality’: Ocean Alley proves New Zealand audiences are ready for the return of world music

Australian band Ocean alley has sold Auckland's Spark Arena for the venue's first major international rock concert since 2020.
Ricky Wilson/Staff

Australian band Ocean alley has sold Auckland’s Spark Arena for the venue’s first major international rock concert since 2020.

review: For the first time since March 2020, Auckland’s Spark Arena hosted a major international rock band on Saturday, and the crowd that ran out completely sounded raucous before the opening show began.

This was the biggest audience for Ocean Alley – a rock band from Northern Beaches, Australia – played in New Zealand. The band seemed excited that they finally made it as well as the crowd was here.

For being the first major international gig since the restrictions were lifted, who was on stage was probably less important than the fact that they were on stage at all.

The masses of gamblers were singing and dancing all night long regardless. But it helped this band be impressively tight, playing catchy, psychedelic reggae-inspired rock, stoked to be there and the sound quality at the Spark Arena was at its best.

Read more:
*The Garageland tour held on the 25th anniversary of the tour’s return is ready to rock after the Covid-19 delay
*David Byrne presents an impressive and unique show in Christchurch
* New Plymouth jumps with Shahada to celebrate 30 years

The opening show of Hockey Dad – also an Australian rock trio – was captivating and drew a large crowd on the ground floor of the Spark Arena.

But when loudspeakers blew out the classic Eagle Rock from Daddy Cool to announce the arrival of Ocean Alley, the noise and crowd numbers swelled.

“Kia Ora,” vocalist Baden Donegal yelled in front of the audience before the screeching sound of a few thousand sweaty fans met him.

Ocean Alley singer Baden Dingal during the Spark Arena on Saturday night.

Ricky Wilson/Staff

Ocean Alley singer Baden Dingal during the Spark Arena on Saturday night.

“F…..g hell, we’ve been waiting so long to get here.”

By the time the second song was halfway through, the seats near us were empty, and the number of people at ground level was growing.

“The energy in the room tonight is mental,” Denegal said. And he was right.

The atmosphere between the band and the crowd, but also among the audience was a very magical feeling. Perhaps it was the mesmerizing and catchy rock rhythms that got everyone on their feet. Perhaps it was the fact that the entire arena had been waiting for this for more than two years.

Felt like a crowd desperately in need of feeling a bit of something special with the like-minded people, and Ocean Alley just happened to do a great job of giving it to them.

The audience and the band seemed to be feeding on each other, and watching the floor jump and clapping in unison with Confidence and Happy Sad was visually stunning.

The real touch came midway through the ensemble, with a stunning blend of Pink Floyd by Breathe, Comfortly Numb, and Money.

Australian rock band Ocean Alley kicked off their New Zealand tour with a sold out show at the Spark Arena on Saturday.

Ricky Wilson/Staff

Australian rock band Ocean Alley kicked off their New Zealand tour with a sold out show at the Spark Arena on Saturday.

They also later closed the group with their cover of Player Classic Baby Come Back – highlighting this band’s love of classic rock beats, but also the fact that if Ocean Alley decided to release an album of covers, it might be worth the purchase.

The hour and a half ended with an astonishing noise from the screaming crowd and the final song, Knees.

“I was on my knees,” Donegal sang as nearly everyone, save a select few, was on their feet.

After a massive hiatus, international live music is back with fans in New Zealand. If the first stop at Ocean Alley on their New Zealand tour is anything to go by, 2022 will be a good year for music.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: