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ROBERT PLANT PRESENTS SAVING GRACE SPRING UK TOUR – BRISTOL BEACON FIRST NIGHT ON THE SPOT TBL REVIEW/LZ NEWS/PAGE & PLANT ISTANBUL ’98/ COVERDALE PAGE’93/PF OF Z LATEST/LONDON RECORD SHOPS/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

14 March 2024 1,202 views One Comment

Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian –  Never Ending Spring 2024…up and running 

Here’s a reminder of the tour dates in the coming weeks this month…

  • March 13 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bristol, UK.
  • March 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ipswich, UK.
  • March 17 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in London, UK.
  • March 18 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Tunbridge Wells, UK.
  • March 20 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Peterborough, UK.
  • March 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Nottingham, UK.
  • March 23 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Hastings, UK.
  • March 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Teenage Cancer Trust “Ovation” event in London, UK
  • March 26 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Liverpool, UK.
  • March 27 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Sheffield, UK.
  • March 29 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Blackburn, UK.

First night of the tour: Bristol Beacon – March 13 2024

On the spot report for TBL by Jonathan Taylor 

Warning: Some set spoilers.

Robert Plant and Saving Grace: Bristol Beacon 13/03/2024

A first visit to the refurbished and rechristened Bristol Beacon; familiar territory and yet feeling new and vibrant. Which can also be said of Saving Grace, as Robert Plant (vocals, bass, harmonica, percussion), Suzi Dian (vocals, accordion, bass), Oli Jefferson (drums, percussion), Matt Worley (guitars, mandolin, banjo, cuatro) and Tony Kelsey (guitars, mandolin) spend their set navigating skilfully through well-travelled musical ways whilst freshly redrawing the maps that led them to these songs.

At the Wolverhampton concert last November, it seemed as though Plant had called time on Saving Grace; I for one am so thankful that he has not.

This collective of superb musicians not only bring such beautiful empathy and keen insight to the songs, Plant so clearly feeds off their onstage energy.

He’s on form tonight, full of his customary dry wit; even from the Circle, the twinkle in his eye was there for all to see. Previous Saving Grace shows I’ve been fortunate enough to be at have been revelatory, and tonight at the Beacon is no exception, as the band begin their 2024 “Never Ending Spring” UK tour with a show full of their innate power and, well…grace.

There is a palpable joy in their performance. In Suzi Dian, Plant has found a voice that not only complements his own rich tones, but also invites him to reach, a challenge Plant accepts with wonderful results.

This is never more evident than in the selection of songs from Robert Plant’s storied past, as Led Zeppelin’s music breathes fresh oxygen and Plant’s vocals sound as good as they have ever done. “The Rain Song”, now embellished by Dian’s simply beautiful accordion, is born anew in the skilled hands of Saving Grace. That said, there is so much invention and creativity contained within the whole set, as opener “Gospel Plow” heads East tonight, and “The Cuckoo” feels more sprightly than ever; “Let The Four Winds Blow”, “Four Sticks” and “The May Queen” don new mantles or have their robes restitched.

There is craft and gorgeous guile in Saving Grace, as they delve into their melting pot of music culture. The respectful vibe in the Room is such that when the band ease back during Suzi Dian showpiece “Too Far From Me” allowing Dian to sing “I’m lost again, too far from you” unaccompanied, if a pin had dropped inside the Beacon it would have sounded like an explosion.

There are a few changes to the set from last year’s shows, the most notable being the introduction to the encore of “In My Time Of Dying” (hinted at back when Saving Grace used to include “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down”), tonight returned to its Folk Blues roots; it’s as gorgeously real as the Blues ever gets.

A straight ahead stride through “Gallows Pole”, now shorn of its “Black Dog”/“Whole Lotta Love” references brings tonight’s compelling concert to its finale, the ever-present band-around-one -mic farewell of “I Bid You Goodnight.”

Another excellent night in the company of this breathtaking band. For my money, this is Robert Plant at his very best, and long may Saving Grace continue to enthrall and delight.

Jonathan Taylor

Above photos from the Bristol beacon gig by Jonathan Taylor – many thanks to Jonathan for this speedy review – thanks mate!

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Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian – Never Ending Spring 2024…up and running…
First night of the tour: Bristol Beacon – March 13 2024
Here’s some photos from last night’s opening gig in Bristol taken by Richard Grubb for TBL…

Thanks Richard!

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London Palladium Sunday March 17 – TBL pre Robert Plant Saving Grace gig meet:

It’s been a long time since there’s been a Robert Plant related central London gig and I’m sure there will be a fair few fans travelling in.

A perfect opportunity for a pre gig TBL meet so to that end, I will be in the TBL office also known as The Spice Of Life from around 5pm.

The Spice of Life is situated in Cambridge Circus in Soho at 6 Moor Street – the London Palladium venue is about five minutes walk away. I very much look forward to seeing all that make it along and of course in the venue to.

Here’s a link to The Spice of Life details:

https://www.spiceoflifesoho.com/

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LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Led Zeppelin

How Led Zeppelin tried to use a Shakespearean theatre charity to avoid paying tax

We’ve developed a niche here at LedZepNews of digging into Led Zeppelin’s finances. We previously investigated the global network of businesses that Led Zeppelin used to minimise the tax bill on its 1977 US tourrevealed the band’s full 1968 recording contractexamined the band’s corporate empire involving more than 50 businesses across the UK and US, published details of the accounts for Jimmy Page’s London bookshop and also revealed previously unseen New York Police Department documents on the theft of the band’s money in 1973.

This week, we reveal how in 1978 Led Zeppelin hired a leading tax advisory firm that encouraged the band to sell its companies to a niche Shakespearean theatre charity run from a former church in London by a Bond villain.

The scheme worked – for a while. Led Zeppelin avoided paying tax on its earnings entirely. But then the band’s former tax advisors were targetted in dawn raids by police and the firm became the centre of a major legal and political scandal.

The outcome for Led Zeppelin was a hefty tax bill in the early 1980s that helped persuade the surviving members of the band to release Coda.

