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5 March 2019 1,651 views No Comment


Here is the Record Store Day release info for the announcement of much welcomed Robert Plant Fate Of Nations reissue:  

This special limited edition 180gm black vinyl of Fate of Nations is being re-issued on Robert Plant’s own record label Es Paranza around Earth Day. All profits from the sale of this record will be given to Robert Plant’s nominated Environmental charity. The album title and the artwork of the original 1993 is focussed on the impacts of geo-politics and globalisation on the earth / Robert’s environmental concerns. The outer sleeve will be high end matt soft pack, whilst the inner sleeve will be printed on ethically sourced material and feature updated artwork (Environmental facts from 1993 compared to today’s data.)This album has not been available on vinyl for 30 years (since the 90’s).

Here’s the full Record Store Day listing.



TBL 44 is now out on the streets – I would like to thank everyone who has purchased the recently published new issue.

Just to clarify –if you were a previous TBL subscriber all subscriptions ended with the last issue 43. So now is the time to re-subscribe –TBL 44 is a one issue subscription. This issue is in a limited edition run – don’t miss out – order now! The ordering link is below. Many thanks in advance for all your support.

If you have yet to indulge -you would be well advised to do so as this issue is packed with essential Led Zep reading – and don’t just take my word for it – here’s a from TBL contributor Ian Dixon:

TBL 44 is here. 32 thick, glossy, text rich pages; taking in 8 months of Zeppelin activity. And there is a fair amount to look back on. First highlights for me are thoughts and reflections on 2018’s live album revamps, How The West Was Won and The Song Remains the Same, nicely complemented by a piece focusing on the 1972 US tour tapes from Andy Crofts. In their own ways both articles give praise where it is clearly due, but don’t skirt around controversy either.

Next to mention has to be the series of articles and interviews centred on John Bonham’s memorial sculpture, installed 31 May 2018, and the follow up live music event last September. Some of Dave Lewis’ very best work is always reserved for Bonzo, be it transcribing his own memories or in his ability to bring out the passion from others, as when interviewing sculptor Mark Richards and the incomparable Deborah Bonham. As someone who turned 8 in 1980, I came to the stories of Bonham, Ian Curtis, Bonn Scott and John Lennon after their closure, but writing such as this gives a feel and respect for a time when anything was still possible.

Then there are the tales of three books. ‘The official’, Zeppelin by Zeppelin and as always the reader can rely on Larry M Bergmann Jr for thoroughly entertaining and insightful analysis. The ‘offer you can’t refuse,’ a candid and lively exclusive interview with Mark Blake author of “Bring It On Home”, the recent Peter Grant biography and ‘The Epic’ an peek into the making of, joys, frustrations and sheer enormity of “Evenings With” from the Lewis/ Tremagilo team. A tome that must stand alongside any of the greatest serious rock music compendiums published.

There is a lot more, neatly summarised on the Coda inspired front cover text. Diverse elements, but linked by a common theme, that of celebration. Whatever our own personal wishes from Plant, Page and Jones and the decisions they make, TBL is a reminder to appreciate the joys we have today and those unleased over the past 50 years. With so many roads to wind down it is inevitable that one person’s miss-step will be another’s all time fav. This magazine remains a repository for that melting pot. The new pay as you go format will work for readers and collator alike, while the touch and feel of a solid (in every sense) magazine is akin to that of a gatefold album sleeve. Something to return to and glean from over and over again.  

You can order TBL issue 44 from this link:


Robert Plant – Saving Grace in Leeds:

Robert Plant and Saving Grace played a support slot to Alice Phoebe Lou at the Hi Fi Club in Leeds last Thursday . I couldn’t make it up there myself (there’s TBL 44 mags to pack!) but pleased to hear a fair few TBL readers did including Paul Harrison who just sent me these pics taken by his girlfriend…a special night for those that were there for sure..

The  black and white shots below come via John Parkin taken by the lady next to him.









Here’s John’s on the spot report for TBL:

Alice Phoebe Lou plus Special Guest – Leeds Hi Fi Club – February 28th, 2019:

I’d been made aware that the special guest for this gig may be Saving Grace so me and my mate Phil promptly booked a ticket
We arrived at the venue for 7 am and the queue outside suggested we weren’t the only ones who’d heard the rumour.
The club itself is well laid out, bar at one end stage at the other. Once inside we got right to the front of the stage,just in front of the drum kit. The set list was right in front of me and looking at the song selection it would appear that the rumours were true.

At around 7.45, the three instrumentalists (Tony Kelsey, Matt Worley and Oli Jefferson) started to play the opening number “Standing”. Robert and Suzy then entered the stage and I knew we were in for a good night.
“Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” from the “Band Of Joy”  album was next.
What became apparent very early on was just how much fun Robert seems to be having. Witty banter between tunes, he’s obviously doing this as he’s enjoying it.
Percussionist Oli Jefferson starts the fourth song “Season Of The Witch” but at the wrong tempo. The whole band crack up with Robert using the excuse “Well it’s only our fifth show!”
Correct intro restored, Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch” is delivered with aplomb.
A solo version of “Nature Boy” is another highlight.

Al these songs perfectly suit Roberts voice, reflecting the “autumnal” feel of his last couple of albums.
Patty Griffins “Ohio” followed which at the end, Robert mentioned  he has contributed some vocal work on her new album.
The home straight included  “Gone Gone, Gone” from “Raising Sand” and as an encore, the whole band gathered round the mics for a lovely version of “I Bid You Goodnight”.
This was a truly magical evening and it was great to witness Robert from such close quarters (I was literally six foot from his mic stand!)
He’s in fine voice and it’s great to hear some tunes he wouldn’t normally approach. Catch them if and when you can…you won’t regret it!

