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7 September 2023 1,203 views 2 Comments

Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian – Teatro Romano Di Ostia Antica – September 3 2023:

On the spot report by Michael Scullion… 

What began as nothing more than a whim, then that light bulb impulse turned into a real something, a quite magical thing that will stay with me for the rest of my days …

On Sunday night I joined several thousand likeminded souls in the simply breathtaking surroundings of the beautiful Teatro Romano Di Ostia Antica.

Built in the reign of Augustus at the end of the 1st Century BC. Now a majestic outdoor concert arena like no other about 30km West of Rome. The seating and stage area is literally the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre – so it’s fair to say somewhat steeped in ancient history – the seating a tad uncomfortable, as it’s rock that would obviously be the case of course.

I could go on for days about the beauty of this place but I got a band & a show to talk about… As a note tho the stage is pretty much immediately below the flightpath into Fiumicino Airport which Robert referenced by looking skywards & proclaiming “Mothership” ! I got to wondering on the flight over here what it is about Saving Grace that’s so got to me

I took in shows twice previously – both last year , Middlesbrough which is quite near where I live, then I meandered up to Scotland to see them in Perth and now I trek to Italy I’ve gotten progressively further away from home but this one was some leap – a true pilgrimage.

So why did I do that is what I was asking myself ? I’ve seen every incarnation of Roberts musical life since Zep in person but the straightforward answer to my own question is that I absolutely love this band – it’s that simple.

Maybe as there is no “product” out there, no Saving Grace website, & other than the dates/tix links no mention on Roberts site….it’s all been very laid back, maybe even coy ? Either way its all been very low key & eased in gently. I thought (until I saw them) it might have even been a side project to keep his eye in whilst working with Ms Krauss…It isn’t that – Well at least as far as I see it…. It’s a very real thing.

There is something magical here, absolutely sustainable & a path I believe Robert is committed to. I sincerely hope so. The album will be something else if the live performance is anything to go by. What I saw last night was conjoined musicians, friends moreover, having a fab time playing great music & having the best life, sheer joy flowed from that stage Roberts vocal remains in superb array, he has of course adapted, whilst restrained along the way those lilting & familiar strains in the Lullaby moments brought this 62 year old man to tears…..and periodically during the show when the Ceaseless Roar turned up I wanted a mosh pit!….Light & Shade ?….oh yes…


The musicianship of Tony Kelsey is really quite sensational , all manner of sounds flying out of his stringed box of tricks in the corner – Ditto Matt Worley , a quite breathtaking musician playing a varied array of stringed instruments , 6 & 12 string acoustic, electric , banjo & he is a really good singer/harmonist too – as a singer I’m limited a bit but I’m sure some fine & proper musicians will explain all that string info/tech stuff as the UK Tour gets going Oli Jefferson on percussion is another player that knows exactly what he is doing, from my elevated vantage point I could see his work first hand – It’s all there, great grooves & beat, at times so subtle but also the bottom end was prominent in his playing when that was required – extremely effective.

Then we have Suzi Dian…What can I say? …voice of an angel, singing but also laying down some groves on bass periodically as well as playing superb accordion, all alongside the vocal duties. I never knew it could look so cool to strut with such an instrument -Ms Dian does so to great effect, you need something special to share that stage & she clearly possesses it. Robert has adopted the model of a female singing partner going way back many times.

Several cameos thru Zep & onward into his solo career, then to great effect with Patti Griffin & Alison Krauss in the band setting of greater prominence. I call it as I see it, Suzi Dian is Queen Bee I have kinda run out of superlatives to describe what I saw from the ability of the players ….But I must make another comment on just one aspect of the visual presentation. I know that on previous shows Saving Grace use a back banner.

Last night’s back drop was open, the pillars from those original ruins lit throughout the show to quite stunning effect – I’m sure there’ll be many images in the coming days better than mine, it was quite a breathless sight, my mind was enchanted by looking at something right here & now in front of me set against the backdrop of such history from centuries ago & that was truly awesome So songs ?

The setlist last night was the most dramatic & beautiful run through I’ve seen Robert perform since Led Zeppelin. Bold words maybe that’s what I saw We had the (now becoming increasingly familiar to me) covers going way, way back. From Roberts solo oeuvre we saw Let The Four Winds Blow from Mighty Rearranger & the absolutely stunning delivery of Down To The Sea from Fate Of Nations.

Also performed were recorded covers like House Of Cards, Angel Dance from The Band of Joy days Robert spoke for quite some time with almost speech like passion to explain how the Black Blues Musicians had formed a lot of what ensued & from whence they came. He talked of those early days & the musical minds of the English Bands that grew out of all of that, Stones/Early Fleetwood/Led Zeppelin – His eloquent words introduced Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, which included a section where it morphed into In My Time of Dying – thus illustrating his words to perfection .

