Concert Memories :: Led Zeppelin :: May 30, 1977
05/30/77 – Capitol Center, Largo, MD – Harry
Well, it was a long time ago, memorial day 1977. Home from school. My roommate had come up for the show. My brother had scored the tickets for me – 5 tickets because at the time I had 5 buds who wanted to go, now just me and Tom. Interestingly, during the day a local tv station was showing “yellow submarine” by the beatles, what a way to start the day. There was another guy who lived nearby, we were going to see if he wanted to go to the show . got there he said his parents wouldn’t like it if he went…man you’re 21 who cares what your parents think.. Anyway, on to the show…
Get some beer for the ride up to the capital center (side note here where the bullets- now wizards and capitols used to play- place still there unused owner built a new place IN DC.) Man lots of folks here 4th night of the cap center run. Zeppelin had been setting all sorts of attendence records this spring for shows, Pontiac Silver Dome I remember was a record, this was a record for the the DC area – 4 nights 22,000+ each night sold out. Anyway lots of hot zeppelin babes in the parking lots drinking and smoking. So I had 3 extra tickets, sold them to a couple of guys, made a few $ enough to cover the cost of my ticket and a t-shirt, which I still have (black with swan song “angel” says 1977 Tour in white letters.) Get in, find our seats, easy frisk this day, had cut my hair the before I left school, for summer job, so I looked clean cut..lol, so the pipe got in and the instamatic camera. You don’t know what anticipation it was to see Zeppelin Live. Page/Plant, Page Crows, Plant solo, nothing compared to seeing Zeppelin in the spring/summer of 1977. They were it in 77, nothing bigger nothing better, they ruled rock-n-roll, and the concerts were “events” unto themselves. They were 1/2 hour or so late as I remember, ah the wait the wait.. the lights go down……yes.. light up the “rainbow” pot. I had-multi colored stuff that’s why we called it rainbow…
Dragon Slayer boot review…. Song Remains the Same, something wrong with the tape deck for first song , lots of distortion, but better that Running on Pure Heart and Soul(ROPHAS). Live it was LOUD. Sick Again, after the first few cords, a switch is hit, aahhh the sound gets much better, from here on sound quality is much better than ROPHAS, about a 9 in most places. Sick Again, standard fair for 77 shows. Nobody’s Fault is next. Here the boys crank up the intensity, rousing version. During the song somebody shoots a bottle rocket/smoke bomb at Robert , it hit him or got very close, Robert does this twirl in the smoke and takes his shirt off. Taking his shirt off made me think the smoke bomb hit him. Anyway, so during the break, he talks about getting undressed before small audiences but never before 22,000., then puts his shirt back on, and Jimmy slides into IMTOD. OH my, this version has to be up there as one of the best all time, great slide work, great Bonham fills, just a great version of this tune.
SIBLY is next, back to back blues numbers but again Jimmy slides into this one also, some killer solos in this song. Next is the nimble fingers of JPJ, for No Quarter. Funny thing….I decided I wanted to walk around during this number, it was Tom’s favorite song and he didn’t really want to get up, but I said he maybe we will see some hot chicks… lol, well anyway we toured the arena with the chords of NQ pumping out of each tunnel. Wow mesmerizing song. This version still has the cut after the first verse, tape change obviously. Without the missing vocals this would be another all time great version, well it still is actually. More so because of Jimmy’s playing when he comes back in after the JPJ solos. Great jamming, killer stuff, this is Zeppelin at their improvisational best. End of CD 1. CD 2 Ten Years Gone, Plant says waiting for Jonesy, “strolling behind the amps casually while drinking wine, come on Jonesy”.
Then JPJ sits down and the boys proceed to play THE best Ten years Gone I have heard( course I was there so I am prejudiced). Sound quality is just amazing much better than ROPHAS. ROPHAS had some overloading during TYG and the acoustic set. Not so with Dragon Slayer… has to be the same tape but from very low gen tape, if not the master. These songs bear out this statement. You can hear the tambourine in the back ground, and there is a one of a kind solo at the end by Page, like a machine gun ripping off the notes. Then the acoustic set, Battle For Evermore, Black Country Woman, Bron-yr-Aur Stomp. Just before this a Plantation, ” music comes in colors and we are going to change the shade a bit for your entertainment, so you don’t remember us just as a gong, gong gong gong…” pretty funny.
Again, very clear, no distortion as in ROPHAS. One of the best acoustic sets, no glaring mistakes, very good stuff. Then White Summer/ into Kashmir, good not great, of course I have listened too much to the 6-25-77 Kashmir, so every other version pales in comparison to that one. Here Page does the jamming at the end not Bonzo. End of Disc 2 Disc 3 Over the Top…… Complete here, the ROPHAS was cut at about 15+ minutes, 21:45 here, good version. Guitar solo… well had to be there I guess, missed not seeing Dazed live, this was what we got in 77. The best part was the green laser pyramid coming down from the ceiling turning around Page as he did the bow part (just like in the movie TSRTS). Page dose a little part of the star spangled banner in the middle also, good version of the guitar improv thing, the best being that 6-25 show IMHO.
OK, then into Achilles – good version, nothing outstanding to point out… Then the end is coming…. Stairway…aahh .. well again to see them do it live then get to re-live the experience, words can’t describe the emotion, the excitement, but YOU can enjoy the fret work solo of Page on this version of Stairway, different than any version I have heard ( the 8 minute mark on!!, the stop start) different than any 77 version, Page was on this night with Stairway. Some shows on the tour seemed a bit tired at the end, NOT here – ripped up the place, crowd was WILD!! Encore… Seeing the flashlights as the boys return to the stage!!! WLL/R &R… they turned up the PA that is why it sounds louder on the boot, IT WAS!! Man to end the show with R&R, that is unfair!!! And contrary to other boots (Destroyer III I think) and other folks they did NOT play Trampled as a second encore here, lights came on etc etc. OMG we were spent, you should have seen the air guitars during the encore- most every guy in the place was jamming along with Page, it was unbelievable!!! Oh man, that was 24 years ago tonight! I can’t believe it.
Review During a time when record labels thought it would be prudent to cash in on the punk phenomenon of the late 1970s and almost went under in the process, this album brought kids into record stores and saved the industry. That said, the album is not viewed favorably amongst the buying public because it lacks a “How Many More Times”-esque head-banger.
Jimmy Page, reeling in the depths of addiction, is not as prominent on “In Through The Out Door”. John Paul Jones, on the other hand, is all over the place, be it on piano or synthesizer, and has 6 writing credits on the album. “In the Evening” is a fine opener (although Robert Plant does sound like he guzzled a bottle of Liquid Plummer) and a song which benefits mightily from Jones’ contributions. “Fool In The Rain” and “All My Love”, the two most played songs off the album on FM radio, are excellent examples of the skills of all four members. Page and John Bonham, in particular, are outstanding on “Fool”, creating a sophisticated, layered sound which does not rely on million-mile-an-hour guitar leads and over-the-top drum bombast.
The 10 minute “Carouselambra” continues the fine tradition of Zeppelin epics (“Kashmir”, “Achilles’ Last Stand”) with some excellent keyboard and bass work from Jones and understated yet tasty double-neck guitar and guitar-synth work from Page. Plants lyrics are indecipherable, however, without a lyric sheet. But he is crystal clear on “I’m Gonna Crawl”. Page belts out one of his pristine blues solos here, easily the best lead on the album, while Jones has a synth-orchestra opening the track.
That leaves two other songs: “South Bound Saurez” and “Hot Dog” are the true definition of filler. Page does not sound at all sober in his “Hot Dog” lead, stumbling through pentatonic scales and sounding as if his right hand is permanently attached to the B-string bender on his Telecaster because he uses it so much. “South Bound” is one of the songs which you can listen to on the radio if nothing else is on. It is not the quality of “Fool In the Rain”.
