Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Dave Lewis Diary, Featured, TBL News

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION NEW ALBUM AND UK DATES/ LZ NEWS/KNEBWORTH AUGUST 4th 38 YEARS GONE – MEMORIES & RECOLLECTIONS /DL DAIRY BLOG UPDATE

1 August 2017 1,781 views 6 Comments

ANNOUNCING THE RETURN OF BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION:

Black Country Communion are back in action with a new album BCC IV due out in September and two UK dates scheduled for early in 2018

Here is all the info:

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION

LIVE IN THE UK

 EXCLUSIVE EUROPEAN SHOWS!

 WOLVERHAMPTON CIVIC HALL TUESDAY 2 JANUARY 2018

 LONDON HAMMERSMITH APOLLO THURSDAY 4 JANUARY 2018

 PLANET ROCK 48-HOUR TICKET PRE-SALE WEDNESDAY 2 AUGUST 2017 AT 9AM FROM www.planetrock.com

 TICKETS ON GENERAL SALE FRIDAY 4 AUGUST

24 HOUR TICKET HOTLINE: 0844 844 0444

www.eventim.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.co.uk

………….

THE ALBUM:

“BCC IV”

THE BRAND NEW STUDIO ALBUM FROM

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION

 RELEASED WORLDWIDE – FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 22nd

AVAILABLE ON CD, 180 GRAM VINYL, DOWNLOAD

Includes bonus track “With You I Go” on vinyl edition only

 Black Country Communion are pleased to announce two exclusive concerts in Europe during January 2018 to support the release of their new album “BCC IV”. The band will play Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Tuesday 2nd January and London Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday 4th January 2018.

These will be the only two concerts the band will play in the UK and Europe. Planet Rock will run a 48-hour ticket pre-sale from 9am on Wednesday 2nd August. Order your pre-sale tickets from www.planetrock.com.

Tickets will then go on sale to the general public from 0844 844 0444 and can be booked online from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.eventim.co.uk.

Black Country Communion the Anglo-American rock group comprising vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa, release their long awaited and highly anticipated fourth album, ‘BCCIV)’, via Mascot Records on Friday September 22nd 2017. This is the band’s first studio album since 2013’s ‘Afterglow’.

Just like its three predecessors, ‘BCCIV’ was overseen by Kevin Shirley, whose catalogue of hit records for Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Journey, The Black Crowes, has made him the hottest producer that rock music has to offer. Shirley, who originally had the idea of putting Hughes and Bonamassa in a band after seeing them jamming together onstage in Los Angeles back in November 2009 – is the group’s unofficial ‘fifth member’.

Black Country Communion is an earth-shattering combination of American and British rock influences—a bona fide super group that conveys to the world a simple but important message: classic rock is alive and well, and in good hands in the 21st century. Their communion together forms something that is greater than the sum of its parts, creating a legacy being cemented within the halls of music history.

The initiative for the new album came from Joe Bonamassa, who contacted the band in 2016 to see if they would be up for going back into the studio to write and record a fourth album.

Says Joe, “I just felt the time was right for Black Country Communion to go back into the studio and write and record a new album. When I contacted Glenn, Derek and Jason, they immediately agreed to give it shot. The timing was right.”

During October 2016, when news first broke about the band getting back together, things on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, started blowing up and fan reaction was overwhelming. It was clear to see that BCC fans were hungry for another album. BCC IV is destined to become one of the biggest hard rock albums of 2017.
Black Country Communion’s inception took place when front man and bass guitarist Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa fused their styles on stage in Los Angeles in November 2009 for an explosive performance at Guitar Center’s King of the Blues event. With the help and guidance of producer Kevin Shirley, they further added to their rock lineage by recruiting drummer Jason Bonham and keyboardist Derek Sherinian.

BCC group photo  above – Neil Zlozower

And that gig info again….

PLANET ROCK 48-HOUR TICKET PRE-SALE

WEDNESDAY 2 AUGUST 2017 AT 9AM FROM www.planetrock.com

TICKETS ON GENERAL SALE FRIDAY 4 AUGUST

24 HOUR TICKET HOTLINE: 0844 844 0444

www.eventim.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Wolverhampton Civic Hall Thursday 2 January Tickets: www.eventim.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.co.uk

24 HR Box Office: 0844 844 0444

Venue: 0870 320 7000

Facebook / Twitter North Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1 1RQ http://www.wolvescivic.co.uk/-/civic-hall-events

London Hammersmith Apollo Thursday 4 January Tickets: www.eventim.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.co.uk

24 HR Box Office: 0844 844 0444

Venue: 020 8563 3800

Facebook / Twitter 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH

https://www.eventimapollo.com

BCC IV TRACKLISTING;

  1. Collide (4:07)
  2. Over My Head (4:06)
  3. The Last Song For My Resting Place (7:57)
  4. Sway (5:24)
  5. The Cove (7:11)
  6. The Crow (6:00)
  7. Wanderlust (8:18)
  8. Love Remains (4:53)
  9. Awake (4:42)
  10. When The Morning Comes (7:56)

All songs on the new album were co-written by Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa. Glenn wrote all the lyrics on the album except for the song ‘The Last Song For My Resting Place’ which was written by Joe.

Black Country Communion:

Official Website / Facebook / Twitter

…………………………………………..

Led Zeppelin News Update:
In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook.

Led Zeppelin

  • The professor who has access to the unreleased footage of Led Zeppelin performing at the Bath Festival in 1970 has told Classic Rock Magazine that some of the footage is “perfectly fine.” Professor Steve Chibnall told the magazine that the footage he has seen includes Jimmy Page playing a violin bow solo and John Bonham playing “Moby Dick.” You can read our feature on the interview here.

Jimmy Page

Outside Edge patrons David Charkham, Jimmy Page, and Simon Woodroffe in London on July 25. (Facebook/Outside Edge Theatre Company)

  • Jimmy Page visited the Outside Edge theatre company in London on July 25. Page is a patron of the theatre company which uses drama to help people who have experienced drug addiction. See more photos of Page’s visit here.

Jason Bonham

Upcoming events:

September 22 – The new Black Country Communion album, which will feature Jason Bonham, is due to be released.
Early Autumn – The next issue of Led Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose, issue #43, is scheduled to be released.
October – Andrew O’Hagan claimed that Robert Plant’s new album will be released this month.

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

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

http://ledzepnews.com/

…………………………………………

TBL Archive Special – Knebworth August 4th 1979 – Then as it really was…38 years gone…

To mark the 38th anniversary of the Knebworth August 4th performance here is an extract from the Led Zeppelin Then As It Was  -At Knebworth 1979 book:

ZEPPELIN’S BLIND DATE: SEEING IS BELEIVING

By Dave Lewis

This is the original text written for Tight But Loose, issue number 3.Whilst much of it bathes in a rose tinted glow, it certainly succeeds in capturing the pure wonderment of the event as seen through the eyes of a starry eyed twenty two year old fan eager to put pen to paper before it all became a blur.     

THE NATION ASSEMBLES

THURSDAY AUGUST 2nd 1979:

7am: Knebworth arena is already buzzing with the sound of Edwin Shirley Trucking Co., the massive assembly of the stage is well under way…Wandering down to the stage front and looking around the vast amphitheatre, that just two days from now will be packed with thousands awaiting the return, is an awe inspiring moment…Just to see the Zeppelin stage set up, Jonesy’s white grand piano, Bonzo’s metallic Ludwig kit, Jimmy’s symbolised amp, sets the heart beating in anticipation, it really is only a matter of days now… Already fans are beginning to descend upon the Hertfordshire countryside ready to settle in the camp site… The music papers hit the news-stands and Zeppelin is featured on the cover of three of them. Two include lengthy Jimmy Page interviews, the build up is well underway…


 

 

 

Late afternoon: the massive P.A. is ready for testing…It’s rumoured the band are due in for the soundcheck at around 6pm, probably arriving by helicopter, a rumour not exactly without substance …Robert opts for his own transport – Cherokee jeep.

