Pete Congdon, of Christchurch, New Zealand, had never been to a concert before. That all changed on November 18, 2016 when he showed up to Auckland’s Vector Arena with a ticket for Disturbed, supporting their latest album, Immortalized. It wasn’t just a big night for Pete — the Chicago rockers were coming off of a five-year hiatus and Immortalized had generated a massive amount of global buzz. In New Zealand, it spent 42 weeks on the charts, peaking at number 2 while it debuted on Australia’s ARIA Albums Chart at number one. Leading up to the show, the band had announced that a portion of the concert’s proceeds would benefit New Zealand’s Red Cross, in support of the then-recent earthquake that devastated the south island. Consequently, the Auckland show was a fist-pumping celebration for both band and fans. But especially for Pete - and, thankfully, it was all captured on video.
After a fifteen-song set, ending with Indestructible, the band come out for their encores, but not before frontman David Draiman addresses the crowd.
“Auckland! How the hell are ya?” he asks, drawing a predictably lusty response. A punter throws a black t-shirt up to him. “Ooh!” says Draiman. “Gotta love Zeppelin. And you know what, for whatever reason, I don’t mind that this is all sweaty and shit.” In the video, we see Draiman laughing as he tosses the shirt to someone at the side of the stage.
The singer continues. “So I was actually gonna come down there first,” he says, speaking to some men standing at the barricade in front of the stage, “but I’m glad you got him. See, I couldn’t stand it. When I went back there, I said, ‘There’s this gentleman sitting right by the front row...’ Go ahead and bring him up for me...”
The gentleman in question, of course, is Pete, who has been watching the show from his wheelchair in the front row — mosh pit behind him, and barricade in front of him. If it were hard to see the band from that vantage point, that was about to change. Someone passes his wheelchair to the front and then three men hoist him over the barricade and back into his chair, now on the stage. Pete is beaming, staring out at the crowd, who are now losing their collective shit.
“And this guy has not been able to see properly all night but he’s had the balls to be in the fucking front row like this...” Pete raises both arms in triumph and the crowd roar.
Draiman is now standing next to Pete at the front of the stage. The arena lights are on, revealing a packed, surging crowd. “What’s your name, brother?” he asks.
“My name’s Pete,” comes out in a thick Kiwi drawl.
“How are you, Pete?”
“Good mate, good,” says Pete, as if he does this every day. “First ever concert. So well worth it!”
“Well we’re happy to pop your cherry for you.” says Draiman with a smile, arm on Pete’s back. “Would you mind if you did us the honour of actually joining us on stage for the rest of the set?”
Absolute pandemonium throughout the arena as drummer Mike Wengren walks over and hands him a drum head.
The singer continues, “See, this is the difference between other genres and hard rock and heavy metal, ladies and gentlemen. You won’t see this kind of bravery, you won’t see this kind of courage, you won’t see this kind of strength at a pop show.”
At this, the scene erupts with feverish howls of assent.
“Do you think people have the balls to go ahead in a wheelchair to get to the front of the fucking barricade when they go to see Britney Spears? Does it fucking happen? Everyone give it up! Come on!”
Pete raises arms in triumph and as they bring him to the side of the stage, you can see his ear-to-ear grin practically from the back.
The crowd begin chanting, “Pete! Pete! Pete!”
For the final three encores, guitarist Dan Donegan continually runs over and plays for Pete, who’s now filming the whole experience on his phone. At one point, bassist John Moyer runs over, leans in and says, “Are you ready for this? It’s about to get hot. It’s about to get fucking hot!” as the band rip into Ten Thousand Fists.
It’s a genuinely uplifting moment and it’s something that the band have done over the years that only underscores the fierce loyalty that bonds Disturbed to their fan base. Following the show, Pete — dubbed by the band as “Auckland Pete” — thanked the band profusely on Facebook, writing, “Thank you so much for the privilege of being on stage with such great and inspiring men.”
Check out the video below:
Disturbed recently announced the arrival of new album Divisive, out November 18. The band also released a rollocking new single taken from the album, Unstoppable.
Disturbed: Divisive tracklist
1. Hey You
2. Bad Man
5. Love to Hate
6. Feeding the Fire
7. Don’t Tell Me (featuring Ann Wilson)
8. Take Back Your Life
9. Part of Me
10. Won’t Back Down