Archive for the ‘Led Zeppelin’ Category

Robert Plant and Saving Grace Middlesbrough Town Hall 25 April 2022

SAVING GRACE TIXMy head is still reeling with the music and sounds from last night. And the concert raised so many questions for me. Why is the rock legend, rock god, who is Robert Plant playing small venues such as Middlesbrough Town Hall and not singing any Led Zeppelin songs? After all he could reform Led Zeppelin, as many promoters and ex-bandmate Jimmy Page would apparently like him to do, and earn megabucks. Yet he chooses not to. And why do so many people turn out to see Robert Plant sing with a relatively unknown female vocalist, Suzi Dian (who has an exquisite voice by the way), and perform a set of mostly obscure songs which the majority of the audience would not be familiar with? Yet why did I come away from the concert feeling so fulfilled, elated and exhilarated?

It is some years since I have been to Middlesbrough Town Hall. The last time I was there was to see Morrissey with my daughter, Laura. I wondered how I would get in to the venue in a wheelchair. I need not have worried. No longer is there a requirement to walk up a large flight of stairs to take you into the venue. They have built a new accessible entrance around the corner which took me to a lift and upstairs into the, very familiar, main hall; a lovely old panelled building in which I have seen many acts over the years including Siouxsie and the Banshees, AC/DC, Van Morrison, Procol Harem, the Hollies and too many more to list (or remember). Lisa my carer and I were led to our seats close to the stage. I was seated at the end of the role, a little squashed, but with an excellent view of the stage. First up was singer-songwriter Scott Matthews who opened the proceedings with a set of fine tunes which warmed up the crowd well. Following a short interval, during which I chatted to an old friend and colleague and had a lovely cool pint of Guinness, Saving Grace took to the stage.

saveing graceSaving Grace is very much a band. Of course people had turned out to see the main man, Robert Plant. But Robert is simply a singer in the band along with Suzi. The rest of Saving Grace comprises two guitarists and a percussionist; all excellent musicians in their own right and also providing some backing vocals. Lisa mentioned that the main hall may have been a church in earlier days (I must check this out). It certainly has stained glass windows on one side and a large church – like organ behind the stage. Tonight it certainly became “a church” in which we all enjoyed a spiritual and soulful journey led by a man who has explored spiritual themes throughout his career; “Stairway to Heaven” being one obvious example. The set comprised songs which Robert, unashamedly, has chosen because they have influenced him and touched him over the years. So there were the traditional such as “The Cuckoo” and “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down”, old blues songs and classic progressive/psychedelic tracks including “It’s a Beautiful Day Today” by Moby Grape and (one of my all-time favourite songs) “Season of the Witch” by Robert’s old friend Donovan. The stage setup was quite basic with a simple curtain backdrop naming the band and unobtrusive lighting. But the music was exquisite, challenging, soulful and beautiful. Robert shared the vocals with Suzi and, in many cases, took us through the story of the song and what it meant to him. He even forgot which song he was introducing at one point and Suzi came over and whispered in his ear; tactfully correcting his mistake. There were references to performing at Redcar Jazz Club in 1966 with Long John Baldry. Many of the audience clapped, showing their age! “Season of the Witch “, led by Suzi, transformed into “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield at one point; another reference point to Robert’s roots. The final song was an old Richard and Linda Thompson track, again taking us back to the late 60s/early 70s. The lights went up to signify the end of the show. But the crowd weren’t ready to leave just yet. Everyone stood up and cheered until the band returned.

SAVING GRACE 2Oh, and I must not forget that they sang a couple of songs by new American band Low. Robert spoke highly of them; another thing to check out. I learned lots of things last night. The final song was performed a cappella with the band all coming together at the front, arms entwined, singing the beautiful “And We Bid You Good Night”. Robert playfully said “see you soon at Kirklevington country club”. For some moments I believed this to be serious. But then I don’t think the wonderful venue that was referred to as “the Kirk”, and was 10 miles or so south of Middlesbrough, exists any more. Of course, Robert played there with his band the Honeydrippers many years ago. We wandered out into the cool dark Middlesbrough night, everyone chatting and looking at each other, each of us knowing we had just had the privilege of experiencing something very special and unique. The 45 minute taxi ride flew over and I was soon safely back home.