He is looking positively radiant, beaming, smiling and good humouredly acknowledging my over-enthusiasm as I rush over to greet him exclaiming: “Steady on, there’s not much of me left!”…He really is the super human… The security guards clear the park for the soundcheck, a soundcheck that lasts not more than an hour…Jonesy tinkles ‘No Quarter’ style. Bonzo likewise in the ‘Moby Dick/Levee Breaks’ vein, Jimmy plays the blues, while Robert limbers up with a fifties doo-wop number. A relaxed and confident dummy run-through that bodes well for Saturday… The nerves are beginning to tell on me though, and I go into Stevenage and drink the night away…

FRIDAY AUGUST 3rd 1979:

Early morning: Hundreds of fans have battled a steady overnight rainfall on their journey to the Knebworth camp site…By 11am the tents and make-shift ranches are well in evidence…all manner of freaks of course, with the accent on denim, in fact lots of denim embroidery proclaiming the names of Gonzo heavy metal bands who have sprung up in Zeppelin’s absence, names that have no right to be uttered in the same breath as Led Zeppelin. Most of the kids brandishing such slogans look too young to have seen Zeppelin on stage, yet by Saturday night their priorities might well change…Everybody here is really good natured, even the changing weather from hot and sunny to showery and dull fails to dampen enthusiasm…By mid afternoon the Zeppelin nation is in full swing, thousands continue to pour in, it’s an incredible sight, all here to see Led Zeppelin; a four man legend that continues to demand the highest respect even after a four year absence… It really does make you wonder in awe of it all…

On the camp site the Zep merchandise ball game is underway; T-shirts, badges, scarves, official and otherwise, the queue for the official programme alone stretches three hundred yards and more… As dusk approaches, hundreds are attempting to gain a vantage point by the gates ready for the early morning opening…Camp fire smoke begins to drift across the air as fans from all over the world, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Germany, Canada and America (Hi Jimbo) gather around them settling in for the overnight wait…Tommy Vance does the Knebworth serenade on his radio show, kicking off with ‘The Rover’, amidst huge cheers as the airwaves reach the campsite…Repeated bouts of “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin” chants fill the midnight air, I feel proud…

SATURDAY AUGUST 4th 1979: 

This is where it gets a little bit silly…Thousands have assembled by the gates for the opening, due officially at 8.30am…rumours abound that it will be earlier…Then it happens, around 4am hundreds crash the fences and invade the park…By the time everyone has done the mile run to the arena entrance, a huge crush has developed that is quite frightening…It seems an age before the turnstiles start to click…it couldn’t have come too soon for me as I was near to crashing out completely – I mean, even Nick Kent said ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ was the last thing in the world worth dying for – and I had no intention of going, at least not until I had seen the band again… Thankfully, by 5am the arena is open and filled up, it’s a bit cold but no sign of rain… Throughout the morning the arena continues to bulge…The first canned music from the P.A. is Supertramp, and DJ Nicky Horne continues to warm-up proceedings with a rich cluster of classic cuts, perfect for the day…

The line up is duly announced; Chas and Dave have been added for the 3.30pm spot, Zeppelin are due at 9.15pm…Fairport Convention start the live music at around 11.30am. They play a listenable set to an uninterested audience…Nicky-the-H gives us a taste of what’s in store when he spins ‘Rock And Roll’ to a huge response…Commander Cody and his band hit the stage with their own brand of rockabilly, which does not a thing for me, but to his credit he gets an encore…

Mid afternoon, the weather is on our side, very sunny with a hint of breeze to cool you down – perfect…Chas and Dave play a mildly amusing blend of their own songs; no doubt it goes down great in the pubs, but not a lounge bar with nigh on two hundred thousand stuck in it!…By now the arena is packed, and the sight is breathtaking to say the least…Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, at tea time, are not…

Kneb 8

Early evening: the change over of bands is taking longer… the silly element amongst us are well into the now expected can throwing caper, with us encased at the front being the ones who are suffering…One such can bounces off my head…my head survives, the can doesn’t…Todd Rundgren and Utopia are on stage, and Todd instantly gets the whanger of the week award (nice one Dec) for his slip showing cat suit… The set is overlong and indulgent, but it does have its moments; the encore, ‘Love Is The Answer’, is one of them…

The Knebworth stage area is cleared completely …this is where four years of waiting is narrowed down to less than an hour…Led Zeppelin’s live return is not so very far away now…

The whole of Knebworth Park is ready. I’m certainly ready, but it seems that Led Zeppelin is not. The Zep equipment has been mechanically and clinically pieced together; Mr Jones’ keyboards (clavinet, white electric grand piano, mellotron) to the left of the stage, Bonzo’s Ludwig kit miked and ready for thrashing, Jimmy’s row of amps switched on with five guitars upright and gleaming, wired and waiting and stage centre, one solitary microphone – we all know who that’s for.   Despite all this there is still much anxious hustling of roadies and backstage activity yet to go. The 9.15pm projected kick-off time passes. Then Peter Grant himself stalks onto the stage. This I haven’t seen before but there he is; the monster “fifth Zep” checking the set-up. He knows more than anyone that this is the big one and everything has got to be just…just so. Around him friends, wives and kids are settling into vantage points behind the amps. This somehow seems to add to the atmosphere – the Zeppelin family all ready and waiting too. Around each side of me the huge lighting towers look mighty impressive, and behind the stage, the long black curtain that has formed the backcloth for the day keeps slipping open, revealing a strong vivid green light. Something special in the air that one senses.

Indeed. That something special happens just around 9.40pm on Saturday, August 4th 1979. The canned music fades, the lights flash onto the stage. Unannounced, the four members of Led Zeppelin walk on stage. Bedlam, hysteria, chaos, phenomenon. Upwards of one hundred thousand people assembled go crazy. This is the cherished moment we have waited four long years for, and it’s happening…now!

John Bonham mounts the mini rostrum to the drums. Ah, Bonzo! First time I ever heard John Bonham thrashing a drum kit I thought my radio was about to blow several waves. He is the champion beer drinker in England – Robert Plant said that. He likes nothing more than a good old rave up. That’s what he said in 1970. Not much has changed. His incredible bass drum patterns and sledge hammer rock-steady percussion is still the best. He is our Bonzo and he is up there ready.

John Paul Jones is wearing a white pristine new fashionable suit, slightly miss-fitting in true JPJ style. John Paul, (“Jonesy”, to his mates), the calm one, he of the silly haircuts, the unassuming bass stance, the electric piano, clavinet, mellotron, three-necked guitar, the anchor man. Some say the unlikeliest member of the Led Zeppelin combo. In truth, quite possibly the most important. His contribution to the group is immense. His bass patterns, the pulse beats that Jimmy Page pumps his guitar technology onto. Tonight he is looking fitter than I have ever seen him.

Same can be said for James Patrick Page. Blue, thin-collared, baggy shirt, a pair of white well-fitting trousers, a 1973 haircut – a very modern man. Not to mention a living legend, a Crowley freak deep into the Occult – a white magician. Keith Relf called him “The grand sorcerer of the magic Guitar”, few would argue. He is softly spoken, articulate, frail, off stage, a giant on it. Duck-walking, twisting, turning, sweating, cringing, grinning. He lives for his music. Tonight his music lives for us…

Then there is Robert Plant. Long sleeved spotted shirt tied at the navel, black straight cords, usual white boots, golden ringletted hair, re-shaped mid ’76 style, overflowing. As far as I’m concerned the most human, friendly and warm rock ‘n’ roll star in the world. His voice is an instrument in itself. His on-stage preening dynamic. Once you’ve seen Robert Plant on stage in all his glory, there is no other who can touch him. He is the true master of ceremonies. His vocal ability is unique. At its height, its raw power can strike unlighted matches inside us all, and at its most emotional, its romantic qualities can spur a tear behind the eyes. Too often in the past this man’s glittering glow has been dulled. Tonight Robert Plant is shining brightly, dazzlingly so…

Jimmy Page straps on the double neck. Robert stakes the stance stage right. As Jimmy pulls out the opening ringing chord to ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the black curtains unravel, revealing a huge colour video screen flashing on film in sync…the sight is unbelievable…

When Robert turns to sing the opening lines (“I had a dream, crazy dream”) I feel my eyes wetting with tears, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. When you’ve lived every day of the last four years waiting, well…it does that to you. For a split second, my mind pictures all the rumours, highs, lows and tragedies of the past years – my life before my very eyes almost. It’s been so long but now it’s happening. I can hardly believe it.   Jimmy’s shimmering twelve string work confirms it fast. By the time they are performing the second number, a long deleted stage favourite ‘Celebration Day’, the early sound muffles have been mixed out.

The sound is crystal.In fact, everything is exceeding excitement level. All the premature break-up rumours, all the pre-gig talk of them being washed up, all these illusions are shattered.The 1979 Led Zeppelin is alive and well…

‘Celebration Day’ brings back vintage Zeppelin memories. Jimmy is fluttering out chords in double-quick time. Robert is revelling in the limelight. All the old stances, the swagger, the cock-rock pout, the peacock preening, oh, and a new movement to cherish, a jack-knife arm action favoured to close the songs with. It’s just beautiful to see him up there again.

“Well – I said, well ! Good evening, good evening. Nice to see you again. I told Pagey that one or two people would be here, but he said he doubted it very much…Well, I can’t tell you how it feels. I think you can probably…you’ve got a good idea anyway…but it’s great.”

Robert seems genuinely touched by the reception. As he talks you can hear his voice quivering. Nerves maybe? Not many on display during ‘Black Dog’, mind. A powerful performance with pleasing echoed Plant vocals. Up on the video screen the cameras are catching the action blow by blow. In fact the visual quality is so good it makes the movie footage of The Song Remains The Same seem pretty lame in comparison. Towards the end of the song Robert leaves us to sing the verses and then Pagey winds up with a solo that upholds the adrenalin count.