If you’re curious about Led Zeppelin’s corporate empire, we’ve been keeping this article updated with all of the companies connected to the band and its members. We’re now up to more than 50 different businesses we’ve found connected to the band.

We know that many of the 5,300 of you who read this email are equally as curious as us about Led Zeppelin, so here are some unsolved mysteries about the band’s companies. Feel free to send us an email if you have any suggestions!

  • When was Superhype Music founded? Jimmy Page and Peter Grant set up Superhype Tapes and Superhype Company on October 22, 1968. Another company, Superhype Music, was also set up in 1968, but the precise date of its formation is unclear as another business with the same name was also set up in 1974, overwriting data on the original business.
  • What was Ramblelynn? In the 1980s Jimmy Page was a director of a business named Ramblelynn which seems to be connected to a yacht. Was Ramblelynn a boat that Page used?
  • What do C & P Sixty Eight and C + P Eighty Six mean? Businesses with these names were set up in 2003 and 2004 and seemingly were connected to Led Zeppelin. But what do those names mean?
  • Why did Peter Grant call his business Peer Grant?
  • What is Bloodmoney, Robert Plant’s new company he set up last year?
  • Were there any other “Cap” companies? Jimmy Page had Cap Ten and John Paul Jones had Cap Three.
  • What was Palamino Records, a company set up by Robert Plant in 1975?

Previously unseen photos of Led Zeppelin performing in Frankfurt, Germany on July 18, 1970 were posted online

Led Zeppelin Official Forum member zeplz71 shared these previously unseen photos of Led Zeppelin performing in Frankfurt, Germany on July 18, 1970. The photographer who took the images is unnamed.

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page and his girlfriend Scarlett Sabet attended a fashion show in Paris on March 2. They were photographed sitting on the front row of the Ann Demeulemeester Autumn/Winter 2024 show next to Victoria De Angelis, the bass player for Måneskin.

Jimmy Page’s new Gibson replica guitar is on the way

LedZepNews hears that Jimmy Page’s new replica 1971 Gibson EDS-1275 double neck guitar is due to be officially unveiled next week. Page and Gibson announced that new guitar and a new partnership between them last month.

Robert Plant

Four members of Robert Plant’s former solo band reunited for a show

TBL Archive Special  – it was 26 years ago…

TBL ARCHIVE SPECIAL :JIMMY PAGE & ROBERT PLANT LIVE IN ISTANBUL – 26 YEARS GONE…

Whenever early March rolls around my thoughts drift back to 1998 and the completely mad month it was in the chronicling of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. It’s incredible to think this is now all of 26 years ago – it really does seem like yesterday. When I look back to that period we almost took it for granted that Jimmy and Robert would be up there on stage doing it night after night. With a US tour ahead and a UK tour to follow , they were certainly high profile that year – but as we were to discover – it was not to last. So it’s a great period to look back on  – with the late great Michael Lee on drums, this line up really gelled and with an impending new album due out, it was a very productive period. So let’s turn the clock back to 1998…

Now this one is a bit of an epic.  This was first published in TBL 13 – It’s an road chronicle of the TBL crew’s adventures in pursuit of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant across the and month of March 1998. This took in two dates in Istanbul – something of a zenith in my own ‘’Crazy things I’ve done in the name of Zep’’ portfolio, followed by the superb Shepherds Bush Empire gig which in turn was followed by successive TV recordings at Top Of The Pops in Elstree and TFI Friday in Hammersmith.

Incredibly this all occurred 26 years ago…

Looking back, this was one of the last real on the road assaults we undertook – there was a second UK leg of gigs in the late summer autumn which was also a real buzz but after that it got harder to just take off at short notice. Jobs, children and other priorities began to take precedent. This was definitely the period when if they were playing somewhere and we could get there, we’d be off. Great days and definitely crazy days. There some incendiary Page & Plant live performances in 1998 and we saw a good few of them. Read on to soak up a blow by blow account from the era when ‘’Walking into everywhere’’ was their motto and ours…

Part One has all roads leading to Istanbul for the beginning of another new chapter….so reach for those P & P ’98 CD’s and here we go…

More strange tales from the road: Crazy taxi drivers in search of the Bostanci Centre, power failure before the show, repeated chants of ‘’Zeppelin’’ ‘’Zeppelin’’ from the Istanbul faithful, How Many More Times back after 23 years, Saturday morning queues in Tottenham Court Road, the Empire strikes back in Shepherds Bush, Yes it’s number one it’s Top of The Pos, building a House Of Love in Elstree, followed by Rock And Roll on a Friday night TV show in Hammersmith…it all happened during the mad month of March 1998…

Thursday March 5, 1998:

This is a moment that crystallizes yet another rejuvenation. It happens towards the end of Thank You which is being performed in a slightly differing arrangement to last time. As they come out of the final verse, Robert as is customary picks up the tambourine and stands in that classic pose. Jimmy swings around with the Gibson – low slung as ever and they’re both primed for the finale… Robert glances at the guitarist expecting the solo to hit in, Jimmy for his part hesitates for about three seconds. Robert is momentarily knocked off guard and then it happens. Page takes a few steps towards Michael Lee and Crunch! He scrubs those strings’ like there is no tomorrow… like it just might be the final solo ever. Robert gives a knowing grin, picks up the flow and checks in for the final pleadings. “You’re my heart and soul, I still love you so, I wanna Thank You, oh oh oh ooh’.’

The song grinds to a halt and there’s the singer shaded by the golden spotlight soaking up the applause – and to his left the guitarist happy and smiling, knowing the joy he has brought to the audience.

And Istanbul surrenders. Just as in the past, Mannheim has surrendered… Sydney has surrendered… Los Angeles has surrendered… Wembley has surrendered… Sheffield has surrendered… You name the location – their music has touched every culture and country they’ve come into contact with.