John Parkin


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

Jimmy Page

  • Jimmy Page’s spokesman has said that his neighbour Robbie Williams has ignored Page’s offer of having a cup of tea to discuss their long-running feud, which has now continued for over three years. Page’s spokesman told The Times that “we’re waiting for him to come round for a cup of tea. It’s disappointing. Jimmy is hoping to meet Robbie and extend the hand of friendship but he has been continually rebuffed. We are still bemused why he won’t come for a fireside chat.” You can read our full history of the feud here.

Robert Plant

Upcoming events:

March 7 – Robert Plant will perform at the Love Rocks NYC benefit concert in New York.
March 8 – Patty Griffin’s self-titled new album, which features Robert Plant on two tracks, will be released.
March 28 – John Paul Jones will perform in London with Thurston Moore.
April 8 – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition, featuring Led Zeppelin items, will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
April 13 – Robert Plant will released a remastered edition of “Fate of Nations” on vinyl for Record Store Day.
June 13 – Robert Plant will perform in Stockholm, Sweden.
June 15 – Robert Plant will perform at Bergenfest in Norway.
June 17 – Robert Plant will perform at The Big Challenge festival in Norway.
June 19 – Robert Plant will perform in Harstad, Norway.
June 21 – Robert Plant will perform in Bodø, Norway.
June 23 – Robert Plant will perform at the Secret Solstice music festival in Iceland.
June 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Tromsø, Norway.
June 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Svalbard, Norway.
June 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Svalbard, Norway.
July 2 – Robert Plant will perform in Halden, Norway.
July 4 – Robert Plant will perform at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
September 20-21 – The 2019 John Bonham memorial concert is scheduled to be held in Redditch.
November – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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


Evenings With Led Zeppelin – The Complete Concert Chronicle by Dave Lewis and Mike Tremaglio:

A commentary by Larry M.Bergmann, Jr.

So you have the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book before you  – and if you are reading this and have yet to indulge – you really should do – ordering details below..

So with book at the ready – here’s an excellent commentary by long time TBL contributor Larry Bergmann that will guide you through the extensive contents…

PART FIVE  –  1973:

Oxford 1-7-73 was the first of several invaluable soundboards to emerge from this tour.

Terrific Plant reminisces from a 2003 Tracks magazine article highlight the entry from Aberystwyth, Wales on 1-16.

The beautiful interior of the Gaumont Theatre in Southampton where the band played on 1-21…don’t know if that’s how it looked back in the day, but a lovely setting to say the least.

The “Old Ref” at Southampton U is where the band played on Jan 22 whilst a multitrack recording of the gig was being taken…the story of Alan Whitehead is cool, and solves one of the little Zep mysteries…the multitrack was finally bestowed upon the multitudes in the late aughts, another of the truly crucial bootleg releases.

1-28-73 in Edinburgh is a very interesting and lively entry.

Some nice shots from Saint Ouen, France are found on pg 360.

A great color shot of the full band in action from Nuremberg graces the pages of Bravo on pg. 364…a good review of the gig follows as the band are off and running on the 1973 European tour, one of their best ever.

A barn burner erupts in Munich on 3-17 and isn’t put out until possibly the all-time version of Heartbreaker has body-slammed home its final note…the German press didn’t seem to like the gig, but the surviving tape doesn’t validate their critiques. Shocking, I know…

John Hinds of the Berlin Observer compares the 3-19 gig to the actual crash of the Hindenburg! Surely it wasn’t quite that bad! There’s a great photo of Plant from the gig on the cover of Pop on pg 367.

A striking (but again too small) color photo of Robert graces the entry for the 3-24 gig in Offenburg, one of the all-time greats which was represented on one of the legendary bootleg LPs entitled Custard Pie, via an outstanding and vivid audience tape.

Excellent entry on the 3-26 Lyon show that kicked off the French portion of the tour, which unfortunately would not go well due to quite a number of destructively unruly fans.

More violence from the punters marred the next night’s show in Nancy…shaken by the mayhem at these two dates, the band cancel the next two scheduled gigs in Marseille and Lille.

The band do make the final two gigs of the tour, April 1 and 2 in St. Ouen…these gigs are often listed as “Paris”, but the venue where the band performed, Ile Des Vannes, was actually located in the town of St. Ouen, a suburb of Paris. A great photo of Plant from one of these gigs can be seen on Page 375.

Nice commentary on pg 376 to set the scene for the 1973 tour of the US…the opening gigs in Atlanta and Tampa are well covered by Messrs Lewis and Tremaglio.

Mobile on 5-13 gives us one of the great boots, a tremendous soundboard…ditto 5-19 from Fort Worth. These recordings are absolutely essential.

Beginning on pg. 390, we find 5-28 at the San Diego Sports Arena, and carrying on thru pg. 397

with 6-3 at The Forum, we have another great passage, this one about the band’s California trek. Bonzo’s Birthday Party on May 31 in L.A. is one of the all-time great boots.

I must say that despite their usual nasty tone, I can’t disagree with some of the critics about Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on June 2. I never found this to be a particularly great gig. The setting was undoubtedly cool, but the band were two hours late going on, and perhaps as a result, the show doesn’t gather much momentum, and the playing isn’t particularly inspired.