“Thank you very much, Well, needless to say that ah, it’s been a long, it’s been quite a long time actually since we… yes I know, it’s our fault too. So we went to Munich and made an album called Presence, which er, which had a track on it Charles Shaar Murray really liked. He’s still taking the pills, and this is called Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

Jimmy clicks down on the Gibson to recreate the sonic intro. Everything about this track if perfection. Bonzo’s hammerings, Robert’s accurate vocal, great harmonica, and a lovely moment when just as Pagey hits a peaking solo Robert teases with “Oh Jimmy!….Ooh Jimmy!”

25

 

“Nobody’s fault but mine….how is it, OK? This goes without a lot of saying, and it’s called Over The Hills And Far Away.”

Gorgeous revolving intro before Robert smoothes in. As they crunch down on the chorus the lighting is synchronised to great effect. Quite simply, a lesson in balanced dynamics. A track that never fails to please. A hard hitting no nonsense ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ follows with JPJ on electric piano. A song not performed in the UK since 1973. It’s good to hear old friends again. Love the echoed outro too, as Robert sings “I really don’t know, I really don’t know Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh.”

“Well…that was a topical thing if you work it out. This is er…so often we find we lean further and further into the blues as a musical form from which to borrow, or even steal and beg, and on nearly all of the stuff we’ve done in the past, in fact, even on the album that was out last week…ahh yes, something went wrong there as well. There’s always a little bit of blues, not booze, blues…You got the booze? Well, let’s hope to god we got the blues, Since I’ve Been Loving You .”

Another long lost friend. A slow tortured display with Jimmy pulling out a masterful solo, restrained, sustained, just the way the blues should be. Robert stretches the vocals at just the right moments, phrasing superbly (“I’ve been a working, been a working, been working…and I tried,tried, tried, tried, tried…”).

 “Jimmy Page guitar. This next piece features the man from Casablanca, John Paul Jones. Some say a man in his own right, others say Royal Orleans…this is No Quarter.”

 Radically cut down from the ’77 version, ‘No Quarter’ ’79 style is still slightly excessive. Of course, the quivering riffs still work well and Page still does the magic stances. Bonzo’s hi-hat jiggling and snare work helps the drawn out solo part and I still love Jimmy’s relayed wah-wah effects. For all that, Jonesy’s solo consisting of a boogie/classical section is overlong – (far better would have been a 1973-style version as featured on the live album). The ending is lengthy as well, but interesting because Jimmy is in there twisting and turning and flashing the odd grin. Robert finishes it all with an echoed “Dogs of doom are howlin’ more, more, more….”

‘Ten Years Gone’ is next dedicated to everyone from Newcastle, Kidderminster, Vancouver…all of us. John Paul on the three necked guitar, Jimmy switching to fuzzy telecaster. Robert’s vocal performance is breathtaking, all the romantic imagery accurately conveyed, “Never thought I’d see your face the way it used to be” – that line says it all.

“Thank you Caernarvon, Newcastle, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Freddie Bannister…So the album that came out two weeks ago got a bit delayed again. First it was a fortnight ago, then it was a week ago, now it’s next Friday, just goes on and on. This is a track from it that we should dedicate to trials in America….Yeah, how come you know what it’s called? You’ve been reading about the Swedish Inquisition – Hot Dog.”

The first peep behind the out door. ‘Hot Dog’ is a country honk reminiscent of a Presley Sun side – with Robert obviously enjoying the re-creation. Jimmy pulls out some tasty rodeo type licks as Robert encourages us to hoe-down. Not vital Zep but fun.

Yes still got a sense of humour…amplifier blown up? Where was it made, Scotland? Hey Raymondo….well, get back to the wash-board. So we get all this way here and the equipment blows up. Never mind, it’s got to be better than Earls Court. (Howls from the crowd) OOOH.

Who’s the person who owns the goat and the wagon we saw two nights ago and camping out there? Must come around the back after and write an acoustic set with us. Are we OK? Are yer alright Jimmy (Scottish accent). This one is called the Rain Song, which it didn’t…”

The lighting is most effective here bringing back memories of Earls Court with Jimmy in blue again. His fluttering melodies from the double neck soar across the air, and the collective fusion of the song is one of dynamic balanced emotion.

“Thank you, Yeah I like that one myself. That’s bound to get me a slaggin’ isn’t it? This next piece, long time ago 1960 whenever it was, me and Pagey got together at his house. He had a little boat floating on the Thames, and played through a lot of material from the Incredible String Band, Joan Baez, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, all sorts of things, so many nice blends of music we managed to pull together. And this leads towards the land of milk and honey… the East, features on guitar: Jimmy Page.”

Stage centre: alone on a stool, a spotlight picks out Jimmy Page and one Dan Electro guitar. He performs ‘White Summer’ (first time in the UK for nine years) and blends in ‘Black Mountain Side’. Just at the point where on the studio album that track breaks into ‘Communication Breakdown’, live on stage it leads to ‘Kashmir’ with Robert leaping from the back stage wings to open proceedings. A moment of high drama.

His performance on this epic, both vocally and physically, is out of this world. Every verse sung with emotion, every move synchronised with the ever changing spotlights. Truly the world’s greatest live rock attraction. The song just keeps on climaxing…mirrorball spins aid the effect. “Let me take you there…”

“Let me take you there…Kashmir. Hello, congestion on the A1M I think. This is a small little up-tempo ditty, that we’ve been asked by some people in Vancouver – It’s all there in the end baby…. It’s called Trampled Underfoot, ready Mr Jones?”

Quick tune up on the clavinet and away we go. A definitive Zeppelin performance that has them pushing their collective talents to the outer limits. Bonzo thrashes, Jimmy wah-wahs, Jonesy runs riot across the clavinet and Robert struts his stuff…”Push, push, yeah, push yeah, OOOOOh”

“Push, push, push….song’s attributed to the moving parts of the motor car. Well….a lot of pushing. This is something about, built around, going to one of those weird hotels that you come across in Bradford or Southampton or Los Angeles. There’s all these strange people ligging around in the lobby waiting for Peter Grant our manager…coz we have to be in bed at 10 o’clock at night like good footballers. Relates to the experience of the lobby and going down to get some cigarettes at 10.30pm rather than being in bed…Sick Again.”

Two machete Zep riffs, a “Yeah do it” from Plant and they’re off again into a strident workout. With cascading Page riffs and Bonzo again well to the fore, taking care of business. “Ooh, that’s right,” taunts Robert, swinging his head back and forth in line with the riff.

 “Thank you very very much. So we got the cigarettes and carried straight on up to bed. This is another piece from Presence. It’s the wheelchair piece. It’s called Achilles Last Stand”.

 Opening with that meandering guitar from Jimmy before zipping into top gear via Bonzo’s kick start, and the stage is basked in white light. It really is so good to hear Robert sing the words to this masterpiece live, and somehow Pagey manages to re-create the five studio guitar parts in one – and it works beautifully. Again it’s the collective fusion of the four that pushes the song relentlessly to the finish. All four cylinders at full throttle. The output is monumental. Exhilaratingly so.

“Achilles Last Stand…..”

After that the other band members disperse leaving just James Patrick Page on stage. A few zaps from the amp, a quick re-tune then Jimmy reaps the most frightening sound from his Gibson.This of course is the cue for a part of Zeppelin legacy, the guitar played with a violin bow episode. The soundtrack is the middle section of ‘Dazed and Confused’. For this occasion this part is taken out of the realms of reality into a different world. The bow itself is glowing with green laser light.   When you consider Pagey’s occult fascination, the sight of him standing there swathed in eerie light is even more breathtaking. The end of the bow itself glows silver, as the trademark feedback chords pierce the darkness and a green triangle of laser light forms around the magician himself. The effect is sensational.

As the lasers fade, Bonzo comes in on synthesised tympani…Jonesy takes to mellotron again…Jimmy throws in an eastern effect and as a silhouetted Mr Plant reaches the mike he screeches the words “In the evening”….and the band crash down on a riveting riff that forms the basis for the premier of the first track on the up-coming new L.P. This, even on one hearing, is a classic. Robert screams out the lyrics, repeating a chorus of “Oh I need yer love, Oh I need your love, Gotta have…..” whoosh! Jimmy hits the cascading riff again and every time it comes around it tingles the backbone. Just as they are heading for an apparent frenzied finish…the song slows and transcends into a mellow mystical passage with Jonesy achieving almost flute like sounds from the mellotron, while Jimmy jangles out minor chords and then woosh! It’s that riff again, achieved with the use of tremolo arm across the string of Jimmy’s blue Strat, and on it goes. Guitar solos all over the place, Robert screeching a frenzy, Bonzo crashing into the finish. God – this is classic grandiose Zeppelin, and my how it moves.

