Weekend Rewind: Music royalty in New Zealand

In the lead up to Adele’s Auckland shows, NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop revisits some other major artists who have performed in New Zealand.
The Beatles in NZ in June 1964. Photo / Getty Images
The Beatles in NZ in June 1964. Photo / Getty Images

As well as her catalogue of hits, UK singer Adele will be smashing out some local attendance records next week. Her three Auckland shows have been credited as the fastest-selling ever by an artist in New Zealand, with more than 100,000 tickets sold in a single day. But she's certainly not the first record-breaking (or hysteria inducing) musician to visit us. From The Beatles to The Stones and beyond, we've hosted more than our fair share of music royalty - along with some legendary shows.

In June 1964, New Zealand came down with a serious case of Beatlemania, when the Fab Four arrived for their first, and only, visit to our shores. Landing in Wellington, the group played four drowned-by-screams shows (two per day), before heading to Auckland. At an official Town Hall welcome, Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson can be seen trying to keep order, asking a boisterous crowd to "hold it please" while John, Paul, George and Ringo lark around and attempt to hongi members of a Māori culture group. After more shows, it was on to Dunedin and Christchurch, frenzied hordes following their every move.

A week of teenage pandemonium left much of adult New Zealand shaken, slowly realising what the future had in store.

Watch The Beatles in Auckland here, and read more about their New Zealand tour at AudioCulture:



The artist responsible for our largest ever single concert is a topic occasionally debated, but most agree the honour still goes to David Bowie. In 1983, Bowie brought his Serious Moonlight tour to Auckland's Western Springs, drawing a record audience of close to 83,000. This footage, from local news show Top Half, captures moments before, during and after the show, including aerial crowd shots and an epic cleanup job.

See the Top Half footage here:



U2 are no strangers to Aotearoa, having toured here many times over the years. In 1989 they played to a crowd of 60,000 at Christchurch's Lancaster Park, joined by BB King (with whom they had recently collaborated on Rattle and Hum single When Love Comes to Town). This footage, shot for music show CV, includes performances of Where the Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow and a cover of People Get Ready, featuring guitar courtesy of a lucky audience member.

See CV - U2 Live at Lancaster Park here:



The Rolling Stones have also been frequent visitors to New Zealand, both as a group and in various solo capacities (and memorably, in the case of Keith Richards, as a patient at Auckland's Ascot hospital). In 1988, before the band's spate of 'final' tours began, Mick Jagger visited Auckland to promote his second solo album Primitive Cool, playing a secret gig at The Gluepot - cryptically billed as The Sons of Sodom - before a somewhat larger show at Western Springs. Interviewed by Radio with Pictures during his visit, Jagger competes with the noise of Auckland's ferry terminal as he discusses his new band, John Lennon and Michael Jackson, and ponders the curious predicament of being the subject of a tribute band.

See Mick Jagger on Radio with Pictures here:



Many credit country legend Johnny Cash with giving Kiwis their first real taste of rock 'n' roll touring. In 1959, Cash headlined an Auckland show with Gene Vincent, ushering in an era of less parent-friendly entertainment. The Man in Black would return to New Zealand many times before his death in 2003. This Holmes interview captures him here in 1994, ahead of performing a concert with wife June Carter Cash. The couple talk prayer, drugs, scars, and controversial US ice skater Tonya Harding, before performing their much-loved version of Jackson.

See Johnny and June Carter Cash on Holmes, here:



While those outside the KISS army might not consider the band music royalty, their Unmasked tour was internationally billed as "the hottest rock show on earth". Touching down in Wellington in November 1980, regional news show Today Tonight captured footage of the band arriving bared-faced, along with some later words of wisdom (delivered fully made-up), and an interview with a starstruck local fan.

See KISS on Today Tonight here:



- NZ Herald

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