Concert Review: Milky Chance – Powerstation, January 10, 2020

Milky Chance performed at Auckland’s Powerstation last night, delighting the crowd with a 17-song set which blended a gorgeous, new electronic sound with their older reggae-folk classics to show how wonderfully this group has progressed in their music.

Auckland’s Powerstation was swelteringly hot last night, with doors opening shortly after 8 p.m. and much of the early crowd packing out the venue in anticipation for headlining group, Milky Chance. The opening act of the all-ages gig consisted of a DJ on the upper floor of the venue, which was an understandable – if poor – choice considering the stage setup for the main set.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a DJ as an opener at a gig, but its success is so often hit-and-miss due to dependency on the crowd, venue, general atmosphere and what they offer the crowd in pre-show energy. Much of the audience – who had wedged themselves together into a mass of bodies in the lower section of the venue – tried their best to attach some sort of consistent vibe to the hour-long set, but slowly faded into talking to their friends in small groups as the temperature rose and the atmosphere grew increasingly soupy with steam.

When the lights finally lowered to indicate the arrival of Milky Chance, the crowd became instantly exuberant, as the band took to the stage and revealed a wall-to-wall visual display which would be a focal point of the set as a whole. Their opening numbers, Fallen, Right From Here, and Fado, all feature on their recently released album, Mind The Moon, and showed a delightful new direction toward fluid live performances.

Driven heavily by their solid, thumping drum beats, and beautifully matched against the rise and fall of their instruments and song pacing, the visual backdrop combined strobes and neon with a similar feel to a live Justice or Daft Punk set. Fado, in particular, featured an incredible Instant Crush-like build toward the end which isn’t featured on the studio recording of the song – showing how the group are considering more than just making music, but how to deliver something distinctly individual to their live crowds alongside their album releases.

I was initially a little disappointed when the middle of their set dropped into a more chill, clap-and-sing-along pop-folk direction, with Blossom and Cocoon seeing the crowd groove a little less but scream their lyrical admiration toward the stage. A nice drum-break moment of Fix Up Look Sharp weaved its way into the closing of Cocoon, with the following number, Down By The River, initially taking cues from early Gorillaz and blurring into a rainbow-lit funk-roots chorus which reminded me of Swedish hip-hop artist, Freddie Cruger.

Beautiful technical proficiency on the bass elevated Oh Mama, while the closing harmonica solo of Loveland received the loudest crowd applause of the set so far. Closing out their main set with early fan-favourite songs, Flashed Junk Mind and Stolen Dance, the group onstage didn’t even need to sing the lyrics, with the crowd unified in appreciation of a tune they’ve heard consistently for half a decade.

What was particularly enjoyable about this moment was in relation to an early comment by lead singer Clemens Rehbein, that this was the third time Milky Chance had visited New Zealand and, coming all the way from Germany, the band were always delighted by the reception they received from fans. This closing song, in particular, showed that the clearest, where the group looked momentarily taken aback a crowd performing to the band instead of the other way around. It was a joyous, wholesome moment which seemed to perfectly encapsulate the energy of the set as a whole.

I’m always interested in how long a band will remain off-stage following their main set before returning for an encore, and it’s no exaggeration to say the crowd demand in foot-stomping, ear-ringing screaming was some of the loudest I’ve ever heard at Powerstation. Returning for a three-song encore, the group closed out the night with a nice mix of their set as a whole; an instantly clap-along song in Ego, a blend of country guitar riffs and ethereal backing vocals leading to prolonged instrumental build in Running, and a wild harmonica and folk-pop-rock finale in Sweet Sun.

It’s clear that the group are continuing to evolve as musicians and performers, and if last night’s gig was any indicator of where the group are headed, I’m positive that we’ll see further development of their fluid live performances and classic folk-reggae blend in the future – and what a bright and colourful future that will be.

~Oxford Lamoureaux

Click any image to view a gallery by Todd Buchanan

Milky Chance Setlist
Right From Here
Down By The River
Oh Mama
The Game
Long Run
Flashed Junk Mind
Stolen Dance

Sweet Sun