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LED ZEPPELIN THE DESTROYER 46 YEARS GONE/PONTIAC 1977/LZ NEWS/FATE OF NATIONS AT 30/VIP VICTORIA RECORD FAIR/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

27 April 2023 897 views 4 Comments

TBL Archive…1977:

Led Zeppelin – The Destroyer 46 years Gone:

The first recordings I heard of the 1977 US tour was an echo laded audience tape from the April 28 Cleveland show. I had this arrive via one of my key collector contacts Russ Rees about a month after the gig. Despite the average sound, it was still a thrill to hear the likes of Ten Years Gone and Achilles Last Stand performed live. In 1980 a soundboard mixing desk tape emerged of the same gig. This was altogether something else – the two cassettes I received were played endlessly. Then about a year later  came the holy grail – a vinyl box set release.

destoyer
It’s a superb recording –  John Paul Jones’ use of the thundering Alembic bass guitar is well in evidence and his meandering keyboard solo on ‘No Quarter’ is simply captivating  – as is Jimmy’s remarkable guitar solo interlude. Overall, this is a crystal clear portrayal of the band regaining their crown. The sheer juggernaut power of ’77 Zeppelin blazes through. This one will be on the player this week for sure

The next night’s Cleveland performance April 28 ,which exists in a good audience source is another one to blast out these next few days in celebration. This one came out on a vinyl set on the Smilin’ Ears label in the late 70s also confusingly knows as The Destroyer.

The Return of The Destroyer Led Zeppelin Fan Gathering – 15 Years Gone:

Another anniversary and again hard to believe that it was all of 15 years ago this week that in collaboration with Julian Walker and Graeme Hutchinson, we staged a special Return of The Destroyer fan gathering at the Knights Templar pub in London. This was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of those memorable shows at the Richfield Coliseum on their 1977 US tour – later to be immortalised on the Destroyer box sets.

It was a great day out – I remember the late Howard Mylett attending along with a host of like minded enthusiasts and TBL supporters including Gary and Carol Foy.  Mark Harrison, Eddie Edwards, Graeme Hutchinson, Keith Creek, Gary Davies etc.

Robin Wealleans supplied the video and TV screen – in fact I recall we had a bit of job with the outside glare as it was an unusually hot and sunny spring day. Fan Lisa Haynes Truscott relayed her memories of being in the crowd at the curtailed Tampa date on June 3 1977.  We also staged an auction that raised over £1,000 for the ABC charity.

The night before I also interviewed ex Free/Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke at his gig at the Esquires club in Bedford. Crazy days indeed.

Here’s the report of the day that appeared in TBL issue 18. Little did we know as we gathered on that rather hot day in London, that plans were already underway for Led Zeppelin to stage a spectacular comeback in honour of Ahmet Ertegun- indeed the next time I would see some of the names above would be in the confines of the 02 Arena on that night of nights on Monday December 10, 2007.

More 1977  US tour memories:

Led Zeppelin – The Destroyer 46 years Gone:

Here’s a further piece about The Destroyer bootleg release.

This is the thoughts of Eddie Edwards – long time TBL contributor and author of the brilliant Garden Tapes Zep Song Remains The Same dissection website – see http://www.thegardentapes.co.uk/

This was first published in TBL issue 19.

 

 

 

 


 

 

A whole lotta people in Pontiac – 46 years gone:

It was 46 years ago on April 30 1977 this week that Led Zeppelin performed before 76,229 at the Silverdome in Pontiac Michigan. At the time it set a new world record attendance for an indoor solo attraction concert. It was Led Zeppelin’s largest non – festival solo concert appearance of their career…a whole lotta people…


LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

“Becoming Led Zeppelin,” the feature-length documentary film about the origins of Led Zeppelin, could finally be inching closer to being released after a new cut was privately screened in the US earlier this month.

We broke the news this week that the re-editing of the film is finally complete and a small number of people were invited to see the new cut of “Becoming Led Zeppelin” at Soho House West Hollywood on April 6.

In case you’ve lost track, you can read our complete history of the film here. It was announced in 2019 and screened in 2021, but since then there has been no announcement of its release. An update in 2022 revealed that the film was being re-edited and the new cut would include added footage.

