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DAVE LEWIS DIARY: LIVE AID 25 YEARS GONE/ JASON/ ROBERT/ RIVER FESTIVAL

16 July 2010 7,132 views 3 Comments

It was good to see a fair amount of media fare acknowledging the 25th anniversary of Live Aid this week.

So where we you on that esteemed day?

Bizarrely I actually have You Tube evidence of where the good lady Janet and I were on the afternoon of Saturday July 13th 1985.

After watching Status Quo open the event on TV, we took a trip into town for a drink or two – it was a lovely hot day and we wandered into one of our local pubs The Bear in Bedford High Street to see our friends Dec and co. In the garden of the pub an impromptu concert started up. Four local musicians did some ad hoc cover versions under the guise of The Jacques Loser Trio.

This was all captured on video by one of our crew and lo and behold it’s turned up on You Tube

In this You Tube clip the boys are performing a version of the Spencer Davis Group classic Gimme Some Lovin’.  It’s a bit of a poignant clip this as Karl Bergin the singer to the right in the mustard shirt  played in our football team Wallbangers FC – he was a  great character  and we shared some great times together – he came with us to queue overnight for tickets for Knebworth in Cambridge – Karl  sadly died in 2004.

In the clip directly behind the band you can also see the 1980s white attired Janet and myself – Janet is wearing the then regulation white stilettos and I’m pretty certain I am wearing a Pet Shop Boys promotional t shirt given to me by the EMI rep that called on WH Smith where we both worked. I’m doing what I did best back then and still do now, you guessed it – guzzling a pint!  Ahh the 1980s, didn’t we just love ‘em.

We were back home later in the afternoon in time for I think Paul Young’s  set and from then on we were glued to the TV for the next 12 hours as history unfolded before our very eyes. Queen, Bowie, The Who, Elton, Macca etc all of which of course culminated in the return to the stage of Jimmy, Robert and JPJ  in Philadelphia at around 1 am in the morning.

For all its ragged missed cues, hoarse vocals and cod drumming, I have great affinity for the ramshackle Zep Live Aid appearance. There’s little doubt that those 15 minutes on stage had a massive impact. Suddenly Led Zeppelin’s name was back in the frame and it was safe to own up to being a fan again.

Before all that, incredible as it sounds now, that early 80’s period had rendered them somewhat forgotten.

Not so after July 13th 1985. After that, all manner of bands were sighting them as an influence , the three of them even tried a reunion the following January and within two years both Plant and Page were recreating Zep songs on stage…and you know the rest.

I vividly finally recall going to bed in the early hours of July 14th with renewed faith – Zep still meant so much to so many people and the very next day I began collating material for a reference work to their music that would eventual form the A Celebration book published in 1991. The whole Live Aid extravaganza did feel like we were watching something special and memorable unfold back then and I’m glad it’s recognised that way all these years later. I wrote a quite prophetic piece for the local paper on Live Aid at the time which said it would be a day to tell your children about. I wasn’t far wrong.

While we are on the Live Aid anniversaries –the tenth one back in 1995 occurred on the night Page & Plant played an exhilarating set at the Sheffield Arena. That was the night they merged Since I’ve Been Loving You into Tea For One in a glorious amalgamation. It was a moment of true magic which I’m proud to have been a few feet from.

The interviews keep coming: I completed a trio of Black Country Communion interviews this week when I spoke to Jason Bonham on the phone from Los Angeles. He was on great form – very positive and very funny too with the old Black Country humour shining through. When I asked if the BCC were going to tour he replied  ‘’If we don’t we’re going to look like Black Country comedians!’’  Look out for a preview of the BCC interviews on the site soon and the full complete feature in the next TBL magazine in September. It’s shaping up to be another packed issue –more on that soon.

Set list excitement was upon us here on Wednesday morning, something else that has a long heritage stretching back to those reports (some two weeks after the event) of the opening set lists of the 1977 US tour. We did not have to wait long for news of Robert’s opening night in Memphis, thanks to the man on the spot Steve Sauer and the fast fingered Mr Foy. Looking at the You Tube clips that have surfaced, seeing him live in 2010 is going to be a pretty captivating experience.