Okay – Previously I hadn’t seen Saving Grace pull anything out of the Zeppelin archive….my oh my did that change last night. I experienced The Rain Song live only once, for that I remain blessed, in a Hertfordshire field on 4th August 1979. I saw it for the second time last night….this was a moment I shall take to my grave, that voice, that perfect pitch ….I live my life for moments like that – and to come so far to bear witness heightened it if that makes sense….but that wasn’t for me even the best of it. There were quite incredible performances of Four Sticks & Gallows Pole but for me the outstanding Zepp number was Friends…I have no words, just turn up, see it & celebrate !


Yet still there was for me one moment, the one I came for in hope to see & hear. With the increased traffic of material I thought, maybe even feared, that it may have been sacrificed…. but it wasn’t & I’m so incredibly elated to say that. To be there in that space & time to see the performance of the cover of It’s A Beautiful Day Today by Moby Grape made every second of my quite arduous trip worthwhile – Robert stood amidst pin drop silence & delivered what I may well consider the best vocal performance in a single song I’ve ever seen from him

Yup that’s a pretty chunky statement but that’s what my soul told me to say – I just wept like a child. For the encores the shape of the audience changed – all manner of discipline fell apart & we all piled forward to have the most polite mosh pit I’ve ever been a part of…..Quick as a flash Robert picked up on that to announce his agent said it was okay for him to join Guns N Roses.

I remain a fan, like millions of others who share in this man’s communion.  I’m an overjoyed veteran that recognises and is immensely grateful for everything Robert has done & of course continues to do. I’m a battle hardened gig goer but I can honestly state that last night I saw the best gig I ever did see last night – I can say no more. Someone said a canny while back “All Roads Lead To Rome”….They knew their stuff !

See you in Gateshead…

Michael Scullion – Ostia Antica – Rome September 4 2023.


TBL Archive Special : If it’s September…it must be time for Live On Blueberry Hill…

Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill – the pioneering bootleg album …still a thrill…it was 53 years ago…

53 years ago on September 4 1970, Led Zeppelin performed a memorable show at the Los Angles Forum – it was captured by more than one enterprising fan and subsequently released on a variety of bootlegs. It remains for me and countless others one of THE essential Led Zeppelin recordings.

To mark the 52nd anniversary of what we know and love as Live On Blueberry Hill, here is an TBL archive special this is one of the chapters in the Celebration II – The Tight But Loose Files book published by Omnibus Press in 2003.

Bootlegs and Led Zeppelin have been synonymous for over three decades. Despite manager Peter Grant’s heavy-handedness when dealing with those he caught taping their shows, the band are the most bootlegged act of all time, outstripping even The Beatles, Dylan, Springsteen and the Stones. Their final seven shows in the UK alone (five at Earls Court and two at Knebworth) account for over 100 different releases between them. Just about every known amateur recording of the band’s live gigs has made it on to CD. Given the length of their stage shows, the CD format, with its 75-minute playing time, is tailor made for presenting Zeppelin in concert, but even before the flood of digital compact format titles that emerged in the early Nineties there was no shortage of vinyl Led Zeppelin bootlegs.

Tight But Loose has carried reports on Zeppelin bootlegs since its inception. As far back as the hand written first edition I was enthusiastically reviewing the then recently issued vinyl bootleg Ballcrusher which documented their BBC In Concert show. Issue number two carried an extensive report on what was already a legendary bootleg album, Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill. In 1995 I returned to that 1970 recording to laud its 25th anniversary for TBL 11.

Whatever the legal niceties of such releases, searching out their bootleg recordings is a necessity of every serious Zep fan. Their studio albums only hinted at the creativity the group were capable of. It was on stage in live action that Zeppelin really excelled.

During the Seventies ample proof of that fact arrived with each new bootleg record, none more so than the remarkable recordings made at the Los Angles Forum from the audience on the night of September 4, 1970, during Led Zeppelin’s sixth American tour. This chapter reflects on the lasting impact of that memorable bootleg recording and rounds up twelve other illicit evenings with Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin’s impact on their initial American tours made them a prime target for the emerging bootleg recording business. The bands’ skill at extending and improvising on their studio record repertoire elevated their live shows to something very different from playing their albums.

During their first 18 months on the road they cleverly interwove the basic recorded material from the first two albums with additional impromptu jams. Early examples of this included the long jam on Garnet Mimms ‘As Long As I Have You’, employed on many of their 1969 shows, the medley of numbers to be found within ‘How Many More Times’ and an improvised jam session in the middle of ‘Communication Breakdown’. Then there was ‘Dazed And Confused’, Page’s late Yardbird remnant that by 1970 was developing into a marathon 20-minute opus with differing sections, including the violin bow episode and a call and response battle between Page and Plant.

