Lewis Capaldi, Auckland Town Hall, 7 January 2020: Concert Review

Lewis Capaldi led a rapturous 11-song singalong with a sold-out crowd at Auckland’s Town Hall last night. The adoring audience knew every word of every song, covering off all but four songs of the artist’s total career output in a tight 70-minute set.

Capaldi’s got one album to his credit, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent and he’s in the midst of a world tour playing pretty much the same set list for the last 127 shows, with another 50 coming up before the tour finishes when he finally returns to his hometown, Glasgow, in July.

There was barely room to move on the Town Hall floor as the crowd anticipated Lewis Capaldi’s arrival. Not sure what the significance, was, but Robbie Williams’s Angel started playing as the lights went down leaving the stage bathed in pink; and as everyone sang along, the band took their places.

It was sheer bliss as Capaldi took the stage, roars of joy and squeals of delight as he broke into the opening lines of Grace. “I’m not ready to be just another of your mistakes…” And so, the singalong begins… thousands of fans singing at the top of their lungs, as loud as Capaldi’s voice coming through the speakers, sometimes louder.

Next up is Forever, another poppy bit of blue-eyed soul that has everyone swaying their arms as they sing along. It’s a rather nice, intimate feeling. The soulful Don’t Get Me Wrong follows, Capaldi’s voice, so adept at conveying anguish and loss and despair, takes on a soft growl as he reaches a whole new level of misery – not the sort of song everyone sings along to, sadly, as more than a few decide to talk through – loudly.

Lewis CapaldiFinished there, Capaldi takes the first of several long talk-breaks. He apologises for swearing. Is dismayed that the flight from Australia took four hours when he was expecting thirty minutes. Hmmm… But what excites him is just how much money he’s making. SOOOOOOOOOOOO much money. When he looks at all the packed shows, all he thinks about is that he’s making £10 a head. And it occurs to me that it’s funny cos it’s true, at least in part. And then he informs us that if we love rock & roll, we won’t like his show.

From there, it’s One, another ballad, which Capaldi hands over to the audience to sing the anthemic chorus on its own. Suddenly, there’s a change up in the sound, like a church organ coming through with a bit of reverb. And I realise the band is probably a pick up band for this leg of the tour. All decent players, no complaints, but they don’t play like a unit, no spontaneity. They’re just Capaldi’s back-up band – who he never even introduces. But at the start of Maybe they have a little moment to shine.

The stage goes dark and Capaldi takes another talking break and rambles on for too long about making and producing his album. A good time for people-watching. And these are all Capaldi fans. Sure, there’s a fair few phones out, but a lot less than usual. And it’s a pretty broad demographic, teens to 40’s, sexually diverse. There’s something about Capaldi they all relate to. The simple pain and loneliness rampant in his 15 song catalog? A voice that nakedly reveals everything? I wish he would stop talking and get back to singing.

He finally picks up the guitar and it’s two more power hits Before You Go and his first hit, Bruises. The audience is simply in ecstasy and he, despite a lack of real stage presence, is nonetheless enjoying himself immensely. But then another talk break. He needs to pad out the show. He’s gone through most of his catalog and it’s not even ten o’clock – but while he’s humourous enough, he’s no comedian. He gives us Hollywood and Fade and lets us know he’s only doing two more songs. Hold Me While You Wait (I wish that I was good enough) rouses the audience to new heights.

Capaldi thanks us all, hoping to return next year. And then refers to himself as really just a one-hit wonder and breaks into Someone You Loved. He had the whole house on its feet, standing, dancing, singing along. Including me.

When he was done, the house lights came on to strains of Bohemian Rhapsody and we were all rushed out into the street, into the night – back to our lives. And as I walked home with my collar turned up against the nasty Auckland wind, I couldn’t help but ponder the fate of Lewis Capaldi. I can’t help feeling that this is his one big shot and the next time we see him will be in some oldies revue 15 years down the road. But – he could take time off and make a second brilliant album, maybe get a band together and grow into a major artist. Only time will tell…

~Veronica McLaughlin

Click any photo to browse a gallery of images of Lewis Capaldi. And also opener, Yorke. All photos thanks to Rachel Webb.

Lewis Capaldi


Lewis Capaldi Set-list
  1. Grace
  2. Forever
  3. Don’t Get Me Wrong
  4. One
  5. Maybe
  6. Before You Go
  7. Bruises
  8. Hollywood
  9. Fade
  10. Hold me
  11. Someone You Loved