Sources tell LedZepNews that the filmmakers have indeed finished the re-editing process and material that wasn’t present in the 2019 cut has been added.


A previously unheard audience recording of Led Zeppelin’s May 24, 1975 show at Earl’s Court in London was published online this week before being taken down due to a copyright claim from Warner Music Group, Led Zeppelin’s record label.

Robert Plant

Robert Plant was featured in a video about the signing of musician Ben Kidson to Wolves Records. The label also published photos of Plant and Kidson meeting here.

The latest leg of Robert Plant’s world tour with Alison Krauss will begin on Tuesday, April 25 when the pair perform in Shreveport, Louisiana. The tour is scheduled to continue throughout the US and Canada in April, May and June before it ends with an appearance on July 8 at the RBC Bluesfest festival in Ottawa, Ontario.

However, the official website for Plant and Krauss has been down since at least yesterday just as the pair prepare to head out on the road. LedZepNews attempted to visit the site today and was met with this message explaining that the site has expired. WHOIS records show the site’s registration expired on April 13.

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.
  • April 25 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Shreveport, Louisiana.
  • April 26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in The Woodlands, Texas.
  • April 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • April 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Pelham, Alabama.
  • April 30 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • May 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • May 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Huber Heights, Ohio.
  • May 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • May 7 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • May 9 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Asheville, North Carolina.
  • May 10 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • May 12 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in St. Augustine, Florida.
  • May 13 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • May 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • May 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • May 27 – The latest John Bonham celebration event will be held in Redditch.
  • June 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • June 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Tucson, Arizona.
  • June 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Taos, New Mexico.
  • June 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colorado.
  • June 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bonner, Montana.
  • June 23 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform on Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour in Somerset, Wisconsin.
  • June 24 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform on Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour in East Troy, Wisconsin.
  • June 25 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform on Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • June 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
  • June 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.
  • July 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bethel, New York.
  • July 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Lenox, Massachusetts.
  • July 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Portland, Maine.
  • July 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Toronto, Ontario.
  • July 7 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival in Montreal, Canada.
  • July 8 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa, Ontario.
  • August 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Portorož, Slovenia.
  • August 26 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.
  • August 28 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Macerata, Italy.
  • August 30 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Taormina, Sicily, Italy.
  • September 1 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Locus Festival in Bari, Italy.
  • September 3 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ostia, Italy.
  • 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.

 

Many thanks to James Cook

For all the latest Zep and related news check out the Led Zeppelin news website at:

http://ledzepnews.com/

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TBL ARCHIVE – THE FATE OF NATIONS TBL ALBUM REVIEW – 30 YEARS GONE:

Robert Plant’s Fate: Diversity As A Function Of Union

FATE OF NATIONS (Fontana/Es Paranza)

So he’s back and ready to re-establish himself all over again. Of course, being Robert Plant re-establishing yourself doesn’t mean a total change of image or musical stance. He just draws on the many influences that have characterised his journey of the past 30 years and extracts from them as he sees fit.

What’s so refreshing about ‘Fate Of Nations’ is that, for this occasion, Robert has delved into the very essence of his roots going as far back as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson, through Moby Grape, Quicksilver, The Incredible String Band, and Fairport Convention to the music of India and North Africa and, of course, the work of Led Zeppelin. And in taking these influences he has not allowed them to be diluted into a slick or soulless concoction but as he describes it, he has pumped them to inspire a set of new compositions that live and breathe yesterday, and by the same measure, push for the aspirations of tomorrow.

‘Fate Of Nations’ is therefore devoid of any grunge outings if you were looking. It’s also a step away from the rather staid standard rock formula that rendered some of the more mundane moments of ‘Manic Nirvana’ (‘She Said’, Big Love’) into the realms of mediocrity. By surrounding himself with new players and passions, Plant has pleased himself in taking his music where he wants it to go, and not where the consensus of opinion might expect it to go. For that reason alone, this album is vastly different from past solo outings.  Much of it demands utmost attention and does not rest easy on the ears in one listening. It may not be immediately apparent, but given time and repeated playback, the end result is a rewarding experience that for me, again confirms this particular 44 year old’s status as the outstanding vocalist of this or any other era.