Overall, this album is good but confusing. It does have sparkling musicianship but some filler material as well. The production is not up to Page standards, either; given his health cicra 1978-79, it is not all surprising. But what is strong is very strong indeed. “Carouselambra” alone is worth the price of the album. It is also an interesting experience to listen to Zeppelin as they musically evolved over the course of a decade. “In Through The Out Door” is an album a true Led Zeppelin fan cannot be without.
Review This is Led Zeppelin’s most maligned album, most of said malign coming from ultra-orthodox rock fans who can’t stand musical diversity. Because unlike their previous, guitar-riff based albums this one features John Paul Jones on keyboards in the lead role, with Jimmy Page playing along beside him instead of in front of him (for once).
Since Page was pretty whacked out on heroin during the making, his guitar playing skills do leave something lacking especially compared to his best work on songs like Achilles Last Stand or Black Dog.
However, the use of keyboards on the songs gives them a very different and unique feel.
In The Evening: A song with a standard rock sound and standard blues lyrics, the huge, slamming riff makes a great opener. Too bad you can’t understand any of the lyrics except ‘oh oh I need your love’.
South Bound Saurez (sic): An interesting little piece featuring Jones’ piano, but not an especially classic piece. You can’t understand any of the lyrics, though.
Fool in the Rain: A mellow, happy little riff about a slightly less happy subject; a guy waiting for his date and imagining he’s been stood up, when actually he’s waiting in the wrong place (whoops). Very enjoyable and spiced up by the fast little jam section in the middle.
Hot Dog: weirdness. A mock-country song that demonstrates their sense of humour if not much else.
Carouselambra: Whoa, they really opened the floodgates now. The first part contains keyboards, drums, bass and vocals but no guitar. The second bit has Page plucking out fuzzy little arpeggios while Robert Plant occasionally belts out something, and then it returns to a full synthesized speed-fest. You can’t understand any of the lyrics (starting to notice a pattern?) which is a shame because they can almost compete with Bob Dylan in terms of inscrutable mysticism. Great, underrated song.
All My Love: Another synth-heavy one. It’s the most sincere song on the album, dedicated to Robert Plant’s son (not daughter as a lot of people think for some reason) who died in ’77. Nice melody and cool solo.
I’m Gonna Crawl: A cool bluesy ending to the album, it might seem a bit repetative at first until they start to mix things up.
All in all…well, if you’re a really over-the-top fan like me you’d buy it even if it was crap. It isn’t. It’s as good as any of their other albums, just very different, and musical diversity is what made the band so great. So head out to your closest locally-owned, non-chain music store and get this album!
Concert Memories :: Led Zeppelin :: January 31, 1969
I was at the famous IB/Led Zep (their debut, of course) show at the Fillmore East in NY. At the time, I was a fairly regular attendee to the Fillmore, and I always collected (and still have) some of their handbills which listed upcoming shows. I don’t recall The Move ever being listed on the bill.
I seem to remember that for a brief time (perhaps in the very first listing of the show) the opening act for IB was listed as the “New Yardbirds” which, of course, was Zeppelin’s early name. After that, the bill listed only Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin. Fillmore’s shows were always at 8pm and 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
I know I went to one of the early shows, but I’m not sure which day. I’ve read various reports of the audience walking out after Zeppelin, or IB refusing to go on, but to my knowledge, none of that occurred to the extent it was reported.
At the show I attended, it looked like about 1/3 or less of the audience left before IB came on, most of them slightly older than I was (in 68 I was 15), who no doubt had come just based on the word of mouth about Page’s new band. I think prior to that show, Zeppelin had only played one show in Boston. I hope that helps.
There were 2 shows each night; 8.30 pm and 11.00 or 11.30 pm, depending on the venue. A typical warm-up act would usually play about 30 min, with a 1 song encore. The main act would usually come on around 9.45 pm and play for 50 min (two 25 min sets, with a 10 min break in between). The Fillmore had a capacity of about 3,000 or so. The first shows on Friday were always about half-full, but the late shows were generally sold-out or 90% full.
Everybody thought Zeppelin was from California. They had no following at all, and Iron Butterfly was big. Both bands were under Atlantic Records, Zeppelin (Atlantic) and Butterfly (ATCO). What I remember is, the first night Friday, both bands played well for the first show. The second show went on around midnight and ended around 2.30 am Though I’m a Zeppelin fan, both bands were pretty equal on the first night. After every late show, most of the fans hung out in front of the Fillmore, waiting for the bands to come out. The Move (a British rock band) though scheduled, did not play.
I’m note sure why, it could have been a better gig or a dispute over fee. Bill Graham was notorious for not paying opening acts. He felt they should be thankful for just being on the bill. Like I said, the first night Zeppelin and Butterfly played equally well.
The latest Led Zeppelin tour is taking America by storm, proving yet again that this is the top rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.
There are no exceptions, no maybes, no ifs or buts. Not Alice Cooper, not the Rolling Stones, not the Who. There isn’t a group anywhere that could come close to sinking the Zep.
The band’s fifth album, ‘Houses Of The Holy’, hit number one on the North American best-selling lists after only five weeks of release – against super stiff opposition from the Beatles oldies, Bread, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper and Edgar Winter.
The feat is made even more notable when you realise that ‘Houses Of The Holy’ is receiving virtually no airplay on AM radio in the U.S. Most American top 40 stations do not programme and album cuts.
Instead they concentrate on oldies and to this end, the Beatles two albums were snapped up like the choicest remnants at a bargain basement sale. Yet still Zep got there first.
Members of the Zep and Atlantic Records are now trying to decide which cut to release as a single. There’s been a lot of talk about ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’. Personally I prefer ‘D’Yer Mak’er’ which strikes me as a certain number one.
Any rock critic worth his free records and concert tickets would hesitate long and hard before introducing the Beatles as one end of any analogy. Yet in the case of Led Zeppelin, it’s desperately hard to avoid.
Take, for example, the first two concerts on Zep’s 1973 North American tour.
At the opening night gig in Atlanta Braves Stadium, Led Zeppelin smashed the seven-year old attendance record set by the Beatles in 1965. The Liverpool lads drew 33,000 people. Zep pulled in 49,236 fans for a total gross of 246,180 dollars. That’s virtually a 50 per cent improvement on the Beatles best in Atlanta.
Moving on to Tampa, Fla., Zeppelin drew the largest crowd ever to a single concert performance in U.S. history. The band attracted almost 57,000 patrons for a gross of 309,000 dollars.
The old record was held by the Beatles’ crowd of 55,000 for a gross of 301,000 dollars at Shea Stadium in 1965, at the height of Beatlemania.
Led Zeppelin would have walked away from Tampa at least 200,000 dollars richer, which is not bad at all for a couple of hours on stage. They were probably the two most lucrative hours in show business history.
There’s never been anything like it. I am now convinced that Zepp could outdraw the Stones, Alice Cooper, Carole King or Elvis Presley in any U.S. city you care to mention.
So much for the cynics who doubted if Zepp still had U.S. drawing power. And for the critics who arrogantly and ignorantly said the album sucked. Led Zeppelin reign supreme and it’s high time many more members of the media realised it.
Concert Memories :: Led Zeppelin :: June 8, 1977
06/08/77 – Madison Square Garden, NY, NY – Bill McCue
Ah, memories. I saw Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 8, 1977 – the second of six sold-out nights for the boys. My seat was in a corner slightly behind the stage on JPJ’s side. Section 315 in the green section, to be precise.
Zeppelin’s run of shows was a family affair for the McCues. My brother Kevin went on opening night, my brother Larry accompanied me. It was my first concert in NYC. I was 13 years old. Quite an experience for a young lad.
My most distinct memories are of the volume – extremely loud, almost painfully so – and the “heavy” crowd. Lots of bikers and pyromaniacs. Fireworks were set off indiscriminately throughout the evening, despite Robert’s constant pleas for sanity. The opening numbers were incredible but the sound was a big mush.
