It was Paul McCartney’s 22nd birthday. Sydney Stadium was the venue. About 20, 000 wildly ecstatic fans made it his night – and turned the Beatles’ performance into a deafening celebration.
Birthday presents rained on Paul McCartney throughout the Beatles’ two Sydney Stadium concerts last night. About 20, 000 wildly ecstatic fans made it Paul’s night – yesterday was his 22nd birthday – and turned the performances into a deafening celebration.
As the stadium filled with the pulsing sound of Beatles music and a fanatical chorus of teenage squeals, young girls ran down aisles to toss birthday gifts at Paul’s feet. Jelly baby sweets rained from the ringside. A bouquet of roses and several single flowers joined the presents, which included a toy koala, a boomerang and a large wrapped box.
Both concerts finished with people jumping on their seats and screeching with excitement. The stage was a litter of streamers and gifts. When the Beatles played and sang “This Boy” with Paul in the centre, the passionate screams of approval were deafening.
Both the first concert and the Beatles’ act in it began with slow handclaps as the excited crowd protested at brief delays. The first was because sound equipment refused for a minute or two to work for a supporting rock’n’roll band. The second time was when the audience spotted the Beatles at the entrance about one minute before they climbed onto the slowly revolving stage.
When they boarded the stage, a square of about 20 police stationed themselves in seats around the stage with their backs to the performers.
Despite the mass screaming, which left a ringing in most people’s ears, and rose to new crescendoes during each number, the Beatles could be clearly heard in all numbers except one. That was when George Harrison looked at his watch and announced in his thick Liverpudlian accent: “The clock says this next number will have to be our last,” and swung the longhaired four into “Long Tall Sally.”
Thousands shrilled, shouted, clapped and jumped in a finale frenzy. Then it was all over and the Beatles ran for their dressing-room. Delirious teenagers rushed towards them but found about 30 police forming a guard.
Between their two performances, the Beatles settled down to a meal in their heavily guarded dressing room. When the second concert finished at 10.30pm, the Beatles were out of the stadium before the crowd realised they were gone. They ran from the stage, down an aisle lined by policemen, and out of a door into their waiting car.
At their hotel, about 250 people, with 100 police, were waiting on the footpath. The Beatles’ car, followed by a police car, went into the hotel drive to the accompaniment of only a few cheers and screams.
The police had little difficulty keeping the traffic moving smoothly before and after the concerts and a police officer said that the behaviour of the fans was “exemplary”. One policeman said: “We had more fuss than this for Johnny Ray.” -First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on June 19, 1964.
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