Synthony was a kaleidoscopic event, bringing together classical and modern genres to create an amazing spectacle for both the eyes and ears.
It was the brainchild of Erika Amoore, popular Auckland DJ and music promoter, who came up with the concept of bringing her world of vinyl and turntables together with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra to breathe new life into well-known DJ dance classics.
Arriving a little late due to flight delays, road closures and an accident on the motorway, we arrived just in time to grab a wine and people watch just a little before the show started. It is fair to say I brought the average age up quite a bit, but there was a real sense of anticipation, especially given the recent lockdown Aucklanders had to endure.
This was a sold out event and to see so many people in one space truly reflected how far New Zealand has come through COVID-19, especially as many other countries are heading back into lockdown again.
That’s why when the host of the night, George FM DJ General Lee, welcomed everyone to the largest Synthony event ever, I think most people knew they were not only part of an amazing experience but also a bit of history.
The crowed welcomed the orchestra to the stage and a hefty roar followed as conductor Peter Thomas was ushered on. This was my first Synthony and I couldn’t help thinking what a buzz it must be for Peter and the orchestra to get that kind of welcome compared to their normal work environment. I think even Mozart would have been impressed.
To get the party started what better track to kick off with than "Right Here Right Now" by Fat Boy Slim. It was the perfect choice and immediately got the whole crowd bouncing and chanting along to a true dance classic.
The explosion of sound and visuals, including laser lights, was a wonderful assault on the senses. Listening to the Auckland Symphony Orchestra fighting to keep up with the digital sound of the DJ was a brilliant blend of old and new technology. It provided a perfect mix that lifted and gave a new spin to many of the classics that were played during the night.
It was also a time to showcase some wonderful Kiwi vocal talent, which included Ria Hall, Jason Kerrison, Laughton Kora, Jenny B, Helen Corry and Cherie Mathieson to name just a few.
The dance party had some classic bangers including "Rhythm of the Night" (Corona) "Sweet Dreams" (Eurythmics), "Insomnia" (Faithless), "Children" (Robert Miles), "Call One Me" (Eric Prydz), and a truckload of others.
Standout for me on the night was the surprise version of "Another Brick in the Wall" (Pink Floyd) sung by Jason Kerrison. He simply nailed it and the mix of the original with dance beats and the full force of the orchestra, getting everyone to tell the teachers to leave us kids alone, sent a small shiver down my spine.
Ria Hall gave it her all with Deliriums’ "Silence and You Got the Love", which really captured how I felt about the whole event. It was simply brilliant. Bringing together great music, great artists and musicians can’t be underestimated if the recipe is well curated. I can say this musical menu, which went for nearly two hours, brought a smile of delight to the very last bite.
The sound, given the challenges at Spark Area, was clean and sharp and a nod to General Lee as well for marshalling the troops: the running of the set was a masterful piece of leadership.
The closing track, a great local affair with Shapeshifters’ "Electric Dream", was a great finish to the party that by now had everyone dancing in unison and beat. It was such a great way to end a set that many would remember for some time to come.
But wait there was an encore (thankfully no one had to leave the stage) and this one nearly brought the Arena house down with Darude’s "Sandstorm" lifting the roof off. It had all the punters trying to catch their breath as the last notes faded away in a blaze of lights and glory.
So my first taste of Synthony will not be the last. Not quite knowing what to expect, it delivered in spades. Hats off to the promoters and the incredible effort to bring this event to life in the most uncertain and challenging times our country has seen for many years. It was a celebration that I hope we can continue to feast on for sometime to come.