Wind on Friday almost forced the cancellation of that night's Hawke's Bay UB40 concert, the promoter has revealed.
Jackie Sanders, of Auckland company Jacman Entertainment, said during the day preparing for the concert the crew and bands had to be evacuated from the stage for more than two hours because wind gusts at the Kahuranaki Rd venue south of Havelock North were "significantly above the safety levels".
She told Hawke's Bay Today last night: "I had my head in my hands when the crew called me and told me they had had to evacuate the stage and we'd better start making Plan B, and prepare to cancel if we had to. I was advised that if wind levels stayed at that level we would be unable to proceed so we started preparing for the process of cancelling the concert and advising the customers," she said.
But, monitoring weather information, promoters could see the wind was predicted to drop in the evening and "made a decision to go for it", she said.
"We knew it would be touch and go as we were very behind because of the wind delays. We couldn't even put food and merchandising marquees up! They kept imploding."
She said crews worked at an "incredible pace" to get ready by the time gates were to open at 4pm, and were "not too far off" when a 75km gust took the PA mounted above the front of the stage and rotated it 180 degrees.
"We could not let people in again until that was restored and made safe," she said.
She said the Hawke's Bay concert had been a success from the moment tickets went on sale last May - all original 1900 tickets for a concert at Black Barn Vineyard in Te Mata Rd, Havelock North, being sold within four hours.
She said the interest took her by surprise, even more so when it was moved to the bigger Tukituki Valley venue, which ultimately held over 8000 fans, more than four times originally intended and making it the biggest of the seven concerts on the Red, Red Wine Tour, which ends next weekend and will have catered to about 40,000 fans from Kerikeri in the north to Queenstown in the south.
Ms Sanders said she made the call to delay UB40's arrival on the stage because she wanted to make sure those still trying to get into the venue got to see the whole concert.
"I didn't want anybody to miss out," she said.
"We were so relieved to be able to open those gates and present the concert. It was an incredible atmosphere.
"The majority wouldn't know what we did to make it happen in stressful circumstances. It ended up a brilliant night!"
She said she hoped to be back at the venue again next year and is already looking for potential acts.