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10 May 2017 1,688 views 2 Comments

Exclusive TBL Interview with Deborah Bonham:

Here’s the complete interview I recently conducted with Deborah Bonham. Deb and the band are currently collaborating with Paul Rodgers on his Free Spirit tour – initial reports of the gigs have been very impressive. The 14 date tour ends on May 27 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

DL: So first of all let’s talks about your album catalogue – this is all being re-released and remastered via Cadiz Music. You must be pleased about that?

DB: Yes, very much so. Cadiz are a great old label they have been going years, they have all been remastered and we added the extra songs to the Spirit album. So they are all out there for the tour.

DL: When you hear some of your earlier work on the Looking Back At The Moon collection, what are your memories of that 1980s period?

DB: Some of it I love. In fact we started adding the song Heaven to the set and it’s been going down a storm.

Some of it I really wouldn’t want to listen to again! It’s all part and parcel of the time. Some of the stuff like Heaven, I did without record company interference, so that doesn’t sound too dated. Looking back, they tried to make me sound of the time because they felt that was what was selling. Now you could not do that with Led Zeppelin or say Joni Mitchell. If you put an early Joni album on, or a Led Zeppelin one it’s not dated – it sounds as fresh today as the day it was recorded.

DL: So many artists though were caught up in that 80s sound – even Robert Plant…

DB: I guess so yes – perhaps with the Shaken’n’Stirred album though I think that is a brilliant album – Little By Little is one of my favourite songs of his. I think in the 1980s a lot of people fell victim to that sort of thing. I guess if I hadn’t gone through all that turmoil with Carrere Records, I would not be the person I am today. I’m really glad it worked out the way it did.

DL: You have some dates lined up in France ahead – you seem to have a good following over there.

DB: Yes it’s really fantastic. We have such a good agent out there. He believed in us when everyone else was saying ‘oh well they’re getting older and its only rock and blues’- and all that negativity. He just came to a show and said ‘If I work hard I can get this band moving in France’ and that’s exactly what he did.

DL: You have had Jo Burt supporting…

DB: Yes he’s great. In in fact at one of our shows a guy came up and said ‘I’ve got this for you’ and it was a Virginia Wolf with Jason and Jo live at Reading recording. I got up at that one so it’s me singing too. It was when we were all very slender and ready to conquer the world!

DL: So let’s talk about the upcoming tour with Paul Rodgers – how did that all evolve?

DB: Originally we did the Willows Charity show and we did some Free stuff. Paul did talk about doing something again but then sadly Andy Fraser passed away and the timing wasn’t right. It’s come full circle now and I think the time is right. Paul was so inspired performing with Pete and my guys in the band and he said ‘This is the band I want to do this tour with’.

I was absolutely thrilled for the guys and they are over the moon to be playing the songs of Free with Paul. Then I got asked if I would open the shows and I thought ‘ What an honour.’

I will be performing with Doug Boyle on electric guitar, he is brilliant. He played with us earlier in the year at the 100 Club. I’ve known Doug for along long while. He played on the Old Hyde album with me. I knew I wouldn’t be playing with my band -and I had already done the piano and vocal thing at the Albert Hall before when Paul did the Royal Sessions . So I knew I needed someone fresh to it. I wanted to do it with electric guitar and I wanted it to sound right out there. So I rang Doug and he said he would love to di it. It’s pushing the boundaries a bit as it will just be Doug and myself. I am really looking forward to it.

It’s another challenge. I’ve leant from Robert about always trying to re invent yourself to move forward. That’s something he’s brilliant at. He just comes back with another phenomenal project and you listen to it and think ‘oh gosh he’s done it again’.

DL: It’s 25 years next week since you appeared at the UK Led Zeppelin Convention I co- organized with Andy Adams at the Royal National Hotel in London. So many of your family members were there, it was a very special time. The Sunday afternoon set you performed there was one of the most emotional gig’s I’ve ever witnessed. How do you look back on that weekend?

DB: Oh my goodness – where has that gone? Oh gosh, If I think back too much, I well up a bit because something special happened in that room when we played on the Sunday afternoon. Something really special happened and I would like to think that it was the spirt of my brother John. There was something incredibly moving that occurred then. Every single person who was in that room felt it, including my late brother Michael , Zoe, my Mum, Pete – we all left with an incredible feeling.

I look back and I see the photos (NB: the pic to the left shows myself, Deb and Michael at the 1992 Convention) and Michael on conga drums – he didn’t  know I was going to do that do you remember? We just set the congas up and then called him up on stage. It was just an incredible occasion to be amongst so many fans – there was this real spirit of Led Zeppelin being so alive again. I can’t believe it was 25 years ago  – though if I looked in the mirror I would start believing it!

