Help! Beatlemania is back

Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014
Mike Chunn, Grace Brebner
Jess Lee

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.

Alexander Turnbull Library
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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A wave of hysteria swept through Auckland back in June 1964 when The Beatles played in the town hall.

Now, 50 years on, the Play It Strange Trust is bringing a diverse range of Kiwi acts to that same stage to perform a raft hits that helped make the Liverpool band famous.

Trust chief executive and Split Enz founding member Mike Chunn says listening to Beatles music  as a youngster during the 1960s 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."

The event is called A Strange Day's night and involves two concerts with two different lineups on June 24 and 25 at the Auckland Town Hall.

Each artist will perform two songs  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 16-year-old performer Grace Brebner is proof that Beatlemania is still alive and kicking.

The Diocesan songwriter knew every lyric from the No 1 Beatles compilation album by heart when she was 8.

"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 includes Beatles-lovers. "That's why it feels like the right time to do it as a multi-generational concert."

He says there is a huge pool of talented young songwriters and musicians in New Zealand at the moment but fears some 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-60s - where is the New Zealand invasion now?"

 All funds raised from the two concerts will go towards the Play It Strange Trust, which was set up in 2003.

Go to for tickets. 

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