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Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Bromley South London March 1969, Lyceum October 1969 & Bath June 1970

1970-bath-festival-of-bluesBy Michael Cosgrove on

My generation is arguably the luckiest of them all in musical terms as we were around in the 60’s and 70’s, the most productive period that rock music ever saw. There were literally so many good bands you had a hard time deciding who to go and see in concert in any one week because tours were going on all the time to promote an endless flow of brilliant albums.

Of all the many bands I saw though, Led Zeppelin has to be the best of all, just topping the wonderful Queen and Frank Zappa, and I saw them three times in what were some very rock and roll circumstances. Remembering those days is always a pleasure so I thought I’d tell you about them. All dates are from Wikipedia (thank god for Wikipedia, what would we do without it.) Oh, and before we go any further, the above video is brilliant, it captures their live act well, and I highly recommend it.

The first time I saw them was on March 29th 1969 at Bromley Tech College in South London during their UK/Scandinavia tour. I was 15 at the time and had already seen quite a few rock concerts, but this one was special as I’d just bought their debut album as an import from the USA. It cost a fortune for a kid like me but I was too impatient to have it and couldn’t wait for it’s UK release a while later.

Three of us went down to London by train and drank a couple of bottles of cider. London was full of hippies it seemed to us, and the Tech’s concert hall was so thick with the smell of patchouli and joints that it seemed you didn’t even need to smoke to get high.

The gig was, of course, magic and they played 7 or 8 numbers off the album. Everybody in the crowd was stunned as it was the first time many of them had seen not only Zeppelin but any rock concert of anything like that intensity. You have to remember that they were the first really out-and-out rock band. I remember that they dressed pretty much like we did. Plant wore red trousers with white (yellow?) stripes on and Page played a psychedelically-painted guitar, a Telecaster. It was only a small venue so we were real close up and could hear the drums’ natural sound. Bonham was outrageously hard-hitting. That was probably the last tour where anyone but the band heard the real drum sound.

We had to wait all night long at Kings Cross for a train home but we didn’t care. We just sat or lay around in an otherwise empty waiting room, and although I don’t remember the conversation, it was surely about three things; The concert, the concert and the concert. It was bloody cold though, I do remember that. Freezing in fact.

LedZepEuro69The next time I saw them was during the Autumn 1969 European Tour, on October 12th. This gig was at London’s plush and classy West End theatre The Lyceum. It had sumptuous red-upholstered seating and ornate gold walls and god knows what else. It had seen the world’s best opera over hundreds of years. That night though it was incongruously full of Zeppelin fans and it was utter carnage. Drunk and stoned people all over the place, lying in the aisles and feet up on the seats. Debauchery is the word that comes to mind. This concert was excellent in terms of sound of course, given the venue, and I seem to remember that they did a lot of encores. The light show was impressive too in that setting. If the ghosts of opera singers were present they must have been horrified.

We had gone by car this time, and when we got back to where we’d parked the car had been blocked in by others at either end, so we had to smash a side window of one of them to take off the handbrake and push it back. I remember it was raining and the rain was entering the car through the smashed window but oh well, we were young and didn’t care and he should have been more careful. We drove back up North during the night although truth be told we were all way over the limit. We weren’t stopped by police though, but I’m pretty sure that we would have been if that concert had been today, due to the many radars and cameras etc.

The last time I saw Zeppelin was the best. In fact this concert is generally held to be the best that Led Zeppelin ever did, both by critics and the band themselves. It was filmed but the results have never been released because of persistent disagreements over copyright. This was at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music in Shepton Mallet, Somerset on the weekend of June 27-28 1970. There were about 150,000 people there and it rained most of the time. Of course.

The line-up is enough to make anyone go green with envy. Santana, The Flock, Led Zeppelin, Hot Tuna, Country Joe McDonald, Colosseum, Jefferson Airplane (set aborted), The Byrds (acoustic set), Moody Blues (unable to play), Dr. John (acoustic set), Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Canned Heat, It’s a Beautiful Day, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, John Mayall, Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention, and Keef Hartley. Not bad huh?

There were buses to the site from Shepton Mallet and we saw one with a crowd of Hells Angels on it, with quite a few of them being American. They had left their bikes in the town for security reasons. We asked for permission to board, the driver said he was full, and then what seemed to be the biggest guy I ever saw in my life (I was just a kid, remember) thrust his bearded face in front of the driver’s and said, in a calm but menacing voice, “either these kids get on the bus, or we trash the bus.” We got on. And when we got off it we were totally stoned. Thanks guys and Hell’s Angels, I love you!
We spent the first night – Friday – wandering round the site and were lucky enough to find who I seem to remember were John McLaughlin and Ravi Shankir (no, really) doing an impromptu concert in a clearing in a lightly wooded area. Campfires were everywhere and the rest of the world no longer existed.