‘Whole Lotta Love’, the Zep II opener, soon became another forum for exploration, usually a platform to playfully improvise a selection of Fifties rock’n’roll classics. During 1970 they also began previewing songs from the yet to be released third album – initially an embryonic ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and then, in a bold move, the acoustic ‘That’s The Way’, a performance that helped break the myth that Zep relied entirely on Marshall amplifiers.

Two separate teams of fans were intent on recording the Zeppelin gig at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles on the night of September 4, 1970, but it’s unlikely they knew what Zeppelin had in store that night. Both came away with lengthy representations of the band’s current state of play, recorded on reel-to- reel recorders close to the stage.

The recording that would became known as the album Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill was captured by a pair of west coast bootleggers whose previous credits included Dylan’s Great White Wonder set and The Rolling Stones’ LiveR Than You’ll Ever Be. The latter had been recorded on a Uher 4000 reel-to-reel tape recorder with 71/2ips inch reels and a Sennheiser 805 shotgun microphone. They took this set up into the Forum to record in stereo the Zeppelin September 4 performance. Unbeknown to them, a separate bootlegger known as Rubber Dubber also recorded the show and quickly issued it as a double bootleg album stamped Led Zeppelin Live Los Angeles Forum 9-4-70.

The more common Blimp label version (later to appear on the high profile bootleg label Trade Mark Of Quality) with a distinctive surreal cover insert came out within weeks of the LA show. It’s worth noting, however, that it was not the first Led Zeppelin bootleg to be released. That distinction fell to a vinyl album known as PB (the title derived from the chemical symbol for lead). This came packaged in a brown sleeve with the words P.B. Live on side one and Recorded Live – Pure Blues on side two, and was pressed in limited quantities around the Seattle area. Pure Blues subsequently reached a wider market when it was picked up by the Trade Mark Of Quality label and pressed as Mudslide. The actual source was a soundboard recording from Zeppelin’s opening night of their fifth US tour on March 21, 1970, at the Pacific Coliseum Vancouver. The 40-minute tape was notable for capturing a rare version of ‘We’re Gonna Groove’, the Ben E King/James Beatha cover which the band used as a set opener during their early 1970 appearances. They also recorded a studio version the previous summer for possible inclusion on Led Zeppelin II which would eventually surface on the posthumous Coda album.

The UK music press of the time chronicled the constant stream of bootleg titles from the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones that were being imported into the country. When reports of Zeppelin titles came to the attention of Peter Grant he was predictably angry.

In one of the few naïve statements of his career, Grant was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying: “As far as I know there can be no Led Zeppelin tapes available. After hearing some time ago that there was going to be an attempt to bootleg some tapes of the band, I flew to America. We’ve managed to retrieve all the tapes and we know nothing in existence that can be issued.”

When Grant heard that copies of Live On Blueberry Hill were being sold from a shop in Chancery Lane in London, Grant and Richard Cole, along with RAK management partner Mickie Most, paid the shop a visit. He questioned the proprietor on the Zeppelin album and with some not so gentle persuasion made sure he knew that this was one bootleg album it would be best to leave alone. In a separate incident a year later fearing another case of bootlegging, Grant smashed the equipment being used by a team of anti-pollution scientists set up to measure noise levels at a Zeppelin show in Vancouver.

For all his muscle Grant was ultimately powerless to stop the proliferation of Zeppelin underground records of which Blueberry Hill was the forerunner. If you knew where to look, such artefacts were possible to come by.

For this particular enchanted Zep obsessed teenager Blueberry Hill represented the forbidden fruit and back in 1972 I was determined to track it down. Luckily the then relative newcomer to the pop press Sounds offered a free service for readers’ classified advertisements. I scoured these columns religiously for many weeks and finally struck gold when I spotted an ad that ran along the lines: “Live albums for sale: Stones, Dylan, Zeppelin etc”. The list came back and amongst the many Dylan and Beatles titles there it was – Live On Blueberry Hill, a double album on the TMQ label, catalogue number TMQ 72002, and pressed on coloured vinyl, asking price £6. Back then six quid was a small fortune but it was more than worth it.

About three weeks later the postman dropped an LP size package on the doorstep. I anxiously ripped it open and there in all its glory was the genuine article: “106 minutes and fifty-three seconds of pure and alive rock” as the sleeve insert put it. Was it ever.


The excitement of playing that double album, on blue and red vinyl, remains an unforgettable musical memory for me. It was a novelty that never wore off. Indeed, the various incarnations I’ve obtained since – the Rubber Dubber vinyl set, the various re-issues, the various bootleg CD packages – all these have only heightened the listening pleasure of that celebrated Los Angeles stop-off during Led Zeppelin’s sixth American tour.

