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DAVE LEWIS DIARY: 02 REUNION THREE YEARS GONE/JOHN LENNON THIRTY YEARS GONE/FATHER CHRISTMAS

10 December 2010 5,709 views 15 Comments

Photo image copyright Thinkfarm

Three years ago today I awoke with the prospect of Led Zeppelin retuning to the stage just a matter of hours away. The previous night I’d spent the evening in the Pilot Inn toasting that fact with fans from all corners of the world. It would be a similar scene a few hours later.

The day itself went by in something of a blur – walking on that cold concourse leading to the O2 complex, conducting various interviews, bumping into countless fans I knew. After a communal hug at the entrance it was time to queue for entry. Just as I was going in there was a call on the mobile from the good lady and Sam. They had watched me on the BBC six o clock news. Earlier in the day I had conducted a live interview with BBC News 24 but had no idea they would be using a clip from it for the evening bulletin. The whole element of immense anticipation of what was about to unfold is accurately captured in that BBC news summary as can be viewed here:

BBC 1 Six O’ Clock News  December 10th 2007

And then… well you know the rest…..

One night, one moment, one event.

It still has an aura of complete surrealism about it all – and it still looks and sounds utterly out of this world. It just does. For so many reasons.

The lavish stage set and back production, the ecstatic crowd drawn from over 30 countries.

And while we are at this point  hello to Jose,Tatan, Graeme, Pam, The Foys, Julian, Eddie E, Tom Locke, Kam, Krys,  Colin, Michaela, Jez, Scott, Brian Knapp, JR, Paul H, Nech, Danny Coyle, Mark Bowman, Gary Davies, Lee T, Paul Aspey, Billy & Alison, Dave Linwood and many others who shared it all – you’ll be having the same thoughts as me today for sure…

The Tampa news report intro, the balanced set list, and ultimately the performances of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham in recreating the magic and chemistry (and yes that chemistry I talked about on that news clip was indeed all there) of Led Zeppelin for one night only.

Jonesy was as ever the consummate master musicians, Jason was simply amazing and Jimmy at last got his wish to get HIS band back together and play the music he had so lovingly crafted – and he played it that night with the verve and swagger of the glory years. As for Robert… I’ve said this before but for me he was the absolute star of the evening. Prior to the show the rehearsal reports had all been very favourable, as had the interview quotes from all four but for it to really work it required  Robert to really believe in it all.

Watching them run down In My Time Of Dying at the Sunday afternoon open rehearsal was my first indication that this was going to surpass expectations and Robert was so relaxed with it all during that run through. (Incidentally such is the surreal nature of the 02 experience, I’ve just realised that I have missed out that occasion I saw Robert perform on my Robert Plant 100+ nights listing -so that’s one more for the list)

The next night from the first beats of Good Times Bad Times, it was plainly evident that for one night only Robert Plant genuinely wanted to believe in Led Zeppelin again.

And boy did he ever.

This is a man living the Led Zeppelin dream again and revelling in every minute of it.

A few examples of his confidence and bravado are captured on this simply glorious footage of Kashmir:

Clock the genius at:

0012 to 0023: Robert takes a drink and strides manfully forward to deliver the first line and you just know he’s up for it.

1 minute 14: A great moment here as Jimmy does his first stormtrooper stomp around the stage

2.33: The screen captures Jimmy’s grin as Robert soars on the first long note and totally nails it.

3.02: Watch in awe as Robert slams down the mic stand so immersed in the glorious noise around him

3.48: A brilliantly dynamic fill by Jason.

4.36: Robert stands back coming out of the ”Tryin’ to find where I’ve beeeeeen’’ echoed line – a man in his absolute element.

5.36: The spin round and glance over to to Jimmy as they come out of the riff.

7.06: As the obelisks rise, the centre screen captures Robert and cross fades to Jonesy – wonderful images.

7.44: The mic is  off for the home straight. The poses remain the same.

7.59: The first ‘’oooohhhyeahyeah let me take you there’’ – totally stunning.

Watch this clip now – it could well be the best ten minutes of your day:

Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir”, Live 02 Arena London December 10th 2007  [ OCEAN MIX ]

Kashmir….Truly the pride of Led Zeppelin

‘Ahmet…they did it….

While the various you tube footage is doing an admirable job, we all still live in hope that the official 02 footage will eventually get an official release. The forthcoming TBL magazine contains some inside comment on that particular topic.

Today I will be pulling out the various footage and CD’s and vinyl I have of the 02 show and reliving it all. Neighbours beware. When they crunch down on the opening riff of For Your Life (the moment the show really elevated into something magnificent) the walls are going to shake.  I am sure I won’t be the only one doing so.

As Ahmet  put it – ”It is a great life – this life of music”

.. .. .. .. .. ..

