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Spoon and The War On Drugs Go Back to Back in New Zealand

Rock fans of all ages flocked to Auckland’s Spark Arena for a dreamy double bill on Saturday

The War on Drugs

Jack Mensah

Rock fans of all ages flocked to Auckland’s Spark Arena for a dreamy double bill on Saturday, first with Spoon and then The War On Drugs.

But before the big acts, Sydney-born, New York-based Indigo Sparke warmed up the early birds with her captivating voice and compelling two-piece band.

Indigo Sparke

Spoon then took the stage in front of a nearly full room, marking the Austin indie rock icons’ first return to Aotearoa since Big Day Out in 2008. 

And they didn’t disappoint, playing all the favourites like “Underdog”, “Do You”, “The Way We Get By”, and “Inside Out”. A standout moment arrived with the groove-filled “Turn My Camera On”, before they surprised everyone with a soaring cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation”.

Introducing fresh tracks from their Grammy-nominated album, Lucifer on the Sofa, including “Wild” and “The Hardest Cut”, Spoon proved their songwriting is as sharp as ever.

Fresh from their Weezer tour in the States, it was a tight and spot-on performance. Frontman Britt Daniel was full of life, and Alex Fischel on guitar and keys made a memorable entrance, shredding up a storm from the start, setting a high bar for the night.


Jack Mensah

The stage then belonged to Philadelphia rockers The War On Drugs, a truly stadium-worthy act, and their reward was a well deserved upgrade to Spark Arena from their last headline gig in Auckland at the Powerstation in 2014. Led by Adam Granduciel, the indie rockers boasted seven exceptionally talented players on stage, including keyboards and saxophones, with minimalist lighting.

Launching into the powerful charge of “An Ocean in Between the Waves”, they flowed into immersive tunes like “Pain” and “Arms Like Boulders” from their first album in 2008. 

Granduciel, dressed casually in a green tee with his long hair swinging behind him, was friendly and chatty throughout, expressing gratitude and sharing some love for Auckland, reminiscing about that previous Powerstation gig. He recalled improvising a new song on-stage during soundcheck on a borrowed Stratocaster, saying, “I have this fond memory of playing in Auckland sometimes; there’s magic in the air.”

The good omens rolled on through their propulsive hits like “Red Eyes”, (Granduciel suggested everyone to jump on each other’s shoulders) and more tender moments like “Rings Around My Father’s Eyes”.

War on Drugs

One of the night’s highlights was the rapturously received “Under the Pressure”, a standout from their 2014 breakthrough album, Lost in the Dream, with its guitar solos, jubilant synths, and saxophone swells that just beat into your chest.

All in all, two stellar performances that could’ve been in any order. And the crowd seemed to love every minute of it.