Surrendered to the sheer power and glory, that these two musicians have been championing for nigh on thirty years. From the earliest days of Led Zeppelin through to this latest and long awaited new incarnation. And right now it still feels and looks so utterly convincing. Dancing Days are here again? Too true they are.

Yes it’s been a long time. To be precise, it’s been 949 days since I’d last heard that final cry of Thank You ring out aloud. Back then it was in the confines of Wembley Arena in July 1995 – the final night of the Unledded UK tour. Since then they’ve gone through some changes… and we have to. Back in January though, the wheels began to roll again with the announcement of an eight date Eastern European tour.

Initially I had little thoughts of going over. The expense and logistics seemed to halt any such notion. Gradually as I kept writing out the tour dates for the TBL Newsletter Extra, it began to get a little exciting. Unsurprisingly, others were feeling the same way and various options opened up. There was the offer of a drive from the UK to attend the Prague and Katowice date (thank you Steve ). That proved too difficult in terms of how long I’d be away.

The opportunity to attend the first date in Zagreb also proved impossible due to work schedules. Then the ever enthusiastic Mr. and Mrs. Foy came up with the Istanbul package, by no means cheap, but viable in so much that I’d only need to be away from Janet, Sam and Adam for three days. Permission from the Totnes HQ was granted (Janet in at number one, yet again, as the Most Understanding Wife of All Time). With Turkey not being so very far away from the projected air strikes, I did have a rather worrying time when the unrest in the Gulf blew up (any projected Istanbul bootleg being jokingly forecast as being titled The Human Shield by one wag) but thankfully that all died down. Frantic arrangements were drawn up, many an international call to Istanbul logged and before I knew it, I was waving the family good-bye yet again in search of the musical inspiration that continues to be a reason for being – rather than having been – as the singer once so astutely put it.

So it is I find myself on a plane bound for Athens over night leading into March 5. What with coping with my work schedule over the past few days to free up these days, I’d had little time so far to get really excited about it. The three and a half hour flight provides time to reflect. This is the seventh night of the tour. So far the reports have been enthusiastic – though not without some reservation. Like many others I was a little disappointed at the set list structure being very much along the lines of the ’95/6 jaunt. On closer inspection it’s apparent that there are nine songs being performed that I have yet to see Page and Plant play live. I’d been lucky enough to receive an audience video of the Budapest show so I had a good idea of the set list and stage set up. Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale? Bring them on…

Reading matter on the way over includes the NME which has a full page ad for the Uncut magazine. And there they are on the cover… “The Old Devils Are Back” is the cover boast. They are back but not quite in our sights yet. The Foys and I have to endure a three hour stop-over at a deserted Athens airport at three in the morning. Finally we are on the hour long flight bound for Istanbul and we duly arrive in the city at 9am. The first perilous taxi drive follows. The traffic out there is quite frightening with constant horns being tooted and pedestrians darting in-between the cars. Give me my push-bike back in Bedford any day.

Eventually we check in and get settled. In the afternoon it’s over to the Merit Antique Hotel for the Press Conference. The Turkish press is afforded a playback of the album as they await the arrival of the pair. Around 3pm Jimmy and Robert saunter in apologizing for being late and for the next forty five minutes fend off the most inane questions.

istanbul 1

One of the first is “Where is John Paul Jones?” Understandably this irritates them immediately. “Believe it or not that’s not the first time we’ve been asked that question” is Plant’s reply. Jimmy only becomes interested when someone asks about the Puff Daddy Kashmir project. “We set up a studio satellite link with LA and it sounded really good.” At one point, Plant takes a few pictures of the assembled with his own camera. Having fielded the questions they’re off to the venue to prepare for the show. We strike it lucky by (and I kid you not!) seeing a sign on the main road a few hundred yards down that proclaims “English Pub”. It wasn’t quite the Fox and Hounds back home but it’ll do nicely as the adrenaline pumps up.

The venue itself is situated a few miles over the city in the Asian area of Bostanci. The gig is scheduled for 8.30 so one for the road around half five seemed well in order. We couldn’t have been more wrong! The taxi drive over to the centre was nearly enough to make me want to take up smoking.

Stress levels were at their highest as we battled traffic congestion that made the M25 look like a B road. The poor taxi driver was also having trouble trying to find the place. Several times he snatched up one of our tickets and rushed out to passers-by.

Cue visions of the ticket being snatched away and leaving us in a state of limbo! Eventually, after viewing the sights of down-town Istanbul at length, and after nearly two hours, the dome-like building that is the Bostanci Centre draws into view.

Old songs, new songs and hot songs

Outside there are lengthy queues to gain entry and much scurrying around. Soon we are in the arena and the excitement really begins. The Bostanci Centre holds around 4,000. Already there are a number of fans huddled around the front. The actual structure of the building reminds me of the St Austell Coliseum. There’s terracing around each side and even the far back terracing is in close proximity to the stage. The audiences are a mixture of young Turks grateful for any kind of rock event in their vicinity and older looking fans weaned on Zep 4. The average age I’d say is around 25. There’s also quite a strong young female presence. Amongst all of these of course are some old friends.

It never fails to amaze me this devotion to the cause – and how certain enthusiasts (or loony’s!) decamp to whatever country, state or town Page and Plant inhabit.

Tonight the Bostanci is quite full but comfortable. We endure the half hour support act onslaught of progressive rock (i.e. what Marillion would sound like if they’d been born in Turkey) which actually goes down well with the locals. There’s the usual milling around the stage from the roadies – and it does begin to get very exiting when Jimmy’s Theremin is tested – and when the guitar tech straps on the Gibson for testing.

I’ve worked out that this is something like the 60th occasion I’ve been privileged to watch Page and Plant perform live either as Led Zeppelin, on solo tours or as part of the Unledded project. That’s 60 shows, across 26 years. And here we are again. How will it be? I mean how long can they continue at this pace? It’s a re-occurring question these days. Being far from home in a completely foreign country only goes to heighten the excitement and anticipation as the lights go low and the familiar Egyptian intro music booms out.