30 years ago on the morning of December 9th 1980 I awoke with the prospect of a normal pre Christmas day of retail activity at the WH Smith record department that I managed. That all changed when the shocking news of John Lennon’s assassination came through.

In those pre internet pre breakfast TV times, the news filtered through on the radio. I was at work at WH Smith preparing the orders for the day when a colleague informed me John Lennon had been shot dead in New York. I spent the next few hours listening to the radio in total shock. This included an interview with  radio DJ Andy Pebbles who had interviewed Lennon in New York two days before his death for BBC radio.

Of course Lennon and Beatles record sales went through the roof – his single Starting Over had slipped down the charts at 24 –the next week it climbed back to number one – Imagine and Happy Xmas (War is over) re entered the top 5.

It was one of those occasions where people wanted to express their feelings by connecting and purchasing Lennon’s music. This actually had a bit of an affect on my forecasting of record orders at the time. I had expected the novelty hit There’s no one quite like Grandma by St Winifred’s School Choir to be number one and ordered in a truck load in anticipation – alas the death of Lennon changed all that. There may well still be copies of that Grandma single lining the darker recess of the stockroom of the WH Smith shop even today.

Some memories from December ’80: The Not The Nine O Clock News satire programme ending with The Beatles In My Life in tribute, DJ Annie Nightingale breaking down on the special Lennon edition of the Old Grey Whistle test, the issue of the NME that covered the story the next week with some impassioned writing from the likes of Charles Shaar Murray. The virgil of silence held the following  Sunday December when it seemed the whole world was united in grief.

One side effect of this dreadful act was that the other big news on the music front was all but buried. It’s pretty evident that had Lennon not been shot, Led Zeppelin’s announcement released on December 4th 1980 that they could not continue as they were and would be disbanding, would have had far more impact than it did. Given the appropriate press coverage  around that news, I think their legacy would have begun to extend almost instantly with many fellow peers paying tribute etc.

As it was that news was buried and diluted under the weight of the shock of Lennon’s death.  Strange as it sounds, Led Zep became the forgotten giants, a position that did not really reverse until Live Aid in 1985.

This wave of grief over Lennon extended well into 1981 – Woman, the second single from Double Fantasy was another number one as was Roxy Music’s tribute cover version of Jealous Guy. George Harrison paid his own tribute with his song All Those Years Ago and later Paul McCartney did the same with the heartfelt song Here Today about his deep affection for John.

John Lennon’s senseless murder robbed us of a true musical genius. His songs of course live on. I’ve gone back to that early Beatles era again to soak up the sheer exuberant joy of his rasping vocal in those formative years. Songs such as I’ll Get You, Thank You Girl, Anna, Not A Second Time, It Won’t Be Long, Twist And Shout, Ill Be Back, Yes It Is, No Reply, I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party, Help, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Baby You’re a Rich Man etc etc .As I’ve noted before John Lennon is well up there in my all time top 5 vocalists. His legacy shines on.

Very busy here on TBL 28 and shaping up pretty well –Mick and I have been wading through pages of text. Alongside all that, I did find myself in a new role (and no laughing at the back there) when I was roped in to be Father Christmas at the pre school that the good lady Janet helps run. Their regular Santa who does the honours at their annual nativity concert was on holiday. So on Wednesday morning your TBL editor could be found in full Santa uniform and beard (that kept slipping off) handing out the Christmas presents to the awe struck children.

Oh yes just another branch of the TBL services.  Mind you the good lady got a little concerned when one of the children kept shouting out ‘’That’s my dad!’’.  Surely some mistake! I guess his dad must be prone to dressing up in the old Santa suit as well.

It did look pretty fetching actually…..and before you ask the photos are under lock and key.

Like the 02 reunion, this was a strict one off appearance – unless they need someone this time next year as I have experience now…

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15 Comments »

  • Nigel Paling said:

    You’ll remember, Dave, that I was one of the faithful that went to the O2 without a ticket but found my way in thanks to that TBL meet at the Pilot… Merry Christmas, Suicide Jack, 3 years gone and I still can’t quite believe I can say ‘I was there’.

    We shared the experience with Joe Elliott and the rest of Leppard – he recounted how his band signed their record deal in the days that followed Knobworth in ’79 and, hey, I was there too… Remember as White Summer faded away on the 11th? Dum di-di-di dum dum dum, dum di-di-di dum dum dum, dum di-di-di dum dum dum … pause… KASHMIR! And James Patrick’s smile as we all were taken there was just the same as the grin he had at the O2.

    The memory of both Knebworth and O2 still brings tears to the eyes… and Kashmir will always raise the hairs of my neck.

    Merry Christmas everyone and have a great 2011, especially you Mike. God bless you!