The next night at The Forum, however, is the business! A 3-hour marathon ending with perhaps the most atmospheric and stunning version of Thank You ever captured on tape. One of the really great moments…

Cool shot of Jones at the keys from St.Paul July 9.

Some fine quotes from John Bonham are discovered in a Detroit Free Press article on pg. 403.

Many reviewers around this time noted that Page’s guitar was slung low, which did look very cool, it must be said. But as time went on I’m not sure this helped his playing once the band got into its later years/tours.

Seattle 7-17-73 is one of the high points. True, there’s a soundboard for a good portion of the gig, but the clear and vibrant audience tape is definitely the way to go in my opinion.

Vancouver 7-18…although it isn’t touched on in the book, this is the gig where Plant was unwittingly spiked with acid somehow before the show and it was difficult for him to keep it together. That said, the band still soldiered on and played most of its normal set before Plant had to head back to the dressing room and call it a night.

The fans were once again out of control at the Boston Garden, and the band cut the set short by approximately 30 minutes. The Boston media made their usual work of the band in the next day’s fish wrap.

Providence 7-21 is one of the best shows of the tour in front of a boisterous audience, and is also blessed with one of the vivid, first-rate audience recordings.

Baltimore two nights later is another of the great blowouts…the band burns the Civic Center to the ground in a wild performance!

Madison Square Garden 1973

Barry Taylor of the NME noted that street vendors outside MSG were hawking copies of Live On Blueberry Hill… but he commits a faux pas when he says Page is using the double neck on Misty Mountain Hop and Since I’ve Been Loving You.

These were important gigs, not just because of what turned into The Song Remains The Same film and soundtrack LP, but also for the naked truth that this was the last time Led Zeppelin was really firing on all cylinders. It would never be this good again. There were certainly great moments along the way between 1975 and 1980, but the band was never the same post-73. Thankfully this important time was captured for posterity.

As for the variant entities representing the soundtrack, they’ve certainly had a checkered history along the way. I have to say I still find the 1976 album my favorite. Maybe it’s because the ’76 editions are what I grew up with, but I think the 2007 and 2018 re-releases missed the mark. I thought they could’ve been revamped in much better fashion, I didn’t like a lot of the editing choices. The truth is when I want to hear this I go back to the original album version. I’m glad to have the extra songs on the updated soundtrack, but I hate the way they monkeyed with the great versions that were on that 1976 album. The new mixes of Celebration Day, No Quarter, etc., not to mention the botched Moby Dick, were just too much for me.

All that said, very honorable mention must go to the marvelous fan release of some years back by Heywood, who took bits and pieces from anywhere and everywhere (including the menus from the DVD!) to form a wonderful and expansive document, and one which is probably as complete as it’s ever going to get, and a personal favorite for sure. But again The Song Remains The Same remains a very important artifact in whatever configuration.

Evenings With must have gone to press prior to the release of the 2018 reissue as it’s not mentioned.

Then it was on into 1974 -1975

Larry M.Bergmann, Jr.

To be continued…

Here’s a highly complimentary view of the book via Jans Nepper:

There is no other word for this mindblowingly awesome book on the mighty Led Zeppelin’s life as a touring band than ”inspired”. As its title suggests, “Evenings with Led Zeppelin” focuses on the ensemble’s legendary (and in some cases infamous) concerts and gigs from their humble beginnings in London’s Soho district in 1968 to their massive European stadium shows in the summer of 1980 before the tragic loss of John Bonham.

What authors Dave Lewis and Mike Tremaglio have undertaken and produced here is not only extremely comprehensive and detailed, but also utterly captivating, and this gorgeous-looking piece of literature offers a fascinating insight into the inner workings of Zeppelin on the road and how they were perceived by the critics, the fans, the road crew, and the countless bands that supported them on tour. This superb 576-page account of where they performed, what songs they plowed through, what audio and video bootlegs were recorded, and pretty much any tiny bit of information surrounding the gig in question, are presented in a concise and entertaining way. There is a clear structure to each chapter and every account of the concerts, which works in its favor as more or less each performance is treated with the same amount of curiosity, dedication, and close study. Having said that, reading many pages in a row can become a tad repetitive and tiring due to the pattern of each concert entry being the same, and there is an overload of information contained within its pages, so the trick is to read anywhere between ten and thirty pages and then put the book away for a day or two in order to absorb and digest its content. Like I said, it is heavy on details, and certain chapters are longer and more interesting than others simply because circumstances revolving around specific concerts dictate that there is more to discuss and analyse compared to others. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Zeppelin’s early years, namely their very first tour in Denmark playing schools and gymnasiums as the New Yardbirds as well as those first few tours in the UK and US under the Zeppelin moniker – marvelous stuff.

Apart from being well-written, “Evenings With Led Zeppelin” explains and shows why the band were such a force to be reckoned with live on stage and why they had such an overpowering impact everywhere they went. In other words, it perfectly captures and summarizes the epic quality of Zeppelin and why it appealed (and still appeals) to so many generations of rock fans. On top of that, the book is nicely illustrated with old concert ads, posters, band pictures, press cuttings, images of the various venues they played, and so on and so forth. No stone is left unturned here, folks.