Returning to my questions which I can now partly answer. Why is Robert playing intimate venues with a set of semi-obscure songs? The answer lies in the man that is Robert Plant. He sings because he wants to and he has to; singing lies deep within his soul. And he chooses to share with us some of the songs which are important to him, hoping in doing so that we will enjoy the concert experience and learn a little more about the man and his music. And why do we all turn out to see Robert Plant? Because somewhere over the years his music has touched each and everyone of us in a different place, and a different time. For me it lies in important memories of seeing Led Zeppelin in 1971 at Newcastle City Hall and Sunderland Locarno; in Earls Court in 1975; Knebworth in 1979; more recently at the O2 Arena and solo many other times. There is a magical quality about Robert Plant. Long may he invite us to share evenings of his songs and memories.

Many thanks to Ned my taxidriver, Lisa for accompanying me to the concert, and Chris for helping me back into bed. And thanks once more to Robert Plant for sharing some of his songs, his memories and his soul with me; one more time.

Setlist (something like this, with several missed out!):

Angel Dance; The Cuckoo; I Don’t Wanna Hear It; Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down; Everybody’s Song; It’s a Beautiful Day Today; Monkey;  As I Roved Out; Too Far From You; Chevrolet; Season of the Witch, For What Its Worth; House of Cards.

Encore: Down To the Sea; And We Bid You Goodnight


Led Zeppelin O2 Arena London Dec 10th 2007

Led Zeppelin O2 Arena London Dec 10th 2007
zepo2tix On December 10th 2007, the (almost) impossible happened and Led Zeppelin reformed at took to the stage at the O2 Arena in London for The Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert. This was a benefit concert held in memory of music executive Ahmet Ertegün, who had been involved in breaking Zeppelin in the USA. This was the first full Zeppelin concert since the death of John Bonham in 1980. Bonham’s son Jason Bonham took his dad’s place at the drumstool, and did a pretty fine job too. There had been rumours for some time that Zeppelin might reform, and in September, 2007, Harvey Goldmsith confirmed at a press conference that it was, indeed, going to take place. The concert was originally scheduled to take place on November 26, 2007, but was rescheduled when Jimmy Page injured his finger.
As soon as I heard about the show, I was determined to do my best to attend. Tickets were made available via a lottery system. I entered my details several times into the website, hoping against the odds that I would score tickets. Apparently one million people registered for the 20,000 available tickets, so the odds of success were, to say the least, low. As soon as the results of the lottery were released, I was on every Zeppelin online forum that I could find, and soon realised that I hadn’t been successful. Those who had won, were emailed a passcode which enabled them to but two tickets via ticketmaster. I looked on ebay, and to my dismay, found passcodes on sale. It was clear that some enterprising individuals had managed to make multiple entries (presumably using multiple computers, email addresses and postal addresses) to ensure success. I decided to take the risk and bought two passcodes for $100 each. These enabled me to buy two pairs of tickets. The face value of each ticket was £125 (expensive anyway), which meant I was paying around £150 per ticket (which didn’t seem too bad a deal to me). I went straight to ticketmaster and bought two tickets in my name, and two in Marie’s name, using different credit cards. The rules said that one individual could only buy two tickets, and that orders on the same card would be cancelled. The plan was for all four of us: me, Marie, David and Laura to go to the gig. We received our confirmation email immediately, and were told that Marie and I would have to collect our tickets from the O2, along with photographic ID. We were in! Or so I thought. I was so excited, and looking forward to seeing Zeppelin again. Over the next few weeks there was a lot of talk in the press and on the internet about the method of ticket allocation, and the fact that some touts had managed to get hold of tickets. Harvey Goldsmith announced that he would cancel any tickets that had been bought by anyone other than those drawn in the lottery. This resulted in several guys, who had obtained tickets in a similar manner to me, particularly from the USA, threatening legal action. In the end, I’m not sure if any tickets were actually cancelled, but I was pretty stressed out at the time, in case he cancelled our tickets (which he didn’t 🙂 Thanks Harvey).