The answer to the above questions arrives in just about the time it takes Robert Plant to whip the microphone off it’s stand and strut in regal pose seconds into the opening number Wanton Song.

I get a mental flashback to the sense of awe at the opening of previous Zeppelin events – notably Cologne in 1980. Because, this is another rejuvenation.

As they stomp through the opening number it’s immediately apparent how much more focused this 1998 set up is. This is Page and Plant functioning in a four piece rock band again and boy does it rock. And they look good too. I’d had reservations about Plant’s earlier appearance in the tour with the baggy pants, but tonight he looks every inch the veteran star front man. Long sleeved pattern shirt and leather pants tucked into boots; Page with black T-shirt, perhaps a little paunchier, but hey, this lot have a combined age of 104! It could and maybe should look faintly ridiculous. But somehow it just doesn’t. It just looks like it should do – two superb musicians performing with an enthusiasm that simply defies the years.

They don’t need to justify being up there. The crowd reaction does that as they leap up and down in time to Robert’s pogo-ing. The opening salvo of Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker (first time I’ve seen that played live since August 4 1979) is an immensely exiting segment. It’s Plant who is the immediate eye opener. In 1995 he was content to often hug the mike stand and recoil from those old poses – perhaps rendering them relevant only to a bygone age. Not tonight. He’s up there agile as ever and strutting mike in hand with supreme confidence. Jimmy shares that confidence playing with a fluency that we could only have dreamed of a few years back. It may not be note perfect and there are one two early fluffs but nothing that blows the momentum. The PA sound is also a revelation – crystal clear and exposing the quality of Plant’s vocals.

“Good evening Istanbul. Tonight we’d like to do some new songs, some old songs and some hot songs.”

Ramble On inspires more pogoing down the front – and it’s still a great tune. There’s a switch of guitar (a new addition to the guitar army: a PRS model with tremolo arm) for the new Walking Into Clarksdale. Another delight with its rockabilly guitar and deft change of tempo. Here Page lays back and shoots out the first real solo evoking memories of The Yardbirds latter days with its fluttering style.

It’s worth explaining at this point the stage lay-out and lighting. Gone is the big cloth backdrop. The stage rig relies on the lighting alone to shadow it. The lighting itself is really impressive. Clever uses of solo spot-lights are supplemented by on stage spots that are often used to illuminate the crowd. Simple but effective. From our vantage point up on the terracing by the left hand side of the stage it provides many visual flashbacks as the silhouetted figures wallow in the light.

The next number evokes a great cheer from the crowd but it’s a controversial moment. We’re hearing the familiar electric keyboard motif of No Quarter played · la Zeppelin circa 1973. Opinions will be divided on the merit of this inclusion which is perhaps a little close for comfort. I’m sitting on the fence here because they pull it off very well. Jimmy’s solo is very spirit of MSG ’73 and his grin seems to confirm his pleasure at dishing that one out again.

The acoustic interlude follows with Plant on a stool and Page sitting down with the acoustic. Keyboard player Phil Andrews supplies the mandolin. Going To California garners a huge audience response and is followed by a wonderfully nostalgic Tangerine (first time I’ve heard it played live since May 25 1975)- Plant off the stool, dragging the mike around.

Thankfully Robert avoids the “In olden days” spiel for Gallows Pole, opting for that tale of how the song travelled up the Mississippi Delta to the UK story. This is a track I got played out on during the ’95 tour. it sounds fresher in a more simplified arrangement and both of them are well animated for the speeded up finale.

It’s back to the full force of the riff infested Burning Up from the new album. Page excels here as he churns out the smoldering riffs that lead the song. Michael Lee is also impressive underpinning it all with a solid time honored tom-tom fills. Only Plant suffers a little – sometimes straining on the chorus although he is supplemented later by what appears to be some sampled backing vocals · la the album. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You follows and is a real highlight. Faultlessly delivered, with all the required dynamics and a twist in the arrangement that allows Page to turn in a very bluesy Since I’ve Been Loving You type solo.

“Do you like Jazz?’’ is Plant’s odd request that makes more sense when they enter the Coltrane like beginning of How Many More Times. Now this is really something. They haven’t played it in full since 1975 and the audience soaks it up with perhaps the younger element very familiar with it as part of the BBC set. Page wields the violin bow for the eerie middle section and then it drifts into a delivery of In The Light (· la the Calling To You/Whole Lotta Love medleys of last time out). There’s a great moment when they both cluster together in Achilles like tandem before the pressures back on for the up tempo ending which again raises the crowd to a frenzy – a fact highlighted by the spot-lights that engulf the audience in bright light.

“This is our new single, and it’s one of my favorite new numbers,’’ announces Plant over the looping Arabic intro to Most High. This is already becoming something of a ’98 tour signature tune. Page’s revolving guitar riff kick starting them into an infectious trek through some proven ground. It’s a track that carries all the pomp and extravagance of past Arabic adventures and the crowd immediately clue-in on it’s infectiousness.

“Thank you for your hospitality in your country – we’ve got to say goodnight.’’ Page keeps the sparkle Trans performance Gibson on to fire out the riff of the hit single that wasn’t. Yes it is Whole Lotta Love. It’s over familiarity could easily grate on me – but it never fails to have us pumping the air with it’s barnstorming riff which in turn leads to the Knebworth revamp section “1234 da da da dadadum” – you know the one. Then Page stalks over to the Theremin for a last bout of expected showmanship. Lights up, handshakes, hugs and farewells. Then they are gone.

And then it starts, a slow rumble first then building to a crescendo: “Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin”. The repeated cry goes up. It’s along time since I’ve heard this sort of eager reception.

They return for a beautifully restrained Thank You. Performed in a new arrangement that finds Page hanging on to every solo. Then there’s that great moment of hesitancy before he scrubs out the final run. More exits left, more chanting and then it’s welcome to Rock And Roll. (“This is how we say… Oh no not again…’’); Page has saved up the energy for this one as he duck walks across the stage pausing for a couple of mini jumps (at least 4 inches off the ground!) while Robert milks the crowd for the “Lonely lonely” parts. In fact there’s one great final visual image – Robert goes down on one knee and then jumps up and grabs the mike in a pose that’s identical to the Neal Preston photo to be found on page 104 of Cross And Flannigan’s Heaven And Hell.