We were doing Heaven back then. In fact I remember our long term supporter Pat Lyons shouting out ”Do Heaven!” in his welsh accent.

When we did the Giants of Rock festival recently, I dedicated it to him – that was when we dug out Heaven again so I said ”I am going to dedicate this to an old longtime supporter and follower of ours Pay Lyons.” I can still hear him shouting ”Do Heaven!”

DL: You recently appeared with Foreigner at the Palladium – that must have been a thrill?

DB: That was fantastic. Mick Jones called me to do it – they really wanted me to sing on I Want To Know What Love Is. That is an iconic song and they are an iconic band. I’ve known Mick for a long time, I toured across Europe when Jason was playing with them. I have such a lot of respect for him – you forget how many great songs they’ve written. When they perform the likes of Waiting For A Girl, and all those great songs, it’s like they are playing them for the first time. The passion and emotion is all there still.

DL: What’s the progress on the planned stature of John as championed by the John Bonham Memorial Fund?

DB: Well it’s all happening – and in true Zeppelin style it’s got that mystique around it, so I cannot tell you too much as yet. I can tell you its going to look phenomenal and I’m incredibly proud. It’s taken a lot of work getting it right and getting the right sculpture because this is John – it has to be the best. We are looking at some time next year  and like I said, we will keep it all within the Zep mystique.

DL: Robert had some very nice words for you when he came on stage at the Worcester gig – you must be very proud of the lasting affection he has for all you do

DB: There’s a great love between us. It goes back many years – as we get older, as I’ve got older, we have got a lot closer which I think happens. I’ve ceased being the little girl – John’s little sister…it’s taken a few years (laughs). At the end of the day he will always be Uncle Robert! We had a great time when he came to sing with us recently and it’s such an honour to share the stage with him. There’s a lot of love and Robert has a big heart.

My brother Michael had one of the biggest hearts in the world. I just think we’ve worked hard to get it right and do the right thing. Sometimes we’re humans and we get it wrong but the majority of the time you try to do the right thing and I’ve been trying to do that musically too.

DL: Do you find it hard to cope with the obvious Led Zeppelin association you have?

DB: It can be hard being connected to Led Zeppelin but it was a decision I took many years ago not to deny it. I had to stick to my guns and do what I wanted to do. I did open myself up to agents and god knows what to absolutely abuse that position which I have – which as I said, I am connected to Led Zeppelin because my brother was John Bonham. That fact should never be abused. I get very protective and angry if someone thinks they are going to have a quick fix with my career by trying to play that card and I just won’t let it happen. I’ve been quite fierce about that throughout my career.

DL:  You always seem to strike the right balance with that I’d say…

DB: It is a balance you are absolutely right you don’t want to upset people. At the same time with the Zep thing, it has to be right so as an encore if we do Rock And Roll,  it’s as a little thank you and nod of acknowledgement. If people have listened to me for an hour and a half and if get a good response, then that is great.

I would never pull out a Zep song out just to try and get a great response. It’s not like ”let’s play Rock And Roll and people will start clapping’.  It’s just not like that. It’s a tip of the hat and it is is my heritage and I’m very proud of it.

Led Zeppelin included my brother in the line up and that is something incredibly special. I love that fact, I mean gosh – they are my favourite band there’s no denying that!

But I’m doing my own thing and it seems we are now in a position where people are really getting it. When the likes of Paul Rodgers and Robert and Nazareth when we were  touring with them, get it that means a lot.

More and more of my peers are endorsing what we are doing. That to me is just fantastic. So it doesn’t matter what record sales we do, it doesn’t matter we are not playing in front of millions of people and breaking the bank. Because if you have someone like Paul or Robert  saying ‘this is a great band’, well that’s it isn’t it? It’s never going to get better than that!

We are in a good place and we are still doing it and I everybody’s having a great time then we will continue to keep doing it until they wheel us out!

DL: Looking ahead, are you planning the next album?

DB: I’ve been writing quite a bit and it’s just trying to find the window to do it. I’m hoping August will be a time when we can actually start recording again. I’m also doing something on an album by Marco Giovino who worked on the Spirit album and played with Robert in The Band Of Joy –  it’s a tribute to Elmore James album. There’s some great artists on it including Tom Jones. I’ve been asked to contribute and I’m just waiting for Marco to come over.

DL: How is Jason?

DB: He is really busy. I believe he has got a new Black Country Communion album coming with Joe and Glenn. He is constantly out there touring. I’ve been trying to get out there to see him but our paths have not crossed – it’s like we are ships in the night!.