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page later commented: “I knew it was going to sell out quickly, but the tidal wave of euphoria that preceded the gig—the anticipation—went beyond what I could possibly have imagined. We’d had a few shambolic appearances in the past, like Live Aid, so if we were ever going to come back together, we were going to do it properly and stand up and be counted.”
On November 1, 2007, it was announced that Page had broken his little finger after a fall in his garden, and the show was postponed to December 10, 2007 :(. Panic! We had trains and hotel rooms booked! We cancelled those and rebooked, which cost us, but hey ho in for a penny….and this was Zeppelin :).
We were advised to turn up early to collect our tickets, and the O2 opened the day before to issue tickets and wristbands for the show. We went down to London a day early, joined the queue and collected our tickets and wristbands. It was obvious from talking to people in the queue that many had travelled from all over the world for this historic gig. The USA contingent was particularly strong.
zepo2prog We went along to the O2 on the night of the gig very excited about the prospect of seeing Zeppelin. David and Laura were really looking forward to it. We had seats in two pairs upstairs in the same block, with a reasonable view of the stage. The show opened with a performance by a supergroup consisting of Keith Emerson (ELP), Chris Squire and Alan White (Yes) and Simon Kirke (Free, Bad Co) with the brass section from Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. They started with ELP’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”. The show also featured Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Paul Rodgers, Paolo Nutini, and Foreigner. The Rhythm Kings acted as backing group for Nutini and Rodgers both singing two songs each. Other guests were Maggie Bell and Alvin Lee. Ronnie Wood was billed to perform, and appears in the programme and on the t-shirt, but he didn’t play. We watched the start of the set, caught Paul Rodgers and Foreigner, but sent much of the time having a look around the arena, taking in the atmosphere. We saw Bob Geldof and Joe Elliott from Def Leppard in the bar. Many other stars attended the gig.
There was a short interval and then we took our seats. You could feel the anticipation in the air. What would they be like? What would they start with? The entrance of Led Zeppelin was preceded by a short film, taken from TV reports of a 70s US tour. And then there were on stage, and the familiar opening riff of “Good Times, Bad Times’ echoed across the massive arena. The sound was a little patchy at first, but that was soon sorted out. The atmosphere was strange; the crowd seemed subdued, as if they were completely awestruck, and couldn’t believe what they were experiencing. This developed as the evening progressed, with later songs getting crazy audience receptions. They were everything I could have hoped for. The performance of each band member was stunning, the weeks of rehearsal paid off. Plant sang songs in a lower key, and his scream wasn’t as piercing as it had been, but then how could it be? I also reckon that Page fluffed some of the notes at the start of Stairway. But these were minor points. Overall it was a great performance, and Zeppelin reclaimed their legacy. Highlights for me were Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven (although I’ve heard it so many times that the magic it held for me in the 70s has dimmed), and Kashmir. Encores were Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll. I was hoping for a further encore of Communication Breakdown, which they had apparently rehearsed, but hey you can’t have everything. Marie, David and Laura all thought it was just great. Probably not the best time I’ve seen Zeppelin, but a momentous, unforgettable and emotional event.
Setlist: Good Times Bad Times, Ramble On, Black Dog, In My Time Of Dying, For Your Life, Trampled Underfoot, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, No Quarter, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, The Song Remains The Same, Misty Mountain Hop, Kashmir. Encore 1: Whole Lotta Love. Encore 2: Rock And Roll