Kneb 14

“Alright, well that was another track from the new album, and that was called In The Evening. You what? Well, all you people who’ve come so far, it’s been like a kind of blind date if you like…ooh we’re even loosening up and laughing! This song I guess we should er…so many people who’ve helped us over the years, and no people more important than yourselves who came here on a blind date, this is for you…all of yer…”

It takes two chords….that’s all, then the whole arena is rising as one for the anthem, ‘Stairway To Heaven’…sung with breathtaking intensity by Robert. We cling to his every word.   He smiles as we await the line, “Do you remember laughter” and he lets us sing it instead. As ever the song is full of his own ad-libs…”Oh, I don’t know, now wait a minute.” He sings “Dear PEOPLE can you hear the wind blow?” and on this occasion it’s “YOUR stairway” that’s on the whispering wind, (next week it’s to be “OUR stairway”). Jimmy pulls out a note-perfect solo on the double neck and Robert does his classic tambourine pose.

The final verses are sung like messages from Mount Olympus. The sound of one hundred thousand people singing as one the final lyric “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven….” is one I will never forget. A moment of true magic.

“Thanks a lot…too much…its hard to say…goodnight.”

The boys take a bow swathed in white light. The crowd go crazy to win them back. Repeated chants of “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, the like I’ve never heard before at a Zep gig, fill the midnight air. During the wait for an encore the video cameras turn to the masses, capturing the sight of thousands of lighted matches, up on the huge screen. An awesome scene.

The hysteria (only word for it) continues until the band reappears several minutes later:

 “Good evening. This is ah, talk about being frightened, this is fantastic!”

 ‘Rock And Roll’ is the encore of course – Robert lets us sing the “lonely lonely…time” bits and it’s on into a frenzied finish. Exit triumphant band part two.

What happens next is truly amazing. The crowd step up the “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, chants….and they launch into repeated choruses of “You’ll never walk alone”. I’ve never been part of anything like it.

The atmosphere is one of joyous, moving celebration.

When they return for a second encore they are genuinely taken aback at the sight and sound of the assembled. “John Paul Jones – John Bonham, – James Patrick Page” – Robert – re- introduces the band and actually joins in with “You’ll never walk alone”. So it goes on…eventually Jimmy crashes out the riff of ‘Whole Lotta Love’. This version is really a revelation. Stripped of the excess of previous versions, cut down to size, and including a revamped middle section riff from Jimmy – delightful stuff.Robert struts the stage singing “Oh you need love, you need love, way down inside – you need love…” it’s a gas to hear it like this. Of course we all join in the “woman, way down inside” bits:

“ I don’t think the people in Stevenage can hear yer, I said woman…

I don’t think the people in Newcastle can hear what I say-ya, I said, woman…way down inside….” And it’s on to a climactic finish.

Thank you…I don’t know what to say…thanks for eleven years.”

Robert, so obviously moved by it all, leads the band off stage again, smiling and turning to applaud the masses, and they’ve gone again.

Of course the audience want……more. The video screen has picked up a shot of the near full moon (looking as it did during the ‘Dazed and Confused’ Song RemainsThe Same movie segment) – cut to the fans still going crazy for the band…and they get what they want…a third encore.

Oh, they come again…and a shattering version of ‘Heartbreaker’ leaps from the speakers – including a dynamic Page one-handed solo. Really, I didn’t think they had it in them to do anymore. Exhausted, sweating and smiling, Jimmy, Robert, Jonesy and Bonzo leave the stage for the final time well after 1am.

Sunday morning: The Knebworth Zeppelin nation begin to shuffle towards the exits. Leaving a buzz in the air…a buzz you can feel right through you… a buzz that sums it up…their return here at Knebworth on August 4th 1979 was quite simply Led Zeppelin’s pinnacle of achievement.

Dave Lewis August 8th 1979

kneb prev sept

 

 

Extract from the book Led Zeppelin Then As It Was -At Knebworth 1979  -written and compiled by Dave Lewis. Above photos taken from the book by Phil Tattershall, Dave Lewis  and via TBL Archives.

To mark the 38th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth , the book is on offer at a special discounted price of £10 off the normal price – you can order the book from this link:

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/?page_id=1962

…………………..

More Recollections from out in the field…

Here’s a recent contribution to those recollections out in that field back in 1979

Pat Mount offers his extensive and wonderfully nostalgic memories of August 4th 1979….

Like millions of others, I first heard about it on the Old Grey Whistle Test. Led Zeppelin would be playing at Knebworth on Saturday August 4th. Tickets were on sale. I was 20 years old and had never seen Led Zeppelin. It was 1979 and what a lo-tech world we lived in then. I had all the (vinyl) albums, most of them worn out and scratched enclosed in dog eared, nicotine stained sleeves. I had seen Zep ‘move’ in the flesh just once on celluloid by watching ‘The Song Remains the Same’ movie in a freezing seaside cinema with my girlfriend, Tina, who is now my wife. The abiding memory of this cinema experience was listening to two Afghan coated hippy chicks sat behind us comment excitedly at the size of Robert Plant’s ‘bulge’ in his jeans and the seven mile trip home on a double decker bus on which I announced I was certain I had frostbite because I couldn’t feel my feet. No VHS players were available to purchase videos for and replay again and again in those days: that came later.

In 1979 I had only heard one Zeppelin bootleg, a single LP called ‘Blueberry Hill’. A muddy, bottom heavy, poor quality piece it was too. The ‘etiquette’ of bootleg appreciation had not been developed to the levels I would attain in later years. It had its moments but in truth was a disappointing experience. I had read and heard about the bombastic blood, guts and glory of Zeppelin live but at that point had not found any evidence. All I had was their official recorded work to go on and by anybody’s standards, love ‘em or hate ‘em, that was a phenomenal body of work indeed.

In 1979 I played in a band too but I have to own up, if we had booked Knebworth as a venue, we might have sold 50 tickets on a good day. I was also on the dole. So how was I going to raise the cash to buy the tickets? That’s what Mums are for. Puppy dog eyes and the plaintive that missing this event would seriously damage my mental health for the rest of my living days did the trick.

So, that was one ticket sorted then. Tina bought one too. My mate, Pete got one but his girlfriend Lenore didn’t. As I mentioned previously, I played in a band in 1979 and we were due to visit London to tote our demo tape around various record companies in June of that year. ‘Easy’, said my mate Pete, ‘You can get Lenore a ticket when you are down there’. (Please note this is 1979, no internet, no luxury of land line phone at home or mobile gizmo, credit cards were the exclusive property of millionaires and postal orders were still viewed as legal tender. You literally had to camp outside ticket vendor outlets to ensure you bought your right to see the bands you loved). This was swiftly followed by an announcement that all tickets for the 4th of August had sold out and due to unprecedented demand, Zeppelin would play a second gig at Knebworth on August 11th. ‘Looks like you and Lenore are not going to enjoy this together’, I said to my mate, Pete. So, whilst wearing my feet and brain cells out tramping around London having our band’s demo tape rejected by EMI, RCA et al, I spied a small ticket emporium with a home made poster in the window: ‘ZEP KNEBWORTH TICKETS INSIDE’. In I went with Lenore’s crumpled up tenner stashed in my back pocket. ‘Got any tickets for the 4th?’ I asked nervously. ‘You’re a very lucky boy’, came the reply from a Steve Hillage look-alike complete with tea cosy on his head, ‘someone’s just popped in and exchanged his ticket for the 4th for the 11th’. If you’ve ever used the phrase, ‘thank f**k for that’, I developed the patent. How much did it cost for a Led Zeppelin ticket in 1979? The princely sum of £7.50.

By 1979, I’d seen a few bands live in my home town of Bridlington. Nice and easy it was too. A short stroll out of the pub to the ‘Spa Royal Hall’ to witness the following : Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Wishbone Ash, The Police, Hawkwind, Pat Travers, Lindisfarne, Frankie Miller and others, pretty much a pantheon of what would be regarded as ‘Dad Rock’ these days. I’d never been to an ‘Arena’ gig and most certainly never been to an open air festival. Was I and my future wife prepared for the Knebworth experience? In a word, no.

I’m now in my 50’s. The prospect of ‘Camping’ remained a concept that repulsed me until my late 40’s. Camping was for ‘Carry On’ films. Mud, rain and discomfort. I have since been converted to short spells of cohabiting under canvas by my ever enterprising wife who possesses a superior intellect and has used her persuasive talents to get her curmudgeon of a husband to give it a go. In 1979, however, neither of us had gained the wherewithal to prepare for an open air festival. We were young, skint and woefully unprepared.