Down By The Sea I’ve always felt was a much underrated song, but being the set list opener on this new tour, that will all change. Angel Dance has a gentle aura about too it and its good to see the curveball of Houses Of The Holy being thrown in and Thank You as an encore.  Of course being Robert, nothing stays constant and the arrangements afforded to the likes of Houses Of The Holy may divide opinion.  Just seen the set list for the second gig – Over The Hills And Far Away – I’ll take some of that!

The mass interest that’s already been shown for this new venture is testament to his standing as artist of lasting integrity. Folks, The Band Of Joy journey is underway. Catch it when you can.

Bit of a frustrating old week here to be honest, with various obstacles getting in the way of moving forward on a few things and some other irritants.  Could do with a bit of inspiration before I’m ensconced on the Crown Court Jury for two weeks commencing on Monday.  Need to load up the old iPod for the daily journey to Luton ahead – been playing some Marc Bolan/T.Rex (now there was a star), Steve Winwood and Fate Of Nations has been back on for obvious reasons (it’s brilliant being one), the Zep fix has come via the new Whole Lotta Led/Get The Led Out Nassau Coliseum 1972  set.

Hopefully the weather will be kind to the bi annual Bedford River Festival which is staged a mere stones throw away from us here this weekend. It’s the biggest opening air gathering of it’s type outside of the Notting Hill carnival with some 100,00 expected to visit over the two days.

We will be hooking up with our good friends Terry and Marian to have a have a look at what’s going down. Last time around we were treated to some enjoyable Rolling Stones and Beach Boys tribute bands on the main stage. Hey who knows, there might even be a Pet Shop Boys one this time around so I can dig out my old 1985 T-shirt, and the good lady could search out those white stilettos . The fashion police should be alerted…

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3 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Paul -That’s a great story – I too saw that advert in Bedford Bus Station and was in two minds what to do as I knew the Zep appearance was going to be late that night and just felt I had to see it as it was unfolding – so I passed on going – another sacrifice in the name of Zeppelin! I actually watched the Zep Live Aid footage again tonight and remembering that feeling as the curtain unfolded …well I think I got it right as I would have regretted not watching it live as it happened -but it was a tough call!

  • Paul Humbley said:

    Hi Dave

    With regard the 25th anniversary of Live Aid it was good to see this event get the recognition it desreves last week, the rebroadcast of the 20th Anniversay documentary on BBC4 last week was essential viewing.

    My own story of where I was on that eventful day has a strong Bedford connection. At the time I was living just outside Bedford and travelled everyday by car to my place of work in Grove Road. The week before the concert I had to have my car serviced and so took the bus into Bedford. At that time the local bus company advertised concert/travel packages inside the buses. Amongst the posters pasted around the bus was one for coach travel and tickets to Live Aid, tickets for which had sold out the day of issue! Tickets available at Bedford Bus Station ticket office said the poster. So That’s what I did when I arrived in Bedford. My half hearted enquiry for tickets was greeted with “How many do you want?”. Two tickets were duly purchased and a week later my big brother and I were on route for Wembley stadium for the greatest concert I have had the pleasure to witness and that accolade is over seeing Sinatra, Page and Plant at Stourport Civic in 86 and front row tickets for McCartney.

    The only down side was that due to all the travel, I missed Zep from Philedelphia as by the time I got home I just wanted my bed.

    As a footnote 20 years later and now living in Robert Plant country I got lucky again and got tickets for Live 8…..but that’s another story.

  • Chris Wright said:

    It’s always interesting to reflect on Zeppelin’s controversial comeback at Live Aid. In spite of the awful technical gremlins/lack of rehearsal time, they still made an enormous contribution to the event, simply due to their Presence, if you will :-)Whoever coined the phrase that even the worse Zep performance is better than most other bands’ best efforts got it exactly right in the context of that evening in Philadelphia. If the five years that had passed since losing Bonzo had proved one thing, it was that there was no likely successor to the 70’s most colossal band and, had things gone as they should have done, who knows what might have been? The reaction to their appearance certainly proved that the world was waiting. But it was not to be and, I suspect, it did nothing for Robert’s permanently cool enthusiasm for revisiting past glories. Imagine if they had been as well rehearsed as they were for 02!

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