DL: And Zoe and Pat?

DB: They are great – everybody is doing fine and Zoe has a little girl. She is absolutely beautiful, a proper little Bonham I would say. She loves her music and she likes it loud. She loves hearing Zep. ‘I want it loud’ she says and she is only four years old!

DL: Deb it’s always great to catch up with you  – best of luck with the tour, the albums and everything ahead.

DB: Thanks Dave – we look forward to seeing everyone that can make it along to see Paul and our shows.

Dave Lewis interviewed Deborah Bonham on April 11 – with thanks to Dave Hill

Further details of the Paul Rodgers Free Spirit tour at the link below:

For more details of the Deborah Bonham Band visit the link below:


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 biggest news this week was a sketchy rumour that lead to mainstream media reports that Led Zeppelin could be about to reunite. The rumour came from a site called “Feel Numb” which claimed that Led Zeppelin will reunite to perform at the Desert Trip festival this year for Led Zeppelin’s fiftieth anniversary. The site suggested that the “Any time now…” message on Robert Plant’s website was about a Led Zeppelin reunion.

However, Feel Numb didn’t report that there likely isn’t going to be a Desert Trip festival this year, that Led Zeppelin’s fiftieth anniversary isn’t this year, and that the message on Plant’s website is to promote his upcoming solo album. Here’s our full article looking into the rumour.

The only publication that we saw do any original reporting on the rumour was Billboard, which reported that sources told it that there is “no deal in place” for a Led Zeppelin reunion. That doesn’t mean that no talks have taken place, but it does cast doubt on Feel Numb’s report. Billboard also reported that sources told it the “Any time now…” post on Plant’s website was indeed for a solo album.

  • Hipgnosis cofounder Aubrey Powell gave an interview to Rolling Stone in which he talked about designing some iconic album covers, including Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” and “Presence.” You can read the full interview here.

Jimmy Page

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones’ updated signature bass guitar (John Paul Jones)

Upcoming events:

May 19 – The new album by Darrel Higham, which features Robert Plant, will be released.
May 23 – A photo of Jimmy Page appears in the new photo book by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, which will be released today.
May 27 – Unrestored footage of Led Zeppelin performing at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970 will be screened there as part of an event about the director Peter Whitehead.
Late May/Early June – The March 21, 1975 Seattle soundboard bootleg “Deus Ex Machina” is rumoured to be released around this time.
June 2 – Robert Plant will be interviewed on “Brian Johnson’s Life On The Road” on Sky Arts.
June 23 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Sun Station Vadsø festival in Norway.
June 24 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Sun Station Vadsø festival in Norway.
Mid-September – The new Black Country Communion album, which will feature Jason Bonham, is due to be released.

Many thanks to James Cook.

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

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


Reunion Rumours:

I’ve been living with  Led Zeppelin reunion rumours since the early 80s – so this latest round are nothing new.

Many people have been in touch with my take on it – I could be wrong but I would find it very surprising if they were to regroup for the Desert Festival – if such a festival is taking place this year as nothing as I know has yet been organised on that. Any notable anniversary is also bound to throw up speculation and the 50th is no exception – and obviously given the significance of the milestone, it will raise hopes. As for Robert Plant’s ‘Any time now’ message…that has already been up at least three weeks before anyone put two and two together…  one would expect such a massage on a Robert Plant website to be announcing a Robert Plant project and not one of his former band.

Like I said, I’ve been living with Led Zeppelin reunion rumours since the early 1980s and with one or two exceptions, nothing has come of any of them.

But that won’t stop the speculation…



TBL Archive 1:

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant – Walking Into Clarksdale – 19 years gone: 

19 years ago, on May 5 , 1998, I was very lucky to be at the side of the stage to witness Jimmy Page and Robert Plant perform live on Later with Jools Holland – below is a couple of YouTube clips from the recording of them performing a fantastic version of The Wanton Song and Burning Up – the late great Michael Lee is just phenomenal.

Looking back at those clips it inspired a host of memories of that period – it was such such a great time to be a Page & Plant fan. Here’s my original and very optimistic review of the album written for TBL issue 13.
Walking Into Clarksdale: Another Walk With Walter

Q: When is a Led Zeppelin album not a Led Zeppelin album?

A: When it’s Walking Into Clarksdale.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant : Walking Into Clarksdale (Mercury)

Well it’s certainly not ‘Led Zeppelin 2’, as if anyone would have been daft to enough to think it would be! And initially, it may leave the listener slightly confused, but eventually this long awaited new studio album continues in the grand Page Plant tradition of moving ever onwards. In doing so they constantly refuse to merely retread the formulas of old and instead opt for innovation and surprise.