So how did we get down to Knebworth then? We took the train on the Friday night before the big event from Bridlington, changing at York and then in a straight line all the way down to Stevenage. My memory fails me here but I do remember at each stop the train gradually filled up with inebriated denim clad hairy blokes who would stick their collective heads out of carriage windows whilst the train trundled along at 70mph and yell ‘Zeppelinnnnnnnnn’ in a fashion not too dissimilar to the way Mel Gibson would enunciate ‘Freedom’ in the film ‘Braveheart’ many years later. I had sincere concerns that although these guys and yours truly shared a passion for the same rock group, there was a distinct possibility they might break into our compartment, slit my throat and rape my future wife. First impressions eh? For the record, this didn’t happen.

And what of our preparations for two days and nights in the open air? Please read the following list:

Two bottles of ‘Olde English’ Cider. (Consumed on the train journey down).

One bottle of Cinzano.

Two sleeping bags.

One bin liner to put them all in.

We packed no food or snacks of any description, no water to tackle our thirst in the early August haze and nothing remotely waterproof should an English monsoon occur. This wasn’t a matter of faith in the magical mysticism of Zeppelin, (what could possibly go wrong?), or a reflection of our ‘Northern’ hardiness, just good old fashioned naivety mixed with a dash of pig ignorance.

When we jumped off the train at Stevenage we had no idea where to go so we just followed everyone else. A slight detour was taken at the station prior to joining the pilgrims on foot because we all needed a pee. It was at this juncture I got a preliminary taste of the 70’s festival experience. At festivals today it’s all pristine portaloos in abundance with soap, loo roll and alcohol sanitizer sprays. In 1979 you could elect to queue for what seemed like hours until your bladder burst, piss your pants where you stood, or find a bottle to place your urine in and save it for later to chuck at unsuspecting members of the audience in front of you once you’d finally got into Knebworth Park. I elected to queue. When I finally elbowed my way to the piss pot I couldn’t relax and ‘let it flow’ because I was sharing my space with pleasant but extremely inebriated fellow male Zeppelin fans who thought it might be a good idea to kick me in the middle of my back to help me get on with it. However on reflection, the toilets at Stevenage railway station would seem positively palatial once I’d sampled the delights of the latrines at Knebworth the following day.

And so, once our bladders had been emptied, we followed the throng to Knebworth. This was it! I was going to see Led Zeppelin! Blimey, this was unreal. As we approached the perimeter of the park, there was a life affirming sense of not being alone. My God, it was 1979 and the British music scene was dominated by post punk politicised bands such as The Clash, The Jam, The Fall, and Joy Division. The music press viewed Led Zeppelin as obsolete, self indulgent and disconnected from the youth of the day. Well, this 20 year old looked around in awe at the thousands of tents, cars, vans and a sea of people as far as the eye could see and thought that ‘Never Mind The Bollocks Part 2’ should have been the title of Zep’s imminent new album. Things were looking good. So it wasn’t just me then? There are thousands of us! We found a space literally on the edge of a motorway and laid out our sleeping bags. If I’d rolled over in my sleep, I would have trundled down a steep embankment straight onto the A1 motorway and been flattened by the first vehicle that came along. It was only as the mist cleared after the gig, I realised how close we all were to meeting our maker.

We tried to sleep but it was impossible. The celebrations by the ‘throng’ continued unabated until the wee small hours and then all of a sudden a hush……

Word was out. Pass it on! Some fans have broken down the perimeter fence. The venue’s security guys have decided to open up the turnstiles in the interests of safety. It’s three in the morning. We either get up now and go for it or look forward to memories of Zeppelin in miniature because if we don’t join the stampede we’ll be right at the back of Knebworth Park when we mince in at 9:00am after a leisurely breakfast of Cinzano. So up we get, pack everything into our bin liners and hotfoot it to the entrance. Finally, after handing over our tickets, we are in! You’d think we would have got a prime spot, a place so close to the stage you could crane your neck up and marvel at Robert Plant’s nasal hair growth but this is 1979 and it’s Led Zeppelin’s first gig on home turf since 1975. In my humble estimation, at least 50,000 people beat us to it. At least we were on the brow of the hill…….

August the 4th was a very long day. First the attempt to get some sleep and conserve energy by sleeping on our recently filled bin liners was rudely awakened by the first of five support bands. There were accusations that Zep had played safe with their choice of support acts. No younger ‘rock’ upstarts were on the bill and certainly no hats were tipped to the New Wave generation. Long established, ‘has been’ and old was the theme, the majority of the bands being American. The two exceptions being British folk rockers Fairport Convention who opened proceedings swiftly followed by Cockney impostors Chas and Dave. Both acts survived, that’s all I can remember except for the shower of cans and bottles thrown at Chas and Dave. In their defence, C&D stoically continued and won over members of the audience who were awake at that time with some clever smart ass patter. The following bands are a blur. Commander Cody? Or was it the Marshall Tucker Band? I’m buggered if I can recall. Then there was the Springsteen ‘lite’ Southside Johnny and his Asbury Jukes. They almost had a residency on the Old Grey Whistle Test at that time and having watched them ad nauseum on TV, I thought they were distinctly underwhelming. As ‘Underwhelmers’ go, they delivered in spades at Knebworth.

It was hot and muggy. The day was punctuated by plagues of Greenfly who crawled onto your exposed skin parts in successive waves. We were thirsty and I needed a pee. I would not recommend Cinzano as a rehydrating fluid. So as I needed to take a leak, I was nominated to bring back four cans of coke. (Not the nose numbing chemical variety). Design of communal rock festival toilets in 1979 were, let’s just say, infantile. Dig a big square hole in a field and put wooden toilets in a row on top, divide male and female by a canvas screen and Bob’s your uncle. Getting there was another challenge as the toilets were situated right at the back of the park. I used a flagpole as a mental marker to find my way back and stepped tentatively on approximately 90,000 people as I weaved slowly towards the back of the field. To this day I have never understood the need for the organisers of the gig to waste money on signs giving direction to the toilets: all you had to do was follow your nose. The stench was gut churning. I was only taking a pee but the sight of turds dropping into the pit from adjoining ‘traps’ was like a Biblical painting of Hades and as I bravely pointed Percy I half expected some horrific Orc to rise up out of the brown, bubbling slime and drag me down under.

Job done, (no pun intended), I sidled down the edge of the park in search of cold fizzy pop. To cut a long story short, I purchased four cans of luke warm Coca-Cola for the ‘Knebworth Festival’ cut price bargain of 75p each. That’s three quid. Now considering the ticket for the privilege of seeing Led Zeppelin and five support acts cost £7.50, I got it into my head we could probably book Todd Rundgren to play at our local pub for just one crate of the stuff. Now where’s that flag so I can find my way back? ‘F**k me, there’s hundreds of ‘em. Yeah, but mine is a skull and crossbones. There are hundreds of those too! Well, don’t panic, just aim for the brow of the hill. ‘Sorry, Sorry!’ I exclaimed as I stood on 90,000 people on the way back. By some miracle I found Tina, Lenore and Pete and collapsed onto my bin liner. ‘This Coke’s warm’, said Pete. ‘F**k off’, I replied.

If you’re the guy that got married on Saturday August the 4th and thought it would be a good idea after your wedding reception to take yourself and your bride in full white regalia to see Led Zeppelin at Knebworth, I apologise in advance for my account of your story. The problem is my friend; you were very drunk and as a consequence a tiny bit stroppy. Why you picked me out of the entire crowd as the best candidate to ‘kiss the f**king bride’ will always remain a mystery to me. Because you were a little bit scary, I declined your offer at first. Nevertheless your powers of persuasion made me change my mind. You may not remember this, but you were decidedly unimpressed with my negative response and resolved the issue by dragging me up onto my feet and pushing my head in the direction of your wife’s face. ‘Kiss my wife’ you insisted. And so I did. And then you let go of me and smiled the sweetest smile before making your way down to the front of the stage. God bless you and I hope you enjoyed the gig.

The sun was beginning to set and Todd Rundgren resplendent in a yellow banana suit took the stage with his band Utopia. I’d heard of Todd but wasn’t expecting the prog rock wig out that followed. I thought we were going to get heartfelt piano led ballads and ‘I Saw the Light’ as an encore. What we got was the first full on ROCK band of the day performed by four virtuosos. They livened the whole day up and got an encore for their efforts. Todd was witty, articulate, a tremendous singer and very sharp on the guitar. The rest of the band, Kasim on bass, Roger on keyboards and Willie on Drums were equally entertaining and shortly after Knebworth I purchased my first Utopia record. The first of many. In a sentence, I became a fan of all things Toddness.