Led Zeppelin Knebworth Park 11th August 1979


My ticket stub. Wish I had the other half.

Led Zeppelin Knebworth Park 11th August 1979
Line-up: Led Zeppelin, New Barbarians, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, Commander Cody Band, Chas and Dave. Master of ceremonies: Nicky Horne
Led Zeppelin played two shows at Knebworth Park, on 4th and 11th August 1979. The shows were promoted by Freddy Bannister. Zeppelin had not performed live for two years, and it was four years since they had last played in the UK, at Earls Court. This was big news at the time, and was seen as the eagerly awaited comeback. The first show, on 4th August was announced first. The demand for tickets for the first date was enormous, exceeding all expectations, leading to a second date being added on 11th August. There was a whole new group of fans who had never seen Led Zeppelin, had heard about them from their older brothers, sisters, and friends, and was hungry to see them live in concert. Add to this all of the existing fans, who hadn’t seen the band since Earls Court or the 1972 UK tour, and it was a hell of a lot of people. Expectations were high; to say the least, and the band’s fee for performing was reportedly the largest ever paid to one single act at that time. Sadly Bannister and Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant, ended up in dispute over the number of people who attended the two concerts, and the gate takings, and Bannister ended up winding up his festival activities as a result. zepknebworthprog I applied for tickets by post, and got tickets for the first day. However, when I saw that the The New Barbarians (featuring Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards) were playing only at the second concert on August 11, I swapped my ticket with a mate for one for the second gig. This may have been a mistake, as the first gig is often reported as the better of the two; it was certainly much better attended. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone to both gigs, which is what my mate Dave did. The rest of the line-up for the 11th August was Todd Rundgren and Utopia, Southside Johnny, Marshall Tucker, Commander Cody, and Chas & Dave. The Festival involved the largest stage ever constructed, attracted at least 200,000 people over the two weekends, and these were the final shows Led Zeppelin performed in the United Kingdom until 2007.
I drove to the gig with a group of mates, four of us crammed into my little yellow mini. We left early on the Saturday morning, arrived around lunchtime, pitched our tents and went into the arena, which was already crammed. I remember little about the support acts. Todd Rundgren was good, as usual. I saw him play a couple of the Knebworth events and he always went down well with the crowd. The New Barbarians were OK, but not as good as I had hoped. The Barbarians were led by Rolling Stones members Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards, and also featured bassist Stanley Clarke (replaced by Phillip Chen at the Knebworth gig), Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys and drummer Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste from The Meters (who had supported the Stones on their 1976 UK tour). Their set consisted of Ronnie solo songs from the lp he had out at the time, a couple of Stones songs (Honky Tonk Women and Jumping Jack Flash), and Keith’s Before They Make Me Run. They opened with Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Rock’n’Roller. I’m glad I saw them.
zepknebworthposter There was a long wait before Zeppelin took to the stage and it got quite cold. They opened with The Song Remains the Same, and played quite a few new songs; I remember that there were several songs which were unfamiliar to me. Highlights for me were Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Kashmir, and Stairway which was accompanied by thousands of raised lighters. The crowd was quite reserved at first. There was some clever use of lasers with Page being surrounded by a laser pyramid. It was never going to equate to being a few feet away from the band as when I saw them in the early 70s, but it was a great concert, and moreover a great event. Reviews at the time were mixed, partly because, given the emergence of punk, Zeppelin were seen as last year’s thing by some elements of the press. But overall, it was seen to be a triumph, and a fitting showcase for the Zeppelin legend.
Robert Plant said of the concerts: “…..we weren’t ready to do it, the whole thing was a management decision. It felt like I was cheating myself because I wasn’t as relaxed as I could have been. There was so much expectation there and the least we could have done was to have been confident enough to kill. We maimed the beast for life, but we didn’t kill it. It was good, but only because everybody made it good. There was that sense of event” and in an interview in 2005, he added: “I was racked with nerves. It was our first British gig in four years and …. we went back in such a flurry and a fluster to 210,000 people in a field, surrounded by Keith and Ronnie and Todd Rundgren. Nobody’s big enough to meet those expectations. But because there was some chemical charge in the air, it worked….it was fantastic for those who were there.” Indeed, it was fantastic. There was a massive sense of occasion about the event. We all felt that we were witnessing something historic. Sadly a year later, John Bonham was dead, and what was arguably the greatest rock band ever was no more.
The last memory I have is of walking out of the arena towards our tent, watching a lighting tower going up in flames….
Setlist: The Song Remains the Same, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Hot Dog, Rain Song, White Summer ~ Black Mountainside, Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand, Jimmy Page solo, In The Evening, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown.
Thanks to John for the photo of his poster of the event.

Led Zeppelin Earls Court London Saturday May 24th 1975


My ticket for the concert. £2.50 seems such a bargain now.

