Beatles tribute all on
FOR two nights Beatlemania created a wave of hysteria through our streets.
It was June in 1964 when The Beatles graced the stage at 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 in celebration of the concerts’ anniversary.
The trust’s 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.
Both nights will have a different lineup, with artists performing two songs each from the Beatles catalogue.
Students from Diocesan School for Girls and Sacred Heart College 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 which were left ringing 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 in 16-year-old performer Grace Brebner.
By the time the young Diocesan School songwriter was 8 she knew each word of every song on 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 be performing 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 multi-generational concert.’’
Play It Strange was set up in 2003 to shine a spotlight on young songwriters.
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 mid- Sixties – where is the New Zealand invasion now?’’
But he believes the young performers will make people stand up and take notice after these shows.
A Strange Day’s Night is 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.
No.1 fan: Play It Strange Trust chief executive and Split Enz co-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 during their New Zealand tour, June 1964. They performed two shows at Auckland Town Hall.
Go to centralleader.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to watch a video of The Beatles arriving at Wellington Airport in 1964.