Things crawled to a halt early on with JPJ’s extended solo during No Quarter. My brother fell asleep, folks ran to the concession stands and lingered in the hallways outside the main arena. I remember going for a pee during Moby Dick and being struck by how “Night of the Living Dead” everyone appeared. People got really stoned back in those days, smoking bushels of pot and drinking lots of cheap wine. There was a big cloud of smoke hanging over the orchestra during Zeppelin’s set.
My favorite song of the night was Ten Years Gone. Quick sidenote: I’m sure you remember that details like set lists weren’t well known back in those days. I only knew they were going to do TYG because my brother had been to the show the night before. I also loved SIBLY and IMTOD. The acoustic set was cool, too, but the fireworks ruined most of it. The crowd perked up for Kashmir, but after the acoustic set, everyone seemed worn out.
Three hours is a long show, especially when a fair amount of the show involves really LONG solo passages. JPJ tinkered during NQ for about 10 minutes, WS/BMS was about 10 minutes, Moby Dick/Over the Top was about 15 minutes, Jimmy’s violin bow/theramin/box of tricks schtick prior to ALS was about 10 minutes. That’s a lot of noodling to sit through. Even today I skip around a lot and rarely listen to anything beyond Kashmir when I play a bootleg from that tour. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard a boot from the show I went to. I would imagine it was a decent show by 1977 tour standards. I don’t remember any major screw ups or “cringe inducing” moments that were all too frequent during the post 73 tour years.
The visual effects were very impressive, particularly the spinning mirror ball during Kashmir. As I mentioned earlier, the volume was L-O-U-D loud. Volume covers up a variety of audio “blemishes,” I guess.
I remember walking out of the Garden at around 12:30 or so. I believe they came on at around 9:20. Hotel California was playing when the lights went out. I also remember hearing Life in the Fast Lane from the same album. I had on a red Led Zeppelin shirt over a white long sleeved thermal shirt. Purple high top Converse and a huge Afro. Levi Jeans. I was pretty groovy for a 13-year old. Didnt smoke any pot, but I’m pretty sure I got a nice contact high from the cats sitting next to me. People in the crowd were very nice to me. Everyone seemed pleased to see someone so young at the show. I guess I stood out. Very small for my age, which probably made me look even younger.
I got my tickets by cutting out a coupon from a full page ad in the New York Times and sending in a money order for $21 for two tickets. I think they were $9.50 a piece plus a $2 handling charge. A far cry from today’s T-master thievery. The whole event was exotic – even the concept of getting a money order was a new and exciting thing for me at the time. And think about it – six sold out nights! Not sure any of today’s acts could duplicate that feat.
Sunday, June 3rd – My ears have just stopped ringing. I go meet Bob Withers to take us to the concert. We stop by his work, Marie Callender’s on La Tijera, for a quick snack, and then we’re off to the Forum.
When we arrive, we hold our tickets tightly, and we notice one person walking around with a $20 bill hanging high above his head. I’ll never know if he found a ticket.
We walk inside and all the way up to the front row. I take the inside seat, but I notice his seat is directly in front of Jimmy’s amps. I switch with him. My view is unobstructed.
This is very strange! I always expected people to be in front of me, but there is no one! Even the security guard is just off to my right.
Next, Danny and his friend sit down right next to us. I told him about the other front row tickets, and he could have had four tickets together, but he didn’t care. Chris #2 arrives and takes centre stage. Gene #1 is not in the front row. How did this happen? He ended up in the second row for this night. Did I get his tickets? Who knows….
My brother arrives with his girlfriend and Mike and Ann. Mike has a camera with him. It is the first (and will be his only) time that he is going to take pictures of a rock concert. They are way back in the fifth row. My brother has the identical seat I had three days previously.
A frisbee flies through the air and just misses my head. I remember three nights ago, people were trying to throw frisbees on stage before the concert. I then turned around and waited for another to appear. One came from the other side. Bob picked one up and put it under his chair. There were several near misses, but I saw each of them coming.
Just when I was noticing how full the arena looked, the lights went out. Again, no warning, no dimming. Out. And the crowd roared. About a minute later, a spotlight hit the stage, and Jimmy walked out to the front of the stage, right in front of me!. He was raising his hands and smiling from ear to ear. The stage lights became brighter and I could see the entire group. The crowd started clapping in unison. Jimmy put on his guitar and hit a chord.
Uh, oh…. I suddenly realized how loud it was going to be. However, the large speakers are now above me, so maybe it won’t be as loud.
POW! Bonzo jumps right into Rock and Roll. Bob looked at me, and said, “Shit!” I guess he wasn’t prepared for the volume. When the rest of the band came in, the guitar overshadowed everything. I was thinking, “Wow! That is loud, but so clear.” I guess the Marshall amplifier does that. Plant started to sing, but I couldn’t hear him! I was still trying to adjust my hearing to Jimmy’s amp. Plant walked past me to my right. A guy to the right of me who had rushed the aisle threw a wine boda bag on stage and hit Plant in the head. Two security guards looked at Plant, Plant gave a nod, and the guards picked the guy up under each shoulder and whisked him off, legs cycling like a cartoon character. Scary to think what happened to him…..
Fortunately, due to the large speakers now above me, Bonzo’s drumming was not pounding at my chest like before. Still, I couldn’t get over how Jimmy’s amp was so loud and clean. Jimmy looked a lot more relaxed, and he was playing well. The band seemed together, and by the second verse, I could start to hear Robert.
Time for the guitar solo, and Jimmy ripped a great one.
Again, right into Celebration Day at warp 10, and Jimmy was still kicking butt, Robert’s voice was strong, and Jones was playing some great bass lines to augment Bonzo’s drumming. Again, Bring It On Home into Black Dog. At this time, I know Robert’s voice is definitely better, and the band seems overpowering. These tunes will always remain my favourite Led Zeppelin opening. Extremely powerful.
Jimmy begins playing Over The Hills And Far Away and the crowd gives their approval. Page is exuding confidence; something I didn’t see three days earlier. He is smiling and relaxed. Plant’s voice is strong, and his range has improved.
Jones moves over to the keyboards and starts Misty Mountain Hop. This version was very driving; almost hipnotic. Bonzo inserts some great drum fills. Page seems to be attacking this song, unlike three days previously. The three rhythm players are really playing well. Plant is now singing well.
A short guitar solo follows into Since I’ve Been Loving You. Jimmy right in front of me, concentrating hard, playing his heart out.
Next, No Quarter. The fog enters the stage, but what I didn’t notice before is the fog flowing over the front of the stage and engulfing the entire first row. Bob, sitting next to me, picks up the frisbee under his chair and tries to fan it away. Very funny. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything else about this tune.
Next up, The Song Remains The Same. The opening was powerful, and it did not let up. I sensed a “Take No Prisoners” attitude. Bonham and Jones laid down some phenomenal rhythm, and Page followed. At this point, since no one was sitting in front of me, I felt the group was playing just for me. This individual song performance continues to stay with me today.
Just like the album, the song ends and goes directly into The Rain Song, and this version is tender and beautiful. The mellotron is in tune! No cringing from me. This was beautifully performed. Very delicate playing by Jimmy.
Dazed and Confused – Page, right in front of me, begins with his wah-wah pedal. During this tune, Page caught my eye a few times and smiled. Was it me? Or was it the Jimi Hendrix tank top I was wearing? Probably the latter, but I like to think it was me….
The bow section came up, and what was this? I didn’t notice it before…. He’s using a cello bow; not a violin bow! My father is a professional violinist, and I’ve played in orchestras for many years. Believe me; I know! Also, I’m the closest person to Page other than Plant. I notice a lot of bow hair ripping off each time he pounded those strings. Probably half the hair had been removed by the time he was finished with the solo. (Later, I would check out several pictures of Jimmy with the bow, but they all seem to be violin bows).
After the bow solo, I remember how well Jones and Bonham are playing. The band has really matured, and tonight, there is fire in their eyes unlike Thursday night. Page and Bonham smile back and forth at one another trying to guess what each one is going to do next. I realized that this was now a jam. It was very interesting to watch. At the end, I’m standing and applauding with everyone else. This was the best performance of Dazed and Confused I had witnessed (and unfortunately, it would be my last). Jimmy’s performance was extraordinary. When the song ends, Plant says, “Jimmy Page, Guitar.” And, the crowd acknowledges properly.
