[New York Post]
As the rest of the world isolates, New Zealand rocks!
More than 50,000 people gathered for a massive rock concert in the island nation, which is free of social-distancing requirements after virtually stamping out COVID-19 with strict policies.
The band Six60 has been playing to huge crowds across the county, and its Saturday tour finale in Auckland’s biggest stadium was billed as the largest concert in the world since the pandemic began.
And it wasn’t just Kiwi rock fans who got to gather this weekend — with 78,113 fans packing into a stadium in neighboring Australia for an Aussie rules football match on Sunday.
The game, between the Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers at the 100,000-seater Melbourne Cricket Ground, was the highest attendance at any sports stadium since the pandemic started.
Last year’s clash between the teams was played in an empty stadium, and fans roared back Sunday for the game that fell on Anzac Day, a day of remembrance in both Australia and New Zealand. It ended with a 109-85 win for Essendon.
At the Six60 concert, the band honored military musicians and invited Maori performers to join them onstage for music sung in the indigenous language.
“We know what it’s like to be in lockdown. It sucked. And we didn’t know if we’d be able to play gigs again,” lead singer Matiu Walters said before the show. “But we are fortunate, for a few reasons, here in New Zealand.”
“It was amazing to see how fanatical people were, and excited about being out and seeing live music, and seeing something to drag them out of a long, brutal year,” Guitarist Ji Fraser said. “It was very special.”
A fan who lived in lockdown laden Britain during the past year found the experience to be dreamlike.
“It’s very important for us as humans to be able to get together and sing the same songs together,” Lucy Clumpas said. “It makes us feel like we’re part of something,”
Not everyone was thrilled about the show at the large Eden Park rugby stadium, where concerts used to be banned.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said shows there would represent a “home invasion” of noise.
“But the people wanted it. And the people spoke,” Walters said, as he invited the PM to the next gig.
“Six60 is for everyone. And maybe if she came and enjoyed herself, she’d have a change of heart.”
Only 26 people have died of the coronavirus in the nation of five million, according to Worldometer.
With Post wires