Led Zeppelin Newcastle City Hall 11th November 1971


My ticket stub; a bit battered and with rusty pinholes from when I had it proudly displayed on my bedroom wall.

Led Zeppelin Newcastle City Hall 11th November 1971
For an old guy like me, who grew up listening to rock music in the late 60s and early 70s, Led Zeppelin were THE band. Their early albums are absolute classics of blues rock, and their live shows were simply the thing of legend. Everyone I knew had a copy of Led Zeppelin II, and would bring it to school to play at the record club, proudly displaying it to as a badge of honour. I’d so wanted to see Zeppelin live since I’d heard my friend’s older brothers talk about how great they were. They were lucky enough to see them at Newcastle City Hall and the Mayfair in the late 60s, and they came back from those gigs so excited, full of tales of Plant’s screaming vocals, of Page’s amazing guitar and how he “played his guitar with a violin bow”. In those days such tricks seemed almost unbelievable to a teenager like me. So when Zeppelin toured in late 1971 it was my turn to see them for the first time. I was determined to make the most of the opportunity, and was lucky enough to end up seeing them twice in two days, on the first two nights of their UK tour, when they played in Newcastle and Sunderland. The concerts took place in the week that the classic Led Zeppelin IV album was released. Zeppelin were at the peak of their powers at this time, and were simply an awesome, electric live act.
I had a ticket for the Led Zeppelin concert at Sunderland on the Friday night, and just couldn’t wait! So I decided to try and see them at Newcastle the night before. The City Hall gig has been sold out for weeks, with people queuing all night for tickets; but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I got home quickly after school on the Thursday night, had something to eat, and then set off on the train to Newcastle to try and blag a ticket outside of the venue. I managed to buy a ticket for a pretty ropey seat up in the circle, paying £1; which was twice the 50p face value. This may sound cheap now, but it seemed quite expensive at the time. But hey I was in, and although my view wasn’t great; I was going to see Led Zeppelin for the first time! I took my seat and waited for Zeppelin to take the stage. zepposter There was no support act; soon the lights went down and the guys stormed out, Robert Plant greeting us with a simple “Good evening! Here we are again”; and then it was straight into Immigrant Song, with Plant’s screaming wails roaring above Jimmy Page’s guitar. Page was wearing his guitar low, down around his knees, prowling around the stage while Prant posed, and played the rock god at the front. John Paul Jones stood quiet, and calm, providing the bass rhythms while John Bonham pounded and bashed away at his massive drum kit. For the next couple of hours I sat completely mesmerised by this band. I couldn’t take my eyes off Page and Plant. The set unfolded; featuring old favourites and tracks from the new lp. There were so many highlights: the opening “Hey hey mama said the way you move, Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove” lines of Black Dog; the mystical beauty of Stairway to Heaven; the back to their roots rhythms of Rock and Roll; the exquisite blues guitar and blood-tingling vocals of Dazed and Confused; the acoustic guitar interlude for Thats the Way, Going to California and Tangerine. And Jimmy Page did play his guitar with a violin bow, and he has this strange aerial which he waved his hands at and, as if by magic, made weird spacey, spooky sounds (I later learned that this was called a theremin).
A crowd recording exists, on which you can apparently hear Robert Plant talking about the release of the new album: “Now then, today’s the day of the Teddy Bear’s picnic, and to go with it, the new album came out. I know what they say about the lenght of time between the two, and I’m sure you can read all sorts of reports and toss a coin!” The concert was quite long, over two hours, and LOUD (which was good; for me the louder the better), even up in the circle where I was sitting. Just perfection; the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world. I caught the late train, the music still ringing in my ears, still buzzing and knowing that I’d experienced something very special. I couldn’t wait to see them again the next night, and bored everyone at school with how great they were.
There seems to be a little debate as to the setlist that night. Most sites show the set as: Immigrant Song; Heartbreaker; Black Dog; Since I’ve Been Loving You; Rock and Roll; Stairway to Heaven; That’s the Way; Going to California; Tangerine; Dazed and Confused; What Is and What Should Never Be; Celebration Day; Whole Lotta Love. Encore: Communication Breakdown. However, I’ve also read that they played Moby Dick, but I am assured that this was not the case. They did however also play Bron-y-aur Stomp.

The next night I saw Led Zeppelin again, when they played at Sunderland Locarno ballroom. I’ll write about that, my second, and equally as exciting, Zeppelin experience tomorrow.
Thanks to John for the snap of the poster, and for helping jog my memory.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch on September 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I was at this concert and still have my ticket stub – 90p downstairs seat Q4.
    The set list in your blog is ‘spot on’ except they did Bron-y-aur Stomp for the first encore and Communication Breakdown for the second.
    They definitely didn’t play Moby Dick.


  2. Posted by vintagerock on September 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Thanks Mitch great stuff!. Will correct accordingly Peter


  3. I was at this gig! My first ever concert was Zeppelin at the City Hall the year previous, January 1970, on the Zeppelin II tour, I was 14 and it blew my young mind, it was absolutely deafening, and Page was on fire, when he whipped out the violin bow on Dazed & Confused and started getting all these crazy discordant noises going my jaw was on the floor. I think John Paul Jones played the City Hall organ on Thank You! Saw them 3 years in succession – 70/71/72 – at the City Hall, then never again sadly, but the memories still resonate…


    • Posted by vintagerock on December 3, 2022 at 12:25 pm

      Many thanks for sharing Peter yes Led Zeppelin were a formidable force in the 1970s. I would have loved to have been at the 1970 concert. Respect. However I was lucky enough to see them at Earls Court and Knebworth and then again at the O2 Arena reunion show happy days. Their like will never be seen again Peter


  4. I remember friends of mine going to Earls Court & Knebworth, work commitments, money etc was always my reasoning for not going, of course regret it now, but hindsight is 20/20. I did try to get tickets for the reunion show, me and millions of others, unsuccessful sadly, and didn’t trust the tout situation, my nephew took a flyer and went said it was worth every penny, from the live album/film it was pretty special, as previous reunions had been shambolic. I must say, I still think they were at their peak in the early 70’s and the first time I saw them the best, and to see that band in a theatre setting was quite something, considering that after 1972 it was all massive sheds and fields. Anyway, fascinating blog, there’s not many bands you didn’t see mate! I’ve seen a fair amount over the years but no where at your level, there’s a fair few I’ve seen on your pages here I was at I believe, particular 70’s and 80’s, alas I’m going by memory as by and large ticket stubs are long gone, though every now and then I dust down some vinyl and a ticket drops out, which is always amusing, it happened the other month playing some Joni Mitchell, and noticed my stub from Edinburgh Playhouse 1983 cello-taped in the inner sleeve!


    • Posted by vintagerock on December 5, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Peter yes I had a very misspent youth! These are memories that keep me sane and alive in many ways! Happy days and happy memories. I am something of a hoarder best wishes Peter


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