Stairway starts, and the crowd erupts again. This time, the Mellotron is just a bit out of tune, but not enough to cringe. Page’s solo is so much better than Thursday night. The whole tune is better. Plant sings strong. Rhythm continues to kick ass. When the song finishes, another standing ovation.
Moby Dick starts, and my friend Bob leaves to go to the restroom. “Are you crazy? Couldn’t you take care of that before the concert?” Well, if you hate drum solos, I guess this is the time to go…. He makes it back in a few minutes, and nothing new has materialized. I remember Bonzo playing with his hands and playing the tympani. Bonzo was a great drummer, and I remember a few great riffs, but there was nothing that memorable. I can now see why Mr. Righteous fell asleep on Thursday.
Next, Plant dedicates the next song to the worst group in the world. Slade. Bonzo starts that drum beat which I forgot about from Thursday, the band enters with Heartbreaker, and the crowd is ecstatic once again.
Plant’s voice is rested and comes in strong with the first verse. The rest of the band is playing strongly as one. Page was flying through the guitar solo and smiling a lot. None of that tentative or worried look on his face.
Again, just before the last verse, Bonzo breaks into the next drum break and Whole Lotta Love begins. Another crowd favorite! I remember Jimmy playing an extended theramin solo which seemed to pierce my ears. Yeow!
Now, a couple of new numbers in the medley. Going Down. I had recently listened to the Jeff Beck version within the previous weeks, and I was excited that Led Zeppelin were trying to perform it. The jam worked well, and I was continually wondering what was going to come next.
Finally, the ending is near. Plant sings, “You neeeeed it”. This time, the final “Looooove” yell going upward succeeds and is very strong. The audience goes nuts, a standing ovation, and Plant says, “Good Night.”
I remember the encores from Thursday. Are they going to play The Ocean and Communication Breakdown?
Sure enough, Bonzo starts his vocal and the band begins The Ocean. What a difference three days make. Jimmy plays better, Robert sings in the upper register, and the rhythm is tight. Great job.
For the second encore, Communication Breakdown. This time, Jimmy starts attacking just like the record. The whole band follows, including Plant. Powerful performance. They finish, and the lights stay dimmed. Could it be another encore?
In a couple of minutes, they all return, and Jones starts off quietly with an organ solo. From earlier shows, I know this was an introduction to Thank You. Bob turns to me and asks, “What is that?” I tell him, “Thank You.” Bob says, “It sure doesn’t sound like Thank You to me.”
A great version of Thank You is played. One of the last times that Led Zeppelin ever plays this tune, and a great closing to this concert.
(Note: During one of the encores – either The Ocean or Thank You – the house lights came on. Robert looked up, smiled, and then the lights went out again.
Even after the concert ends, the crowd continues to clap. The lights come on, and almost immediately, the crowd stops.
I turned to Danny and Chris and said something like, “Am I biased because of the front row seats, or was this better than the previous night?” Danny said it was MUCH better. Chris, who had seen them several times said, “This is one to remember.”
Overall summary: This concert I’ll remember for life. It is definitely one of the best concerts I ever witnessed. Every member’s individual performance was outstanding, but the performance of the group as a whole was incredible.
After arriving home, I brush my teeth and get into bed. All I can hear is a high pitch squeal in my ears….. Three more days….
A few weeks later, Mike (who sat in the fifth row) had his pictures developed, and he blew one up for me. I would see Mike fairly regularly for the next few years, but somehow we lost touch.
In 1996, Dave Lewis was looking for pictures for his upcoming book, “The Concert Files.” Not long thereafter, I ran into Mike who I had not seen in 15 years. I asked him if he still had the pictures from the Led Zeppelin show. He had no idea. About one week later, I received the negatives in the mail with a note, “These are yours to keep. Thanks for the tickets.”
I had the pictures developed at a local photo store. I sent the set of 20 shots to Dave Lewis with a note telling him to keep them as a gift, whether you use them or not.
After the release of “The Concert Files”, I received a package from England. Inside was a copy of “The Concert Files” with note inside stating “Complimentary copy for Steve Kurasch.” After looking through the book, I noticed two of the photos were used on page 95. I sent Mr. Lewis a thank you note. My mom would have been proud.
From: David Borgonovo
After a cocktail, my memory’s back!
I was fourteen at the time I saw Zeppelin in 1977. I was turned on to them by a good friend several months earlier, and only really new the Led Zeppelin 1, 4 and Presence albums, and loved them. Then there was a June issue of Circus magazine that came out with a close-up of Jimmy with a smoke in his mouth on the cover (my first rock magazine purchase), and a mention about the Zeppelin tour. Getting the picture? I’m young, innocent and clueless.
Anyway, one day on the back page of the front section of the San Francisco Chronicle there’s a small 2 x 5 picture of Jimmy in the white dragon suit, and below the picture says that Led Zeppelin tickets are going on sale on Thursday (I believe). My best friend, who turned me on to Zeppelin, is in Europe on vacation. Anyhow, on the sale day I go down to Bill Graham’s Rock Shop to get a ticket. In those days, Graham’s Rock Shop was located at the foot of Columbus Avenue across the street from the Cannery (for those familiar with San Francisco).
The store sold posters, t-shirts, stickers, and always had some cool memorabilia on display. So, I arrived early in the morning to get in line. Tickets went on sale at 11am, were $11.50, general admission, and a person was limited to 6 tickets. After waiting 4 hours, I bought one (again, clueless). The shows were billed as A Day on The Green #6 and #7 (July 23 & 24).
When my friend returned, I told him that I purchased my Zeppelin ticket and didn’t get him one. Disbelief, on my friend’s part, was at the least what was said to me. Naturally, the shows were sold out. In fact, the ad for the shows appeared in the following Sunday Pink Page (main weekly entertainment section of the Chronicle) and was the same image of the poster. However, a week or so prior to the shows, additional tickets were made available, and my friend got one. Next problem, was how do we get to Oakland? We’re only 14.
Well, my friend knew this 17 year old, who was taking his girlfriend. So we bummed a ride in the family wagon. We arrived at the Oakland Coliseum at around 6:30am along with thousands of others. I couldn’t believe it. The lines snaked around the parking lot. Security (BGP) walked around and passed out (threw out) bubble gum to the masses. Finally, 11am and the doors opened. We found seats that were center stage and about 20 rows up from the lawn. Needless, to say, the people on stage look quite small.
Judas Priest (not listed) opened the show and played for about 30 minutes, followed by Rick Derringer, who kicked ass. Then the moment arrived, a hugh blimp was lifted above the stage and out they came. The roar was thunderous as was the first chord struck. I never heard anything so loud and distorted in my life. I couldn’t tell at first what the hell was being played, but I didn’t care, I was seeing Led Zeppelin. As the show progressed, Page had some trouble keeping his pants up, which Plant humorously commented on (exact words I can’t remember).
Being at my first concert, I was just in a tizzy between the music and the crowd, and therefore the specifics of the show are a blur. The shows were panned by the local press, and I found myself afterward on the defensive in explaining the performance to others. Especially, after the backstage antics that resulted the following day.
Yet, that experience catapulted me into the Zeppelin world which still stands strong today, as some of you collectors out there know. Thanks for reading. I can’t believe it’s been 22 years.
I was at both Oakland shows, and yes, Jimmy was not looking (or playing very well) IMHO.
After all this time, my fading memories are more a meld of both days although some things do stand out.
Well, I won’t bore everyone with the details of our journey from Sacramento to Oakland, although I will add that it included a large thermos (yep, I said thermos) of Old Crow which we snuck out of a friends house. We arrived very early in the morning for the first show and stayed the night in the car for the second. I don’t know if they still do this (I doubt it) but they used to let you come into the parking lot as early as the night before and line up.