The overriding factor of the September 4 recording, regardless of which version you hear, is that it remains one of the greatest audience recordings of the era. The sheer dynamic thrust of Bonzo’s drum sound, the sinewy grind of Page’s guitar, Jonesy’s resonant bass lines and piecing keyboards and the outstanding clarity of Plant’s siren shrieks (suitably enhanced by the echo unit employed at the time), all merge into a ferocious mix that magically recreates the electricity of the occasion.

For anyone weaned the original TMQ long players, there’s an authenticity in their performances ingrained in the grooves that has rarely been captured so effectively. Alongside the 1975 Madison Sqaure Garden soundboard, the Earls Court shows and the LA 1977 gigs, there are few finer unofficial examples of the complete Led Zeppelin concert experience. The September 4, 1970, concert as captured on the TMQ double set was just choc full of off-the-wall surprises. There was no sign of any set list sterility back then – they just did as they pleased.

Moments to relish include:

The aural assault of ‘Immigrant Song’ (listed on the insert as ‘From The Midnight Sun’ as it had yet to be announced under its official title) exploding into ‘Heartbreaker’.

The slightly menacing tone of a relatively compact ‘Dazed And Confused’ with Plant bursting in mid way through screaming, “I don’t care what people say, rock’n’roll is here to stay”

Page and Bonham linked in glorious tandem for that solo exercise on ‘Bring It On Home’

The electric finale of ‘Moby Dick’ (“The big B!” exclaims Plant)

The unpredictability of ‘Communication Breakdown’ as Zep play The Buffalo Springfield and Beatles songbooks and throw in the rarely played live Zep I opener ‘Good Times Bad Times’.

Freshly minted nuggets from the yet to be heard Zep III on record such as ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and the rarely played ‘Out On the Tiles’.

The tentative introduction of the acoustic material, a stark and sensitive ‘That’s The Way’ and the rare try out of Page’s instrumental solo ‘Bron Yr Aur’, a clear five years before it was officially released

‘Thank You’ preceded by the meandering organ solo from John Paul Jones and finishing with a drawn out ending featuring Page’s delicate strumming.

‘Whole Lotta Love’ and the ensuing Zep 50’s revival show and finally the breathless rendition of Fats Domino’s ‘Blueberry Hill’

“Goodnight and thank you for everything,” utters a breathless Plant at the close, followed by “Did ya dig it?” by the evening’s MC.

Yes we did and still do

The greatest live album of all time? It’s certainly up there with the best, official or otherwise.

The reason is simple. It captures a group of musicians brimming with confidence. On stage that night in September 1970 Led Zeppelin were truly coming of age.

Live On Blueberry is also something of a yardstick for the bootlegs industry. Back then Zeppelin’s recorded output was just the tip of the iceberg. On stage live was where the real action occurred and, indeed, where they really built their reputation. Peter Grant summing it all up when he told me: “Led Zeppelin was primarily an in-person band… that’s what it was really about.”

Bootleg recordings of the band offered a whole new level of appreciation and Blueberry Hill was the watershed for the subsequent flood of live Zep bootlegs that would emerge throughout the next three decades.

The whole bootleg CD market may be well out of control now, beyond any reasonable realm of quality control, but there was a time when bootlegs like Blueberry Hill were considered almost as important as the group’s official output by fans and chroniclers alike and, if they were honest, probably the group themselves.

Maybe that’s the greatest compliment that can be paid to this iconic bootleg recording. It remains as essential a part of their discography as any of their official albums.

532 years on Live On Blueberry Hill is still an absolute thrill.

Dave Lewis  -September 4,2023 

See more at this link:


LedZep News

Here’s the latest Led ZepNews Update:

Led Zeppelin

New Dallas 1977 video surfaces online

Previously unseen footage of Led Zeppelin performing in Dallas, Texas on April 1, 1977 was posted online. The video is silent as no audio from this concert has emerged, but it presents a compelling, close-up view of Led Zeppelin on the very first date of the band’s 1977 US tour.

New audio source of Vancouver 1971 surfaces online

Part of an alternative audience recording source of Led Zeppelin’s August 19, 1971 show in Vancouver, Canada was released online this week. The recording adds in the opening tracks that weren’t present on the first source of the show that surfaced online last year.

Here’s the new recording (check the YouTube comments for download details):

And here’s a new merge of both sources of the show on the Led Zeppelin Boots YouTube channel:

New Zepfan podcasts

Two new episodes of the Zepfan podcast were published this week. Firstly, an interview with Tony Pauline about seeing Led Zeppelin in New York on June 7, 1977 and then again at the Live Aid and Atlantic 40th Anniversary reunion performances:

Ep017: Tony Pauline – Led Zeppelin New York 1977

Mark McFall


The second episode interviews Peter Michael Dowd, the director of the new documentary film “Mr. Jimmy” about Japanese performer Akio Sakurai, better known as Mr Jimmy thanks to his stage show replicating the look and sound of Jimmy Page (look out for our own interviews with Dowd and Sakurai in the coming weeks).