If anything, it’s something of another walk with Walter. I would draw parallel to the overall feel of the album with that of their spring 1972 Stargroves composition Walter’s Walk, which finally saw the light of day on Coda. That track has a monolithic feel that takes some plays to rise to the surface, and contains an intensity that initially may cloud it’s impressive content. But when it’s quality becomes apparent then it really hits home. So it is with Walking Into Clarksdale.

Whilst there are no blatant Zeppelin re-spray jobs, the album is littered with subtle elements of their past. One of the joys of the album is searching them out. One thing’s for sure though, this is an album that has to be worked at. However, given repeated listening, it does begin to fall into place, and the full fruits of their labour (all 35 days, if the press release is to be believed!) begins to unfold.

Much of the album carries a melancholic and wistful feel – presenting songs that carry a reflective lyrical theme. In tracks such as When The World Was Young, When I Was A Child and Heart In Your Hand, Robert seems to be pensively re-assessing events that have gone before (‘’Do your lips still call my name, would your mouth still taste the same’’). It makes for some of his most personal lyrical statements in song for a very long time. ‘’A bit of emotional debris,’’ is how he described the theme of some of the song’s to Mojo’s Matt Snow.

I’ve had many a memorable premier of their work in the past – I can recall vividly exactly where I was the first time I heard Physical Graffiti, Presence, Pictures At Eleven etc. – and this new Page Plant album was always going to be an epic initial playback. So there I was, holed up in the TBL office around 9pm on a cold early ’98 Wednesday night faced with the huge expectation of this new album, knowing that over the coming months these songs would be the soundtrack to my life and countless other like-minded fans across the world.

As the semi acoustic groove of Shining In The Light swung in it was a huge relief to finally be listening to new Page Plant music. As that familiar guitar style oozed from the speakers and that voice opened up… well I knew I was in the best company again. Subsequently some of the content did seem to wash over on that initial hearing.

Having lived with it for a while now, well, it’s excellence is more than evident. It carries so much vitality and most importantly it carries a totally contemporary feel. This isn’t a museum piece as Jimmy stated recently, this is new music that can line up with any of the best of today’s modern outfits such as The Verve. Lets face it, there are few other songwriters of 30 years standing who can rival that feat.

In terms of the musical performance and production, Steve Albini’s role seems to have been more about capturing a clear sound than bringing in the rough edge that has been the focus of his work with The Pixies and PJ Harvey. Robert’s vocals throughout are a sheer delight, singing with clarity and conviction and aided by a very up-front vocal mix. Jimmy, meantime, appears to be concentrating on his strength as a craftsman of guitar sound rather than churning out endless solos.

Some may bemoan the lack of guitar army tactics but by adopting this method there is a subtlety and surprise element (that swift guitar change in the title track for instance) in his performance that is a joy to hear. Michael Lee once again more than  proves his worth to the set up ably supported by Charlie’s bass work. Aside from the odd cameo from Ed Shearmer and Tim Whelan, it’s the basic ‘four-man, live-in-the-studio’ format that has worked so well on stage in recent weeks.

Outstanding moments? Quite a few. The way they kick in relentlessly on the chorus of When The World Was Young, with all the spark of on the road spirit of ’72 Zeppelin. The way the string arrangement comes seeping in on Upon A Golden Horse – the whole track has the bizarre lyrical content that has lit up many a Plant prose in the past- and carries a great swirling sound reminiscent of Four Sticks.

Please Read The Letter opens with Sick Again like riffing from Page before settling into a very West Coast repetitive romp that echoes the work of Moby Grape and vocally, finds Plant aping the style of Roy Orbison. Most High comes over as almost a separate entity from the rest of the album with it’s Arabic tendencies offering a last glance back to the world of Unledded. I felt this sound-ed a little perfunctory as a studio track, however, it’s elevation as a live piece seems to have rectified those initial shortcomings.

The title track is a great throw back to the off-the-cuff rockabilly tradition of Candy Store Rock. With it’s jolting time change it could easily have taken it’s place on Presence, and that second solo is pure Telecaster heaven reminiscent of the fluttering style Page deployed on those final Yardbirds recordings (Think About It springs to mind).

Burning Up and House Of Love are where the guitarist steps up a gear. The former is embellished throughout by that crunching riff – a real slashing affair that jumps out of the speakers, propelled along by Lee’s tom tom barrage. It’s here that Page really steps on it, proving, if proof was needed, that he can pump those solos out in his sleep. The latter finds Page pressing down on the wah wah delightfully underpinning the incessant drum track in support of Plants “It’s just a little too much’’ pleadings.