“Evenings with Led Zeppelin – The Complete Concert Chronicle” is an exhaustive study of Led Zeppelin’s marvelous tours and the authors’ passion for the subject shines through on every page. What blows my mind is how complete and fulfilling it is from a reader’s/fan’s perspective as literally everything you can possibly think of is covered and dissected by these guys. What is even more impressive about this fabulous book is that Lewis and Tremaglio have succeeded in transporting us back to the late sixties and seventies and made us feel that we are actually right there with them, reveling in and witnessing the majestic spectacle that was and is Led Zeppelin. The fact that it so brilliantly encapsulates and evokes the spirit of the times is basically all the reason you need to buy this. Hats off to the talented writers for putting this together and for the ever-reliable Omnibus Press for publishing it – this is a fan’s dream come true.

To order the book:

Stock Availability Update:




Evenings With YouTube clip:

Below is a YouTube clip about the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book via the US radio station WPLR New Haven.


TBL Archive Special Part 1:

Belfast and Stairway To Heaven -it was 48 years ago…

March 5 marked the 48th anniversary of the milestone Led Zeppelin performance at the Ulster Hall Belfast

Here’s a review from TBL 15 of the then newly surfaced Belfast March 5th 1971 tape:

March 5th tape ensures this historic night will never be forgotten

Led Zeppelin on stage at the Ulster Hall Belfast, March 5th 1971. Photo G. Irwin.

Led Zeppelin’s decision to visit Belfast as part of their spring 1971 UK tour was heralded as a very brave move back in 1971. Few rock artists included it on their intinery due to the escalating political situation and threat of rioting. Earlier in the year T.Rex had pulled out of a planned appearance in Belfast. The Zeppelin concert itself was played out to the background of far off Friday night disturbances in the troubled parts of the city.

Until recently the only recorded remnant of that Irish visit was their March 6th date at Dublin’s Boxing Stadium. Now in a perfect piece of timing, a very rare recording has emerged of the Belfast Ulster Hall show. It was captured by one Norman Hanna – 20 years old at the time. He smuggled-in a newly purchased Phillips cassette recorder and taped the show some two thirds of the way back with the cassette machine positioned on the floor.

Unsurprisingly this newly discovered tape has been negotiated into the hands of the ever enterprising Japanese label Empress Valley and will probably have emerged by the time you are reading this as a deluxe four CD set containing the Belfast and Dublin shows.

The set will include a fourteen page booklet with photos and press cuttings from their Irish shows. This includes reproduction extracts from the review of the show featured in the Northern Ireland newspaper City Week.

Of the fifteen UK dates that comprised the Spring ’71 Back to the clubs tour only the aforementioned Dublin show and the officially released April 1 BBC In Concert recordings have emerged until now. This Belfast recording is therefore most welcome.

The tape recording quality is fair to good for the time – a little distorted and with occasional interference but mostly very listenable.

The most striking aspect of hearing it is the sheer force and determination in their playing. This opening night of their ’71 campaign was their first gig in over five months -the longest lay off so far in their career. It followed an eight week period of intensive recording sessions for their fourth album conducted at Island Studios and on location at Headley Grange.

It’s evident they were itching to air the newly recorded material in a live setting. Before those historic premieres we hear them storm through the then customary Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker opening.

Witnessing this in the Ulster Hall must have been extraordinary. Plant extends the vocal shrieks and the Page solo is just completely out there. Off mic you can occasionally hear the excited babble of Irish accents from the crowd. Then it’s a relaxed run through of Since I’ve Been Loving You. Plant on absolute peak form attaining the high pitched notes with ease. Black Dog is the first of the new songs employing the opening riff of Out On The Tiles. It’s back to the greatest hits for a no-nonsense, compact, Dazed And Confused,

More history making follows: Stairway To Heaven live performance number one. A straight rendering slightly tentative with Page playing the unfamiliar, but soon to become more than familiar, tune on the newly acquired Gibson double neck guitar. It suffers slightly here due to cuts and a high pitched sound from the original recording.

Evidence that the softer side of their playing as deployed on Zep 3 would still be present on their forthcoming album was duly demonstrated by the performance of the new Page/ Plant composition Going To California.

The more familiar Zep 2 standards What Is And What Should Never Be and a powerful Moby Dick take us into the finale – the now expected Whole Lotta Love medley including Let That Boy Boogie, Honey Bee and The Lemon Song.

The encores are just plain shattering. A thrashing Communication Breakdown followed by the debut live performance of Rock And Roll – then known as It’s Been A Long Time. A final welcomed bonus brings this historic recording to an end. There’s quite a delay before they get around to performing and it’s evident they are trying to work out what to play. They opt for a rarely played post 1970 version of Bring It On Home performed in a unique delivery sans vocals and harp in the final section.

“If everybody was like this to each other every day there would be no problems,” Plant can be heard to inform the audience just before the second encore. A nostalgic and relevant comment of the times.

Which is exactly what this Belfast discovery represents. It’s a true document of the band at a crucial moment.

Flushed with the massive success of the past, fresh from a welcomed lay off and enthused by the studio sessions that provided yet more new on stage impetus, this is prime 1971 Led Zeppelin.

In short, this tape is a brilliant reminder of how good they were at that stage of their career. Freeze-framing a period when they were receiving deserved mass popularity and acclaim at a time when they were also producing some of their most powerful and vital work.

Incredibly it all happened thirty years ago. The Belfast people haven’t forgotten. Thankfully, the emergence of this tape will make sure they never do.  

