Striding onto the stage, with a beaming smile on his face, it took Fatboy Slim just a few seconds to connect with his Kiwi fans at Auckland’s Spark Arena this weekend.
The lyrics “Don’t Stop Me Now” belted out through the speakers and it was as if the iconic DJ – who has more than 40 years in the music game – was making a statement: “if you want to have a good time, just give Fatboy Slim a call.”
His appearance delivered a much-needed euphoric reprieve for the thousands who braved the arduous weather conditions on Sunday evening. After heavy rain battered Aotearoa over the previous two days, music events around the country were forced to pull the pin, including the much-anticipated Laneway.
The Gardens Music Festival was one of the few shows able to come up with an alternative venue just a day out from the event. Promoters knew exactly what needed to be done, with the event already having been switched from the inner city’s Victoria Park to Auckland Domain just a week earlier due to issues with the original site.
And the change of location appeared to be no issue at all for the many revellers who were ready to spend part of their long weekend dancing the night away.
From the ground level up to the stands, a full house packed out Spark Arena to watch the beloved DJ, after a solid line up of highly-skilled producers took turns on the decks to give their best.
Dick Johnson and Set Mo kicked the night off before Peking Duk amped the feeling within the stadium up a notch. The duo were in their absolute element, keeping the crowd bouncing to thrilling hits like “Wasted”, “Fake Magic”, “Fire”, “Stranger”, and “High”. The crowd also erupted each time they put a spin on classic tunes from the likes of Journey, Cindy Lauper and, Nelly Furtado.
One half of the group, Reuben Styles, even made his own fun, redefining the term ‘jumping onto the decks’ by standing on top of the table to amp up the crowd up from a great height. It was made all the more impressive by the fact that he did so without taking a tumble.
With minimal time between sets due to the ease of changing the gear over, LP Giobbi was up next and went straight into it with her dance tracks. It was a tough spot to nail, playing between Peking Duk – whose music is regularly spun on our biggest radio station’s playlists – and the eagerly-awaited headliner, but it didn’t take long before she picked up on the Kiwi vibe.
As one of the fastest-rising artists in the electronic music scene, the Austin-based producer has caught the attention of industry mainstays, including Diplo, who remixed her single, “Forever and a Day”. And soon enough, fans fell into sync as she found a new kind of electricity among the crowd. It felt like we were only just truly getting to know – and love – LP Giobbi when it was all over.
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The crowd’s collective sadness was quickly remedied as Fatboy Slim – real name Norman Cook – made his entrance, and a feeling united the arena that it was time to truly get down.
The English producer proved he’s still got more than what it takes to satiate the masses in the land dubbed “the drum and bass capital of the world,” and the crowd finally got to see a hint of the incredible light show the arena is capable of with some incredible lasers.
Fatboy Slim’s graphics were another high point, with a tiny camera nestled above his decks which would roll live footage on the big screens, at times overlapping images of partygoers having a good time.
A round of applause must go to one particular sequence which featured a montage of photos of Cook throughout different times in his life; his face on the screen never changed position, just the settings around him, at the same speed as his fast-paced deep house track, giving off a trippy vibe.
Fat Boy Slim didn’t need to tell the crowd to put their hands in the air – they were already automatically mimicking his every move. By the time he played “Speed Trials On Acid”, the crowd was completely under his spell, as the congregation chanted, “I am you and you are me”.
On his biggest tour of New Zealand yet, the big beat icon appeared in Christchurch on Friday but was forced to cancel his performance in Napier.
Due to the weather, his Waiheke Island performance has been moved to this Thursday before he then heads to Wellington, Queenstown, and Taupō (see full dates here).