Sons Of Freedom comes complete with a Prodigy like urgency aided by yet more impressive drumming – it’s vaguely in the style of Network News from Robert’s Fate album, and jumps around feverishly before it all grinds to a percussive halt. It’s worth mentioning that after this track the Japanese version for the album carries the bonus Whiskey In The Glass, which is nothing more than a studio jam taped towards the end of the sessions. It’s set against a Bo Diddley Mona syncopated beat with Page playing that reverberated phased guitar style heard on Rude World, and Plant in his best ad-lib vocal, but fades prematurely at under three minutes just as it’s getting warmed up.

That leaves the trio of performances that best capture that aforementioned melancholy feel. Heart In Your Hand took a while to register, initially sounding like something from a Chris Isaac album. However this is one of the prime growers.Page plays some deft Dick Dale phrasing behind Plant’s reflective longing. Overall, the song captures a dark and brooding soundtrack feel.

When I Was A Child opens with a memorable reverberating tremolo. Then Robert comes in to deliver a haunting narrative that casts an oblique shadow of his past. Page adds a suitable restrained solo and at the finale Plant ad-libs the final lines with delicate finesse, “Oh you know, so I wander through your garden, grow, when I was a boy, I was a boy…” One of the stand-out tracks and one of Robert’s best vocal performances in years.

Then there is Blue Train. Opening with some slow moving bass and timpani before Robert’s mournful vocal seeps in. It then up-lifts via some strident Zeppelinish dynamics and features a beautifully plangent Byrds like jangling guitar solo constructed in a way that is just quintessential Jimmy Page. At the close Robert raises the tempo, “Hear the blue train, hear the blue train’’, before it all calms to a close. Lyrically, there’s a reflective longing that is as close to home for Robert as perhaps I Believe was.

For me When I Was a Child and Blue Train are performance’s to rank right up there with Ten Years Gone and Down By The Seaside, as they both display that unique emotional dynamism that has always characterised their best work.

So ends another walk with Walter. It’s not instant, and some of it takes a while to register but there can be no denying the sheer quality of this long awaited work. In the shadow of the Zeppelin, but essentially Page Plant music of today, Walking Into Clarksdale may turn out to be one of the most durable and ultimately satisfying albums of their entire career.

Postscript – May 2017:

Walking Into Clarksdale may turn out to be one of the most durable and ultimately satisfying albums of their entire career.

Looking back that was a bit of a bold statement – Walking Into Clarksdale has actually gone down as quite a low key album. There’s no doubt it still divides opinion amongst fans.

The rather thin production and lack of wide screen riffling -something so evident on Jimmy’s previous studio project – the Coverdale Page album – does reduce it’s overall impact. That said, much of it still sounds great – from the light and breezy opener Shining In the Light through to the still superb Blue Train (one of the best ever Page Plant alliances in or out of Zep) and wonderfully affecting When I Was A Child – it still has much to delight. Only the rather cumbersome Burning Up and Sons of Freedom have really paled.

It’s a discerningly strange album – never that high on the playlist but when I do play it  – it always hits the mark and like I said, this album is steeped in late 90s memories. Walking Into Clarksdale is therefore something of a durable minor league classic. Have a listen again – I think you will be pleasantly surprised.



TBL Archive 2: Walking Into Gloucester – Robert Plant presents Sensational Space Shifters in Gloucester five years gone:

Five years ago this week I was lucky enough to be in Gloucester for the Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters at the Guildhall – one of the all time great Robert Plant gigs for me. Relaxed, informal and totally compelling, he was just  awesome that night… here’s my review that appeared on TBL website after the gig:

 Robert Plant presents Sensational Space Shifters – Guildhall Gloucester – Tuesday May 8th, 2012.

Set List: 18 Hammers/Tin Pan Valley/44/Four Sticks/Hey Joe/Bron- Y- Aur Stomp/Standing In The Shadow (Patty Griffin vocal)/No Bad News (Patty Griffin vocal),Black Dog/Somebody Knocking/I’m Your Witchdoctor/Whole Lotta Love-Bury My Body/Encores: Song To The Siren/Gallows Pole.

The band were in the Guildhall venue for a sound check early afternoon and ran through instrumental versions of Song To The Siren, Four Sticks, Hey Joe and Bron- Y- Stomp. Juldeh also did a lengthy warm up. Robert arrived around 4.30pm with Patty. They kicked off by running down Black Dog.