“Istanbul Goodnight!’’

There’s a real warm glow about the audience as they shuffle out. And something of a mini Zepp Convention ensures as the UK central Europe clan gather excitedly. I point out a young lady of around 18 who I had seen dancing enthusiastically throughout the show. Led Zeppelin had clearly played their final American tour years before she was born. But that’s always when it really hits me. To see a new generation inspired by this music just as we’ve been inspired years before. Yes the wheel rolls. It’s enough to make you feel bulldog British proud.

istanbul 2

Mr Foy outside the venue…

Friday March 6, 1998:

A few hours later we are outside a very wet and miserable Bostanci Centre. After yesterday’s pleasant weather it comes as something of a surprise. In fact I’d have been well advised to have worn the new leather coat that one of the eager local tradesman had hoisted upon us when we checked out the local McDonalds earlier. The rain coupled with some unfortunate stress I’m having to deal with makes the morale somewhat low.

Quick aside: This involved an incident  where we inadvertently (it was a genuine mistake!) took a ride from the hotel to the second gig in the tour bus that was meant for the road crew – thus leaving them to get taxis to the venue. Unsurprisingly this did not go down too well and I had some explaining and apologising to do rather quickly – I can laugh about it now but back on the day it was stress city believe me! The complete story is one for the memoirs for sure…like I said these were crazy days!

Still, the show must go on. Well nearly. Tonight it’s evident that there are many more in attendance. It also seems to be a younger age group overall. Things begin to get a little bit scary when around 8.30 the whole place is plunged into darkness. This does no favors to those trying to gain entry by the main door. A series of heavy pushing and shoving results in a few people being carried out for medical assistance.

The lights come back on partially. And announcement from the stage informs that the area has been hit by a power cut and the PA is being powered by an emergency generator (shades of Copenhagen ’79). Thankfully the lighting improves and the support act kick off around 9.30. By the time the stage is cleared ready for Page and Plant the arena is packed to over-flowing with little room for manoeuvre. I’d say at least 2,000 more are in tonight, which makes for some uncomfortable viewing but luckily I manage a good spot to the right of the stage.

Around 10.15 PM the lights go down and we’re off again. Page retaining the black T-shirt garb; Plant has switched to the dark with white trim T-shirt he’d worn on earlier dates with the leather trousers.

The show runs very much to last night’s structure. If anything Robert’s performance is even more impressive. During Heartbreaker he does one classic shimmy across the stage that ignites the crowd into a huge roar. “This is the last night of the tour… so let’s have some fun.’’

On Burning Up he hits the notes perfectly sparring with Page’s trademark licks and riffs. Tonight’s crowd offer up most response to No Quarter, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (especially the final Stairway tease) and How Many More Times (“Do you like jazz… Liars!’’) Robert throws in a quite breathtaking accapella verse from In My Time Of Dying before the In The Light insert.

Most High is also enthusiastically received spurring Plant to raise the tempo as they hit the finale. Prior to delivering the new single, Plant had welcomed over various record company people who had come here for the weekend. During Whole Lotta Love Jimmy does a quick guitar change mid song from the red sparkle Trans Gibson to the light brown model.

“We’ll try and see you in the summer when we’ll play outside and the tickets will be cheaper,’’ explains Robert as they re-appear for the encores of Thank You and Rock And Roll. “I guess this is why we’ve been doing this for 30 years,’’ is Robert’s comment as he surveys the adulation. It’s obviously a moving moment for him as he hauls up Ross Halfin on stage to photograph the crowd, for perhaps his own posterity.

The usual bows and waves… and the 1998 Eastern European Tour is over.

istanbul 5

Saturday March 7, 1998:

Reflections on the plane journey back. Well as I’d hoped this Page Plant project has moved on.

It really does feel like a four piece rock band again and the focus is clearly on the two principal players. There are definite parallels to the rejuvenation Zeppelin attempted in Europe all those years ago.

This is very much a stripped down show from ’95 in the same way that the Over Europe tour was very much stripped down from the Knebworth shows. Seeing all this in a foreign country has been a real eye-opener and confirmation once again that this thing is an international phenomenon that shows no sign of waning. The flight back is a little tiring – I pass the four hours by managing to finish off an excellent novel by Charles Higson called Getting Rid Of Mister Kitchen.

It takes over an hour to recover our baggage through Heathrow and finally it’s home and back to reality with our  Samantha’s evening school disco to attend.. Here the plaintive tones of Aqua, All Saints and The Spice Girls replace the likes of Most High, Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale. Suddenly Istanbul seems a million miles away….

Dave Lewis -March 1998

PART TWO TO FOLLOW: Queuing by the sick, Shepherds Bush, Top Of The Pops and TFI Friday.

First published in TBL 13

Reading through all that it’s incredible to think that I managed to pull all this off in the midst of a 50 hour week managing the Our Price store in town and supporting Janet with the young Sam and Adam. It was a balancing act for sure but I didn’t really dwell on it too much -I just did it as my enthusiasm and zest was at a real peak. Despite some difficult situations that occurred I am so glad I can look back on this amazing period with such great affinity – it was certainly one of the maddest months during a mad time – but oh what fun was had and what musical inspiration they provided…

Dave Lewis – March 13 2024

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Coverdale Page – it was 31 years ago:

I have great affinity for this period. Like many of us, I was very unsure about David Coverdale and I am not a big fan. I do recognise he is a class vocalist and he certainly brought the best out of Jimmy when it was really needed.

Here’s my very enthusiastic review from the time that appeared in Record Collector.