Ep018: Peter Michael Dowd – Director, Mr. Jimmy

Mark McFall


Jimmy Page

The fate of Jimmy Page’s black dragon and white poppy suits revealed

This week we published a new longform investigative article that reveals that in 1980, ownership of Jimmy Page’s most iconic stage outfits was handed to a London museum. The black dragon and white poppy suits became the property of the Theatre Museum, part of the V&A, and it would take Page until 2006 to retrieve them both.

This story is previously untold, with no hint of the legal wrangling and deals done mentioned by Page or the museum in the past.

And here’s an exclusive just for subscribers to the LedZepNews Substack: One of the photographs of Page’s unfinished Egyptian suit that was faxed to the V&A by Page’s lawyer in 2005. Upon seeing this image and a handful of others, the museum agreed to hand back the white poppy suit in exchange for this outfit.

Robert Plant

The Saving Grace tour continues

Robert Plant is currently on tour with Saving Grace in Italy, performing in the country on August 28, September 1 and earlier today as well as in Sicily on August 30.

Italian media reported this week that Plant met Whoopi Goldberg after she was staying in the same hotel and wrote him a letter expressing how much his music means to her.

Here’s a partial setlist of Saving Grace’s August 28 show in Italy:

  • Gospel Plow
  • The Cuckoo
  • Let the Four Winds Blow
  • Friends
  • Out in the Woods
  • Too Far From You
  • Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down
  • Everybody’s Song
  • It’s a Beautiful Day Today
  • The Rain Song
  • As I Roved
  • Chevrolet
  • Down to the Sea
  • Four Sticks
  • Angel Dance
  • — Encore break —
  • Gallows Pole
  • And We Bid You Goodnight

Upcoming events:

  • 2023– The second Band Of Joy album titled “Band Of Joy Volume 2” will be released and an expanded edition of the Honeydrippers album “The Honeydrippers: Volume One” will be released.
  • September 5– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Milan, Italy.
  • September 6– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Vicenza in Festival in Vicenza, Italy.
  • September 9– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ourense, Spain.
  • September 10– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Donostia / San Sebastián, Spain.
  • September 12– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Barcelona, Spain.
  • September 17– Robert Plant will speak at Gloucester History Festival.
  • November 1– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Brighton, UK.
  • November 2– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Guildford, UK.
  • November 4– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Bert Jansch 80th birthday tribute concert in London, UK.
  • November 5– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Birmingham, UK.
  • November 7– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bournemouth, UK.
  • November 8– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cardiff, UK.
  • November 11– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Salford, UK.
  • November 13– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Oxford, UK.
  • November 16– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Basingstoke, UK.
  • November 17– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cambridge, UK.
  • November 19– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Grimsby, UK.
  • November 20– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Gateshead, UK.
  • November 22– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bradford, UK.
  • November 23– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • November 25– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Wolverhampton, UK.
  • 2024– Robert Plant will tour with Alison Krauss.

Summer 2024 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.

Many thanks to James Cook 

The complete Led ZepNews email goes out periodically. To receive it sign up here:

Led ZepNews Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

TBL Archive Special : Little By Little…

Robert Plant Wembley Arena – Tuesday, September 10 1985 – it was 38 years Ago today…

shaken wemb

Krys Jantzen flagged this one by sending an excellent pic taken by him outside the Wembley Arena venue on the night.

38 years ago -that is just incredible because it does seem like a second…or a lifetime ago.

Robert only performed two proper UK gigs in 1985 on this night and two days earlier at the Birmingham NEC.

This was the Shaken’ N’ Stirred tour – in support of the rather difficult third album released in May. Robert had toured the US that summer and bang in the middle of all that came the call to perform at Live Aid. The axis was well and truly spun because despite the chaotic nature of it all – it had ignited the flame again.

Shaken’ N’ Stirred – yes a difficult album and very left field in a Plant experimentation sort of way. At times the time signatures did go all over the place (Kallalou, Kallalou anyone?). But when it was good as on Little By Little, Easily Led  and the superb Sixes And Sevens, it was very good indeed. I remember playing the quasi- rap Too Loud to all sundry in proclaiming Robert’s contemporary status.  I also remember getting very excited about the 12inch single and double pack seven inch release of the second single from the album Little By Little. We were on holiday in Weymouth when it came out and purchased it from the local branch of the long gone John Menzies chain.

