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Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Houston, Texas Saturday May 21, 1977

Robert_Plant_of_Led_Zeppelin__1977From underground Uprising

I was fortunate to have witnessed this concert after just turning 16. Getting a ticket was a challenge in itself and I didn’t get one upon initial sale, only getting one from a friend later.

The tickets were sold at Warehouse Records and Tapes, a chain of Houston area record stores and sold out immediately. The people lucky enough to get tickets had to be hustled out of the back of the stores because people were attacking them and stealing their tickets. My friend got pushed through a plate glass window at the store but only received minor cuts and stayed to get tickets. The police actually called out the fire department and they turned on water cannons to disperse the crowd at one location. These tickets had the original date of February 28th printed on them but the concert was postponed until May 21st because Robert Plant got sick.

Talk about an agonizing three month wait, we honestly didn’t think they would ever play after the postponement. After all of that, Plant’s voice actually seemed to be in great shape during the show. So it was with a great deal of hope and sense of event that we filed into the Summit on the Saturday of the show. I did not see one person selling tickets outside the venue, but there were thousands trying to buy them, a real mob scene and mentality.

I kept my ticket in my front pocket with my hand inside my pocket for extra safety. One very distinct memory was the crowd reaction at this concert. After 8pm every time a warm up song ended on the PA system the crowd would go crazy cheering in anticipation so by the time the show started at 8:25pm the crowd was in a total state of delirium, people were literally yelling at the tops of their lungs when Zeppelin finally took the stage. To be completely honest I really think people were sceptical that they would play right up to the moment they appeared on stage. The sound was so loud and clear during the concert it was shocking.

The sensationally strange set list of the 1977 tour would not be repeated before or after this tour making it unique in that respect. John Bonham was a true monster during this show, his drums sounded like cannons being shot off. Jimmy was a rock and roll gymnast, he was moving around like it was the last time he would ever play. The acoustic set was well received and quite a spectacle with all of the Zeps sitting in a row across the stage. JPJ’s triple neck guitar got a lot of comments among the crowd. The Drum Solo, Kashmir and Achilles Last Stand were the highlights of the show. Stairway made everyone pour into the aisles on the main floor and storm the stage.

After Stairway the band locked arms and bowed as a rainbow lighting effect washed across the stage. During the first encore of Rock and Roll Jimmy fell to his knees while doing a spin move and everyone kind of looked at each other laughing and saying he fell down, he fell down. It took an eternity for the band to return for the second encore, a great drunken version of Trampled Underfoot and the show officially ended at 11:50 pm. The show was broadcast over the in house video system and certainly couldn’t have been done without the bands permission.

After the show the crowd broke many of the twenty foot high windows that surround the Summit and caused a half million dollars in damage, I guess this was their way of throwing a television set out of a hotel window. We went to the car and got away from the crazies as quick as possible. A couple of really horrible reviews that have been reprinted in the Concert Files book appeared in the Houston papers the next day, making us wonder if the writers had been at the show at all.

Bad Company was playing the Texas circuit that same weekend and it was no secret that the bands were hanging out and partying together. In conclusion, people who never had the opportunity to see Led Zeppelin cannot truly understand or appreciate what it was like being in the same room with all of that power, it was absolutely awe inspiring. There was next to nothing in the press regarding Led Zeppelin in those days, Creem and Circus magazine were probably the main magazines in the states that printed anything about them, no hype whatsoever. At that time Jimmy Page was the most mysterious and revered figure in rock. It is hard to imagine how much power Zeppelin had in those days. There was so much demand in the Houston area I honestly think they could have sold out the Astrodome twice .

We talked about the show for months afterward and still do to this day.

Stephen J. Christensen, July 2005

May 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Houston Texas Saturday May 21 1977 | , | Leave a comment