The Shins – Powerstation November 30, 2017


A decade after their previous visit, The Shins returned to Auckland’s Powerstation to power through a career-spanning set that had the predominately 30-something sell-out crowd reliving their youth.

The only remaining member of the band from the 2007 show is front man James Mercer. But, given the fact that Mercer writes and sings all of The Shins’ songs, that really wasn’t an issue.

This was a sold out show and the Powerstation was packed with fans who were intent on hearing their favourite tunes from Wincing The Night Away, Chutes Too Narrow and Oh, Inverted World.

The Shins have released two albums in the intervening decade, 2012’s Port Of Morrow and this year’s Heartworms.

These days the band is a six-piece featuring bass player Yuuki Matthews, who, having joined the group in 2011, is the longest-serving member other than Mercer, Mark Watrous and Casey Foubert on guitar, drummer Jon Sortland and Patti King, who played keyboards and violin.

The show began with, Caring Is Creepy, a crowd favourite from 2001’s Oh, Inverted World and was followed by a tune from each of the group’s five albums.

Before playing Kissing The Lipless, Mercer took a moment to talk to the crowd, assuring us that the band all had naps after travelling here from Japan and that he was “really happy we sold this place out”.

The crowd seemed split, with the hardcore fans up front, listening intently, while further back, there was as much socializing as listening going on.

But when the band got to Gone For Good, the heart wrenching break-up song from 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow, everyone tuned in, singing along to themselves.

The baroque pop of Saint Simon was another quiet highlight that had fans singing, then the energy level rose with the thunderous drums of Painting A Hole. With the adrenalin levels raised, drummer Jon Sortland broke into the drum beat from Aersomith’s Walk This Way. Still in a playful mood, they attempted a few bars of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, with Sortland providing vocals.

This got the audience fully engaged for the final three songs of the set and they were clapping and singing along with Half A Million, Phantom Limb and Simple Song.

James Mercer returned alone for the encore, singing Young Pilgrims. Then the band, along with a string section, joined him for The Fear, a moody tune from Heartworms.

Finally, everyone was transported back to the young Natalie Portman of Garden State as New Slang began, the audience singing the ooohs, sounding like a howling wind. Patti King’s violin gave the song the delicate touch it deserved.

But wait, there was more…one more…Sleeping Lessons closed out the night with a surprise version of Tom Petty’s American Girl injected in the middle. It was a big finish that had everyone leaving the venue on a musical high.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Flynn:

The Shins set list:

  1. Caring Is Creepy
  2. Australia
  3. Name For You
  4. Kissing The Lipless
  5. The Rifle’s Spiral
  6. Mine’s Not A High Horse
  7. Cherry Hearts
  8. Gone For Good
  9. Milden Hall
  10. Saint Simon
  11. Painting A Hole
  12. Half A Million
  13. Phantom Limb
  14. Simple Song
  15. Young Pilgrims
  16. The Fear
  17. New Slang
  18. Sleeping Lessons/American Girl