Finally, it’s dark. We know this is it. The crowd is restless. The delay between Utopia and what we hope will be Zeppelin morphs into collective Chinese water torture. Drip….drip……drip. ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing over the P.A system and then suddenly it fades out. What follows is the biggest roar I’ve ever heard from a crowd: an enormous outpouring of love and emotion from thousands of the devoted. Four figures can just be discerned moving into position on stage and that roar gets even louder; it’s thunderous, it’s a true celebration of a hastily assembled bunch of strangers in a field suddenly united in the emotional reward for ‘keeping the faith’. When I listen to this moment on bootleg recordings, it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It’s a ‘bloke’ thing really, and yes there are far more important things in life and yes, I was to be blessed with greater and far more cherished moments in later times but this was 1979, I was 20 years old and reasonably untarnished by the trials and tribulations of what follows by breathing in and out for a further 30 or so years and as a consequence, that ‘moment’ will always remain magical. It’s a ‘freeze frame’, a ‘still’ picture that can be recalled on a whim. It makes your heart beat faster. It makes you feel good. It’s Led Zeppelin for Christ’s sake!

Kerrang! That was Jimmy Page. A ‘D’ chord. Drrang, Drrang! A couple more very loud strokes. The Knebworth throng was going nuts. The stage is pitch black. Four or five repetitive snare drum hits cracked through the August night air. Unmistakable. Nobody on earth sounded like that. It was John Bonham. Then all hell broke loose. Jimmy Page launched into the intro to ‘The Song Remains the Same’ and the stage lit up. Wooof! In came Bonham and John Paul Jones. I got up from a crouched position onto my knees to get a better view and to my delight a large video screen at the back of the stage flickered into life. So we are on a brow of a hill somewhere near Stevenage in a field watching Led Zeppelin and if you need dimensions, the rear stage video screen afforded us the luxury of being able to expand what would have been a view of Jimmy, Robert, John Paul and John from approximately 1 inch tall to about 12 inches. ‘Sit down you tw*t’, came the clarion call from the assembled behind me. And so I did as a full can of Carlsberg lager flew two centimetres wide of my right ear.

I promise not to gush. I promise not to follow with a track by track analysis. What follows is an honest recollection of how I felt as the gig unfolded. It’s not all sweetness and light, I can tell you; even at the age of 20 I could surmise that my favourite rock group of all time were a little rusty, overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion and gingerly dipping their collective toes back into playing live after a break of two years. Colour in a background of being despised as ‘Dinosaurs’ by the rock press cognoscenti, Led Zeppelin were fully primed to take a fall and have it magnified in print as soon as the first bum note or missed cue rang out into the dank and dusty air that night at Knebworth. Led Zeppelin were initially self conscious and totally lacking in that unique camaraderie of yore. There were bum notes and missed cues as well as technical problems. There was a complete lack of bass guitar in the front P.A system for the first two numbers. Zeppelin literally motored through the opening songs, ‘The Song Remains the Same’ and ‘Celebration Day’. They were flying on pure adrenalin but lacked the confident swagger of days gone by. Easy for me to say, isn’t it?

We expect so much of our rock heroes but the myth of Led Zeppelin was peeled away, layer by layer, as the evening faded into night. It was clear that these four ‘Rock’ icons were actually human after all.

Jimmy Page was painfully thin in baggy pants and a button over shirt topped off with neat shoulder length hair. When he played his Les Paul guitar, it was hung waist high not below his knees. He tiptoed around the stage and on occasions stayed rooted to the spot. His early guitar solos lacked fluidity. It was early doors but I couldn’t help thinking my favourite guitar player needed to pull some rabbits out of the hat to reinforce what had been up to that moment my unswerving belief in his untouchable greatness. I was a worried young man. To my relief a hat and a few rabbits were produced out of thin air later in the set.

Robert Plant looked like Robert Plant. The blonde ‘mane’ was intact. He looked lean and fit and his youthful face defied recent tragic events in his personal life. The voice was in great form. It cut through the distorted high octane rendition of the opening song like a diamond. Robert’s voice ricocheted out of the P.A and the delay towers in the arena with a clarity that belied his later confessions of nerves and doubt. He remained ‘chummy’ throughout the entire gig; He was self effacing and avoided the longer hippy inspired ‘between song’ introductions of the past. At Knebworth, Robert Plant was the kid from Kidderminster genuinely moved and grateful for the sea of people in front of him willing him and his band on.

John Paul Jones came dressed for a wedding in a white suit. Just for once, his hair was longer than Jimmy Page’s. He played like a trooper but then again, he was incapable of doing anything else. It’s in his DNA. John Paul Jones doesn’t do crap gigs. The other three? Maybe, but not Jonesy. He was beset by technical problems early on but floored me with his endurance on bass guitar throughout ‘Achilles Last Stand’. How on earth did he keep that pace up for the duration?

And finally, John Bonham. I was actually seeing and hearing John Bonham. That’s it really. He was a ‘big’ man then, a bit of a ten bellies but sat behind that drum kit he was an inspiration. It’s hard to put into words. The only way I can explain it is that ‘what you hear’ is not ‘what you see’. The totally unique ‘Bonzo’ sound live was undermined by the seemingly relaxed style he would hit his drum kit. What you heard was the Thunder of The Gods, what you saw was an economy of movement, no arms in the air thrashing wildly, no theatrics or drumstick twirling just a man hunched over his Ludwig ensemble making comparatively small upper limb movements to produce such a massive sound.

My favourite song of all time is ‘Black Dog’. The studio version on Led Zeppelin IV that is. It is a strange amalgam of the call and response American Blues tradition with the ‘impossible’ hi-tech riff written by John Paul Jones. Pagey is still mistakenly credited with this riff’s creation to this day. I haven’t finished yet. Plant’s searing vocal is set back in an unworldly wash of repeat echo, the lyrics firmly set in testosterone injected aspic. Bonham’s drums play right through the mayhem in ‘f**k you’ 4/4 time and then suddenly not, like the proverbial bull in a china shop. And finally, that guitar sound, that guitar harmony and that guitar solo at the end.

So, here I am at Knebworth in 1979 and Zeppelin choose to play my favourite song of all time as the third song in their set. Do you know what? It was fine. The sound problems had been ironed out and after a quick false intro of ‘Out On the Tiles’, Led Zeppelin truly hit their stride. ‘Hey Hey Mama’ was all it needed. If we had been watching in a house instead of a field, it would have been brought down emphatically by the noise made by the crowd at the end of this song. The band had relaxed considerably and the ‘swagger’ was back. Robert Plant teased us into joining in during the ‘Ah Ah’ refrain and hit a high note which must have been picked up by strays at Battersea Dog’s home. I turned and looked at my girlfriend Tina with a face that said, ‘did you see and hear that?’ She squeezed my hand affectionately as all women do that will never understand football, Meccano and men but felt obliged to offer encouragement. When will I ever grow up……

I’m euphoric now. Pagey’s back in my good books and Zeppelin are cooking on gas. ‘Nobody’s Fault but Mine’ follows. The intro is thin compared to the ‘Presence’ studio album version but once Bonham and Jonesy crash in, there’s no looking back. The false stops in the song are punctuated with roars from the crowd. Plant is soaring, guttural and shaking the sound system, Pagey is dancing, ducking and diving and looking like he’s actually enjoying himself – it’s Led Zeppelin at full throttle. Bang! The ‘Cosmic Energy’ indeed.

What followed was a seemingly long and lacklustre period of the set. The compactness and hard hitting rock and roll overload of ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault’ was wasted as a succession of elongated work outs followed. Renditions of ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’, ‘No Quarter’, ‘Ten Years Gone’ gave the young buck music journalists of the day the perfect opportunity to seize on Zeppelin’s penchant for self indulgence and with some justification. The performance was laboured and stretched out. Page’s guitar solos were scratchy and tired. The man was struggling to find the effortless virtuosity of the past and when the video screen showed shots of his face you could see the struggle going on up there in real time. We were provided with a ‘tea break’ when Zeppelin introduced us to a ditty off their imminent new album called ‘Hot Dog’. As they launched into what can be only described as an up tempo Country and Western pastiche, I was filled with horror. My God, if this was deemed by the band as a worthy advert for the new record, what’s the rest of it going to sound like?

Tea break over, back on your heads lads! ‘The Rain Song’ followed. It was an eerily ‘quiet’ version with John Paul Jones holding it together on keyboards. Page was out of it now, it was like he’d got the guitarist’s equivalent of footballer’s cramp; he was sweating profusely and grinding every note out making the whole song look like it required a superhuman effort. Compared to his silky performance of the same number in the film ‘The Song Remains the Same’, this was below par, almost painful to watch.