The venue itself had a surprisingly very small entrance leading up to a rather grand staircase and on to the small high ceilinged hall.  Prior to the gig I had quick word with Justin Adams –he said there had been a few rehearsals beforehand in Bath but as most of the band had played together so much in the past, not too much preparation had been necessary.

The hall was already filling up fast as support act The Toy Hearts – a two female and one male trio ran through an enjoyable rockerbilly/swing set. The Sensational Space Shifters line up had Skin Tyson to the left, John Baggott’s keyboards centre, Dave Smith’s drums to the right of that. Billy Fuller on bass was situated  by Justin who was far left. Juldeh for his parts stood next to Justin – Patty was to the right of Robert.

The band took to the stage to hugh applause and promptly kicked into the bluesy 18 Hammers. Fashion note: Robert in simple grey t shirt, black jeans and retro Gola trainers. After all the stress of ticket arrangements and planning to make it here (I’d actually been feeling well under par during the last couple of days),  it was an absolute tonic to be in close proximity as Robert re interpreted those Oh Rosie lyrics as deployed on How Many More Times on Zep 1.

Tin Pan Valley followed – played in a laid back free form arrangement, a characteristic of the band’s overall performance – it was all a lot less frenetic than the Mighty Rearranger era and definitely a case of more loose than tight.

Throughout the set, Robert was at his most informal with a series of one-liners that added much to the charm of the low key approach.  Mind you, things got a little too loose when early on in the set, the main part of Robert’s mic promptly flew off leaving him with er….just the knob! That would have not gone down too well at the 02!

After a knockerbout  version of the old blues standard 44  recorded way back by the likes of Roosevelt Sykes and Howlin’ Wolf, Four Sticks followed, again in a moodier slower understated delivery that suited the mood perfectly. In introducing Hey Joe Robert made reference to how this sort of music had as he put it ‘’saved me from Engelbert’’ – a reference to the veteran crooner who has been chosen to represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  This brought the extraordinary Juldeh Camara to the fore as he exhorted exotic noises from suitably exotic instruments. Throughout the show, for their part Skin and Justin contributed contasting guitar styles that perfectly complimented the overall mix of  styles.

Patty Griffin joined the line up on mandolin for a delightful romp through Bron -Y- Aur Stomp which was the first live UK airing of the Zep 3 standard indoors since  it was played by Zep at Earls Court in 1975 ( it was played by The Band Of Joy at the outdoor Big Chill Festival last year – thank you Billy F!)  At the close instead of a call of ”Stryder”they all chorused  ”Arthur!”

Some delay in setting up her acoustic guitar led to a slight set list switch. Robert stepped back to add backing vocals to her Standing In the Shadow Of The Hill. Patty then explained her next song No Bad News  was written about George W Bush.

Patti stayed on to share duel lead vocals with Robert on the Band Of Joy arrangement of Black Dog –effectively embellished by Juldeh  who added a distinctive vocal all of his own which merged into a quite frenetic finale.

Robert read from a lyric sheet on the floor as they performed an unorthodox version of Somebody Knocking. He then unfolded a tale of how the next song had been performed by John Mayall with Eric Clapton on guitar and had been produced ‘’by I’m not sure who?’’ A tongue in cheek reference to the fact it was one Jimmy Page. They duly performed I’m Your Witchdoctor. This was an absolute highlight for me – I’ve had this single on the Immediate label in my collection since the mid 70s and it was thrilling to hear Robert add his edge to an arrangement that stayed fairly true to the original, John Baggott getting in some suitably bluesy organ breaks. On the slowed down outro, Robert crunched down on the power chords in familiar fashion.

The version of Whole Lotta Love that followed was in keeping with the Space Shifters strategy   – moody and understated as he merged Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love ( a UK hit in 1970 for Juicy Lucy) into the You Need Love refrain and then added Jesus My Dying Bed lines from In My Time Of Dying and a reprise of Oh Rosie.

They were back for an encore of Song To The Siren which featured just Skin, John Baggott and Robert – a simply mesmerising vocal performance . There was a bit of a sketch before the final number as Robert presented Patty with an award for ‘’sales of 500 Band Of Joy albums in Russia.”

‘’Who starts this one?…oh it’s me’’ was the cue for Robert to kick into Gallows Pole performed in the more rocky mid noughties Strange Sensation arrangement with Skin delivering the banjo guitar parts.

”Thanks for coming out tonight…time to catch Newsnight’’

And that was the Sensation Space Shifters step one.

Summary:  What we have here looks to be hybrid of Strange Sensation, mixed in with the exotica of Juldeh, adding a tinge of the Band Of Joy with the informality of the Priory Of Brion. The whole affair had a very loose and casual feel that perfectly suited the surroundings and low key nature of this gig number one. It was a real joy to see the likes of Justin and Skin back to the fore to add a harder edged element.