And on Sunday night Led Zeppelin walked onto that stage and set the whole place ablaze in what was one of the two best rock concerts I have ever seen in my life (the other one was Queen, in 1987.) It was out of this world. The sun was going down, this is who everyone had come to see, and they were irresistible. That concert had everything. Incredible energy, even for them, almost faultless performances (their concerts could be more or less technically well-played depending) a super sound (which in those days, with the more primitive big PA systems they had, meant you could actually hear everything) at screamingly high volume levels. They were everywhere at once, Plant’s voice just seemed to soar to the heavens and the band was this almost frighteningly intense onslaught of killer riffs and steamroller arrangements. No quarter was given and we didn’t ask for it either. We were all on our feet from the start, it just got better and better, and by the time it finished the sun had long gone down and it was like being in a kind of crazy Dantesque world of swirling sound, lights, screams, dancing dervishes and out-of-their-minds with joy people. Here’s a photo of them during that concert.

There was an amusing end to that story. The festival ended up behind schedule because of the rain and that meant we didn’t get home until Tuesday evening. That had unexpected ramifications. All three of us who went to the festival had told our respective parents that we were at each others’ houses for the weekend (the other two would not have been allowed to go by their parents) but when we didn’t get home when we said we would the parents phoned each other and discovered that we were nowhere. When we finally got home they didn’t say anything and I and the others went to bed after making up some excuses about homework (or something).

Also, we had missed two days at college as well as exams and we were all surprised when our parents insisted they take us to college the next morning. We knew something was wrong, we could almost smell it, but what? When we got to college we were taken to the headmaster’s office and it was there that they told us we’d been found out. Oh shit, were we in trouble. Big, BIG trouble. I don’t remember the exact punishment (in them days parents actually had the right to punish their kids) but it was something like two weeks interdiction to be outside after 5pm and a further month of interdiction to see each other outside of school (although we managed to get around it from time to time.)

But, what the hell, it was well worth it. That concert, and the others before it, were a unique part of the history of rock music. I was there, I lived it, and I’ll never forget it. Those were great times for rock music. Unfortunately some people never made it to middle-age because of the drugs and alcohol and the crazy times (many more were to come, I was only 16 at Shepton Mallet) but I would do it all again, and then some…..

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Bromley South London March 1969 Lyceum October 1969 & Bath June 1970 | , | 1 Comment

Led Zeppelin Live In Sydney 1972 (February 1972)


Showground, Sydney, AU – February 27th, 1972

(71:00): Black Dog, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll / Whole Lotta Love, Germaine Greer interview, Perth radio interview

The first recordings of Led Zeppelin’s Sydney show on February 27th were extremely fragmented.

Found due to the diligence of some well known Zeppelin collectors, four songs began circuating on Australian Tour 1972 Part 1 (Black Cat BC-34) released in 1992. This title has “Immigrant Song” to “Dazed & Confused” from the Melbourne show on disc one and “Rock And Roll” and “Whole Lotta Love” from Sydney on disc two. The tape is poor sounding and runs too fast.

In the summer of 2000 the Equinox label released a great seven disc box set called Thunder Downunder with all of the tapes from the tour that were available at that time (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane). Live In Sydney 1972 is a one-disc title that has an upgraded generation of the older fragment of “Black Dog,” “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” “Rock And Roll,” and “Whole Lotta Love.”

The sound is distant but clear and was a great release until an alternate tape with much more of the show surfaced several years afterwards and pressed on Ayers Rock (Tarantura TCD-2). The best version of the more complete tape can be found on Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin (Empress Valley EVSD-461/462).

The Equinox Sydney can be found either in the box set or separately. Its real value is not so much in the musical part, but in the extra tracks. For those who like to collect radio broadcasts and interviews, there is a half hour of rare material which is very interesting to hear.

The Germaine Greer interview is five minutes and the footage can be found on the official DVD. The final track of the set is a half hour long broadcast on Perth radio. The beginning captures a news broadcast speaking about farmers, corporations, and that Zeppelin’s Melbourne concert would NOT be broadcast on radio as had been rumoured.

The final is a Radio Perth interview with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones speaking about the history of the band and their current artistic expression on their fourth LP. Page speaks about the New Yardbirds and their current album. Plant is asked about “Immigrant Song.”