‘’If you were one of the many who began to lose faith in Jimmy Page in the mid 80s’’ I stated,’’ this is where you can start to pick up the pieces. Coverdale Page is simply his most substantial project since the demise of Led Zeppelin’’

Back in that early spring of 1993 I can vividly recall the excitement of receiving an advance cassette of the album via journalist Chris Welch. That wide screen riffing  soared out of the speakers and it was so re assuring because we had the true Lord Of The Strings back. Despite one or two dips – Feeling Hot and Whisper A Prayer For The Dying grated a bit there was some amazing playing and most of it holds up well.

Given the egos and management demands on both sides,iIt was probably destined to be a short lived venture and as we all know, it was not too long before Jimmy rekindled his association with Robert – the Coverdale Page album is a unique one off  and one is till get a great buzz from.

In my review I went on to say:

‘’I defy any Zep fan not to break into a huge grin when confronted with the delightful idiosyncrasy of Page’s riffing on the opening track Shake My Tree. It’s archetypal jimmy Page as we know him best – a status maintained throughout this very welcome return to form’’ 28 years ago today the Coverdale Page album was released – at the time I heralded this as a massive return to form for Jimmy Page…

31 years on when I played this track today that grin remains the same…

Here’s an extract from the chapter Jimmy Page In The 90s that appeared in my book The Tight But Loose Files -Celebration II – this chronicles the Coverdale Page saga…

In early 1991 meetings were held with Plant and Jones to discuss a reunion. Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin was earmarked for the hot seat at the back but much to Page’s frustration Plant eventually vetoed the idea, opting to pursue his solo career.

When it was evident that Robert would not relent, Page shifted his thoughts to putting together a new band. He waded through scores of demos from singers but couldn’t find anything that inspired him. Then, in a bizarre twist to the story, he linked up with ex-Deep Purple and Whitesnake singer Dave Coverdale. Plant and Coverdale had been involved in several press spats over the years, with Plant criticising Coverdale for aping his style. Even Page was bemused by Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg using his trademark violin bow technique. “When I saw the video for that track (‘In The Heat Of The Night’) and the part where the guy starts playing with a bow, I actually fell around laughing. That’s how silly it had become.”

In what may have appeared as an act of sheer spite, Page defected to the Coverdale camp. It was more likely a marriage of convenience. “I got a call from my manager suggesting I meet with David Coverdale. So we had a meet to just see how it went socially. We thought we’d give it a couple of weeks – and if it didn’t work out we’d shake hands – I just hoped it wasn’t going to be me that couldn’t pull it off.” Conveniently, both artists were signed to the Geffen label whose A&R man John Kalodner instigated a meeting in March 1991 in New York. Page had been seen around the area jamming with local band The Reputations at the China Club and Les Paul at Fat Tuesday’s club.

There was enough rapport from that initial meeting for them to decamp to Coverdale’s Lake Tahoe home where the ideas started flowing. “The first day we wrote ‘Absolution Blues’ and it got better from there,” he said. They next went to Barbados where they penned ‘Barbados Blues’, later to be retitled ‘Pride And Joy’, and a whole batch of other songs.

In May the pair appeared on stage at a Poison/Slaughter show in Reno. The encore jam included Zep’s ‘Rock And Roll’. Page also turned up at a cub in Reno to jam with local band Solid Ground.

Within weeks they had began rehearsals that led to recording sessions commencing in Vancouver. They initially sought The Who’s John Entwistle to play bass at the sessions but when he was unavailable they brought in former Montrose and Heart drummer Denny Carmassi and Bad English bassist Ricky Phillips. The album’s recording was somewhat fragmented due to personal reasons – Page’s marriage was breaking down and Coverdale’s mother died. In early 1992 Page attended the Hall of Fame induction of The Yardbirds in New York, joining an all star jam that included Neil Young and Keith Richard.(he would return in 1995 with Plant and Jones to accept Zeppelin’s induction). In March he joined Harry Connick Jnr on stage at Miami’s Knights Center, jamming on a couple of blues numbers. Further sessions for the album took place in Miami and it was eventually mixed and completed at London’s Abbey Road studio in the autumn. Page also took time to compile the second box set of Led Zeppelin studio recordings, bringing in Coverdale Page engineer Mike Fraser to mix the previously unreleased Zep 1 outtake ‘Baby Come On Home’.

Reflecting on the Coverdale Page album he said, “I wanted to present the best I could get out of myself. And there is no doubt that we coaxed the best out of each other. It’s the best I’ve played since the days of Led Zeppelin.”

The completed Coverdale Page album was issued on Geffen in March 1993. It was the most focused performance on an album by Page in years, his playing ranging from the nondescript ‘In Through The Out Door’ leftover riffs of ‘Shake My Tree’ to the descending chord passages of ‘Take Me For A Little While’. It was a remarkable performance, encompassing all the dynamics that lit up his best work. Coverdale’s agile style made it easy for Page to weave his finely tooled riffs around, a throwback to the days when hard rock meant just that.

Coverdale and Page undertook a round of promotional interviews and ambitious plans were unveiled for them to play a 45-date tour in the US. The optimism soon petered out, however, when the album soon faded from the charts and disappointing ticket sales led to the tour’s cancellation. They did get to play a seven-date Japanese tour in December but by then the short-lived collaboration was at an end. The inability of the pair’s respective managements to agree on a future strategy was the root of the problem, as Page noted: “It’s the powers that be, the relative managements involved. All I know is what is recommended to me at the end of the day. I was up for playing anywhere but there’s nothing on the table after our Japanese dates.” With the planned Coverdale Page tour unable to hold off the effects of a US recession, what was conceived by Geffen as an obvious money raking exercise now had less potential. The powers that be, as Page put it, obviously saw little commercial future in the project.

The gigs in Japan (with a band compromising Guy Pratt on bass, Brett Tuggle on keyboards and Danny Carmassi on drums) featured a cross section of Zeppelin and Whitesnake tracks plus material from their album. Page’s performances were very encouraging. He was clearly rejuvenated, hammering out old Zeppelin numbers such as ‘Kashmir’ and ‘In My Time Of Dying’.