On stage, it was still very much a Zep free zone  – though at times he relented slightly. I’ve just played In The Mood from the bootleg CD of the Wembley Arena gig and it reminded me that a cry of Hot Dog during that number was the nearest we got to getting hot under the collar for the days of yore. That, and a few lines from Since I’ve Been Loving You during the close of Slow Dancer and a Boogie Cillun insert in Young Boy Blues – but that was yer lot back then – it was still a case of ”No led anything”.

This was the mid 80s and the order was changing.

I too was actually in something of a new era. Newly married the year before, my writing energies had transferred into writing two weekly music columns for the local newspaper – I did get the odd Zep mention in and did review this gig. I was also well ensconced in the music retail world and was about to embark on an exciting challenge that would see WH Smith open their own stand alone record stores called Sound FX – I was to be the manager of the Bedford store.

Zep related wise ,I was still as keen as ever to follow the respective careers so when these dates were announced it was a must see situation.  The Birmingham gig on the Sunday had been a little under par due to some sound problems but for London we had a right result.

The set list lined up as follows:

Intro music – Song To The Siren by This Mortal Coil – this is a stunning version of the Tim Buckley number with vocals by Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins – I remember buying this the next week. Robert would later cover this track himself, performing it live with the Priory Of Brion and Strange Sensation and recording it for the 2002 Dreamland album.

In The Mood/Pledge Pin/Pink and Black/Little By Little/Burning Down One Side/Too Loud/Thru With the Two Step/Messin’With the Mekon/Slow Dancer/Good Rockin’At Midnight/Young Boy Bluies (including Boogie Chillun insert/Sea Of Love/Honey Hush/Encores: Like I’ve Never Been Gone/Big Log/Easily Led.

The good lady Janet was next to me in our fourth row tickets – and backstage before the gig, we had seen and spoken to Robert as well as Jimmy Page who was in attendance. This one felt like an event being a major London gig – amongst others backstage I also recall seeing Slade’s Noddy Holder.

One of the other things that spring to mind from that night is the merchandise. Alongside the usual t shirts that was a high quality though rather garish Shaken’ N’ Stirred pink and black sweat shirt. it was on sale for a then extortionate £20 – twice the rice of admission of the gig – our good friend Kam invested in one and every time he wore it, we ribbed him for years as being the most expensively dressed man in the house!

The gig itself was a hugely enjoyable one. This presentation featured the Honeydrippers segment where, aided by the Upton Horns and The Queen Bees, Robert donned a sparkle T shirt to zip through Good Rockin’ Tonight, Young Boy Blues which included a Boogie Chillun interlude, Sea of Love and Honey Hush. Overall it was a high energy performance on a large stage that did look slightly like a block of cheese.

Little did we know that this gig would be a very significant one. Overall, I remember it as being a really good performance – the good lady Janet rates this as one her fave gigs.

For this would be the last live performance of this line up that had carried Robert from 1983. So it was goodbye to Robbie Blunt, Phil Martinez, Jezz Woodroffe  and Richie Hayward. As Robert stated in 1988. ”A little light came above my head at Wembley. It happened half way through the set. I might’ve been singing ‘squeeze my lemon until the juice runs down my leg’or ‘I’m a fool for a cigarette’. No seriously, It could have been anything but I realised that I’d taken this little journey round and round in circles ever decreasing and dumbfounding everybody by showing how to waste a perfectly good career’.

Judging by the tone of that statement this was a man at a definite career crossroads. Live Aid had put the Zep spark back in his mind. There was a plan to meet with Jimmy and John Paul Jones in Bath for a get together to see what might happen.

As it turned out nothing much did. This re- grouping at a village hall near Peter Gabriel’s studio in early 1986 did show some promise but ultimately came to nothing. ”Two or three things sounded promising, a sort of cross between David Byrne and Husker Du” commented Plant later adding ”For it to have succeed in bath I would have had to have been far more patient than I had been for years”. The rehearsals fell apart when drummer Tony Thompson was injured in a car smash.

What happened next? Well Jimmy went off to make the Outrider album and Robert gathered a new set of musicians around him – come in Phil Johnstone, Chris Blackwell, Doug Boyle and Charlie Jones which led to the excellent Now And Zen album.

When I turned up at Leicester University to see a low key warm up date of his new band in January 1988, It was evident that Robert Plant was at last more than comfortable with his past. For the first time in his solo career, Robert performed Led Zep numbers. In The Evening and Trampled Underfoot felt like a rebirth that night and it remains one of my favourite all time ever gigs.

As for me, well Sound FX proved not to be the future of music retail (the writing was in the wall when I saw the design of the counter which was made to look like a beat box cassette player complete with hand rail – most embarrassing!). WH Smith sold the chain to Our Price in 1986 -a wise move as we were now part of a very successful chain and with the CD boom about to hit, there would be great retail days were ahead.