Led Zeppelin Earls Court London Saturday May 24th 1975
Led Zeppelin were initially booked to play for three nights on May 23rd, 24th and 25th at the massive Earls Court Arena in London, which has a capacity of 17,000. The venue had been used for concerts before, notably one by David Bowie, at which the sound was reportedly atrocious. Due to what Mel Bush described as “unprecedented demand in the history of rock music” two further dates were added on May 17 and 18th. The total attendance for the five sold out shows was 85,000. Bush negotiated with British Rail to advertise the ease with which Inter City trains could bring fans in.”The Zeppelin Express Physical Rocket” was how it was dubbed, and the posters for the event featured a picture of Zeppelin riding the express. There was no support act for the shows, and Zeppelin played a long set, around three hours, each night.
This was the first chance to see Zeppelin after an almost three year gap since I last saw them at Newcastle City Hall in 1972. I went with John and a couple more mates, and we travelled to London by train, and straight back after the show on the midnight train. It was the day of the Scotland England match at Wembley and the train home was completely packed, full of very drunk (and disappointed) Scots fans (England won 5-1), travelling home after the match. We couldn’t get a seat and spent most of the night trying to sleep on the (cold metal) floor of the guards van, which was pretty uncomfortable :(!
zepealrscourtprog Tickets went on sale for personal applicants only at various points across the country. John and I queued all night at Virgin Records in Newcastle for our tickets. We arrived late, just before the pubs closed, and the queue grew massively overnight. I took my car and parked it beside the queue, hoping to catch some sleep. Some of the guys in the queue took a dislike to this idea and threatened to turn my car over, so I quickly moved it, parked it a few streets away, and rejoined the queue. When the box office opened, we were quite disappointed to find that all they had on sale were tickets with pretty poor views, up the back of the arena. This was often the case in those days, with the best seats being sold at the venue itself, in London.
When we arrived at Earls Court we found that out seats had an obstructed view. We were sitting behind a wide pillar and literally could not see anything. However, we were able to sit on the stairs between the rows of seats for the whole show, which gave us a great view. This was one of the first shows to use videotron screens at either side of the stage which was very cool for the time, and the first time we had seen colour video screens. All the other screens I had seen before that, usually at outdoor festivals, were black and white, and used a projector. Looking back, the screens were pretty low tech compared to today, but at the time they were streets ahead of anything seen before at a rock concert. The sound wasn’t great, but was ok with a massive PA system, particularly given the size of the venue.
The compere for Saturday the 24th was Nicky Horne who opened the proceedings with something like “Welcome to Earls Court. For the next three hours….your mother wouldn’t like it”. The Saturday night that we attended is often rated as the best night of the five shows, despite a couple of minor glitches such as Page’s guitar cutting out during In My Time of Dying. Kashmir was a particular highlight and Plant joked “If you go along the A449,past Droitwich, take the third turn on the right, Kashmir is just up there – its got a white fence around it”. Tangerine was dedicated to “families and friends who have been close to us through a lot. Its a song of love in its most innocent stages”. Trampled Underfoot was simply breathtaking and included Robert unaccompanied leading into Rip it up by Little Richard for a few bars.
zepearlscourtpageandplant A DVD of the show exists, which includes around 90 minutes of the show. John has a copy and watched it through to remind us of some of the details of the night, particularly Plant’s stage banter: “Page wore the Dragon Suit, Jonesy his Matador Jacket, Bonham a black T shirt with a silver sequinned front and Plant an open “short blue kimono”. After Rock and Roll/Sick Again Plant welcomes us with “Good Evening (audience response)…Good Evening (louder response). Last time I was suffering from a touch of cholera, it seems to have worn off, must be all these eastern influences. Our intention is to play between three and three and half hours, and when we say play we don’t mean groove along (sings first line of Livin Lovin Maid in a goofy voice). We intend to take you on a little journey, some of the experiences we have had which had made the music so different in (emphasis) ….six and a half years !!” More banter then “This is the the beginning of that journey” – and then they play Over the Hills and Far Away.
After Over the Hills and Far Away Robert said “Malacoom Salaam as we Welsh would have it” (presumably a joke, the words are Salaam Alaykum -Peace unto You – or just – Hello). Then its more banter and into “As we divert from one stratosphere to another.We intend to take you through some of the changes -six and a half years in three hours”. They play ThatsThe Way.
After the song he sings a couple of lines from Old Man by Neil Young. He then says “The chairs are supplied by Habitat.This is a preview for all the talking shows we’re gonna do in the Fall…when we’ve really made it.” “This is about a blue eyed friend who wags his tail and keeps his mouth shut”.Then Bron Y Aur Stomp. “We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, and ups and downs are the ability to create rhythm, and if you liken the ups and downs of the human body to parts of a motor car sometimes you can get Trampled Underfoot.
zepearlscourtposter Dazed and Confused is dedicated to Dennis Healy (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) as he says “We gotta fly soon.Y’know how it goes with Dennis….dear Dennis. Private enterprise …no artists in the country anymore …he must be Dazed and Confused !! ” It included an excerpt from Scott McKenzie’s ‘If you’re going to San Francisco”. The intro to Stairway is “This is a song which typifies the mood of hope which in our brightest moments surrounds us.”
I’ll leave the final comment on the gig to John: “I though the entire set was great with In My Time of Dying,Trampled Underfoot, the acoustic set and Stairway being the highlights. Sick Again was a surprising choice. As you know I am not a big drum solo fan and by then I think Whole Lotta love was sounding a bit “overplayed”, but minor quibbles on a fantastic experience. I assume the posters must have been sold out by the time we got there or I would have bought one. Jimmy wore the Dragon Suit.
All I can say is this was greatest gig I have ever seen. A great venue, great kvisuals and sound, and a great time to see the greatest rock and roll band of all time. Like a a lot of things, at the time it felt a bit special, but I now realize it was a historic event it was. Sometimes the sun, moon and stars are aligned, I feel very fortunate to have been present.”
Setlist: Rock and Roll, Sick Again, Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter, Tangerine, Going to California, That the Way, Bron Y Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love and Black Dog.
Thank again to John for his extensive help with this post and the photos of his memorabilia.