There had been rumours that Page would next undertake a solo project with Killing Joke’s Jazz Coleman and the Cairo Orchestra but that came to nothing. With the Coverdale link looking less likely to progress, Page received a surprise call from Plant who had received an offer from MTV to appear on their Uplugged series. He felt to do justice to the Zeppelin material in this setting it would require the vital ingredient of his old partner.

On route to rehearse with Coverdale for the Japanese tour, Page met with Plant in Boston in late ‘93 and agreed to renew their partnership for the MTV show, later to dubbed Unledded.

By the early spring of the following year Page and Plant were back rehearsing together. In April they appeared on stage together at the Alexis Korner benefit show in Buxton. The MTV project gave them ample scope to reinterpret the Zeppelin catalogue with the assistance of an Egyptian ensemble and English orchestra. Two special shows in late August at the London Studios provided the bulk of the material for the show. They also recorded additional songs in Marrakesh and Wales.

The Coverdale Page alliance was to remain a one album project.

Dave Lewis  from the Tight But Loose Files – Celebration II book published by Omnibus Press in 2003.


Meanwhile back in 1975……

 

 

 

 

 

 

49 years ago on Saturday March 15, 1975  my very good friend Dec got up very early to travel to Earls Court to be in this queue for tickets to see Led Zeppelin – I was working so Dec did the job and a very good one he did too returning with second row tickets for the Saturday May 24 performance. The countdown was on – as was my quest to get tickets for the other four nights which I am pleased to say all worked out. Five Glorious Nights lay ahead…and I’m still reveling in them 49 years on…

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Peoples Front of Zeppelin latest…

This is very good from the Peoples Front Of Zeppelin…their interpretation of Achilles Last Stand…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0weiYA0w1k&t=1s

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London Record Shop Analysis..

 My London record shop thoughts…

I often get asked for advice from visitors to London on what are the best record shops to check out. On my last visit a few weeks back I conducted a record shop analysis of the shops to be found in the Berwick Street and Soho areas – so here goes..

Sister Ray Records:

75 Berwick St, London W1F 8TG

Now this is my kind of record shop. Sister Ray (named after the Velvet Underground track) is a two floor shop on the right side of Berwick Street as you turn in from Oxford Street.

It used to be in a larger site across the road.

The top floor has racks on CDs both sides – plenty of bargains to be had here. The counter area also stacks various titles for under a fiver. The latest issues of Record Collector and Shindig! magazines are always were on show too.

Behind the counter there’s always a choice selection of the latest box set release. The basement floor is taken up with racks of mainly second hand vinyl LPs and singles.

There’s a cheaper section of titles at £1.99 and 3 for £5. Lots of rarities to be seen on the displays above the racks. The singles area has a £1 ex Juke Box section and a great selection of 60s/70s vintage singles rock, reggae, soul, psych and punk. The pricing is very reasonable and there are always a few demos and promos in there – I’ve snapped up a fair few of these over the years and on the day I was there last week bagged a couple of Marvin Welsh & Farrar demos on the Regal Zonophone label,

It may be a smaller unit than it once was but they pack in a variety of interesting stock. The staff are good too and the guy there went out of his way to fine the last copy of the 1962 British Hit parade a 60s compilation set I needed another copy of.

I rarely come out of Sister Ray without buying – the sign of a shop that is always an essential stop off as I make my way to the TBL office (also known as The Spice of Life)…

Reckless Records

30 Berwick St, London W1F 8RH

Another essential Berwick Street stop off. Reckless Records has a long standing reputation for being a magnet for collectors. It’s packed with interesting stock . The emphasis is firmly on LPs of every genre –both new pressings and second hand.. There’s also plenty of CDs, many at sale prices. It also stocks a lot of  singles –notably a rack full £1 bargains.

Reckless caters for the high end market too with lots of rare pressings to be seen above the main racks. A Led Zeppelin I in the turquoise let sleeve as on sale for a cool £1,500

With a constant stream of new stock arriving, there’s always something to wade through on every visit.

Sounds Of The Universe

 7 Broadwick St, London W1F ODA

Just around the corner from Reckless is Sounds of the Universe. This shop specialises in soul, funk and jazz Lps and singles but also has plenty of rock titles. There’s always a great selection of rock, soul and jazz books. The shop is well presented and clearly priced. There’s a basement area specialising in reggae along with more books. I’ve had a few bargains from here over the years – notably the Nick Drake Remembered For a While book for £15 and again it’s a shop always worth a look in.

Fopp

1 Earlham St,

Fopp is situated on the corner of Cambridge Circus – it’s named after a track on the Ohio Players  1975 album Honey. It’s not a collectors store as such as it only deals in new stock. However, there is much to seek out between the three tightly cramped floors.

From the moment you walk in this is a store that shouts ‘’buy me!’’ The front area has multiple displays of the latest releases plus piles of bargain value books – for instance they had The Beatles large format Get Back book reduced by half price to £15.

Further into the ground floor there’s DVDs, book offers, T shirts and plenty of themed end panels. There’s boxes of sale LPs plus a 3 for £55 vinyl offer.

The lower floor is packed with DVDs.  On climbing the stairs to the upper floor there’s an array of classic albums on CD racked at the front. The central A-Z racks are full of CDs.  To the left there a deep catalogue presentation of LPs. Books galore at the counter area mostly for under £7.

A number of CD titles are racked to commemorate the year they were released –again this all adds to the specialist feel of the store.

This Fopp store has been a favourite for years –and though the prices have raised a little, it’s still a very happening store with product offers everywhere you look.  It’s great for keeping up to date with recently released reissues etc and has long since been a key destination in filling gaps in my CD collection and more. There are still bargain priced CDs on offer from £3

A word of warning – it might be advisable not to visit the TBL office also known as The Spice Of Life  before a visit to Fopp. A couple of pints tends to heighten the desire for the Fopp retail experience!