The eclectic content of ‘Fate Of Nations’ perhaps also illustrates the difference of musical opinions that now divides Robert and Jimmy – and goes some way to explaining why a Led Zeppelin reunion could never work. Let’s face it, If I Were A Carpenter’ would not have found itself easily on a Zep reunion album. There is a totally different atmosphere prevailing on Robert’s album than that of the Coverdale Page set. Jimmy’s music is built on relentless riffing that captures a vast vacuum of sound. Robert has seemingly moved away from that stance, preferring to move around organically as he puts it, encompassing different styles and genres.

Not that he has lost his ability to adapt such Zep-like dynamics (witness ‘Calling To You’) when the desire takes him. For the most part though, the dynamics are alternately diversified and for me personally that’s not a problem. I can quite happily enjoy Jimmy and Robert’s respective new works based on their own differing merits and motives.

So this isn’t music that can be pigeon-holed to the cover of Kerrang. This is Robert Plant in 1993, still offering up that vocal style (his singing throughout is quite exemplary) that continues to give him a reason for being … instead of a reason for having been.

The track by track TBL dissection that follows is based on an advance tape and at the time of writing, I did not have access to the individual track listing details regarding who played what etc. Nonetheless this is how it sounded after a week of non-stop airtime on the Totnes Towers tape deck:

It all begins with ‘Calling To You’ which is simply the business. Beginning with some minor key strumming it then tacks into shape via Pete Thompson’s powerful (and yes perhaps Bonham-like) drumming. This really is a definite Zep throwback stomping along with some great dual guitar effects from, I think, Francis and Kevin. At the centre Robert turns in a majestic vocal, often undercutting the mix with additional bizarre phrases that add to the mystery of the lyric. All the old trademarks are intact (“Ohhhh Yeeaahhl”) and as effective as ever. The instrumental refrains have an Eastern quality about them and are further enhanced when one Nigel Kennedy enters to layer on a manic violin solo that recalls to mind the effects on The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows’.

The track fades (“Just fade awaaaay!”) all too soon (this groove could sustain another five minutes in my book) but there is a telling moment as Plant can be heard right at the close to scream “Oh Jimmy!”‘

Could this be Robert’s own personal retort to his former partner? Perhaps illustrating that he can still turn on his sort of dynamic style when required? All in all it’s an infectious and engrossing slab of archetypal Plant that proves that he can still commit himself to this vocal style better than anyone. It’s also one of his best solo tracks to emerge in a very long time.

Elsewhere there are many differering styles to assess. ‘Down To The Sea’ is a quirky, repetitive Cure-like ramble, led by a subtle injection of Eastern table drums. The descriptive nature of the repeated lyric (“When I get older settling down will you come down to the sea”) conjures up video storyboard images of deserted grey beaches and the retired Plant many years hence holding court in carnal Malibu style with a bevvy of beauties still in tow. Vaguely psychedelic and dreamy, this track has a very ambient feel and is a very enjoyable departure.

‘Come Into My Life’ can be viewed as a direct influence of his hanging out with the Fairports. So enter Richard Thompson to add some achingly beautiful guitar licks and Maire Brennan from Clannad to float around Robert’s turn of phrasing. The chorus is heavily scored by a rush of acoustic guitars from which I detected a slight ‘Over The Hills’ leaning. The middle guitar part from Richard is superbly atmospheric and amongst the most elegantly constructed solos I’ve heard in an age. Robert’s vocal (“Ohh when yer get there well you know”) is also superbly recorded, capturing the gentle folk essence of the track but also rising in temperature with the chorus as required without ever losing control. This as  good as anything he’s done in the post Zep years.

“Memory Song” (Spikes Ghost) lurches in on a loping churning riff that proceeds to dominate the tempo. Robert’s vocal is nondescript and slightly phrased. The drum beat has a touch of the ‘Levee Breaks’ about it and towards the end the piece becomes a vehicle for some typical Plant gymnastics (one of which is right out of the fade to ‘Four Sticks’). lyrically ”Are you lost without the group ”is a telling line to who this might apply to.

The appearance of ’29 Palms’ changes the mood. Already familiar as the first single, within the confines of the album, it leaps out as being overtly commercial, with some very Knopfler-like guitar licks and a nice driving feel. All very likeable.

