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‘My Favourite Place on Earth’: SZA Declares Love for New Zealand in Thrilling Tour Return [Live Review]

“New Zealand is my favourite place on earth, I would move here if I could,” SZA declared inside Spark Arena on Saturday


Sarah Downs

As SZA finally brought her long-awaited tour to New Zealand on Saturday night, she told the Spark Arena crowd she couldn’t wait to be back in her “favourite place on earth.”

In the first of three sold-out nights in Auckland, where fans desperately scrambled for tickets, the R&B superstar and Grammy winner proved she can do it all. From high-energy dance routines to soul-stirring ballads, she had the crowd screaming and hanging on her every word as she belted out hits from across her sprawling output. 

With a full-scale production, Spark Arena was turned into a shipwreck spectacle, echoing SZA‘s already-iconic SOS album cover (a record that dominated the US Billboard 200 chart for 10 consecutive weeks) with a nautical-themed stage set.

The stage itself resembled a boat, with mesmerising seas projected onto a big screen, while props including lifebuoy rings and a giant cannonball (which SZA even climbed onto halfway through the show) added to the vibe without ever feeling gimmicky. Despite all of this decorative magic, the only issue of the night was occasional sound mixing problems, which sometimes drowned out the artist’s vocals with an overly loud backing track.

SZA launched into the evening with the punchy “Seek & Destroy”, accompanied by her nimble back up dancers, before treating fans to beloved songs like “Love Galore” and “Broken Clocks” from her breakthrough 2017 debut album CTRL.

Surprising the crowd with an unplanned song, she delivered sweet acoustic ballads such as “Open Arms” and “Nobody Gets Me,” while an inflatable lighthouse and an extended runway added to the visual experience. 

Crossover records like “All the Stars” featuring Kendrick Lamar and her Doja Cat collaboration “Kiss Me More” had everyone dancing, but it was during quieter moments like “Drew Barrymore” and “Blind” that SZA’s vocals truly shone. Sitting cross-legged on the edge of the stage, she poured her heart out with raw, diary-like lyrics, delivered with nuance and emotion.


SZA kicked off the first of three sold-out shows at Auckland’s Spark Arena.

Her ability to blend genres was also evident throughout the night, with memorable highlights including a full-on rock rendition of “Low” where she even dropped in to the splits.

As the credits rolled and the words “The End” flashed on screen, SZA rushed back for a final serenade, declaring her love for New Zealand, which dates back to her last show here in 2018 at the now-closed Logan Campbell Centre. 

“I’d never experienced an energy like you guys before,” she said, admitting the slow return was due to ticket sales. “Six years later we sold it out three times,” she smiled. 

“New Zealand is my favourite place on earth… I would move here If I could. I love y’all.”

She promptly organised her own meet-and-greet, hand-picking fans she was “genuinely vibing with” to join her backstage and hang out afterwards. 

SZA then signed off as Solána – she was born Solána Imani Rowe – which left everyone in the crowd feeling like a friend by the show’s end. 

SZA has two more shows in Auckland this week, before her tour heads to Australia. Ticket information can be found here.