More on all this next time…


TBL Archive Special Part 2:


Whenever early March rolls around my thoughts drift back to 1998 and the completely mad month it was in the chronicling of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. It’s incredible to think this is now all of 21 years ago – it really does seem like yesterday. When I look back to that period we almost took it for granted that Jimmy and Robert would be up there on stage doing it night after night. With a US tour ahead and a UK tour to follow , they were certainly high profile that year – but as we were to discover – it was not to last. So it’s a great period to look back on  – with the late great Michael Lee on drums, this line up really gelled and with an impending new album due out, it was a very productive period. So let’s turn the clock back to 1998…

istnabul 6

Now this one is a bit of an epic.  This was first published in TBL 13 – It’s an road chronicle of the TBL crew’s adventures in pursuit of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant across the and month of March 1998. This took in two dates in Istanbul – something of a zenith in my own ‘’Crazy things I’ve done in the name of Zep’’ portfolio, followed by the superb Shepherds Bush Empire gig which in turn was followed by successive TV recordings at Top Of The Pops in Elstree and TFI Friday in Hammersmith.

Incredibly this all occurred 21 years ago…

As Gary Foy remarked to me earlier this week, this was one of the last real on the road assaults we undertook – there was a second UK leg of gigs in the late summer autumn which was also a real buzz but after that it got harder to just take off at short notice. Jobs, children and other priorities began to take precedent. This was definitely the period when if they were playing somewhere and we could get there, we’d be off. Great days and definitely crazy days. There some incendiary Page & Plant live performances in 1998 and we saw a good few of them. Read on to soak up a blow by blow account from the era when ‘’Walking into everywhere’’ was their motto and ours…

Part One has all roads leading to Istanbul for the beginning of another new chapter….so reach for those P & P ’98 CD’s and here we go…

More strange tales from the road: Crazy taxi drivers in search of the Bostanci Centre, power failure before the show, repeated chants of ‘’Zeppelin’’ ‘’Zeppelin’’ from the Istanbul faithful, How Many More Times back after 23 years, Saturday morning queues in Tottenham Court Road, the Empire strikes back in Shepherds Bush, Yes it’s number one it’s Top of The Pos, building a House Of Love in Elstree, followed by Rock And Roll on a Friday night TV show in Hammersmith…it all happened during the mad month of March 1998…

Thursday March 5, 1998:

This is a moment that crystallizes yet another rejuvenation. It happens towards the end of Thank You which is being performed in a slightly differing arrangement to last time. As they come out of the final verse, Robert as is customary picks up the tambourine and stands in that classic pose. Jimmy swings around with the Gibson – low slung as ever and they’re both primed for the finale… Robert glances at the guitarist expecting the solo to hit in, Jimmy for his part hesitates for about three seconds. Robert is momentarily knocked off guard and then it happens. Page takes a few steps towards Michael Lee and Crunch! He scrubs those strings’ like there is no tomorrow… like it just might be the final solo ever. Robert gives a knowing grin, picks up the flow and checks in for the final pleadings. “You’re my heart and soul, I still love you so, I wanna Thank You, oh oh oh ooh’.’

The song grinds to a halt and there’s the singer shaded by the golden spotlight soaking up the applause – and to his left the guitarist happy and smiling, knowing the joy he has brought to the audience.

And Istanbul surrenders. Just as in the past, Mannheim has surrendered… Sydney has surrendered… Los Angeles has surrendered… Wembley has surrendered… Sheffield has surrendered… You name the location – their music has touched every culture and country they’ve come into contact with.

Surrendered to the sheer power and glory, that these two musicians have been championing for nigh on thirty years. From the earliest days of Led Zeppelin through to this latest and long awaited new incarnation. And right now it still feels and looks so utterly convincing. Dancing Days are here again? Too true they are.

Yes it’s been a long time. To be precise, it’s been 949 days since I’d last heard that final cry of Thank You ring out aloud. Back then it was in the confines of Wembley Arena in July 1995 – the final night of the Unledded UK tour. Since then they’ve gone through some changes… and we have to. Back in January though, the wheels began to roll again with the announcement of an eight date Eastern European tour.

Initially I had little thoughts of going over. The expense and logistics seemed to halt any such notion. Gradually as I kept writing out the tour dates for the TBL Newsletter Extra, it began to get a little exciting. Unsurprisingly, others were feeling the same way and various options opened up. There was the offer of a drive from the UK to attend the Prague and Katowice date (thank you Steve ). That proved too difficult in terms of how long I’d be away.

The opportunity to attend the first date in Zagreb also proved impossible due to work schedules. Then the ever enthusiastic Mr. and Mrs. Foy came up with the Istanbul package, by no means cheap, but viable in so much that I’d only need to be away from Janet, Sam and Adam for three days. Permission from the Totnes HQ was granted (Janet in at number one, yet again, as the Most Understanding Wife of All Time). With Turkey not being so very far away from the projected air strikes, I did have a rather worrying time when the unrest in the Gulf blew up (any projected Istanbul bootleg being jokingly forecast as being titled The Human Shield by one wag) but thankfully that all died down. Frantic arrangements were drawn up, many an international call to Istanbul logged and before I knew it, I was waving the family good-bye yet again in search of the musical inspiration that continues to be a reason for being – rather than having been – as the singer once so astutely put it.

