Beatle­ma­nia is back

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

THERE was a wave of hys­te­ria back in June 1964 when The Beatles played the Auck­land Town Hall.

Fifty years later the Play It Strange Trust is bring­ing New Zealand artists and hun­dreds of young per­form­ers to­gether on that very stage to per­form a raft of Beatles hits.

Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive and Split Enz founder Mike Chunn says lis­ten­ing to those songs in the 1960s as a young Auck­lan­der was ‘‘pure magic’’.

Chunn was a 12-year-old board­ing at Sa­cred Heart Col­lege when John, Paul, Ge­orge and Ringo rocked into town.

‘‘The Beatles saved me from mad­ness. At board­ing school they were an ab­so­lute to­tal fo­cus – it was vir­tu­ally re­li­gious for us,’’ he says.

‘‘When Abbey Road came out all of the boys in the hos­tel gath­ered in the com­mon room, we put the nee­dle on the track and took it off at side two and none of us said a word un­til the end.’’

There are two con­certs with two dif­fer­ent line­ups. Artists will per­form two songs each from the Beatles cat­a­logue.

Stu­dents from Dioce­san School for Girls are among those shar­ing the stage with the likes of Tim Finn, Jor­dan Luck and Fiona McDon­ald.

Back in 1964 it was the shrieks and stamps of the young crowd that rang in peo­ple’s ears rather than the mu­sic of the Fab Four, Chunn says.

And it’s clear that Beatle­ma­nia is still alive and kick­ing with 16-year-old per- for­mer Grace Breb­ner.

By the time the Dioce­san song­writer was 8 years old she knew ev­ery lyric from the No 1 al­bum by heart.

‘‘The Beatles are my idols – they’re just in­cred­i­ble and I am just so ex­cited to per­form their songs in a con­cert like this,’’ she says.

Grace will per­form the songs Tax­man and Let It Be.

Chunn says ev­ery gen­er­a­tion alive to­day is com­prised of Beatles-lovers. ‘‘That’s why it feels like the right time to do it as a multi­gen­er­a­tional con­cert.’’

Chunn says there is a huge pool of tal­ented young song­writ­ers and mu­si­cians in New Zealand at the mo­ment but he fears they will never break out.

‘‘The thing that wor­ries me a lit­tle is it’s not what Lorde’s do­ing next, it’s who will fol­low her,’’ he says.

‘‘There’s a strange kind of non­cha­lance but I don’t think it’s be­cause the tal­ent isn’t here. There was the Bri­tish in­va­sion in the mid60s – where is the New Zealand in­va­sion now?’’

He be­lieves the young per­form­ers will make peo­ple stand up and take no­tice af­ter these shows.

A Strange Day’s Night will be held on June 24 and 25 at the Auck­land Town Hall. All funds raised from the two con­certs will go to­wards the Play It Strange Trust, which was set up in 2003.

Go to tick­et­mas­ for tick­ets.


No 1 fan: Play It Strange Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive and Split Enz founder Mike Chunn and Dioce­san School for Girls stu­dent Grace Breb­ner will both per­form in The Beatles’ an­niver­sary con­cert at the Auck­land Town Hall.


Fab Four: The Beatles at Welling­ton Air­port dur­ing their New Zealand tour, June 1964. They per­formed two shows at the Auck­land Town Hall.

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