Summary:

I often get asked which are London’s best record shops to visit – Sister Ray, Reckless Records Sound of the Universe and Fopp are a great starting point as they are all in close proximity and within easy access of the Oxford Circus /Piccadilly tube stations

Elsewhere there’s Rough Trade East in Brick Lane, Flashback Records in Islington and Crouch End, Music & Video Exchange in Notting Hill Gate , Casbah Records in Greenwich, Sounds Original in Ealing (I have the latter pair on my to visit list) and the Spitalfields Record Fair on the first and third Friday of each month. Plus the regular VIP Record Fairs at Victoria on January, April, September and November.

Out of London I’d recommend Empire Records in St, Albans, Black Circle Records in Leighton Buzzard, Relevant Record Café in Cambridge and Bedford’s Slide Record shop.

I’m sure there are many other great record shops dotted around the London area – let me know if there’s one you know of that I can add to this list…

Dave Lewis – March 2024

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DL Diary Blog Update:
Friday March 8:
Stairway To Heaven at 53:
On the player the TMQ bootleg album Stairway To Heaven – this has tracks from the 1971 BBC In Concert performance taped on April 1 1971 – the first time Stairway To heaven was broadcast on the radio.
I purchased this bootleg LP via mail order in early 1973…and on this 53rd anniversary week it sounds mighty fine…
The first broadcast performance of Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin taped at the Paris Theatre London April 1 1971 and first aired on Sunday April 4 some six months before the studio version was released on their fourth album.
I listened to this in complete awe that day and taped it all on my reel to reel tape recorder. This performance for the John Peel Sunday (repeated on Wednesday) In Concert show was the first time I heard Led Zeppelin live.
I was already obsessed with this band but it opened up a whole new level of appreciation for this particular 14 year old.
I knew back then that Stairway To Heaven was something special…and the intervening 53 years have done nothing to diminish that fact…
For me it remains the true essence of what Led Zeppelin represents… exploration, improvisation and compositional brilliance performed by four musicians of immense talent…
Friday March 8:
Great to see the visiting Alan Stutz down from Newcastle last night in the Three Cups – my very good friend of some 45 years.
Alan was one of the first buyers of the issue number one of the Tight But Loose mag back in 1979 and we have shared many a gig going moment over the years – Robert Plant on a fair few occasions, David Bowie 1983, Prince in 1988, Bruce Springsteen the same year and more.
It was a pleasure to hand over a belated Birthday present of the excellent Rush Portraits photo book published by Rufus Stone -Alan being a big Rush fan going way back – a top night all round…
Saturday March 9:
Saturday is platterday – on the player the brilliant 1970 Rod Stewart album Gasoline Alley – this one the original pressing on the Vertigo swirl label…
Saturday March 9:
Saturday is platterday – on the player the brilliant Bruce Springsteen Born To Run album..one of his best…
Saturday March 9:
Great to meet up earlier with our very good friends Alan Stutz and Phil and Eileen Harris…..
Sunday March 10:
On Mothers Day…love this pic of my Mum in the garden of our home in Dents Road back in the 1960s…
Sunday March 10:
Sunday nights sounds on CD – loading up the 1974 George Harrison album Dark Horse – this one the 2014 remaster with bonus tracks.
I’ve always enjoyed this album and played it a lot when I was first working at the WH Smith record department when it came out in late 1974.It includes has the great George Harrison collaboration with Ronnie Wood Far East Man – a version of which also appeared on Ron Wood’s solo album I’ve Got My Own Album To Do released around the same time.
Thanks to my record collecting comrade Steve Livesley for searching out this CD version for me recently – thanks mate!
Monday March 11:
A recent purchase  – The Ultimate Genre Guide – Singer -Songwriter…
This one is right up my street and superbly produced and presented from the makers of Uncut…
Wednesday March 13:
Recent DL CD acquisition:
I Am A Lineman For The County – Glen Campbell Sings Jimmy Webb…
Having seen the excellent review in Uncut for this just released Glen Campbell CD I knew it was right up my street. I have a fair few Glen LPs and this new collection looked a must-have.
It’s a 23 track overview of every Glen Campbell Jimmy Webb recording from 1967 to the early 1980s.
Being compiled by Bob Stanley for the Ace label is another recommendation – it’s a beauty…
Update here:

The Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian Never Ending Spring Tour 2024 is underway and it’s going to be a busy few days. I have the London Palladium Sunday show, next Wednesday’s Peterborough date and the Teenage Cancer Trust gig at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday march 24 lined up.

Back in the heyday I would have strolled through all of this but I am a bit apprehensive and anxious  about it as it’s a fair bit of travelling and socialising which can take it out of me nowadays. Combined with everything else here it’s a bit daunting. There’s also complications on the trains on Sunday going out from Bedford and back with a bus replacement service operating to and from Luton. Here’s hoping it will all work out…

I of course am very excited at the prospect of being in the company of Robert and the amazing Saving Grace.

To everyone who will be travelling around the country in the coming day in pursuit of this musical excellence – have a fabulous time…

Thanks for listening

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  March 14 2024 

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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One Comment »

  • Ralph Hunt Sidway said:

    Hi Dave! I’ve been off the map for a while due to working on my big photo book (days away from going to press), plus signs of aging (surgery and what not, nothing too major), so have been happy to have some time to get caught up here. The “nudge” to do so was the tremendous video dropped by Gibson today (just under 8 minutes, almost about as long as “Stairway!”), with an excellent interview with Jimmy to celebrate the official launch of their Jimmy Page 1969 EDS-1275 Doubleneck Collector’s Edition. Limited to 50, each one personally signed AND PLAYED by Jimmy (with video of him doing so), plus each one has the pick that he used for that guitar taped to the headstock (with gentle painter’s tape, looked like to me). The guitars were made in Nashville, and aged at the London Murphy Lab and are exact copies of Jimmy’s model, down to wear and crackling of the finish, and nicks and dings. An amazing event, includes great footage of the man touring the Gibson London setup and interacting with the team and luthiers there. Another rightly deserved accolade. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/a2t1E8zUvG8?si=vUfqbHmc7LseZcAZ

    Cheers and best wishes as always! – Ralph

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