So it is I find myself on a plane bound for Athens over night leading into March 5. What with coping with my work schedule over the past few days to free up these days, I’d had little time so far to get really excited about it. The three and a half hour flight provides time to reflect. This is the seventh night of the tour. So far the reports have been enthusiastic – though not without some reservation. Like many others I was a little disappointed at the set list structure being very much along the lines of the ’95/6 jaunt. On closer inspection it’s apparent that there are nine songs being performed that I have yet to see Page and Plant play live. I’d been lucky enough to receive an audience video of the Budapest show so I had a good idea of the set list and stage set up. Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale? Bring them on…

Reading matter on the way over includes the NME which has a full page ad for the Uncut magazine. And there they are on the cover… “The Old Devils Are Back” is the cover boast. They are back but not quite in our sights yet. The Foys and I have to endure a three hour stop-over at a deserted Athens airport at three in the morning. Finally we are on the hour long flight bound for Istanbul and we duly arrive in the city at 9am. The first perilous taxi drive follows. The traffic out there is quite frightening with constant horns being tooted and pedestrians darting in-between the cars. Give me my push-bike back in Bedford any day.

Eventually we check in and get settled. In the afternoon it’s over to the Merit Antique Hotel for the Press Conference. The Turkish press is afforded a playback of the album as they await the arrival of the pair. Around 3pm Jimmy and Robert saunter in apologizing for being late and for the next forty five minutes fend off the most inane questions.

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One of the first is “Where is John Paul Jones?” Understandably this irritates them immediately. “Believe it or not that’s not the first time we’ve been asked that question” is Plant’s reply. Jimmy only becomes interested when someone asks about the Puff Daddy Kashmir project. “We set up a studio satellite link with LA and it sounded really good.” At one point, Plant takes a few pictures of the assembled with his own camera. Having fielded the questions they’re off to the venue to prepare for the show. We strike it lucky by (and I kid you not!) seeing a sign on the main road a few hundred yards down that proclaims “English Pub”. It wasn’t quite the Fox and Hounds back home but it’ll do nicely as the adrenaline pumps up.

The venue itself is situated a few miles over the city in the Asian area of Bostanci. The gig is scheduled for 8.30 so one for the road around half five seemed well in order. We couldn’t have been more wrong! The taxi drive over to the centre was nearly enough to make me want to take up smoking.

Stress levels were at their highest as we battled traffic congestion that made the M25 look like a B road. The poor taxi driver was also having trouble trying to find the place. Several times he snatched up one of our tickets and rushed out to passers-by.

Cue visions of the ticket being snatched away and leaving us in a state of limbo! Eventually, after viewing the sights of down-town Istanbul at length, and after nearly two hours, the dome-like building that is the Bostanci Centre draws into view.

Old songs, new songs and hot songs

Outside there are lengthy queues to gain entry and much scurrying around. Soon we are in the arena and the excitement really begins. The Bostanci Centre holds around 4,000. Already there are a number of fans huddled around the front. The actual structure of the building reminds me of the St Austell Coliseum. There’s terracing around each side and even the far back terracing is in close proximity to the stage. The audiences are a mixture of young Turks grateful for any kind of rock event in their vicinity and older looking fans weaned on Zep 4. The average age I’d say is around 25. There’s also quite a strong young female presence. Amongst all of these of course are some old friends.

It never fails to amaze me this devotion to the cause – and how certain enthusiasts (or loony’s!) decamp to whatever country, state or town Page and Plant inhabit.

Tonight the Bostanci is quite full but comfortable. We endure the half hour support act onslaught of progressive rock (i.e. what Marillion would sound like if they’d been born in Turkey) which actually goes down well with the locals. There’s the usual milling around the stage from the roadies – and it does begin to get very exiting when Jimmy’s Theremin is tested – and when the guitar tech straps on the Gibson for testing.

I’ve worked out that this is something like the 60th occasion I’ve been privileged to watch Page and Plant perform live either as Led Zeppelin, on solo tours or as part of the Unledded project. That’s 60 shows, across 26 years. And here we are again. How will it be? I mean how long can they continue at this pace? It’s a re-occurring question these days. Being far from home in a completely foreign country only goes to heighten the excitement and anticipation as the lights go low and the familiar Egyptian intro music booms out.

The answer to the above questions arrives in just about the time it takes Robert Plant to whip the microphone off it’s stand and strut in regal pose seconds into the opening number Wanton Song.

I get a mental flashback to the sense of awe at the opening of previous Zeppelin events – notably Cologne in 1980. Because, this is another rejuvenation.

As they stomp through the opening number it’s immediately apparent how much more focused this 1998 set up is. This is Page and Plant functioning in a four piece rock band again and boy does it rock. And they look good too. I’d had reservations about Plant’s earlier appearance in the tour with the baggy pants, but tonight he looks every inch the veteran star front man. Long sleeved pattern shirt and leather pants tucked into boots; Page with black T-shirt, perhaps a little paunchier, but hey, this lot have a combined age of 104! It could and maybe should look faintly ridiculous. But somehow it just doesn’t. It just looks like it should do – two superb musicians performing with an enthusiasm that simply defies the years.

They don’t need to justify being up there. The crowd reaction does that as they leap up and down in time to Robert’s pogo-ing. The opening salvo of Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker (first time I’ve seen that played live since August 4 1979) is an immensely exiting segment. It’s Plant who is the immediate eye opener. In 1995 he was content to often hug the mike stand and recoil from those old poses – perhaps rendering them relevant only to a bygone age. Not tonight. He’s up there agile as ever and strutting mike in hand with supreme confidence. Jimmy shares that confidence playing with a fluency that we could only have dreamed of a few years back. It may not be note perfect and there are one two early fluffs but nothing that blows the momentum. The PA sound is also a revelation – crystal clear and exposing the quality of Plant’s vocals.

“Good evening Istanbul. Tonight we’d like to do some new songs, some old songs and some hot songs.”