Writing wise, I had formulated a plan for a major Led Zeppelin reference work. I’d already began looking for a publisher and I was initially turned down flat by Chris Charlesworth at Omnibus Press who in a classic rejection letter advised me that Omnibus and I quote ”only sold music books by bands that sold lots of concert tickets like Bon Jovi’. Sensibly he revised that view a year later and went with the idea – the result was the A Celebration book published in 1991.

38 years on, I am not too sure if Bon Jovi remain shaken’n’ stirred for their particular passion but I know Robert Plant does..

Little by little – the days pass by…

Dave Lewis – September 6, 2023.

TBL Archive Special 2:

The Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Reunion Concert at the 02 Arena  – press announcement 16 years gone…

16  years ago this week on September 12 2007, I was in attendance at the official press conference to announce the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Led Zeppelin reunion concert. It was the beginning of what would be an incredible few months. Here is the TBL posting that appeared on the evening of September 12, 2007 – one of the most important announcements in the history of this website…

Led Zeppelin to reform for Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert:

Just back from an incredibly exciting afternoon at the official press conference to announce the reunion of Led Zeppelin.

Staged at the O2 View Cinema at just after 4pm, promoter Harvey Goldsmith unfolded the events that has

made this momentous announcement possible. Central to that of course is the late Ahmet Ertegun. This concert is a tribute to the lasting legacy of the much loved music mogul. ‘’For us’’ commented Robert Plant in the press release ‘’He WAS Atlantic -this performance stands alone as our tribute to the work and the life of our long standing friend’’

By way of introduction a few clips on the giant screen from the newly released DVD of Ahmet’s life

were screened. As the interview clips segued into Jimmy ’s White Summer solo from the Albert Hall through How Many More Times from the Danish TV and onto Achilles at Knebworth, I had shivers down the spine. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

This is what it was all about and it’s going to happen again.

Harvey went on to explain how he approached Jimmy, Robert and John earlier in the year to do this show. At first it was going to be a thirty minute slot but as Harvey explained ” They came back to me after the first rehearsals and said we don’t want to do thirty minutes…I thought ‘Oh no it’ll be one song’ – no they said… we want to do a full set…’’

Asked if this was the beginning of further reunion activity Harvey would not be drawn other that to say if they were happy within themselves then he would love to see it.

Other questions from the floor revealed that there were no plans as yet for the show to be filmed for a DVD release and that a ballot was felt to be the best way to give all fans a fair at obtaining tickets.

Throughout the proceedings, Harvey talked passionately and proudly of his past association with Zeppelin -and how honoured he was to be staging what he described as an unprecedented event.

I was able to remind Harvey Goldsmith the story of how he once asked me to take a pic with his camera of himself with Ahmet at the side of the stage before the Zep Frankfurt show in Europe 1980. He couldn’t recall if it came out (ah the curse of the Olympus Trip camera!) but hey it was a long time ago!.

Coming back across a sweltering London on the tube I could see the headline on one of the evening papers – It read ‘’Led Zep back with a whole lotta love‘’.

This is a day I and millions of others never thought possible.

Dave Lewis – September 12, 2007

So there it was – all of 16 years gone – the excitement was already mounting…and the end result on that night of nights would be magnificent..

Dave Lewis – September 6 2023

VIP Victoria Record Fair – Saturday September 9,2023: TBL Meet…

The VIP Record Fair is staged at the Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Victoria, London this Saturday, September 9

This is always an excellent Record Fair and  I am aiming to be in attendance and this will act as a bit of a post Birthday extended celebration and TBL meet – there will be an adjournment at lunchtime to the nearby pub The Royal Oak to toast my Birthday.

I look forward to seeing all that can make it along

The pub details are here:

Here’s all the VIP Record Fair info::


Saturday  September 9 2023
Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Victoria, SW1P 2PB.
London’s very own Vinyl Fest. – the biggest and busiest Record Fair in the

Admission 12 noon £5. Early entry £10 at 10am. Doors close 5pm.

The BIG ONE returns.
London Victoria
Sat 9th September.

DL Diary Blog Update:

Saturday is platterday – on the player the recently released Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars –The Motion Picture Soundtrack 50th Anniversary edition on gold vinyl – rather splendid…

Great time at Steve Clark’s 60 Birthday party last night – here with Pauline, Steve, Janet, Eileen and Phil…

Saturday September 2:

It’s the annual pre Birthday Subbuteo football challenge here and in the opening match Adam triumphed against me 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw – next match bring on Steve Livesley!

Sunday September 3:

Second match of the annual pre Birthday Subbuteo football challenge here – a floodlight encounter against Steve Livesley -a narrow 1-0 victory for me – you gotta love Subbuteo!