It was obvious that many people had been there all night, because the line was huge. We spent the morning plotting our strategy of where to go in the stadium and how to get the best location in between gulps of Old Crow and Red Grape Malt Duck. We felt we were seasoned concert veterans of the Coliseum because we had been there a little while earlier to see Pink Floyd (awesome). Being young and stupid, we tried to pick up girls by asking them if we had seen them at Floyd. Didn’t work.
While in line, I remember tickets being scalped for a much as $40 which was a huge amount of money for a scalped ticket. If memory serves me, most scalpers were asking for $25 before the show. There were a lot more scalpers than usual at this show and I think a lot of them ate tickets. I think I paid $12.50 face value at Ticketron but I’m not really sure. I do remember a ton of people in the third base dugout! For those of you unfamiliar with the Coliseum, it was the infirmary for drugged out, passed out folks. What a waste.
We ended up in about the center area of the rear third of the lawn on the first day and we were much closer on the second but slightly off to the right of the stage. Judas Priest opened on both days and was heavily booed on the second day. It was a riot! Rick Derringer was incredible, though. In my opinion, he was the best performer of the shows.
Don’t get me wrong, Zep is still Zep, but Derringer was incredible and was probably hitting the high point in his career at about that time. Aside from being in awe of my idols, one of the memories that lingers most in my mind is the incredibly long wait for Zeppelin to come out to the stage. I’m still not sure if it was because of Bonhams violent antics or not, but I’ve been told that it was.
When they walked out, it was very inspiring. Page was my idol and I just remember thinking about how cool his boots looked. Haha… funny the things that stand out in your mind when you’re young! As for the show, I remember The entire band seemed tired and unenergetic. It didn’t really matter to me, though. I was happy to be there. The high points for me were SIBLY, Achilles, and of course STH. I just remember staring with a big grin on my face as they played THE song. Uninspired or not, it was still incredible to be in the same stadium with them.
Sure wish I still had the shirt I bought. I also found some unused tickets on the ground as we walked out on the 24th. Sure wish I knew what happened to them. Above all, I sure wish I’d known that it would be the last time I’d ever get to see them.
Concert Memories :: Led Zeppelin :: April 12, 1977
From: Steve Benson
That the Mighty Led Zeppelin played to a capacity crowd at The Met Sports Center here in Bloomington, Minnesota. The following night was, of course, another sell out at The St. Paul Civic Center. Zeppelin played to 32,500 in the two nights and according to most sources, couldn’t have seen the band in two very different lights.
I was in attendance with about 10 of my buddies that first night, April 12th of 1977. I had my Drivers’ License for all of a month, as did my buddy who drove. We were all 16, independent and on top of the world..attending our first big event on our own! My seat wasn’t as good as one my friends, but I couldn’t argue the fact that……..hell! I was going to be in the fricking building with the greatest band that ever assembled! I had held a grudge against my parents for 2 years because they wouldn’t allow me to attend the 1975 tour opener here at the Met. Wow, was I pissed. I was asked to go with some older friends twice and was denied.
Jumping ahead to to the present…
My buddy Greg, who drove, borrowed his Dad’s Chevy pickup with a topper on back. There were 3 guys in the front and about 6 or 7 of us in the back…partying like there was no tomorrow!
While one of my close friends was seated 2nd row, Jimmy’s side. I was in the first row of the upper deck just stage right and had a great sight line. I can confirm that JPJ used his “acoustic, three-necked instrument” that night, early in the tour.
It was one of the most brutal evenings of weather I can remember in my lifetime. The rain, in particular. It was beyond “torrential” or any other adjective or description. The band was nearlys 2 hours late and I thought there would be some very intense shit going on soon if they didn’t show. A stage announcer showed a couple of times to give us the message that because of the weather, the band was delayed departing from Chicago. No one was really buying it. Why, would they wait all day to leave..knowing the weather was so terrible? Why didn’t they cancel or postpone instead of letting everyone venture out into this awful, dangerous evening? Why would they take the chance? There were no good answers, really ever! But there were some stories currculating about Jimmy’s health and drug use. It was providing good fodder for explaining this ridiculous situation.
When the band did finally show, it was the most amazing burst of energy I have ever witnessed. It was so wild for the first 10 minutes that it didn’t even sink in that they were actually there until “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. My fondest memory of the night was at this point, when Robert & Jimmy were like bookends at opposite ends of the stage..constantly moving.
Then, they would weave doing 360’s and twirling and met at the center of the stage in time for the next verse. It rivaled those common scenes during “Achilles”. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong, to me, for awhile. There was this point during “In My Time of Dying” that I thought Jimmy might just keel over. And, he nearly did! At the end of the song, I recall him curiously going up to left edge of the stage and bending over. I thought maybe he was taking an item from a fan down in front. But, as it turns out, he was throwing up! My buddy, John, who had that 2nd row seat was there to fill in the blanks for this one. OK…was it the incredibly scary flight they went through in “Caesar’s Chariot” to get to the gig? Was it the drugs &/or alcohol?
My guess is, it probably was all three components. Who knows, really? Anyway, this situation did happen here in Minneapolis and it seems it could have been one of those rare, dark moments for the band that foul, April eve. It wasn’t until a few months later that Creem magazine, doing a date by date account of their ’77 tour, cites this very tense arrival into the Twin Cities. The Star newspaper mentioned that the band was “visibly shaken” when they arrived at the Met. Robert’s voice was sure strong that night!
You know, there couldn’t be a more perfect example of “timing is everything” as this situation. I couldn’t attend the next evening’s show, for whatever reason. It turns out that the second night, here in St. Paul, has been pointed out by Richard Cole and, I believe, Robert Plant as one of the best nights of the tour! The band had taken the day to relax in town and were ready to rock on April 13th! Thanks for indulging me, I need to hear “Ten Years Gone” from “Deep Striker” right now! If anyone, ever comes across recordings from either of the Twin Cities’ shows…’75 or ’77. Please remember this story contact me immediately! Have a…”Good Evening”.
05/31/73 – The Forum, L.A., CA – Steve Kurasch
Spring, 1973. I was completing my sophomore year at U.C.L.A. majoring in Mathematics/Computer Science. Being 6’8″ tall, I also played basketball.
Outside of school, I worked for a computer company, and I was playing trumpet professionally with the L.A. Pops Symphony Orchestra (now defunct) which I joined shortly after my 15th birthday; the youngest member ever.
On the music scene, Houses of the Holy had just been released, and I was anxiously awaiting tour information. Led Zeppelin did not need to take out ads to promote ticket sales, and the internet and instant access to information was not available in 1973, so I relied heavily on the telephone. At least once a week, I would call the L.A. Forum and ask when Led Zeppelin tickets go on sale. Everytime, I would receive the same response: “We don’t have Led Zeppelin scheduled to perform.”
It had been nearly two years since I last saw Led Zeppelin (August 21, 1971 – 5th row). Sure, I had seen many other groups including Hendrix, Cream, The Who and The Doors, but somehow, that concert left some powerful images which continually ate at my soul; Plant’s voice so strong that I thought he was going to give himself a hernia. Jimmy’s playing was outstanding; quick, clean and emotionally draining. Bonzo attacked the drums like a riot police officer during an anti-war demonstration. And the subtlety but amazing playing of John Paul Jones holding the rhythm together. I had seen many great individual performances, but I had never seen a group play that well together live.
Finally, on Monday, April 23, 1973, I called the Forum and received the unexpected news. Led Zeppelin is scheduled to perform two shows. May 30th and May 31st. Tickets go on sale Monday, April 30th.
My plan of action was to go down to the L.A. Forum on Friday night after class and sleep over until Monday morning. This should get me decent seats.
During that week, I found out that I had to work early Saturday morning. Therefore, I asked my brother, Chris, if he could hold my place in line until I return in the afternoon. Luckily, he agreed.
Also, my music theory class gave us a final project: write a string quartet. Yikes!
Friday came, and I arrived at the Forum approximately 10:00 PM with sleeping bag, Math books and music paper. There were already several people in line. I asked if anybody was keeping a list, and they told me to find Chris (yes, another Chris).