As for the singer…well business as usual really – his passion to hop and skip effortlessly between varying musical styles was more than evident, as was the way he deploys his voice as a total instrument.  You get the feeling he can move and shake within this unit of musicians as he so feels fit. There’s no big agenda –no album to push or media game to play. He can, as his manager Bill Curbishley remarked to me ‘’Do whatever he wants’’

And  in doing whatever he wants, Robert Plant continues to inspire and enthral.

The old witchdoctor is back… and at the Guildhall in Gloucester it was more than a privilege to once again be under his spell.

Dave Lewis, May 10th 2012

Aftermath: After the show we hooked up at the Café Rio bar until the early hours where they had a variety of Led Zep tracks playing loud – Achilles and Ten Years Gone sounding very impressive  –it was quite amazing to think that we had seen the singer of these songs perform a mere stone’s throw away a few hours earlier. I had to shrug off the hangover fairly quickly yesterday morning as I was contacted by BBC Radio Gloucestershire to do a quick phone interview live on their breakfast show around 7.30.  On the afternoon of the gig I also recorded a preview interview for BBC Radio Gloucestershire which aired on Steve Kitchen’s drive time show.  As ever it was great to see many familiar faces during our Gloucester experience – amongst them Lorraine and Michael Robertson, Michaela and Dan Firth,Jonathan Taylor, Mike Lewis, Richard and Roberta Grubb, Simon Wicker from Hats Off To Led Zep and his wife, Dawn Atherton, and Paul Harper.

Postscript – May 2017:

Looking back now, it’s clear that Robert was toying with the ingredients of this new line up – particularly the introduction of Juldeh. The Guildhall Gloucester gig can take it’s place as an important stepping stone in signalling a new phase in Robert’s career. For here we are five years down the line awaiting the new Sensational Space Shifters album. That night in Gloucester might well have been somewhat ramshackle and ad -hoc but it sowed the seeds for what has been an incredible fulfilling period for both the musicians involved and audiences alike.

There’s more Space Shifting ahead….any time now…



Record Store Day Product  Review Number 2:

Beverley – Picking Up The Sunshine/Me And My Gin (Fly Records RSD limited edition seven inch single)

It was John Paul Jones himself who first alerted me to Beverley Martin’s mid 60s Deram work.

In my interview with him last year I asked John about his 1960s session work. ”I was on masses of stuff and every now and again I get reminded” he commented. ” There was that one I put up on my Facebook page Beverley Martin’s version of Happy New Year. Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate who I have worked with sent me an email ‘Have you heard this?. It was his favourite song at the time and he researched who was on it and found it was me I listened to it. It’s almost a bass solo record. Beverley Martin is fantastic and it’s a great Randy Newman song that one.”

It was a pleasant surprise then when I saw this year’s Record Stories Day listing included another Beverley single – and one drawn from the same session that produced the Happy New Year single.  These recordings were made with the illustrious help of  the aforementioned John Paul Jones on bass along with Jimmy Page & John Renbourn (guitars), Alan White (drum), Nicky Hopkins (piano) and  Mike Lease (organ) and produced by well known 60s producer Denny Cordell.

The young Beverley Martyn first performed with The Levee Breakers, a jug band featuring Mac McGann and Johnny Joyce, who played the folk circuit in south east England. At the age of 16 she recorded her first single. Babe I’m Leaving You, released on the Parlophone label in 1965.

A year later, Beverley was signed as a solo artist to the Deram Records label. Happy New Year was in fact the very first single release on the Deram label, distributed by Decca Records. Though critically acclaimed, Beverley’s Deram output failed to make a big impression  – she would go on to find greater success in the company of John Martyn whom she later married.

This RSD single features two previously unreleased recordings – exclusive to this release only.

Picking Up The Sunshine (take 1) a Donavan composition, commences with prominent piano from Nicky Hopkins and looping bass lines from JPJ. A jaunty affair with a slight Joplinesque slant to the vocals, it’s further benefited by a swirling organ from Mike Lease, very much in the vein of Alan Price’s work on The Animals House of The Rising Son. Jimmy’s role is more of a strumming rhythm contribution that adds to the swirling psyche like texture.

The B side is an arrangement of the blues standard Gin House Blues titled here Me And My Gin aka Gin House Blues (take 1). I had previously heard this song as an A side to an early Amen Corner single (again on the Deram label) featuring Andy Fairweather Lowe.