‘Colour Of A Shade’ takes over where ‘Liars Dance’ left off on the last album. Framed by a series of attractively overdubbed acoustic guitars, Robert applies a very folksy vocal that leads to an affectionate chorus. Shades of the Incredible String Band prevail throughout. File next to ‘Going To California’.

Side 2 opens with ‘I Believe’. The intro has a distinctly ‘Tears For Fears’ sounding keyboard motif (producer Chris Hughes influence) before moving into a very pretty strident mid-tempo chorus-led excursion likely to be pulled as the next single. Lyrically it’s not too difficult to detect a very personal message in the lyric (“Say brother sister see your brother in the sky”), which is duly reflected in the emotional content of Robert’s singing. “Like the wind you are free so talk to me, talk to me”. I guess we all know how the latter line will be extended in a live setting. There’s a very Beatlish flavour to the guitar solo here and overall this is another successful deviation from the expected.

Promised Land’ is more traditional fare, a bluesy strut with some prominent organ early on, before the familiar harmonica merges with some stinging guitar at times embellished by wah wah effects. His vocal here has a very retro feel which is almost ‘Physical Graffiti’ in texture. There’s an offbeat peculiarity about the whole track that draws you in on subsequent listening.

Another departure heralds the arrival of Great Spirit’. Set against a muted wah wah guitar effect played slow and moody, Robert croons over a repeated background chorus (“Great spirit comes”). Soulful and tasteful with some impressive guitar soloing but not a riff in sight. The lyrics include a reference to the album title and it all mellows out into the distance via some echo vocal effects as the master heeds the lyrical call of a previous incarnation (“Sing and Celebration”).

“The Greatest Gift opens with string induced grandeur. This is an epic love ballad, again more soulful than bluesy. It livens up for each power chorded chorus before returning to a very moody and mellow theme aided by some silky smooth guitar lines. The addition of a full string accompaniment adds to the epic nature of the piece. The whole thing has a widescreen effect and it strikes me that the song would make a great movie soundtrack theme. Plant’s impassioned vocal just soars.

And then . . . Robert joins such illustrious company as Bobby Darin, The Four Tops, Johnny Cash, and The Band Of Joy in covering the Tim Hardin 60s classic ‘If I Were A Carpenter. It’s a superb performance beautifully sung with full respect for the original and underscored by a subtle snare injection and another lush string arrangement. It’s a song he was familiar with long before there was Led Anything around circa 1967 and though it’s hardly the usual formula, it proves to be a perfect vehicle for his voice. And who knows, it could be a huge smash if extracted as a single at the right time.

And that is ‘Fate Of Nations’. An album that explores many different facets of Robert Plant’s compound of influences. It may take a few repeated listening but stick with it, because the end result will be immensely satisfying.

Led Zeppelin’s greatest strength was always their sheer diversity, a point clearly not lost on their ex-singer 25 years after their original inception. On ‘Fate Of Nations’ Robert Plant employs diversity as a function of union. Share it with him at your earliest opportunity.

Dave Lewis  – April 25, 1993

STOP PRESS Please note early tapes of the album did not carry the track Network News’ which I was unable to review due to the already overdue printing deadlines. Just received the second CD of ’29 Palms’ with the new acoustic ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – it again employs Rainer on steel guitar – a sparse bluesy workout very much in harmony with Willie Dixon’s original “You Need Love” which no doubt accounts for the subtitle employed on the sleeve.

 

TBL FATE OF NATIONS EUROPEAN TOUR OVERVIEW

 Playing To An Ocean: Robert Plant goes back to the people

From a grand entrance in front of over 100,000 in Milan on May Day 1993, through to the less populated confines of the Kings Head, Fulham and across a variety of European halls and festival dates, Robert Plant’s first tour in three years has produced one of the most intensive and interesting work periods of his entire career. Stretching from the early Spring into late August he has appeared in front of well over a million people.

In launching this new phase of his career, Robert has been firmly committed to taking the music to the people. With little pretentions for the arena rock circuit which by his own admission his audience would be unlikely to extend to filling, Plant and his new line up embarked on a promotional trip that ensured a strong visibility by shrewdly taking a support slot with Lenny Kravitz and making up the bill on several major European festival dates, including a triumphant UK return at Glastonbury.

