Quakes' sobering impact on dance fans

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 27/07/2013

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Tonight's Shapeshifter concert at the quake-prone Wellington Town Hall will go ahead, with one important concession to public safety - everyone in the audience will have to be sober.

The yellow-stickered venue has been cleared for use after Sunday's earthquake, but several safety precautions have been imposed for tonight's sold-out concert, including a two-drink maximum for each alcohol purchase.

Security at the concert will also be beefed up, and anyone who appears intoxicated will be refused entry or ejected.

Positively Wellington Venues and Wellington City Council decided the measures were necessary with aftershocks or fresh quakes a risk, spokesman Richard MacLean said.

"It's not a great idea for people to get ‘out of it' in an old town hall, especially if there's going to be aftershocks.

"If we do have to evacuate, we don't want out-of-control people in there."

The building was inspected for damage on Sunday evening, before engineers returned for a comprehensive check early this week, he said.

"The building came through the earthquake absolutely fine. It's no bigger danger this week than it was last week."

Shapeshifter saxophonist Devin Abrams said the band was relieved when the concert was given the go-ahead on Wednesday.

"It would have been pretty heartbreaking for us - it's the last show of the tour."

He had no concerns about the safety of the venue, even while experiencing the original earthquake at his home in Island Bay.

"I called my manager asking, ‘Will the gig go ahead?' - that was my first phone call."

Positively Wellington Venues chief executive Glenys Coughlan said anyone feeling uncomfortable about attending the concert could, on a case-by-case basis, ask for a refund.

An engineering inspection in 2011 found the town hall met just 20 to 25 per cent of the new building code.

Anything under 33 per cent is deemed earthquake-prone.

The city council voted last month to spend $43.7 million strengthening the century-old building from November.

The probability of a quake of magnitude 6 or higher striking Cook Strait today was about 2 per cent, according to GNS Science figures.

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- The Dominion Post

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