Beverley’s  version is dominated by some barrelhouse piano from Hopkins and Jimmy gets in some pleasing Lemon Song type steely blues lines.

Whilst neither of these recordings match the quality of the Happy New Year single, they are yet more welcomed remnants from an always interesting period of British music making – and the beginnings of the then fledgling singer. An album of yet more Beverley recording’s from these sessions is on the way – and like this welcomed RSD release, I will be looking to add that to my collection for sure.

DL – May 9, 2017.    

There’s a sample of this RSD single at the link below.


DL Diary Blog Update:

The TBL stall did some good business at the Bedford Record Fair on Saturday with a fair few bits sold – and reason prevailed, with just a couple of lovely Carly Simon albums purchased – inspired by the No Secrets Classic Albums BBC 4 Doc.  As ever, it was great to amongst like minded collectors and vinyl enthusiasts including Jerry Bloom, Pete Burridge, Adam Tibb, Michael Herd and Jerry Keen.

After the Record Fair activities – it was time to get suited and booted ready for Janet’s cousins son Edward’s 21st party in the Village Farm Barn in Stanford – and for once it was not a Vinyl Barn! Here’s the good lady and I ready to rock…

TBL Projects Round Up:

In amongst the record buying and nights out, there is some solid work going down on various TBL projects – the workload as ever is well full -here is a round up of what’s going down here:

Evenings With Led Zeppelin:

This is the major book project I am working on with co author Mike Tremaglio and TBL designer Mick Lowe. It’s due to be published next year by Omnibus Press.

This is proving to be a major task – the detail involved in presenting this gig to go chronicle is vast. We all aware that we are working on something very special and it’s not something that can be rushed. We are currently wading through 1971 so yes there is a long way to go. On the plus side, we have got through 1969 which really was intensive. I am at Mick’s most days chipping away on this and will be in the coming months -as well as being in touch constantly with Mike in America via email and skype. The pic here was taken earlier this week as we worked on 1971 text at StudioMix.

In between all that, there is the regular updating of this website to address – and the not inconsequential task of producing another 32 page TBL magazine issue 43. I am lining up some great stuff for this including a new piece from Paul Sheppard, a 1977 US tour retrospective and of course Ten Years Gone reflections on that night of night at the 02 on December 10 2007. Realistically, I am aiming at a late summer early autumn publication. Hopefully it will be worth waiting for.

There’s also a few other things mulling around which may involve yet more plate spinning between the various projects ongoing – more on some of that as it unfolds.

It was good to see The Rolling Stones announce a series of European dates for later in the year – here’s hoping they add some UK dates at some point ahead.

Another one joins the club – It was a happy 60th birthday to the esteemed TBL designer Mick Lowe on Monday – pictured  at StudioMix in Bedford – the man who brings it all alive at the StudioMix design dream factory — Happy 60th mate!

On the playlist: Carly Simon No Secrets album as mentioned above, inspired by watching the excellent BBC4 Classic Albums documentary – and what a great album that is.

Some You Tube clips of a new US based Zep tribute band Mr Jimmy were bought to my attention by Gary Foy recently and most impressive they are too. Have a look at the clip below from their debut show on April 30 at the Whiskey Ago Go – very atmospheric in an authentic spirit of 1969 way – and the guitar playing is incredibly fluent and right on the button – bet those in attendance had a fantastic night…play Led Zeppelin they did and Mr Jimmy did it very well indeed.

Dave Lewis – May 10, 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:

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

And follow TBL/DL on Twitter.

YouTube Clips:

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant – Burning Up on later With Jools Holland – May 5 , 1998 – That’s Mr Gary Foy grooving along to the right of the stage next to the amp:


Mr. Jimmy’s debut show at the Whisky in LA – Train Kept A Rollin’/I Can’t Quite You Baby:


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  • Mark Williams said:

    Dave, Robert was interviewed a few days back on Borth beach,West Wales by Brian Johnson (AC/DC) for Brian’s new Sky Arts series ‘ Life on the Road’. Definitely a watch when released soon I reckon !

  • VHP said:

    Hi Dave,

    Wow, 19 years since Walking Into Clarksdale was released. This December its 10 years since the Zep O2 gig!!!

    In a recent post on TBL it was noted that Jimmy said he had been rehearsing & working on some things recently. So maybe something new will finally happen. But at 73, and just 1 full length gig in what is it, the last 15 years, how much fire is there in Jimmy to want to do a full world tour?

    However, if he does finally announce shows, then I hope he takes the Iron Maiden approach to stop secondary ticket sales & allow genuine fans a chance to get tickets, and not let fans be ripped off by these secondary ticket sites.

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