Sunday September 3:

At the annual Subbuteo football challenge here yesterday it was great to see Steve and Anne Marie – they brought along some early Birthday presents (67 tomorrow!) and among my favourite kinds – LP records, including Linda Ronstadt A Retrospective compilation, Cat Stevens Tea For The Tillerman Island Records Australian pressing, Bob Dylan Pat Garrett soundtrack and the Very Best of Bobbie Gentry – top stuff – thanks you lovely people…

September 4:

It was 53 years ago today:
On this day in 1970 Led Zeppelin performed a much bootlegged gig at the Los Angeles Forum – hence you can never have too many copies of Led Zeppelin Live on Blueberry Hill.
I have a fair few versions on CD and this one is my CD favourite.
An original Tarantura label release packaged as an original master recording in a long form box. Not the most complete recording but very good indeed.
I vividly remember buying this at a P and J record fair in London Victoria in early 1994. The renowned dealer Bob Langley turned up with a crop of newly released Tarantula releases. They were top dollar prices with the Blueberry Hill set coming in at £80.
This was an era where if you did not invest there and then you may not see it again and I was happy to shell out for an iconic recording and of course some 30 years on from making that purchase, this one still sounds great.

Monday September5:

On my Birthday great to meet up with three of my ex Wallbangers FC team mates Dave Bunting Shaun King and Geoff Klein – I’ve known these guys for some 49 years – and feel very blessed by their friendship. Note coffee is the new beer (for now!) – just in case we get called up for a game next Sunday!

Tuesday September 5:

Always a tradition to see my very good friend Pete Burridge on my Birthday –pictured here in The Castle with my present from Pete a Jose Feliciano demo single Destiny/Susie Q (Dec hope you have it!) released August 28 1970 the weekend Jimi Hendrix played the Isle Of Wight festival – I took along a retro NME from the time of my Birthday in 1971-we did well with the crossword – cheers Pete!

Tuesday September 5:

Birthday Reflections – pictured in 1991 at the time of the publication of my book Led Zeppelin A Celebration which was all written in this room…surrounded by a few of my favourite things…

Tuesday September 5:

Birthday Reflections – here’s some pics from Dents Road the council house where I lived from age 2 to 27. All the early TBL mags were created in my bedroom and posted from 52 Dents Road – I have great affinity for this place – my childhood roots and more remain here…

Tuesday September 5:

Now this is my kind of book – thank you Mr Richard Grubb for this lovely Birthday present!

Tuesday September 5:

One of my record collecting passions is the promo compilation albums produced on the CBS Special Products label – so this crop sent for my Birthday by my very good friend and record collecting comrade John Parkin is. Very welcomed -thanks mate!

Tuesday September 5:

Birthday evening drink with the good lady Janet – perfect company to end a perfect day!

Wednesday September 6:

The good lady Janet and I would like to say a massive thanks for all the many Birthday wishes, comments and cards we received for our respective birthdays on August 31 and September 5.
We are truly humbled, blessed and inspired by such kindness…
Apologies if I missed acknowledging some of them – it was overwhelming and heart-warming to receive so many and sincere thanks again…
Much love from Dave and Janet.
Thursday September 7:
I simply love the new Rolling Stones single Angry…
I was in the Slide Record shop today and Warren had it blasting out and it sounded fantastic…and just when you might think all the greatest rock riffs have been played – along comes our Keef with another gem…
Will Hodgkinson had it absolutely spot on in his feature on the Stones in The Times today and I quote:
‘’Angry is classic Stones – simple, exciting, a little ridiculous and imbued with that magical almost innocent quality that makes the world a better place’’
Spot on indeed Will..
In an ever changing world one thing remains constant…The Rolling Stones ability to inspire and bring such joy…
Thank you Mick, Keith and Ronnie (and of course Charlie)…
Here’s the YouTube link to the video…

Update here:

It’s been a real bonus to enjoy the sunshine of an Indian summer these past few days. Our Birthday celebrations and the humbling good wishes of so many has made us feel very blessedindeed. The arrival of a classic Rolling Stones new single has also been a real tonic.

As mentioned above we were humbled by the many lovely comments received on our respective Birthdays – this comment from long time TBL subscriber and friend Sheldon Cole particularly inspired and gladdened my heart…

”Best wishes to you both. Dave, you have improved the lives of countless people including myself through your writing and friendship.”

Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  September  7 2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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  • Guy said:

    Thanks Michael for your great review of saving grace in Rome. I had same experience in taormina 3 days before. I like in particular your feelings on saving grace impact on Robert’s live performance. I follow him since at least 40 years with ups and downs but this combo and it’s acoustic genre fits so well to him and Suzi.

  • Ed Dowling said:

    Dave – happy birthday and many more! Hope you had a great one. Best wishes to you, The Good Lady Janet and your family! Keep rocking and Ever Onward.


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