Led Zeppelin Newcastle City Hall 30th November 1972

Led Zeppelin Newcastle City Hall 30th November 1972
zeptix72 A year after my first live Zeppelin experiences our heroes were back out on tour in the UK again. This was the first show of their 24 date UK tour. The tour sold out in four hours: a total of 110,000 tickets, which was some sort of record at the time. The 1972 tour consisted of stops at concert halls around the UK and also included two nights at the massice 6000 seater Alexandra Palace in London. It was Zeppelin’s longest ever UK tour, and included two nights at the City Hall on 30th Nov and 1st December. I can’t recall how I got tickets for this gig; I guess I must havd queued at the City Hall. However we did get them, we had pretty good seats, about half way back downstairs, on the first night. All tickets for the tour were £1, which was very reasonable, particularly given the popularity of Zeppelin at the time. I went along with three mates, a couple of whom had been at the Sunderland show the year before. We were all excited about the show; Led Zeppelin were at this point the biggest band in the world, and they had a lot to live up to.
zep72ad It was, as the previous year, an amazing show, but I must admit I don’t have the same strong memories of this concert as I do of the two 1971 gigs I attended. Maybe thats because it was my first time seeing the band in 1971, maybe those shows had a slight edge over this one; I don’t know. They were introduced by promoter Tony Smith with a simple “What can I say – Led Zeppelin!”. Robert plant apparently wore silver shoes, although I don’t recall this. In those days, the City Hall would sometimes let people sit at the back of the stage behind the band, and this happened at this gig, with around 100 lucky people being allowed to pay on the night to take their place on some raised steps just a few feet away from the band. Stairway to Heaven was dedicated to Roy Harper who was in hospital at the time. The set included four numbers from the new album: Over the Hills and Far Away, The Song Remains the Same, the Rain Song and Dancing Days.
Set list: Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bro Yr Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (including Let the Boy Boogie, Lets have a party, Goin Down Slow, the Shape I’m In), Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, extended Melletron introduction into Thank You.
Wish I’d gone both nights.
Thanks to John for jogging my memory on some of the details of this concert, and for the photo of the tour advert.

Led Zeppelin Sunderland Locarno 12th November 1971


My ticket from the gig. Pretty cool graphics.

Led Zeppelin Sunderland Locarno 12th November 1971
So having recovered from my Zeppelin experience at Newcastle City Hall the previous night, I was ready to see the band again at our local ballroom Sunderland Locarno (or The Mecca, as we knew it). Local ace promoter Geoff Docherty had been promising us a Zeppelin gig in Sunderland for some time. By 1971 the band were massive, and it seemed unbelievable that they would come and play at our local Mecca ballroom. But Geoff was true to his word, and delivered the rock gods to us on a Friday night in November. The account of how his persistence landed the Zeppelin gig is well documented in Geoff’s excellent book “A Promoter’s Tale” (Docherty, 2012). Tickets had been on sale at Bergs record shop in Sunderland, for all of 75p. I still have mine, and pretty cool it looks too. Like many others, I rushed home from school, and got over to the Mecca early, to join the queue and get a good spot down the front near our idols. By the time the doors opened there was a massive queue right down the ramp which used to lead into the venue, along the street and over the road to the Wheatsheaf pub, which stood on the corner. Everyone I knew was going; there were lots of friends in the queue with us. I was full of stories of the previous night’s gig and how great Zeppelin were.


Rear of the ticket. I wonder how many people took up the offer of 25p off the lp?