Ok, it’s just me right? Well, at the time, each song Zeppelin performed at Knebworth was received with tumultuous applause and Viking like battle cries. The assembled throng gave absolutely no indication of being dissatisfied with Led Zeppelin’s performance throughout the entire set. I guess, in context, this was a big night for all of us because the majority were seeing and hearing Led Zeppelin live for the first time. This was a BIG occasion, schoolboy stuff really, something you could tell your kids about in later life. One thing was sure to happen after August 4th 1979, I would bump into people much later in life who would proudly proclaim, ‘I was THERE’. And I have, many, many times. I still have to own up being mildly disappointed sat in that field that night, granted, there were moments of sky scraping greatness but these were few and far between. It was the spirit of the age you see, and Led Zeppelin were sacrificing themselves at the altar of Punk Rock and New Wave; ironic really as ‘Are Friends Electric’ by Gary Numan had just topped the charts and as a consequence would put the new impostors on the back burner as every young musician of the day would trade in their guitars for a synthesiser. And over the pond, ‘ROCK’ was still a big hitter, the latest platinum selling rock band was Van Halen who at that point had released just two albums, the problem was their guitarist, Edward Van Halen, sounded like the second coming and totally turned the sound of the rock guitar on it’s head. He made Jimmy Page sound like Bert Weedon. Led Zeppelin just weren’t READY in August 1979. Hindsight has proved this but as a 20 year old watching my heroes in the flesh that night I didn’t know any of this, only that they weren’t as good as I thought they were going to be. There, I’ve said it, I feel better now. And do you know what? Led Zeppelin are still my favourite band and do you know why? Because as a collector of their unauthorised recordings in my later years I have found plenty of evidence to reinforce my belief that Led Zeppelin were a truly great live experience. It’s just a darn shame I didn’t witness it in person.

Back on your heads lads. Jimmy sits on a stool with his Dan Electro guitar and begins to play ‘White Summer’ and ‘Black Mountain Side’. It’s a ‘struggle’ again as various fluffed notes and pregnant pauses demonstrate that Pagey is not at the top of his form. As he plays the last Coda of ‘Black Mountain Side’, Mr. Page stands up and we are bathed in white light as the whole band crash into ‘Kashmir’. The air is absolutely fizzing with electricity as Bonzo’s phased drums blast out into the night accompanied by Jonesy’s keyboard orchestra. Page looks relaxed again and provides us with a big Cheshire Cat grin and Plant steps up to the microphone, hands on hips and lets rip. Sky scraping greatness is upon us. It is a truly masterful performance and my faith is restored. I look at my girlfriend, Tina and she looks back with a ‘yeah, I know, yes I did just see and hear that’ expression. Magic.

‘Please don’t dip now guys’, I thought as ‘Kashmir’ blew us away and they didn’t. John Paul Jones hit the clavinet keys and ‘Trampled Underfoot’ began in earnest. The song’s punchy and relentless power was topped off by Robert Plant totally in his zone singing with assured confidence. ‘This is what Zep are about’, I thought as I took another glance at Tina. ‘’Yeah, I know’, was the response in her smile. Zeppelin didn’t let up. ‘Sick Again’ was powerful and a return to the short, sharp shock songs Zep could deliver with aplomb. Plant was throwing shapes now and had overcome the previous ‘toe dipping’ with a full on dive into unabashed rock preening and pouting, Page was now totally relaxed and grooving and peeled off a vintage solo and Bonham and Jonesy were totally locked together. The outro was orgasmic with Page pulling rabbits out of that hat with reckless abandon and Plant giving us the echo laden ‘aaaaahs’ we craved. I looked at Tina, ‘Yeah I f**king know, now pick your jaw up from the floor and just enjoy it!’ was the unspoken message written on her beautiful face.

‘Achilles Last Stand’ was next. John Paul Jones and John Bonham were a revelation. The speed of the performance beggared belief. Jonesy chugged through the entire thing on bass with breakneck consistency. I half expected him to be carried off by a team of hyperventilating paramedics once he’d finished. Page sweated his way through it all and managed to pull it off with panache. The fact that the studio version was heavily layered with guitar overdubs was ‘nay problem’, Page just did ‘em all on one friggin’ Les Paul – well it seemed like that, anyway. Plant was majestic, hitting the high notes with ease.

John Henry Bonham. There are no superlatives I can find for the man for his performance on ‘Achilles’ that night. He’s just the best. Period.

I didn’t look at Tina – ‘Football, Meccano and Men’ came to mind…..

The Guitar Solo:

Now it was time for Jimmy Page’s solo spot. In a word, unremarkable. First came a gizmo driven octave divider effect. Up and down went a distorted chord sound with Pagey waving his arms in unison to the rise and fall of the lo-tech effect. Then the violin bow was produced to huge roars from the crowd. Now, if you are one of the few people on earth who can listen to the 23 minute version of ‘Dazed and Confused’ on the ‘Song Remains the Same’ live album and enjoy it to the max, it’s back to mine for drinks and we’ll crank it up on the Hi-Fi. What was good about that version was the sonic width and power of the bowed section coupled with the menace and eeriness of its delivery; in audio terms it was Widescreen guitar psychedelia. At Knebworth, the violin bow section was like fingernails on a blackboard, lacking bite and to be brutally honest, a veritable toe curler. If Eddie Van Halen had jumped on stage at that point and ripped into ‘Eruption’ you would have had to ask James Patrick Page to see you after class. ‘Must try harder, James’. Finally, Jimmy’s violin bow produced a laser beam from its tip and within seconds he was bathed under a rotating laser pyramid as he bashed out echo laden chords to the delight of everyone. It kind of worked, folks, but the majority of it was excruciating. Having thrilled me to bits with his solos in ‘Sick Again’ minutes earlier, Jimmy looked pedestrian during his solo spot. I was back to being ‘mildly disappointed’ again.

A drone like sound from John Paul Jones’s keyboard rung out and Plant enunciated the words ‘In the Evening’. Pow! The ‘Cosmic Energy’ was restored as Zeppelin introduced another track from their imminent new album. The nightmare of the previous rendition of ‘Hot Dog’ was instantly erased by this barnstormer of a song. Thank God for that! Zep haven’t gone ‘Country’ after all! This was trademark stuff with a nod to the new ‘keyboard’ technology of the time but underpinned by Bonzo’s thunder and Page’s swooping guitar riff. The song was received by all like an old friend.

Ok, it’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ time. In 1979 this song had already picked up some momentum as something you shouldn’t be allowed to like. It was dripping with ‘Hippy’ sentimentality. It had absolutely nothing to do with Thatcher’s Britain. We we’re all on the dole for Christ’s sake and were being force fed ‘If the Kid’s are United’ by Sham 69. Well, at least it felt that way to me. Robert Plant would disown ‘Stairway’ in later years. Why? It’s a great song, period. I like it. Now take me to the gallows (pole) for my sins. I’ve tried to set the scene for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979, a great band who had produced great music loved and cherished by people all over the world. Their 1976 movie depicted the group in splendid mansions surrounded by the green fields of Britain. I didn’t get pissed off when I saw this, it was something to aspire to. Rock and Roll money grabbing excess? No, not really, just a band who toured endlessly with an astute manager who ensured they got paid their dues. However, they were swimming against the tide of a musical revolution, but this time round, the anarchic punk ethic was to dismiss entirely any music that had been made before 1976. Well, that didn’t ring true with this 20 year old. That kind of ethic was too narrow a criteria to subscribe to. How on earth do we evolve if we don’t look back and take out the good bits and move forward? Who’s in charge anyway? The public are. They’ll decide what they like, not the NME, Melody Maker or Rolling Stone. And hey! I’m 20 years old you fuckwits, so how the hell can I be ‘passé’ at such a young age?

If you’ve got this far, you’ve read an honest appraisal of my favourite rock group playing live and it’s not viewed through rose tinted glasses. Zeppelin were bad in places but inspirational in others. The so called revolutionary musicians of the time would morph into obscurity in latter years or change tack to survive. The Sex Pistols made one of the greatest ROCK albums of all time with ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’. It was a fantastic record. I purchased it in 1977 and because the cover of the record was seen as offensive by the authorities, it was presented to me in my local record shop from under the counter in a brown paper bag. The next record I bought in a brown paper bag was two years later. It was called ‘In Through the Out Door’ by Led Zeppelin.

Oh, by the way, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ live at Knebworth 1979 was magnificent.

Led Zeppelin left the stage to tumultuous applause, whoops and howls from 200,000 people. The overwhelming emotion I had was singular; it was good to have them back. Zeppelin’s reappearance as a live act was a comfort zone, a warming reassurance that rock music’s original pioneers still had a place somewhere in our firmament and that, hopefully, there might be some more pioneering to come. ‘Thank God for that’, I thought and on this sentiment I felt that the ‘kids were united’ at Knebworth Park that night, so much so, they burst into a repeat chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Now, I’ve never been to Anfield football ground and stood in the Kop end but I guess after August 4th 1979, I wouldn’t really need to in order to gain a comparison of overt hero worship. It’s a ‘bloke’ thing, really, part two.