This interview if the source for the famous quote: “We went to Iceland, and it made you think of Vikings and big ships… and John Bonham’s stomach… and bang, there it was – Immigrant Song.”

At one point Page is asked about the incident with Eva Von Zeppelin complaining about a bunch of “screaming monkeys” using her family name. This story is traditionally said to have occurred in February 1970 when in Denmark, prompting them to change their name to The Nobs for that performance.

But Page mentions von Zeppelin confronting them at a television studio while Zeppelin were taping a rare TV appearance. She flipped out, according to Page, when she saw the cover of their first album, which was used for incidental shots in the telecast.

This suggests that event occurring not in 1970 but in March, 1969. Zeppelin didn’t appear on Danish TV in February 1970 but a year earlier in March 1969. It was a live performance and the cover of Led Zeppelin was used in the telecast. It could be argued that Zeppelin changed their name to The Nobs in 1970 in response to the event in 1969.

Sydney comes packaged in a single pocket cardboard sleeve with nice graphic and pictures from the Melbourne show. There are other, better sources for the actual concert, but this disc is worth having for the rare interviews.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Live In Sydney 1972 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Long Tall Sally: Royal Albert Hall 1970 DVD (January 1970)


Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK, January 9, 1970

(The Alternate Cut) 1. Intro 2. We’re Gonna Groove 3. I Can’t Quit You Baby 4.White Summer 5. Whole Lotta Love 6. Communication Breakdown 7. C’Mon Everyboy 8. Long Tall Sally

(Single Camera Footage (fragments)) 1. Intro 2. We’re Gonna Groove 3. I Can’t Quit You Baby 4. Communication Breakdown 5. C’Mon Everyboy 6. Something Else 7. Bring It On Home 8. Long Tall Sally

(Official Cut Analysis (multi-angle comparison)) 1. Intro 2. We’re Gonna Groove 3. I Can’t Quit You Baby 4. White Summer 5. Whole Lotta Love 6. Communication Breakdown 7. C’Mon Everyboy 8. Something Else 9. Bring It On Home 10. Long Tall Sally

In 2003, Led Zeppelin finally released some live material that was worth waiting for. How The West Was Won came from 2 unforgettable shows in California in the summer of 1972. But it was the DVD that opened fans’ eyes wider to what Led Zeppelin was really all about.

For this reviewer, it was disc 1 of the DVD in particular that made (and makes) that release an all-time favorite concert film. The setting was the Royal Albert Hall on January 9, 1970, and it is now legend how Jimmy Page and others collaborated to produce that concert film for the masses.

As with all things Zeppelin, however, the official release did not contain all of the material from the Royal Albert Hall concert. “Heartbreaker” and “Long Tall Sally” are two examples of songs that were played that night, but not included on the offical release. Thankfully, subsequent bootleg releases have enabled us to hear those songs in brilliant sound quality, essentially completing the concert from an audio perspective.

Anyone viewing the Royal Albert Hall concert will notice that it was based on multiple different camera angles. Because of this and Zeppelin’s penchance for withholding material, one may wonder if there was footage not included on the DVD, and, if so, where the heck is it?! This common question amongst Zep collectors has now been addressed, to some degree, by the anonymous no label’s release of the Long Tall Sally DVD containing some of that missing concert footage in largely beautiful quality.

The single disc is divided into three chapters: (1) “the alternate cut”, (2) “single camera footage (fragments)”, and (3) “official cut analysis (multi-angle comparison)”. While there may be something alternate about the first chapter, it’s in the second chapter that we are really treated to something new and breathtaking.

Beginning from the introduction immediately preceding the concert, which then captured Bonzo from his right side as he did a thunderous stretching-out around his kit before catapulting the band into “We’re Gonna Groove”, we’re locked into the “single camera” that stayed with – and focused on – John Bonham.

Moving behind Bonham’s gong, the camera perfectly captured his aggression and subtleties from almost his back pocket (incredible!), and then from his left side while he was head-banging along with the driving patterns he was laying down. Unfortunately, this is not presented for the entire song, which may be why it’s called “fragments.”

Nevertheless, this single camera footage presents never-before-seen action on stage, synched perfectly with the flawless audio, to make this portion of the DVD worth the price of admission alone. It even offers us a glimpse at the “Zeppelin” chant by Gino and Robert’s follow-up to that just before the encore.

The third chapter of the disc provides an “official cut analysis,” which is an interesting on-screen display of the various camera angles capturing the same moment in the concert. This is, again, all synched wonderfully to the perfect audio.

Simply stunning and, for Led Zeppelin fans and collectors, an essential addition to the library.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Long Tall Sally: Royal Albert Hall | , | Leave a comment