As soon as we got in, we took our places on the dance floor. Those were the days when you would sit cross-legged on the floor watching the band. The Mecca was a medium size ballroom, I would guess it must have held around 1,500 or so people. The dance floor had wonderful plastic palm trees at either side, and there was a revolving stage, although for bigger bands like Zeppelin a wooden platform was built above that. I remember that Zeppelin came on stage quite late, and the crowd immediately rose to their feet and surged to the front, forming a terrible crush. There was some concern about taking photographs, I think they searched us at the door on the way in, and were confiscating cameras. I remember a guy trying to take a photo of Robert Plant just as they came on stage, and the bouncers waded into the crowd to get his camera. Robert intervened, and told the bouncers to leave off the guy to a great cheer from the crowd. The set list was similar to the previous night, but the atmosphere was so much better. I was right down the front close to the band; I could almost touch them and the atmosphere was electric. plant They played an extended version of Whole Lotta Love, incorporating a medley of rock’n’roll standards, such as Hello Mary Lou. I managed to stay down the front for about half of the set, but I was too hot, sweaty and crushed and in the end I gave up and made my way to the back of the hall, and spent the latter part of the concert up in the balcony.
My friend, John, was also at the gig and sent me his memories of the night: “Obviously this was a really big deal for them to play in Sunderland, probably everyone we knew tried to go. They had just returned form Japan and played a 16 date UK tour to close out the year, which included two London Empire Pool concerts, known as the Electric Magic shows; which lasted for five hours and included Stone the Crows and some mixed vaudevillian and circus acts. I can remember queuing up to get in and standing on the ramp that leads up to the entrance with friends. It was the only time I can recall queuing up to get in. I can vividly remember being at the very front at the beginning of the show, I could almost touch the band, at the right hand side of the stage in front of a speaker stack when they played the Immigrant Song. It was so loud and with Plants voice so high, I am embarrassed to say that it was a bit hard to take and I had to move back a few spots. I remember them sitting down for the acoustic set on stools, which was quite unusual for the time and Robert saying something like “we are going to have a cup of tea”. Although I was not a big acoustic fan I thought that section was just great.The fourth album had been released just before the show (it was out on November 8th 1971) and I do not recall Stairway seeming a big deal at the time, but rather Whole Lotta Love was the highlight for most people.”
pageSetlist: 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 (medley including Hello Mary Lou, Let the Boy Boogie, and other rock’n’roll standards), Communication Breakdown.
Sadly the Mecca was demolished a year or so ago, and in the spot now stands a massive supermarket. I drove past this morning, and thought of that magical night. The next time I saw Zeppelin was back at Newcastle City Hall, a year later. I’ll write about that show tomorrow.
Thanks to John for the photographs of his classic Page and Plant posters.
Reference: Docherty, Geoff (2012) A Promoter’s Tale: Rock at the Sharp End, CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

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.

Robert Plant Sage Gateshead 20 Oct 2010

Robert Plant Sage Gateshead 20 Oct 2010
This gig came on a hectic day for me. I had a meeting all day up in Dundee and wondered if I would make it back in time. I needn’t have worried; the meeting was over by 3pm, I got a train pretty sharpish, a quick change of trains in Edinburgh. and I had time to go home and get changed before going along to the Sage.
Robert Plant took to the stage around 8.45, accompanied by his all American Band of Joy. The music is a mix of deep south country rock, blues and gospel with some pretty wild guitar and exquisite steel guitar. I bought the Band of Joy album a few weeks ago, so most of the tracks were familiar to me. Robert seemed very relaxed and was obviously really enjoying himself with the band, who are great musicians in their own right. Highlights for me were Monkey, a great moody track from the recent album and Tangerine, which was kept pretty true to the original.. The Led Zep numbers were given remodels into the vibe of the new band, which worked pretty well.
A great concert from a hero who never ceases to amaze and please.
Setlist (something like): Tall Cool One; Angel Dance; House Of Cards; Please Read The Letter; Misty Mountain Hop; Rich Woman; Twelve Gates To The City (including sections of In My Time Of Dying); Tangerine; Somewhere Trouble Dont Go; A Satisfied Mind; Move Up; Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down; Monkey; Central 209; Houses Of The Holy; You Cant Buy My Love; Down To The Sea; Gallows Pole
Encore: Another Tribe; Rock and Roll; Goodnight acapella