After a seemingly endless interval, Led Zeppelin returned to the stage and were received with a roar almost as spine tingling as the assembled throng’s cacophony at the beginning of their set. Robert Plant was speechless for once. Page, Bonham and Jonesy looked genuinely humbled. So this was the cocky, arrogant, ‘lock up your daughters’, TV smashing, narcissistic, coke snorting, money grabbing, groupie abusing, 70’s most over hyped rock and roll band lapping it up before being whisked off to their musk scented, candle lit harems in search of top grade heroin and good times? Not exactly, just four very human beings looking extraordinarily relieved they’d survived an evening with their harshest critics and who may they be? Their fans, of course……

The rest is a blur. Bonzo crashed into the intro of ‘Rock And Roll’ and that ‘roar’ wafted over my head in waves and bounced around the arena. Zeppelin were relaxed now, almost sloppy but they didn’t care and neither did we. It was like the fab four had just got their exam results with mixed grades but f**k it, they had all passed! See you at the end of term party, guys!

‘Whole Lotta Love’ rang out. Delirium. At this point, after being awake for the best part of two days and being severely undernourished, the ‘other fab four’, namely yours truly, Tina, Pete and Lenore decided to cut and run. Fatigue had set in. We were cold and damp and absolutely knackered. We wanted to find a spot to place our collective bin liners before the ‘mad rush’ and try to get some sleep before catching the train home in the morning. I got up and said, ‘Ok, let’s go’, half expecting Robert Plant to stop the band and demand a civil answer to the question of why we were the only four people who had decided to leave out of 200,000 before they had finished their set. We were not alone. Thousands of like minded souls were making their exit. We left the perimeter of Knebworth Park to the strains of ‘Heartbreaker’ echoing through the delay towers.

It seemed to take an age to get back to ‘our spot’. Curiously, everyone who attended Knebworth that night seemed to stick to an unspoken, democratic rule of returning to the place where they had slept the night before. Easy, if you’d got a tent or a vehicle of any description to navigate back to but not so straightforward if your boudoir was a patch of grass next to a steep decline onto the A1 motorway. By some strange miracle, we found our patch and collapsed in four separate heaps.

The morning after came quickly. I remember waking up in a thick dawn mist and peering out of my sleeping bag. My head was trapped in the lats of a wooden fence and I had fresh cobwebs on my forehead. I struggled to get my stiff bones working and eventually stood up to discover we were all inches from falling down an embankment onto the A1 motorway. In blind panic I thought it might be a good idea to wake everyone up. This noble and chivalrous concern to alleviate Tina, Pete and Lenore from being a statistic of Knebworth’s chronic breach of Health and Safety regulations resulting in them being crushed to death by the next Edwin Shirley truck on the inside lane of the A1 resulted in my decision to prod them all with a stick found nearby. My ‘noble chivalry’ was greeted with a collective early dawn chorus of ‘F**k off, you wing nut’.

After a hearty breakfast of Benson and Hedges King Size all round, we set off for Stevenage Railway Station.

The train home was a ‘British Rail’ commuter train called a ‘125’. This was a proud reference to its top speed of 125mph. In real terms, British train users would refer to its name as being a reflection of the train’s tardiness; at the very least, 125 minutes late. For the record, the train arrived on time. For the record, it was jam packed with well dressed, affluent folks blissfully unaware that, once the train pulled in at Stevenage, each carriage would fill up with exhausted, greasy haired oiks looking for a seat to park their bums in: problem was, there weren’t any.

Our choice was stark and simple. Once on the train, sit down in the aisle or get off and wait for the next one. We sat in the aisle. Tina curled up in what was hilariously in those days called a ‘luggage compartment’. Actually, it was the triangular shaped void between every bank of seats that faced each other separated by a table. Tina crawled in, curled up, her eyes closed and it was ‘night, night, make sure the bugs don’t bite’. She was so still, I’d thought she’d stopped breathing, so in the interests of ‘Health and Safety’, I woke her up just to check everything was ok. You can guess the rest………

(She was breathing, alright).

Oh, and another thing, we saw Tina’s school friends, Ty Williamson, Rich Balarkas and Steve Bradley at the station! Big deal, eh? Well, yes actually, if you figure out the probability factor of:200,000 against 3.

Steve Bradley would end up singing in my band for a short period in 1981 after I’d nicked him from ‘Zeppophile’ guitarist Rich Balarkas. Ty Williamson would become a dear friend of mine and we would co-write many songs together years later in the 90’s! We remain in touch to this day united by our mutual appreciation of Jimmy Page and all things Zeppelin and more.

Electric Magic, indeed………..

I leave you with this photo of yours truly, probably trying to blank out Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes in the middle of a field on August the Fourth, 1979.

Impressive bin liner though……..

  • Pat Mount
  • Many thanks to Pat for that fantastically detailed overview of his August 4, 1979…
  • More Knebworth recollections to follow…  

 

…………

DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn – at the always excellent Vinyl Barn last Friday It was great to pick up Mungo Jerrys first album on the UK Dawn label which I’ve been looking for plus a very nice Dionne Warwick Golden Hits compilation on US Scepter Records and Carole King’s 1974 album Wrap Around Joy on the US Ode label – many thanks again to Darren Harte.

I’m pleased to report that my toothache has much improved -there were two further visits to the dentist last week – in fact I’ve been to the dentist more in the last three weeks than I have in the last 15 years or so. The last of the offending tooth does need to come out but it needs to settle a bit first. A date in September for it to happen is being sorted.

The news of the return of Black Country Communion is most welcome – a few weeks back back, I met up with Glenn Hughes in London to interview him for TBL  about the latest BCC activity and more. Glenn looked great and was his usual amiable and deep thinking self. Being in his company is always such a tonic.

The Glenn Hughes interview is yet another highlight of the forthcoming work in progress TBL issue 43 of which there has been more work on in the past few days. I also recently had an intensive skype session with co author Mike Tremaglio to discuss where we are at with the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book project. As previously mentioned, this is turning into quite an epic 500 plus page work. Mike has unearthed some truly amazing content and visual images and at StudioMix  TBL designer Mick Lowe and I are piecing the design and layout together. We are now about to commence the 1973 touring schedule which wades in at some 63 pages. There’s a mighty long way to go but it really is looking very good. More on this as it unfolds…

It’s always a pleasure to present recollections and memories of those incredible two Saturdays out in that field just outside Stevenage. I’m sure you will agree that Pat Mount’s chronicle of his Kenworth experience above, is another inspiring snapshot of what it was like to be there at that simply life affirming event. On the YouTube clip below, you can hear just exactly how life affirming it was for me, Tom and Dec as the four members of Led Zeppelin walked on the stage at Knebworth on the evening of August 4, 1979 …

There will be more Knebworth recollections in the next TBL website update posting at the end of next week as I gather memories of the second concert on Saturday August 11 1979 – all of 38 years gone and this time there will be no sleeping bags required…

Dave Lewis  – August 1 ,2017 

Until next time –  have a great weekend…

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tightbutloose.loose

The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out.

And follow TBL/DL on Twitter

YouTube clip:

The Bedford three (me, Tom and Dec) reaction to Led Zeppelin arriving on stage at Knebworth August 4 1979:

 

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

6 Comments »

  • Larry said:

    Really enjoyed the Knebworth memories from Dave and Pat Mount. Indeed, the music media’s snide contempt for Zeppelin was ridiculous then, and hasn’t aged well at all. Well, we all get it wrong from time to time. The punks and new wave had their 15 minutes, and even Eddie Van Halen (and I was a huge VH fan back in the day) wound up in quite a “state” of his own making some years after dissing Page’s onstage playing.

    I think the first Knebworth show was a worthwhile performance, although not quite as good as the second Copenhagen “warm-up” gig 10 days prior. And the official DVD really brought Knebworth home in spades. The footage found there is absolutely thrilling, not least Sick Again, in which John Bonham unforgettably puts his backing group thru its paces. A full-fledged release of the entire set would really be nice one of these eons…

    You beat me to it, Dave. 38 years gone, scary indeed!

  • Ray said:

    Just sat through the Cosmic Energy mean Business Blu Ray August 4th, totally transported. These shows used to get a lot of bad press,after watching the show this afternoon i can’t see why. I feel totally uplifted what an amazing performance.

  • Ray said:

    Hi Dave,

    38 years ago today I was one of the many thousands in the middle of that field in Hertfordshire,a lifetime ago such fond memories. And my lust for all thing Zeppelin has not waned, the new Empress Valley title “DEUS EX MACHINA” as just hit the streets in Japan and i have just ordered my copy. My wallet in now significantly lighter but it has to be done, one of my favourite shows from 75 along with the LA shows and of course Earls Court. Keep carrying the torch Dave, looking forward to issue 43 of TBL.

    Cheers

    Ray

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Indeed not !

  • SowlerB said:

    Interesting …. Utopia at Knebworth “overlong and indulgent”.
    The set must have been 2 hours max, with only one song approaching the ten minute mark.
    You wouldn’t catch Led Zeppelin putting on a show like that would you?
    🙂

  • Dave M said:

    Just the 38 years gone!

    Scarily, this annual August 4 milestone seems to be coming around increasing quickly.

    A magical era though…

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.