Alongside the actual live appearances, there have also been the media plugs. These have encompassed a hefty round of promotional TV and radio interviews with the added spice of several acoustic sessions that have been responsible for some surprising performances. The ‘FateOf Nations’ media UK push also propelled the new line up on to the small screen with appearances on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and ‘Later With Jools Holland’ – the latter signalling Robert’s first ever live UK presentation in his own right since the Zep 1969 one off.

Musically, in assembling a new line up, fresh thinking has been afoot. Gone are the techno wired for sound effects of Chris Blackwell’s drumming and the reliance on keyboards and samples from Phil Johnstone who, for this tour, has been much more prominent on guitar. Gone too, sadly, is Doug Boyle. He has been a much missed part of the line up for many Plant devotees, having carved a considerable nitch for himself during the previous four years. In revamping the line up Plant appeared to have struck lucky in finding Kevin Scott McMichael, an intelligent player with a seasoned background who displayed a fine alliance with

Plant’s own musical leanings (hence the introduction of the East coast Moby Grape/Springfield influence). To the left of the lead singer has stood Francis Dunnery, a strident guitarist well versed in the Page songbook and a strong personality on stage (can’t say I was over enamoured with the green shorts mind!). His stay could also be limited as there are plans for him to tour in his own right in  early ’94.

On drums, Michael Lee has proved to be an excellent addition with a no frills attitude to attacking the kit (Calling To You) coupled with a subtlety in his approach when the occasion demands (witness the rimshot style on the new arrangement of Ship Of Fools).

The actual set list employed seems to have caused quite a division amongst the faithful. After the No Led Anything approach pre-83, the contention of what to play seems to have come full circle. This time out there has been a renewed emphasis on performing Zep numbers – a total of 11 were aired along the tour against a ratio of 9 of his solo outings (plus two non originals).

Of those nine Plant solo outings, none of the songs delved back further than the 1988 Now And Zen album. It’s almost ironic that many of the diehards I’ve spoken to said they would have preferred Robert to have reinvestigated earlier solo tracks such as Pledge Pin and Burning Down One Side at the expense of a Zep delivery or two.

Of the Zep numbers re-employed Thank You and What Is And What Should Never Be received their first live airings in 20 years and seemed to be most welcome by all that heard them. The actual structure of the set was changed to match the differing time slots – a rigid 45 minute set was the norm for the supports to Lenny while the festival set was elongated to over an hour. The UK meanwhile received something like the duration that the US leg enjoyed with plenty of encore surprises – the most striking of which was the verses of Dazed And Confused performed at the NEC. Three tracks were used as set openers with Tall Cool One eventually emerging as the key choice over Hurting Kind and Calling To You.

Visually his persona seemed a throwback to the golden age with the hair back to Earls Court centre parted length. Time has not been too kind to his facial lines however and I also observed something of a receding hairline when the sweat dripped off the hair. But he looked fit enough -incorporating that new whirling dance style with perhaps a more paced physical approach that kept the peacock preening for later in the set.

In amongst all the media saturation Robert has played off the usual Zep investigations with a combination of flippancy and perception. Sometimes appearing not to care too much about the past, while at other times keen to re-affirm their greatness and affectionately talk of John Bonham.

One of the illuminating comments that have surfaced in more than one interview, is Plant’s observation that towards the end Led Zeppelin had become less of a passion for him and would not have survived in the 80s for all that long. “One thing’s for sure it would have seemed pretty silly today” was one such comment. This quote from a French radio interview also summed up his thoughts of the state of play back then. “Could we have continued? It’s impossible to say It’s a long time ago and I’m dealing with the present and the future now. And if I look back it’s all a long way back. I think there are some things you just grow out of. Led Zeppelin was very instant and motivated and you can’t keep that going forever. It really was a very big exciting animal. And maybe the animal had gone to the zoo . . .”

The other media cat and mouse game surrounded the Coverdale Page project with Robert again mixing some guarded replies with a few unsubtle and unnecessary snipes. When it comes to such matters, he should really let the music do the talking.

And it was the music that was the real focal point of this return to the people. And for me the most striking factor through it all, has been the quality of his vocals – with performances such as Thank You’ and ‘I Believe’ recalling the purity of those early teenage Atlantic recordings of nigh on a quarter of a century ago.

