Queen Street concert ends in riot

7 December 1984

Concertgoers overturn a car during the Queen St riot, 1984 (Bruce Jarvis Photographic Services)

‘Tears, terror at the concert that made history’ was one of the newspaper headlines the day after the Queen St riot of December 1984.

The ‘Thank God it’s over’ concert at Auckland’s Aotea Centre was meant to be a summer celebration of the end of the university year. But shortly after headlining act DD Smash took the stage, the power went off. 

As the 10,000-strong audience waited impatiently, a drunken man urinated on the crowd from above; when police attempted to arrest him, some of the audience obstructed them and started throwing bottles. There were a few arrests, and more police arrived, ominously outfitted in riot gear. Dave Dobbyn, DD Smash’s lead singer, allegedly told the crowd, ‘I wish those riot squad guys would stop wanking and put their little batons away.’

When the promoters announced that the concert was being called off, parts of the audience rioted. They poured onto Queen St, smashed shop windows and left behind broken bottles, rubbish and upturned cars. Dobbyn was later charged with inciting violence, but was eventually cleared of all charges.

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