Ramble On inspires more pogoing down the front – and it’s still a great tune. There’s a switch of guitar (a new addition to the guitar army: a PRS model with tremolo arm) for the new Walking Into Clarksdale. Another delight with its rockabilly guitar and deft change of tempo. Here Page lays back and shoots out the first real solo evoking memories of The Yardbirds latter days with its fluttering style.

It’s worth explaining at this point the stage lay-out and lighting. Gone is the big cloth backdrop. The stage rig relies on the lighting alone to shadow it. The lighting itself is really impressive. Clever uses of solo spot-lights are supplemented by on stage spots that are often used to illuminate the crowd. Simple but effective. From our vantage point up on the terracing by the left hand side of the stage it provides many visual flashbacks as the silhouetted figures wallow in the light.

The next number evokes a great cheer from the crowd but it’s a controversial moment. We’re hearing the familiar electric keyboard motif of No Quarter played · la Zeppelin circa 1973. Opinions will be divided on the merit of this inclusion which is perhaps a little close for comfort. I’m sitting on the fence here because they pull it off very well. Jimmy’s solo is very spirit of MSG ’73 and his grin seems to confirm his pleasure at dishing that one out again.

The acoustic interlude follows with Plant on a stool and Page sitting down with the acoustic. Keyboard player Phil Andrews supplies the mandolin. Going To California garners a huge audience response and is followed by a wonderfully nostalgic Tangerine (first time I’ve heard it played live since May 25 1975)- Plant off the stool, dragging the mike around.

Thankfully Robert avoids the “In olden days” spiel for Gallows Pole, opting for that tale of how the song travelled up the Mississippi Delta to the UK story. This is a track I got played out on during the ’95 tour. it sounds fresher in a more simplified arrangement and both of them are well animated for the speeded up finale.

It’s back to the full force of the riff infested Burning Up from the new album. Page excels here as he churns out the smoldering riffs that lead the song. Michael Lee is also impressive underpinning it all with a solid time honored tom-tom fills. Only Plant suffers a little – sometimes straining on the chorus although he is supplemented later by what appears to be some sampled backing vocals · la the album. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You follows and is a real highlight. Faultlessly delivered, with all the required dynamics and a twist in the arrangement that allows Page to turn in a very bluesy Since I’ve Been Loving You type solo.

“Do you like Jazz?’’ is Plant’s odd request that makes more sense when they enter the Coltrane like beginning of How Many More Times. Now this is really something. They haven’t played it in full since 1975 and the audience soaks it up with perhaps the younger element very familiar with it as part of the BBC set. Page wields the violin bow for the eerie middle section and then it drifts into a delivery of In The Light (· la the Calling To You/Whole Lotta Love medleys of last time out). There’s a great moment when they both cluster together in Achilles like tandem before the pressures back on for the up tempo ending which again raises the crowd to a frenzy – a fact highlighted by the spot-lights that engulf the audience in bright light.

“This is our new single, and it’s one of my favorite new numbers,’’ announces Plant over the looping Arabic intro to Most High. This is already becoming something of a ’98 tour signature tune. Page’s revolving guitar riff kick starting them into an infectious trek through some proven ground. It’s a track that carries all the pomp and extravagance of past Arabic adventures and the crowd immediately clue-in on it’s infectiousness.

“Thank you for your hospitality in your country – we’ve got to say goodnight.’’ Page keeps the sparkle Trans performance Gibson on to fire out the riff of the hit single that wasn’t. Yes it is Whole Lotta Love. It’s over familiarity could easily grate on me – but it never fails to have us pumping the air with it’s barnstorming riff which in turn leads to the Knebworth revamp section “1234 da da da dadadum” – you know the one. Then Page stalks over to the Theremin for a last bout of expected showmanship. Lights up, handshakes, hugs and farewells. Then they are gone.

And then it starts, a slow rumble first then building to a crescendo: “Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin”. The repeated cry goes up. It’s along time since I’ve heard this sort of eager reception.

They return for a beautifully restrained Thank You. Performed in a new arrangement that finds Page hanging on to every solo. Then there’s that great moment of hesitancy before he scrubs out the final run. More exits left, more chanting and then it’s welcome to Rock And Roll. (“This is how we say… Oh no not again…’’); Page has saved up the energy for this one as he duck walks across the stage pausing for a couple of mini jumps (at least 4 inches off the ground!) while Robert milks the crowd for the “Lonely lonely” parts. In fact there’s one great final visual image – Robert goes down on one knee and then jumps up and grabs the mike in a pose that’s identical to the Neal Preston photo to be found on page 104 of Cross And Flannigan’s Heaven And Hell.

“Istanbul Goodnight!’’

There’s a real warm glow about the audience as they shuffle out. And something of a mini Zepp Convention ensures as the UK central Europe clan gather excitedly. I point out a young lady of around 18 who I had seen dancing enthusiastically throughout the show. Led Zeppelin had clearly played their final American tour years before she was born. But that’s always when it really hits me. To see a new generation inspired by this music just as we’ve been inspired years before. Yes the wheel rolls. It’s enough to make you feel bulldog British proud.

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Mr Foy outside the venue…

Friday March 6, 1998:

A few hours later we are outside a very wet and miserable Bostanci Centre. After yesterday’s pleasant weather it comes as something of a surprise. In fact I’d have been well advised to have worn the new leather coat that one of the eager local tradesman had hoisted upon us when we checked out the local McDonalds earlier. The rain coupled with some unfortunate stress I’m having to deal with makes the morale somewhat low.