  • David Whyte said:

    You need to see this clip of For Your Life from O2, outstanding audio and video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa_pGC80PCc&feature=related

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Jimmy’s book has not yet arrived I’m sure the Mailman/UPS Man thinks I’m mental at this point. I keep telling myself like all things Jimmy Page it’s a Tantric experience and well worth it in the end.

  • andrew R said:

    This is why TBL web is so important! A clip of kashmir and a few choice words from Mr Lewis and you are set for the day. God bless you guv and a Merry Christmas to you and the whole Lewis clan.

  • ledhed58 said:

    I sincerely hope that Jimmy will put out the DVD in the near future. It would be a sincere thank-you to all of us MILLIONS of fans who were not lucky enough to be there. Have seen clips of several of the songs and was again reminded of just how talented this band was. Thier music is timeless, thier mystique has only grown stronger and it was nice to hear that they still could swing that Hammer Of The Gods. They were often imitated and never equalled. I am now waiting for my copy of Pagey’s book and can only hope he release’s some music and possibly tour this coming year. Dave, with your influence maybe you can get a petition together to let Jimmy know that the Zepp Army would REALLY like to own that O2 Dvd and see it for ourselves before some of us geezers climb that Stairway To Heaven…Peace from the U.S.A.

  • Paul Aspey said:

    Three years have passed since the Greatest Night of my life,Watching this brings shivers again,
    I have got my wristband band on (Sad isn’t it)

    The zep fest will be here soon another milestone in the lives of Led zeppelin fans the world over

    The sunday night in the pilot inn Dave when you came back from the sound check grinning like a grinning thing telling us of what you had just witnessed only served to keep me awake all night like waiting for xmas as a child

    You dont choose to be a Led Zeppelin fan you are chosen!!!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Some amazing response to this post and the Kashmir clip both here and on the Tight But Loose facebook – many thanks for all the comments and big thanks to Gary Foy for sourcing the clips.

    Just watched it again in full – totally captivating
    What a band!

  • Jim Sloane said:

    Wish I`d been there ! What more can I say !!

  • Larry B said:

    Thanks for putting this up, Dave. How I wish I could have been there!

    After they finish taking their bows, Jason (who was brilliant) is kind of the last guy to leave the stage and he looks up for a moment (I think) to his old man. And as Kathy said, you know Bonzo was looking down proudly, especially of his boy.

    That, to me, was the best moment of the show.

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Being there was only a dream for this fan. Seeing the clip above gave me instant goose bumps and shivers; so alive, so brilliant, I would like to beleive Bonzo was looking down on them with pride, his son playing on stage with his mates.

  • jonny b said:

    If ever anyone needed proof-they can still do it-with a lot of help from Jason-hope Percy reads this!

  • Graham Rodger said:

    Earlier this year I attended a special Q+A evening with Dick Carruthers, co-producer of the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD, followed by a special screening of THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle. Dick’s talk about working with Jimmy and his meticulously detailed account of piecing the footage together was highly entertaining… and he did confirm that the O2 concert was filmed in high-definition with absolutely no expense spared. Whether it will ever be released is a different story…

    Incidentally, fact fans, Dick Carruthers’ favourite Led Zeppelin album is “In Through The Out Door”, because it was the first Zep album he ever heard. When he confided this to Jimmy during the labourious process of assembling the DVD, Jimmy apparently gave him “a filthy look”…

  • Tatan Taufik said:

    Dave,

    It really was the biggest event of my life. The long journey, the long walk to the Pilot Inn, the waiting just to get the best spot in front of the stage, the heavy flu I experienced just after the concert were all worth it!

    Thanks for bringing back the great memories! I look forward to see you again soon!

    Tatan Taufik,
    Jakarta-Indonesia

  • Graeme Powell said:

    How good is this clip ??!! The sound is fantastic and you have to wonder how powerful the boys would have been with modern technology back in the day.
    Jason is outstanding and I am sure Bonzo was smiling down on him that night.

    There MUST be an official DVD release,maybe a campaign needs to be started ?

    Gotta go,need to watch it again .

  • Gary Wade said:

    Dave
    Got up this morning and watched the first 20 minutes of O2 before going to work,magic! Now frustrated i can’t watch the Kashmir clip as we Civil Servants aern’t allowed moving pictures on the computer box!

    For me it was extra special taking my son to show him what it was all about, we were so lucky to get tickets and we had one of those great lads and dads bonding days. He made me a collage of the tickets/wrist bands / reviews and it has pride of place next to the computer.

    Laughing at your Santa experience, i had to step in myself when my younger son was at Nursery. I made every effort to disguise myself, watch off, lower voice (ho ho ho ) etc and he looked at me curiously, got his present, went off and said to his mum “what’s daddy doing dressed as Father Christmas!”

    Hope you and the family have a great Christmas and i will be renewing my subscription today!!

    Gary

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