Friday, June 27, 2014

The concerts where no one got onstage

The Beatles performed two concerts in Dunedin.   And for the two sets of 20 minutes that the Beatles were on stage, a total frenzy broke out among the fans.  During the 6:00 show, Several hundred fans rushed the stage but were stopped by 30 policemen who were standing shoulder to shoulder and ready to stop the mob.   During the first song of the Beatles set, "I saw her standing there,"  around 12 female fans tried to dive onto the stage, but none of them were successful because the stage was too high.   There were a few minor scuffles and when the fans realized that they were not going to be able to get to the Beatles, they began jumping, dancing, screaming and reaching their hands towards the Beatles.    At one point, the helmets fell off of some of the police and the fans began kicking them around like footballs.

The 8:00pm crowd was extremely loud and made the floor shake from all of the jumping and dancing.  Paul and George both attempted to quiet the fans, but their attempts just made the screams even louder.  

Here are some first hand accounts from those who were there:
  I was a schoolboy with hairy legs and blazing acne at The 8pm Show in Dunedin after sleeping outside the D.I.C. for tickets. We  were in the 8th row from the front and when the Beatles came on - we were at the BACK … hysteria took over - it was Beatlemania.

It was "life changing" … Fab, Gear and Groovy - NZ and certainly Dunedin had never seen anything like it … even the King of Thailand's royal visit to the city paled into insignificance. Anyway … still have my Beatles programme - and was lucky enough to have lunch with George Harrison in Auckland in the 80s when he was out here promoting the book by their chief press guy Alistair Taylor (sic) … that was fun.

At the concert we were about 8 rows from the front and I remember there was this young girl near us and she had a knitted cap with "Ringo" on it.  She threw it up on the stage and John Lennon picked it up and threw it to Ringo.  He caught it on his drumstick and popped it on his head -- and this girl just fainted.  She just passed out.  It was all to much.  Here was Ringo with her hat on his head. --Wayne Mowat

After finding my seat in the front row of the choir stalls of the Dunedin Town Hall, I looked over the edge and realized that I was really, really close to the stage. There was only a short distance from me to where one of The Beatles would be standing!
I sat down but still did not believe that John, Paul, George and Ringo were going to walk on to this stage. I couldn't believe that they had arrived from Britain and were in Dunedin.
It was too big to comprehend!
The entrance to the stage on the left was there; I could see it but no way were they going to walk through there! This was all a dream! If they are really here and do come out from there and walk across the stage towards me, how could I be noticed? How could one girl, amidst 3000 screaming fans, stand out?

I had to be seen by them! I didn't come all this way to not make contact. I had it! I would not scream! I would sit still and quiet and admire them. I wouldn't hear them but I had all their music at home, so that didn't matter.

The screams reached a crescendo that I'd never heard before and there they were, walking across the Dunedin Town Hall stage towards Me! Man, this was unreal!

There they were, in the flesh, their beautiful faces, their beautiful hair flowing, shining, their young, beautiful bodies dressed in the coolest gear in the world! Suits, white shirts and skinny ties were so them!
Their first number; hard to figure which one because nothing was heard except the screams; screams forming a wall of sound, in the air, trapped in the space, unrelenting but there was John, standing just below me, side on to me, so near.

I took a breath and yelled, not a scream but the loudest yell I 'd ever yelled! 'JOHN, JOHN, UP HERE!The unbelievable happened; he turned and looked up, he reached out his most beautiful, talented hand and I reached down!! For a magic moment our hands touched, my hand touched that of John Lennon of The Beatles ...and he smiled!
That was it! That moment was burned into my brain 50 years ago and remains a 'memory gem' which I carry with me. - Patsy K

Further to the Dunedin car journey to the Beetles venue – my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were walking through the octagon on the evening of the concert – aware of the screaming fans waiting around the other side of the town hall – at the front entrance.

Suddenly a car came flat out the wrong way to the back door of the town hall.  Exactly where we were standing the 4 Beetles popped out of the car clutching their guitars.  They said – “shhh don’t tell anyone” as they ran in through the back door.
We were the only people there and had a great view.-- Jenny W.

I was 19 at the time and with a group of friends in the crowd outside the City Hotel in Princes Street, Dunedin. There was sporadic singing going on but I finally got the crowd singing “We Love You Beatles” and directed it from the barrier.  ‘We love you, Beatles, Oh, yes, we do, We love you, Beatles, And we'll be true’ by the Carefrees. As I recall we made enough noise to bring the boys out to the open windows to wave. That of course further inflamed the crowd.

Some of the crowd then migrated to the Town Hall and my friend Neil and I were looking for a way to climb up to the windows on the Harrop Street side but there was no way in. Not to be outdone we mingled with the crowd coming down the stairs out of the 6.30 pm show and made our way up to the toilets on the mezzanine floor where we stood on one of the toilet seats in the “mens”.  That was so our legs wouldn’t be seen under the doors. Once we heard the show had started we waltzed out of the toilets, through the door to the mezzanine and stood just inside beside a policeman.  We like to think we had the best view in the house, especially since it didn’t cost.  My wife-to-be was in the stalls with her wee sister, now 60 years old. They had to pay of course.  -- Brian D

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