The following story is an excerpt from a script provided by Grant Stevenson. Mr Stevenson was the event organiser of the 2004 Wellington Town Hall centennial celebration. This script was written by Dave Armstrong and presented at the centennial event by Miranda Harcourt and Franky Stevens.
Even though George Harrison later said New Zealand reminded him of 18th century England, the fab four received a hero’s welcome in Wellington—from almost everyone.
“Dear Sir. When the Beatles arrive at Wellington Airport, all the screaming hysterical teenagers should be banned from the area. The only official reception committee should be a delegation from the Hairdresser’s Association.”
7,000 fans greeted the band at Wellington Airport and thousands queued for tickets to the Beatles four concerts at the Wellington Town Hall.
When the Beatles appeared on stage in front of 2,000 screaming and adoring fans, the crowd made such a noise that you couldn’t hear the music.
But after about 20 minutes the screaming stopped, because that’s all the time the Beatles played for. Police in the front row where there to ensure security. Unfortunately, they were facing the stage not the crowd, so they missed young fans running down the aisles and on to the stage.
During the 1960s, the Town Hall welcomed some other great overseas acts. Long-haired louts The Rolling Stones played here in 1965 and 1966.
Their hotel in Christchurch had too few bathrooms, “so you can’t blame us if we smell,” said Mick Jagger.
The audiences loved the Rolling Stones, though some critics found their particular brand of noise a little much.
“However, Jagger is an exuberant singer, and his shimmying and other stage movements are quite entertaining.”
Town Hall audience members were told by police before the concert to sit down or get out, which didn’t impress the Stones. Others who were not impressed were users of the adjacent concert chamber.
“Dear Sir, you will no doubt have been advised that this chamber music booking was cancelled on account of the Pop show being held in the Town Hall on the same evening. From all reports our fears of excessive noise were more than justified. Apart from the loss of goodwill, your intimation of charging the chamber music society a two pounds cancellation fee is rubbing salt into the wound.”