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EARLS COURT THE CONCLUSION: MAY 25TH 1975 – 35 YEARS GONE -DL RETRO DIARY

25 May 2010 2,008 views 7 Comments

TURNING THE CLOCK BACK 35 YEARS

SUNDAY MAY 25 2005

TICKET FIRST TIER FRONT STALLS BLOCK 19 ROW DD SEAT 35

So the party was nearly over. Got up at 1pm and on the train at 5. Very busy around Earls Court – the unofficial programmes and posters were doing brisk business.

We had an excellent view  for this last swan song – a straight face on view on the back tier front stalls. I remember vividly Alan Freeman’s introduction ”We are here today because you and I have great taste…”.

There was a sense amongst us all of this show being the last as Plant put it in his opening speech for ”A considerable time”. ”Still there are always the 1980’s” – what an ironic statement that was to prove.

The arrival of that soundboard tape of this performance few years ago revealed that the band were completely at ease that final night. Free from the pressure of the opening gigs, clearly looking forward to their summer break and respective tax exile travels and content in the knowledge that their public acclaim at home was at a new height, well they could just lay back and enjoy it.

That’s exactly what they did performing with a great sense of camaraderie. Given that freedom, this performance easily rivaled the previous night and often exceeded it. May 24th remains my personal Earls Court favourite but May 25th was perhaps the best group performance of the five nights.

Great moments on the final run in: Page’s free form solo on over The Hills – right out there as he closed his eyes and drifted off – thoughts maybe of life in the Agadir the next week…Another refrain of You Shook Me at the end of In My Time…the San Francisco insert back in for what would be the final full version of Dazed And Confused ever played. An emotional Stairway with Plant’s moving reference to his daughter Carmen ”A song to a little girl who sits there and who wonders what it’s all about”…and then the encores.

When it was apparent they were coming back again after Black Dog we rushed down to the side of the stage and had a great view of Heartbreaker and Communication Breakdown. The latter with its stop start reggae scat signing middle section was just utterly sensational.

I’ve just watched the DVD of that encore segment – for  pure out and out Zeppelin in their own world and nothing else mattered vibe – it may be the best footage of them ever captured.

”And its goodnight from him….”

Anxious not to let this Earls Court experience end, we hung around the front of the stage. Going home was not an option. We had spent some considerable hours in this building over the past week and we did not want to let it go..and there was a vague notion just maybe… well surely it can’t possibly happen but maybe we could get a glimpse  of our heroes…

Incredibly, as the arena emptied we were able to walk through the black curtain at the side of the stage –with no security guards around we were able to walk unchallenged through to the backstage area which comprised of various luxery caravans.

There sitting on a limo was Robert Plant –  blue sparkled jacket, white scarf and draped in bracelets and rings looking for all the world like a Greek god. Being right in front of Robert at that moment was just incredible. An unforgettable image. After getting over the sheer shock of seeing him, I asked the rather dumb question when would they be playing in England again. ”There’s a lot of traveling to do first” was his reply. We walked across to the entrance where the aftershow party was taking place with Plant and his wife Maureen and Rusty from Showco .Robert sang a few lines from Kashmir as he scuttled through the entrance. We also saw Bonzo, Jonesy and Jimmy arrived along with Chris Squire from Yes ,Bob Harris and Jeff Beck.

Robert at the Earls  Court Swan Song party

Knowing they would have to come out at some point we waited outside the party entrance. There was no way we were going anywhere until then!

About 3am I took a walk around the building and with no one around I was able to slip back into the arena –the entrance I took brought me direct onto the stage  – yes incredibly I found myself on the Earls Court stage – now deserted except for some PA gear and Jonesy’s grand piano. It was an amazing feeling looking out from the actual focal point from where hours earlier Led Zeppelin had performed from. Standing where they had stood…

Eventually we saw them all leave the party at around 4am. Jimmy looking frail in white suit but keen to acknowledge the remaining fans – one of them asked how his finger was – ”oh fine now it’s so nice you all care”. Jonesy and Bonzo signed autographs and Robert looking rather out of it, was ushered through to the limos. That was our final view of Led Zeppelin at well after 4am on the morning of May 26th 1975.

…and coming down wasn’t easy!

Monday May 26th was thankfully a bank holiday and after arriving back home at 7.30am I then slept all day. The real cream on the whole week had been the fact I’d met them all and got their autographs – there was no plan of action to do that, it had just all slotted into place. Relaying it all to everyone back in Bedford was quite strange as it all appeared quite dream like. But it really  did happen and I have the autographs to prove it!

Days later I was in the heat of Lorret De Mar on a the Wallbanger lad’s holiday. My fellow Earls Court attendees Phil, Tom and Dec were with me and Phil  brought along the tape he’d made of the May 24th show he recorded next to me at Earls Court on a primitive cassette portable. It rained once in Loret and we all piled into his room to hear the tape. A bizarre experience as Earls Court came alive again in foreign surroundings. Incidentally alongside reveling in the late night discos (one of them was called Moby Dick!), the highlight of the holiday was the batch of Zep Spanish pressing singles I uncovered in the local record shop- it just never stopped!

Once back home I began scribbling down some notes on my Earls Court experiences. -this would eventually form the basis of the Earls Court feature in the first issue of Tight But Loose. Inspired by the likes of Nick Kent I started to formulate a feature I dubbed Earls Court Relived. As my mate Tom often says ‘’You know the rest’’

So that was the week that was – Led Zeppelin five times in the space of seven days.  To say it has had a lasting effect on me is an absolute understatement. It really was the moment my life switched into colour.

There would be many dazzling episodes ahead, but perhaps nothing with the sheer uncomplicated joy and optimism of that week in May 1975 all of 35 years ago.

They were, are and always will be the glory days of Led Zeppelin

Dave Lewis – May  25th 2010

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7 Comments »

  • Paul Mason said:

    Hi, I was at this concert too, and what knocked me out most was the encores. The last bunch were a medley of old Rock ‘n’ Roll numbers performed whilst the lights were up to just a smattering of remaining fans (too lazy or too stoned to join the throng leaving for Earls Court Road). That was the most memorable bunch of songs, and was just awesome!!! I just checked the various sites and I can find no reference to this second encore anywhere. CAn anyone remember the numbers?

  • Kathy Urich said:

    I agree with Mark this fan would snatch one up. Dave that reminds me of a question. Do you have plans for a book about the reunion 2007? Perhaps you could chat with Jimmy and have the book come out with the DVD? LOL

  • Mark 1964 said:

    Will there eventually be a book published about the Earl’s Court shows ? If you can publish a book on two Knebworth shows, surely a book about FIVE Earl’s Court shows should be done ? & It’ll sell like HOT CAKES !!

  • pat said:

    Well done dave i got to say i’m impressed with the way you re live the era ! Rock On!!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Ian
    Many thanks for those comments – they were some of the times of our lives for sure. I saw SAHB the next year on The Who Charlton bill – a very wet day -I think they opened with Action Strasse a top track!

  • Ian Nicholson said:

    Dave, it has been such a pleasure reading your memories of the five nights at Earls Court. I went to four of the nights, only missing the show on May 24th, due to some plan to go and see The Sensational Alex Harvey Band at Hammersmith, the irony was I did not get a ticket for that show! My favourite show was the last show on the 25th, coming back for the extra encore numbers really made that show for me. Great memories and great times.

  • Michael Brazee said:

    Dave,
    You are the ultimate BadgeHolder!

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