Eventually, someone pointed me to Chris. He was sitting inside his car with another person. I knocked on the window, he rolled it down and said, “Yeah?” As the smoke billowed out of his car, I told him that I wanted to get on the list. Obviously perturbed, he answered, “Let’s do it in the morning.” Wanting to make sure that nobody else would get put on the list in front of me, I insisted. So Chris put me on the list as #23. I would later find out that Chris would be pissed off at me, because as he was putting my name on the list, he spilled his hash on the floorboards of the car. Oops…..
I now had my place in line, so I went back and started to meet people. The first person I met was Danny. He was #6 in line, and he arrived early that morning. I found out that he was a big basketball fan, and so we talked quite a bit about basketball. I can’t remember if he lived in Cerritos or went to Cerritos College (or both). Suddenly, Over The Hills And Far Away began to play from someone’s tape player. He said, “Nobody thought this would be a great song when they played it last year.”
I asked Danny who was first in line. He pointed to Gene who had arrived on Tuesday. That means, he will spend a total of six nights in line. I thought, “Wow. If I came on Monday when I called, I could have been first in line.”….. But school…..
Chris, the list holder, was #2 in line. He arrived on Wednesday.
No studying tonight. I was enjoying the music and conversation. Unfortunately, I had to get some sleep because I had to work early.
I awoke suddenly on Saturday morning. It was so quiet. I looked at my watch, and it was almost 8:00. About a minute later, my brother, Chris, and his two closest friends, Mike and Ann, arrived to hold my place in line. I thanked him, and I left for the morning.
After work, I stopped by my parents to pick up food for the weekend, and then drove down to the Forum.
When I arrived at the Forum, there were a LOT of people hovering around the ticket windows, and I noticed several people walking away with tickets! Naturally, I was paranoid that tickets went on sale early. I found my brother who informed me that Lakers basketball playoff tickets were now available. Also, after I left in the morning, my brother decided to stay in line for the weekend. He had found Chris #2, who placed him #24 in line; one place after me.
Mike and Ann decided they had enough and went home.
Not much later, Chris #2 yells “ROLL CALL!”
He starts at the beginning of the list and continues to the bottom. There are now over 100 names! When finished, he tells everyone to check in with him if you decide to get food. Otherwise, your name will be removed from the list at future roll calls.
My brother and I talked awhile, talked with others, and had a good time.
Damn! I’m supposed to write a string quartet, and I haven’t started. I thought being around a bunch of Led Zeppelin fans would be motivating. I guess I’ll start tomorrow morning…..
Another roll call was given in the evening, and there were now over 300 names!
Music and partying continued into the wee hours.
Early Sunday morning, roll call was unexpectedly given. 90% of the people were present. Of the remaining 10%, most had checked in, while five to ten people were yanked.
Outside the ticket office, a few people started to line up. Carole King tickets were to go on sale at 10:00 AM. Knowing my sister was a big fan, I called her and asked if she wanted any tickets. She replied, “Get two!”
The ticket office opened, and I was able to get two seats; third row, center section. My sister would later thank me.
Across the street from the Forum is a cemetery. A friend of mine who drowned at age 17 is buried there. I wanted to see his grave, so around Noon, I checked in with Chris #2, and I went across the street. I found his grave, and I talked to him for a few minutes, knowing he probably couldn’t hear me. I let him know that I was going to see Led Zeppelin and I would try to visit him again (which I did while waiting in line for tickets to The Who).
When I returned to the Forum, I noticed Jerry West (Los Angeles Lakers player at that time, and general manager in 1997) getting out of his car and walking into the player’s entrance.
Chris #2 gave another roll call, and there were a lot of names. After our names were read off, my brother decided to go home, take a shower, a quick nap, and then return. After my brother left, it was another half hour before Chris #2 finished reading the list.
Well, I had no motivation to write music, so I studied Math for the next few hours.
My brother returned around dinner time (with food) and told me how much larger the crowd had grown. Since I had been studying most of the time, I wasn’t aware of the crowd size. We found Chris #2 who stopped the list at 1000 names an hour ago. Another person decided to take over a second list, which began with 1001.
About 9:00 PM, there were a LOT of people jammed around the ticket windows. Before total chaos occurred, Chris #2 decided that we needed to 1) remove people from the ticket windows, and 2) keep everyone off the ramps that lead up to the ticket windows. Unfortunately, some of the people waiting at the windows did not want to leave. Fortunately, my height can be intimidating, so when I asked, they moved without any hesitation. By 10:00 PM, the ticket window area was clear, and the ramps were empty. However, people kept sneaking back up, and I was able to direct them away.
Now, I was up on the ramp looking over the crowd. The parking lot was full and music was blasting from cars. There were people partying everywhere. The odor of marijuana had permeated the entire city. The setting reminded me of a war zone. Very surreal.
I continued to keep people away all night. I remember Suffragate City by David Bowie playing loudly and everyone singing, “Wham! Bam! Thank You, Ma’am.” I wanted to sleep, but I also knew that I was one of the few that could keep order.
Damn! I was hoping to get some studying done, and I got maybe three hours over three days. Here, I was pulling an all-nighter, and it wasn’t for a test; it was for Led Zeppelin tickets.
About 8:00 AM, Chris #2 started to line everyone up. There were six windows, so he made six lines. Somehow, I was the fourth person in the sixth column. That would make me #24; not #23. Hey! Probably a friend of Chris #2 was inserted somewhere. At the head of my line was Danny. My brother was put in the first column, fifth position.
My brother and I broke ranks for a moment, discussed our strategy to try and get seats in the first ten rows of Section B (center section), and if none were available, try to get the first seven rows of sections A or C, preferably low number seats for Section A (1-6) or high number seats for Section C (5-10). If those were unavailable, then get loge seats, just up from the stage.
About 9:45, someone from the Forum allowed the first ten in each line to move up to the ticket windows. The box office opened a little early, and Danny got his two front row tickets for both nights, and loges for the other nights. The second person asked for seats in Section B, but they were back 12 rows. Ouch! He got loge seats. The person in front of me just asked for loge tickets.
Now it was my turn. I asked what was available in either section A or section C. For the 30th, Section C, Row 5, seats 7 upward. “I’ll take them!” For the 31st, Section C, Row 5, Seats 5 upward. Having realized there are only 10 seats across Section C, I asked what were the seat numbers for the 30th. The ticket clerk said, seats 7, 8, 9, 10, …Oh, wait. Section B Row 1 seats 1 and 2. YES! I lucked out! Front Row Center!
The guy behind me groans…..
First night, front row center. Second night, fifth row on aisle across from the center section.
I waited for my brother, and he came down with loge seats. We sold all the loge seats to people in line for $15 each (original cost was $7.25). Bottom line: We are going to see Led Zeppelin for free!
After my brother and I said our goodbyes and parted, I rushed home with the intention of getting to my music theory class as soon as possible. I took a quick shower and decided to sit down and relax a few minutes. I woke up at 6:00 PM.
A couple of weeks later, I realized I was not doing well in any of my classes, and instead of flunking out, I told my Mother that I would have to withdraw. Suprisingly, she agreed. My application for withdrawal was accepted, and I could freely think about not studying. (Over that summer, I took 5 courses at Santa Monica Community College, West Los Angeles Community College and UCLA to make up the lost units).
Now, I had to decide who was going to go. My best friend, a basketball teammate at UCLA, Bob Withers, was also a Led Zeppelin fanatic. I had gotten him sixth row tickets for The Who back in December, 1971, and we’ve been fairly close ever since. I decided that he would sit with me in the front row. For the closing night, I would take a date.
My brother decided that he would only go to the first night along with a date, and Mike and Ann; the couple that held my place in line.
I was having trouble finding a woman who liked Led Zeppelin. In 1973, Mathematics/ Computer Science people were 99% male geeks. The remaining 1% were questionable in determining the gender. My music theory class was no help, because they had no respect for rock musicians. When asked if they wanted to see Led Zeppelin, one woman said, “I can’t stand him.”