In fact some 20 years after he first introduced us to the ethic on the ‘Houses Of The Holy’ album, Robert Plant is still singing to an ocean . . . and judging by the reaction to this European tour. . . the ocean hasn’t lost its way…..

 Dave Lewis  – July 1993

First published in Tight But Loose issues 8 and 9


VIP Victoria Record Fair – Saturday April 29 2023  and TBL Meet…

The VIP Record Fair is staged at the Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Victoria, London this Saturday, April  29. September  10

I am aiming to be in attendance  as usual this acts as a bit of a TBL meet and there will be an adjournment at lunchtime to the nearby pub The Royal Oak.

I look forward to seeing all that can make it along.

The pub details are here:

https://www.royaloakpimlico.co.uk/

Here’s all the VIP Record Fair info::

Saturday  April 29 2023
LONDON VICTORIA
Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Victoria, SW1P 2PB.
London’s very own Vinyl Fest. – the biggest and busiest Record Fair in the
UK

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

http://www.vip-24.com/venues/londonvictoria.htm

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DL Diary Blog Update:

Saturday April 22:

Saturday is platterday and on Record Store Day that applies to all of us in the queue at The Slide Record Shop in Bedford …

Saturday April 22:

Saturday is Record Store Day platterday…
Top result on Record Store Day this morning at the always excellent Slide Record Shop in Bedford – Dusty/Elvis/Miles/Stones/Mike Oldfield/Yes /Police all sorted….
Thanks for the great service Warren and Nerys!

Saturday April 22:

Great to have a visit yesterday from Pat O’ Reilly and his brother in law Jim. I worked with Pat at WH Smith, Sound FX and Our Price back in the 80s. He has just retired from working at HMV in Derby after a long career in music retail. He is not only a music retail legend but has also been an inspirational friend to me over many years.
So yesterday afternoon many a record shop story was told and a retirement present duly handed over – a copy of the David Bowie Absolute Beginners 12 inch single complete with £2.79 WH Smith sticker. Jim had recently celebrated his 60th Birthday so it was a pleasure to hand over a copy of Mike Oldfield’s Guilty 12 inch single on blue vinyl…a top afternoon indeed. Thanks fellas!

Saturday April 22:

I of course introduced Pat to Warren and the delights of the Slide Record Shop and LP records were duly purchased – bit of a Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra thing going on…you gotta love them…

Saturday April 22:

With our visiting friends Debbie and Pat and James and Geraldine in the Fox and Hounds  – so great to see them all…

Saturday April 22:

Great to see Spike ahead of his gig tonight at our local the Fox and Hounds ..

Saturday April 22:

A fabulous night of acoustic songs and stories by Spike accompanied by guitarist Chris Heillmann. The set included delightful covers of Lindisfarne’s Run To Home and Franke Miller’s Darlin’ – all performed with Spike’s familiar swagger.
One of Spike’s crew worked with Led Zeppelin on their 1977 US tour and I had an enlightening chat with him about the days of the Golden Lion pub and John Bindon who I once met in there.
As all this took place at our local The Fox And Hounds the good lady Janet and I could even walk home in five minutes.
There was a very good turnout and an uplifting atmosphere prevailed – many thanks to landlord Michael Harris for making it a special night for us and our visiting friends.

Monday April 24:

 

