Belfast Telegraph

Fab four: The night The Beatles rocked the King's Hall

Amazing never-seen-before pictures of a landmark gig in NI pop history

By Adrian Rutherford

It was one of the most famous gigs Belfast has ever staged.

Now, half-a-century on, memories have been stirred of the day The Beatles came to town.

A collection of previously unseen images shows the group playing to a packed King's Hall.

The photographs have been released by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

They show the band playing one of two sell-out concerts on the same night in November 1964.

Around 16,000 adoring fans thronged the venue, many paying less than £1 to see their idols.

The man who brought the group to Belfast was promoter Trevor Kane.

He described it as the biggest coup of his career.

"It is the one that stands out - The Beatles were the biggest attraction in the world at the time," Mr Kane told the Belfast Telegraph.

"They were number one in the charts and were at the peak of their fame."

The gig came about after Mr Kane took a phone call from Arthur Howes, The Beatles' British tour promoter.

"Brian Epstein was their manager at the time, but Arthur Howes was promoting their concerts throughout the British Isles," he explained.

"George Connell and myself were the promoters of the King's Hall at the time, and the only place big enough to take The Beatles was the King's Hall. I was bringing most of the top artists over to Belfast - people like Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck - and that was why they contacted me."

At the time The Beatles were the biggest group in the world, and were making their second and last visit to Ireland.

They had previously played in 1963 at the old Ritz cinema in the centre of Belfast.

Mr Kane added: "The 1963 visit was a cinema tour and they played at the Ritz, but 1964 was the big one. We ran two shows in the one night at the King's Hall, which I don't think has been done too often.

"There was a 6.30pm show and an 8.30pm one. We were clearing 8,000 people out of one show and getting the next ones in - it was quite a job.

"People had queued all night at George Connell's office to get tickets - the top price then was £1."

The pictures were taken by Canadian photographer Nick Newbery.

The photographs show how Beatlemania had gripped the minds of teenagers across the world.

While The Beatles had an astonishing impact on fans, for the photographer it was somewhat different.

Mr Newbery said: "I wasn't particularly fond of the rock group but they were famous and I had a front row seat."

He deposited his collection with the Public Record Office last month.

Iain Fleming from PRONI said: "With the psychedelic classic Beatles album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band having just been added to the GCSE music syllabus, pictures like these can bring home to students here the local connection with this global popular band, who continue to resonate throughout popular art and culture."


The Beatles formed in Liverpool in 1960. With classic line-up John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are widely regarded as the greatest and most influential act of the rock era. They later experimented with several genres, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock.

Belfast Telegraph


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