Wednesday, May 30th – The day of the concert. Bob Withers gives me a call and said, “The concert is off. Jimmy sprained his finger.” I thought it was a sick joke, but he told me to turn on the radio. Sure enough. The concert was postponed until Sunday.
Around 8:00 PM, I went to my computer job. I was to deliver some tapes and punchcards to Control Data by the L.A. airport, a few miles from the Forum. As I’m driving down the freeway, the radio announcer said, “Led Zeppelin at 10:00 tonight.” WHAT??? I was suddenly in a panic. I wanted to call Bob, but I wasn’t near a telephone. I delivered the tapes and punchcards, ran back out to the radio, and the radio announcer said, “For all those people who had the Led Zeppelin concert postponed tonight, we’ll play some live Led Zeppelin at 10:00.” Again, the Paris Theatre radio broadcast.
Thursday, I was psyched to go. I still couldn’t find a date. I went to UCLA to take care of some school business, and I started to return home at 5:00. The guy in front of me driving a VW bug is moving very slowly. I come to an intersection where I need to make a right turn, so I move into the right curb lane along side of him. He decides to make a right turn into me. His front fender is torn off, while the big clunker station wagon I am driving has a small scratch in the front bumper. We exchanged information, and we went our our way. (Later, the guy would weasel out of fault, and the insurance company ruled it was neither person’s fault. I wanted to fight it, but the insurance company said it wasn’t worth it. One point on my record!).
After I arrived home, I ate quickly and drove down to the Forum. I arrived around 7:30 PM, and I asked, “Does anybody want to make me an offer for a fifth row ticket?” Several people approached me. One person said, “$20”, and almost everyone walked away. Another person said, “$25” and nobody else responded. So, I sold it to some guy who I will never forget. Just remember that he is sitting next to me.
I walk inside, get down to my seat and look over the stage. My eyes are drawn to the very large speakers above and to the side of the stage. Two years ago, the concert was very loud that left a high pitch squeal in my ears for three days. This was duplicated at The Who concert in December, 1971. I couldn’t remember this many speakers, so I assumed this would be the day I would become permanently deaf.
There! In the front row! I see Gene (#1) and Chris (#2) sitting front row, dead center. Danny was also in the center section but on the aisle on the far side of me.
I had many thoughts running through my head. What was the band going to play? How much of Houses Of The Holy are they going to play? Remember: the internet and instant access was unavailable in 1973. Only friends who had seen the show could give you that information, but I knew no one.
Also, what kind of damage occurred to Jimmy’s finger? Will it hamper his playing? Will he be as agressive as two years ago?
The guy next to me (who bought my extra ticket) was very excited and said, “These seats are righteous!”
Suddenly, the lights went out. No sudden fade. No announcement. Just OUT. The crowd went nuts, and they came on stage. They made sure the equipment was working. Bonzo hit his snare drum a few times, and I realized it was going to be loud. The crowd started clapping in unison hoping to get things started. And just like that, Bonzo begins Rock and Roll. When Page and Jones joined in, I was sure the volume caused some wind displacement which blew down the first few rows like dominoes. I could literally feel the bass drum pounding my chest. A very strange sensation.
Plant started singing a few bars later, but I realized his voice was not as forceful as I remembered. He seemed a little tentative. Hopefully, he was just warming up.
Meanwhile, several fans tried to rush the stage (like every concert), and Security was trying to move them. Since I’m so tall, I could see the Security person confront the front guy who had rushed the stage. I don’t know what was said, but the front guy turned around with an extremely scared look on his face and immediately started back to his seat. More scared people followed.
Here it is! The guitar solo! This would be Jimmy’s first test. A lot of people were holding their breath. No problem! The dexterity and speed were working well. The band sounded great.
As we come to the end and Bonzo starts his ending, applause starts, but wait! Right into Celebration Day. This version was moving at warp 10. After a brief pause, Bring It On Home right into Black Dog. Plant misses a few notes, and I realized his range was going to be limited. He even dropped out a line or two. I guess it was to save his voice. But so soon in the concert? More paranoia would follow me.
As Black Dog ended, the guy sitting next to me yelled, “Righteous!”
Plant announces that Bonzo is 21 years old today. I thought, “He’s only 21?” Boy, was I gullible.
Next, as Jimmy started Over The Hills And Far Away, the crowd erupted. This song had been receiving extensive air play on the FM stations, and it was obviously a crowd favorite. Other than the crowd approval, I don’t remember anything particular interesting about this tune. However, after it finished, the guy next to me yelled, “Righteous!”
Jones takes off his bass and moves over to the electric piano. Plant introduces the next song about “walking through the park,” and I knew it was Misty Mountain Hop! Jones starts in, and I was wondering how are the bass lines going to be played? I watched Jones through most of this, but I do remember a few good drum fills and the use of the echoplex when Plant sings, “You really should know.”
The tune ends, Jimmy jumps into a guitar solo, and Since I’ve Been Loving You begins.
The guy next to me yells, “Righteous!”
I always liked this piece and I remember that Plant didn’t have the range he had from two years ago. It seemed more controlled. I don’t remember Jimmy’s solo.
I won’t tell you what the guy next to me said….
Plant introduces No Quarter, and once Jones started, fog flows onto the stage. The mood is set, and the audience is loving it. I remember a lot of echo in the voice and I remember Jimmy soloing.
Next up, The Song Remains The Same. This was one of my favorite songs off Houses of The Holy, and I was eager to hear them play it live. However, I didn’t expect to hear it at warp 10. The band was pumped, and I could notice the better power and range in Plant’s voice. This may have been the best song so far as they moved into The Rain Song; just like the album.
The guy next to me….. never mind.
The Rain Song was done beautifully. However, I remember cringing when the mellotron came in. The mellotron is a difficult instrument to keep in tune, and unfortunately, it was slightly under the guitar tuning. I kept wanting to stand on my tiptoes to help bring up the tuning to the guitar. Still, a beautiful song.
The intro to Dazed and Confused began, the audience definitely approved of the selection, and the guy next to me yelled his favorite word. I remember hearing Bonzo smashing the gong at the beginning. Plant’s voice was strong, and the range started to increase. I remember the bow section being a little long, some great bass lines, and a fantastic guitar solo. Plant’s voice had definitely warmed u
The guy next to me…
Now, Plant announces that Bonzo is 25 today. I was thinking, “I thought you said 21.” I finally realized that he was joking the first time.
The opening line to Stairway starts, and it is defintely a crowd favorite. Another “Righteous!” is yelled. I remembered that I heard this tune before it was released. I never knew it would make such an impact on me; even today. Interestingly, the mellotron sounded more in tune. The guitar solo had a few problems, but still a great version. The crowd starts to applause before Plant finishes singing.
Moby Dick starts. And goes, and goes, and goes. Somewhere in the middle, I look over at the guy sitting next to me, and he is asleep! I couldn’t believe it! Yes, the drum solo was long and possibly boring, but how could anyone sleep through this volume?
Anyway, at the end, he was awake, and he joined in singing Happy Birthday to Bonzo.
The drums started again. The tune was unrecognizable until Jimmy joined in with the opening notes to Heartbreaker. The crowd roared again.
During the guitar solo, the sprained finger reared its ugly head. Page was sloppy, missing notes, but persevering like nothing was wrong. After the band helped him out and expecting Plant to come back in with the chorus, the drums started again and Whole Lotta Love started. After the first section, the band breaks into a funky groove and Plant says, “Anybody seen the Bridge?” I’m thinking, yeah, the Crunge! But although the Crunge isn’t played, a great funky groove is maintained. Page stops playing and starts on the theramin. But Bonzo and Jones maintain that incredible groove. I remember watching Bonzo and Jones more than the theramin. After that, Boogie Mama and back into Whole Lotta Love. After “You Neeeeed It”, Plant tries to go upwards with his “Loooove” yell, but he cracks a couple of times. Almost painful. The band finishes and Plant says, “Good Night.”