In a shock decision our local pub the Fox & Hounds has closed its doors for the final time…
Janet and I are truly devastated to hear the news that our local pub The Fox & Hounds in Goldington Road Bedford has closed.
Truth be told, it’s been living on borrowed time since being sold off to a property developer five years ago. It has survived two planning applications to turn it into a shop and flats. Last week the news came through that a fresh application had been submitted to Beds Borough Council. There was already a campaign amongst the pub goers to object to this move and save the pub.
On Saturday night during Spike’s appearance he graciously let me on the stage to inform of the campaign and for locals to object to its closing.
Turning it into a shop would severely impact the traffic flow which is near a school. It would also affect the trade of the excellent Tandy shop nearby. It’s role as a community hub for the area over many years would be much missed.
Earlier today landlord Michael Harris was informed he needed to close the pub immediately. Rising costs of running the pub were sited by the property developer owners.
For myself and all the local clientele who regularly use the pub it’s a devastating blow.
For me personally it’s like losing a dear friend as over the past 35 years The Fox and Hounds has been like a second home.
Now I’ve always been partial to pub culture having been brought up on it from an early age. I love pubs and over the years have become attached to many – notably The Spice of Life in London’s Soho area.
I often dub this the TBL office as I have had many a business meeting and interviewed various personalities attached to the Led Zep story there. Equally as important in that role as a TBL office was our local…
It’s not been about heavy alcohol consumption or getting drunk- what The Fox & Hounds offered was a place to seek temporary refuge from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.
A place to have a couple of beers, check in with the locals and for me to sit and read. I had my regular spot tucked away in the corner of the bar – many an hour has been spent reading Record Collector, Mojo and Uncut and the papers – many of my ideas planning my Led Zep writings and books came when ensconced in these visits.
As a place to watch the football it was truly excellent with several screens. We don’t have Sky or BT so it was a godsend to able to walk five minutes down the road and wow I have I seen some amazing matches in there – England’s 0-0 draw against Italy to qualify for the 1998 World Cup. Liverpool’s 4-0 comeback against Barcelona in the Champions League , Spurs late winner against Ajax to reach the Champions League final in 2019 – more recently England’s exploits in the last year’s World Cup. All the thrills and spills of elite football watching in the company of very enthusiastic like minded fans. It’s been a total joy.
The fact is, this pub has been a way of life for the Lewis family. Both my children Sam and Adam worked there in their late teens , we’ve celebrated many a Birthday there and New Years Eves. We have had some massive highs and one or two lows not least of course the distressing night in December 2019 when Janet fell badly during the music quiz and broke her leg there.
I’ve attended wakes at The Fox & Hounds of much loved regulars who have passed over the years. I’ve laughed and cried there and shared good times and bad. When the pandemic hit in 2020 like all pubs it was greatly missed – I really thought then that it may not survive but it did – back to quench our thirst be it out in the garden or via table service.
Apart from the pandemic, being on holiday, a nine day stay in hospital when I had a viral infection in 2001 and any refits its undergone, I’ve been in The Fox and Hounds every week for over 30 years.
Like all pubs, it’s had its ups and downs over the years as landlords and landladies came and went. However, through all that for me it was always somewhere I could switch off particularly during my days working at Our Price in town and latterly at the Virgin megastore. After a stressful day I could get off the X5 bus and walk down to The Fox to unwind. Going self employed in 2009 and working from home could be a lonely existence -again the Fox & Hounds has been there to offer some contrast.
In the last couple of years calling in there has considerably aided my struggles with mental health and anxiety – talking to regulars and much valued friends such as Chris West, Dave Collins, Graham, Barry, Simon and Jamie lifted my self-esteem and for that friendship and support I am truly grateful. There’s also so many other regulars who made the pub what it was – Kevin, Matt, Dave and Una, Pete and Joy, Joe etc and many more – they know who they are…I’ll miss their cheer and banter very much.
So here’s the final irony. In the last six months the pub has become a whole new proposition and much for the better. Landlord Michael Harris has done a fantastic job to transform the pub into a thriving unit not least by the introduction of live music on a Friday night and Sunday evening aided by the input of Ben Garraway.
We have had some amazing nights in there in the past three months as tribute bands and highly rated local acts trod the boards – amongst them Steve Woodward, Anita Gabrielle, The Workshop Boys, Too Many Cooks, Timeless Flight, The Hit Factory and Vintage Stuff.
This culminated in a simply awesome night last Saturday when the renowned rock vocalist Spike staged an acoustic showcase. The place was rammed and as Janet remarked it felt like a News Years Eve.
On Sunday we did reflect that the pub had a fight on its hands to survive in the light of the recent application. We were all determined to do whatever it took to object to it being lost to the community. Alas that is now all in vein.
It was a battle we will now never fully undertake as on Monday the shocking decision was taken to close it immediately.
I feel deep sadness too for all the staff who have now lost there jobs and to Michael and his daughter Halle who will have to move out. I’d like to thank Michael for providing so many great moments in the final months of the pub. He has become a valued friend to us here.
This afternoon even though it was already closed, I went in to speak to the landlord Michael and have one final pint. Looking around the place in my mind it echoed loudly with the voices of so many great times and treasured memories.
I came away and closed the door behind me for the final time with a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes…
Of course all things must pass as the great George Harrison sang but like all passing’s, the closing of The Fox & Hounds feels like a passing too soon.
Walking by it as Janet and I do most days on the way to the preschool she helps run and seeing it all boarded up with the signs of its closure on the windows will be a very sad sight indeed…
Yes, there may be other pubs to go in the vicinity but none of them can match the homeliness and camaraderie The Fox & Hounds served up over many years.
It’s truly the end of an era and for many of us in the surrounding community, this very special pub will be so sorely missed…
Dave Lewis – April 24, 2023.