A few minutes go by and they come out. Bonzo starts “We’ve Done Four Already but now we’re steady and then they went one…two…three…four..” and into The Ocean. This was disastrous. It was sloppy, Page missed a lot of runs, and Plant’s voice was cracking. I was disappointed.
After a couple of minutes, they returned for the final encore; Communication Breakdown. This was the first song I ever heard by Led Zeppelin back in February, 1969. Although I don’t remember much about this encore, it was a much better ending to the show.
Overall summary: I remember feeling a little disappointed. However, I did like the song selections. Bonzo and Jones played very well, and if Jimmy’s finger heals and Plant gets back some of his voice, it should make an interesting Sunday night.
Fortunately, I’ll never see the guy who sat next to me again. Unfortunately, any time I hear the word “righteous”, even to this day, I think of him.
Concert Memories :: Led Zeppelin :: April 10, 1977
The final night of Zeppelin’s stay in Chicago lands on Easter Sunday, 4/10/77. As a good Catholic boy I attend mass Sunday morning. I had witnessed Jimmy Page fall ill just hours before , which led to the cancellation of Zeppelin’s Saturday concert.. What a dichotomy! I spend my prayer time wondering if Jimmy will make it for tonight’s show. The extra Hail Mary’s pay off as the news is Jimmy’s fit and ready to play.
Saving the best for last, my seats this evening are Box seats 1st row, even with 18th row Main Floor. Because of our seats, a friend of ours lent us his 8mm film camera. The footage that exists of that night was shot by us. As we go to our seats I revel in our good fortune to be so close. The only drawback is that there are a couple disco boys next to us who seem ill-at-ease.
The show begins promptly by Zeppelin standards. The weather has warmed up and so has the playing. It’s evident the minute it goes dark and a mixture of euphoria and flashbulbs engulf the Chicago Stadium. The initial spotlight pinpoints Robert, but astride him is Page in a dark outfit. One note introduces The Song Remains The Same and a blast of light and sound jolt you with every chord accent. My God Almighty! Jimmy Page is dressed in Nazi regalia. Jack boots up to his knees, peaked cap ,black shirt and pants, white scarf, sunglasses and a smoke. Too Fucking much! Happy Easter Jimmy! On top of that he was playing like a demon. All the breaks are executed with conviction. The Rover is spot on leading into Sick Again. Bonzo hammers it out against Page’s slurred and bluesy overbends.
Robert mentions Saturday’s fiasco stating ” Jimmy was rather ill last night. It was only a false pregnancy.” Nobody’s Fault But Mine features a fine harmonica solo by Plant which is similar to the Presence version. I’m very close to Jimmy and with the apparel he’s wearing tonight his guitar does resemble a machine gun. Especially during his rapid-fire and galvanizing solo. As I observe Jimmy’s physique, I notice his arms are bone- thin. Against his black outfit he appeared ghoulishly pale.
In My Time Of Dying is added back to the set tonight and it really kicks ass! I see Jimmy dig into his pants pocket to retrieve his slide and is brought out his Danelectro. Robert treats us to some Chicago blues history before the song’s start. Zeppelin really gel on this one tonight. Jones and Bonham work like a machine, providing the muscle. Robert and Jimmy flying high outfront!
Robert lauds Willie Dixon to the fan’s puzzlement. Most not knowing who the hell he is. Page plays a mesmerizing version of Since I’ve Been Loving You in honor of his blues forefathers. Sheets of notes blend with sustained cries. Yes Sir!
Dry ice billows from the front of the stage as Jonesy does his thing to initiate No Quarter. Wah-Wah and kick drum, Page and Bonham put the pedal to the metal. Robert is spartan in his phrasing and clear, singing powerfully. As JPJ switches to the piano, Page unleashes an enormous tidal wave of sound from his theramin! Jonesy plays a refined and tasty sounding solo, which leads into a rock and roll 50’s boogie with Jimmy and Bonzo. Pagey has reappeared from the shadows donning a white fedora. One minute he’s in the SS, the next in the Mafia. The guy understands theater.The main improv begins and there’s a languid soulfullness to the feel of it, until Jimmy charges it up with some fast and flash playing which leads to Page breaking his high E strung. Jimmy throws up both hands in disgust, taking a second to regroup and proceded to play a totally different solo. Great playing Jimmy! A series of viscious wah wah licks conclude the song.
Robert speaks of light and shade in describing the reasons for including Ten Years Gone in their current set list. Plant praises JPJ’s versatility in playing guitar and bass foot pedals simultaneously. Page’s shimmering notes cut across everything. He is really making amends for last night. Sweeping and beautiful in it’s construction and presentation. A Supreme highlight
. As the band head to the front for the acoustic routine, Robert derides the local rock radio station for accusing Page of being too wasted to play on Saturday. Covering for Jimmy he states, ” Jimmy doesn’t drink, smoke or take women while on tour. So an apology would be nice with a crate of the same alcohol!’ Battle of Evermore is played splendily with dynamism. Going To California provides a soothing and calming effect. And it sounds great too! The acoustic set really emphasizes Robert’s abilities.
Robert keeps hinting at Elvis Presley’s Surrender. Not tonight. Black Country Woman revs up the crowd and Robert puts on a railroad engineer’s cap that a fan has thrown on stage. Page leads the band into his acoustic tour-de-force Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp. With fingers flying and thumb-pick rolling Page plays a gem of a solo. Robert shouts ” Strider! ” to wrap it up.
Without introduction JPJ plunks out the opening clavinet lick of Trampled Under Foot. It had been played opening night as an encore. But tonight, it’s very effective after the subtler acoustic segment. This song is rip-roaring rock and roll. I love it as Page marches around in lockstep with Bonzo’s drum madness! Multi-colored light beams spinning upward from a rotating device behind Jonesy. The middle section features Jimmy in guitar god mode. Sound, structure and intensity meld as one. The peak is attained as Page and Plant perform their Push! Push! climax. This is my personal highlight of the concert.
The exotic White Summer changes the mood entirely. Hunched over his wooden chair, Jimmy seduces clean and resonant melodies from his black and white Danelectro. I now knew Kashmir was next. Page played his cue and turned back at Bonham. Right as Kashmir began Jimmy stood up and kicked his chair back with the heal of his boot. Kashmir sounded so immense and was pure magic, played without error.
Robert comments about how good it’s sounding tonight and contributes it to ” the hats we’ve been wearing!” Over the Top has Robert referring to Bonham as ” The man I call my Brother.” John Bonham never failed to deliver the goods and the same could be said tonight. He tore into it with passion and fury, never losing the crowd. What a gifted musician.
After the drum solo Page reappears in his white satin poppy suit. To the cleaners with the SS gear! Jimmy’s harmonized sound experiments and theramin swoops lead into a edgy and creepy violin bow spectacle. Being so close to Page in his swirling laser pyramid gave you a palpable chill. He had shredded the horsehair off his bow. The image of Page dredging up otherworldly shrieks while Bonzo pummeled his tympani is unforgettable. To myself I had privately hoped they would launch into Dazed and Confused. But as the set had already been established it was again Achilles Last Stand. It sounded tighter and more assured this evening. Nice improvement.
Stairway To Heaven finishes the main set. It is given a heartfelt rendering and is enjoyed thoroughly by the crowd. Page’s Spanish guitar influence is apparent in his solo. Bonzo and Jonesy keep driving it mantra -like. Robert leads the song to it’s conclusion. The band members walk out front and acknowledge the crowd before going backstage. The wait for their return was long. I could tell the crowd was getting a little restless and some were leaving.
Now becoming routine, the encore was again Rock and Roll. Explosions and light flashes were strategically employed. The sound of this version is loud and nasty. A fitting conclusion. One last blast of drum rolls from Bonzo , a final crashing guitar chord and that was it . All over. As they left the stage that night it would be my final glimpse at Led Zeppelin.
I gratefully thank Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham for enhancing my life and so many others in this world. God Bless You.