Wednesday April 26:

Still reeling from the devastating news of the shock closure of our local The Fox and Hounds so it’s good to be in London for a meeting about a book contribution I’m making to to a forthcoming record collecting book And where better to hold that than the TBL office also known The Spice of Life pub in Soho – if the doors had been shut here that really would have taken me over the edge…

Wednesday April 26:

It was great to have a meet with author and record collecting comrade Graham Sharpe at the TBL office also known as The Spice of Life in London yesterday.
Graham is writing a follow up to his excellent 2019 book Vinyl Countdown and I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute a piece for this.
While in the vicinity I popped over to the nearby Fopp Records and was pleased to find a copy of the album Good Morning Starshine by Oliver. The title track was a massive hit in 1969 after its use in the Hair musical. Some foreign tourists sat near us and enquired about the album – I relayed to them how Good Morning Starshine had been a hit back in 1969 -one of them googled it and found it on YouTube and they were instantly enlightened to it’s 1960s charm.
I’m also holding a batch of early 1970’s demo singles which Graham kindly gave me – these were from his time as a journalist on a local Hertfordshire newspaper. Graham received review copes of singles in his role as the paper’s pop columnist.
In the pic here Graham is holding a copy of another of his recent books – Prostate Cancer – its a journal of Graham’s personal experience in dealing with a prostate cancer diagnosis – a brave and strikingly honest insight into how he coped, brilliantly written in Graham’s familiar self effacing style.
All in all meeting Graham was a much needed tonic. Thanks for listening mate.

Update here:

A very difficult week and we are still reeling from the shock closure of our local pub The Fox & Hounds. We knew it was under pressure but being forced to  close so abruptly after one of the best nights there ever last Saturday it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

As explained above, the affection and affinity I have had with this place over so many years is immense. It’s much more than a mere pub closing which as we know is not uncommon in this day and age. It really has been the centre of my social interaction for three decades and I will sorely miss the people and the place .

Unsurprisingly, it set me off on a downward spiral and on Tuesday I spent much of the day in bed in a depressive state. I know this black hole feeling all too well and I know I need to deal with it and get back on track mentally. As ever Janet has been a massive support – she of all people knew what the pub meant to me and is also very upset.

As Graham Sharpe pointed out to me, it’s a similar situation that fans of Arsenal, West Ham and Spurs experienced when Highbury, Upton Park and White Hart Lane closed and they moved to newly built stadiums and pastures new…

The old memories remain but new ones are out there to be made…

So a deep breath and as the singer once sang – it’s time to ramble on…

Thanks for listening

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  April 27 , 2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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4 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Gary…

  • Gary Davies said:

    I’ve been fortunate to spend some time with Dave in the Fox & Hounds over the past couple of years sharing Zep stories, and I am sad to hear that it’s shut it’s doors for the final time. Pubs are sanctuaries and a place where you can unwind and ponder about whatever you want, whilst at the same time allowing you to interact with the community and catch up with a few friendly faces over a pint or two. We can never underestimate the vital role that pubs make to our lives, so I feel for you Dave on hearing this news about you ‘local’.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    many thanks Graham

  • Graham Sharpe said:

    Very emotional thoughts about The Fox & Hounds’ closure, Dave. At our age we really feel unsettled when a serious change to something we value and rely on happens. But we are also long enough in the tooth to know that as we literally cannot do anything to change the situation we just have to concentrate on accepting and getting over it, deciding quickly how to deal with it and making sure that we don’t allow circumstances over which we have no control to blow us off course. All the best.gs

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