Quick aside: This involved an incident  where we inadvertently (it was a genuine mistake!) took a ride from the hotel to the second gig in the tour bus that was meant for the road crew – thus leaving them to get taxis to the venue. Unsurprisingly this did not go down too well and I had some explaining and apologising to do rather quickly – I can laugh about it now but back on the day it was stress city believe me! The complete story is one for the memoirs for sure…like I said these were crazy days!

Still, the show must go on. Well nearly. Tonight it’s evident that there are many more in attendance. It also seems to be a younger age group overall. Things begin to get a little bit scary when around 8.30 the whole place is plunged into darkness. This does no favors to those trying to gain entry by the main door. A series of heavy pushing and shoving results in a few people being carried out for medical assistance.

The lights come back on partially. And announcement from the stage informs that the area has been hit by a power cut and the PA is being powered by an emergency generator (shades of Copenhagen ’79). Thankfully the lighting improves and the support act kick off around 9.30. By the time the stage is cleared ready for Page and Plant the arena is packed to over-flowing with little room for manoeuvre. I’d say at least 2,000 more are in tonight, which makes for some uncomfortable viewing but luckily I manage a good spot to the right of the stage.

Around 10.15 PM the lights go down and we’re off again. Page retaining the black T-shirt garb; Plant has switched to the dark with white trim T-shirt he’d worn on earlier dates with the leather trousers.

The show runs very much to last night’s structure. If anything Robert’s performance is even more impressive. During Heartbreaker he does one classic shimmy across the stage that ignites the crowd into a huge roar. “This is the last night of the tour… so let’s have some fun.’’

On Burning Up he hits the notes perfectly sparring with Page’s trademark licks and riffs. Tonight’s crowd offer up most response to No Quarter, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (especially the final Stairway tease) and How Many More Times (“Do you like jazz… Liars!’’) Robert throws in a quite breathtaking accapella verse from In My Time Of Dying before the In The Light insert.

Most High is also enthusiastically received spurring Plant to raise the tempo as they hit the finale. Prior to delivering the new single, Plant had welcomed over various record company people who had come here for the weekend. During Whole Lotta Love Jimmy does a quick guitar change mid song from the red sparkle Trans Gibson to the light brown model.

“We’ll try and see you in the summer when we’ll play outside and the tickets will be cheaper,’’ explains Robert as they re-appear for the encores of Thank You and Rock And Roll. “I guess this is why we’ve been doing this for 30 years,’’ is Robert’s comment as he surveys the adulation. It’s obviously a moving moment for him as he hauls up Ross Halfin on stage to photograph the crowd, for perhaps his own posterity.

The usual bows and waves… and the 1998 Eastern European Tour is over.

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Saturday March 7, 1998:

Reflections on the plane journey back. Well as I’d hoped this Page Plant project has moved on.

It really does feel like a four piece rock band again and the focus is clearly on the two principal players. There are definite parallels to the rejuvenation Zeppelin attempted in Europe all those years ago.

This is very much a stripped down show from ’95 in the same way that the Over Europe tour was very much stripped down from the Knebworth shows. Seeing all this in a foreign country has been a real eye-opener and confirmation once again that this thing is an international phenomenon that shows no sign of waning. The flight back is a little tiring – I pass the four hours by managing to finish off an excellent novel by Charles Higson called Getting Rid Of Mister Kitchen.

It takes over an hour to recover our baggage through Heathrow and finally it’s home and back to reality with our  Samantha’s evening school disco to attend.. Here the plaintive tones of Aqua, All Saints and The Spice Girls replace the likes of Most High, Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale. Suddenly Istanbul seems a million miles away….

Dave Lewis

PART TWO TO FOLLOW: Queuing by the sick, Shepherds Bush, Top Of The Pops and TFI Friday.

First published in TBL 13


Andre Previn RIP:

Very sad to hear the passing of Andre Previn.I’ve always loved his score for My Fair Lady – his jazz version of I Could Have Danced All Night is just brilliant…what an incredibly talented musician. RIP.

Keith Flint RIP:

Sad too to hear the passing of Keith Flint aged 49 -in my music retail years The Prodigy album releases were real events. RIP.


Coda tribute band at Bedford Esquires this Saturday:

I am looking forward to the visit of the Coda tribute band at the excellent Esquires venue here in Bedford this Saturday March 9 2019. The good lady Janet and I saw them last October at the 50th anniversary gig in Wardour Street and they put on a real show – there’s an enthusiasm and verve about how they perform the songs and present themselves.

Ticket details here:




DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn..a right result last Friday morning at the ever excellent Vinyl Barn.

Firstly, I was well pleased to find the Hookfoot double album compilation Headlines on the DJM label. Led by Caleb Quaye, this band helped out on the early Elton John albums. Alongside their own material, they cover songs by The Bryds, Stephen Stills, Neil Young and and James Taylor. This is right up my street.

And there was more…

Darren has also acquired a whole collection of early 1970s singles from a DJ.

All in original sleeves. Not only that, they are all stamped with the date of release and purchase. This adds a real historical factor.

Amongst others, I picked out the very rare King Crimson single In The Court Of The Crimson King (parts 1 and2) on the Island label date stamped October 22, 1969. This was the same day Led Zeppelin II was issued. Just imagine going into a record shop on that particular Friday nearly 50 years ago and buying those two platters – what a thrill that must have been.

I also got another island Records beauty, the Fairport Convention single Now Be Thankful with the very long B side title date stamped October 16 1970.

This is what record collecting is all about – Thanks Darren!

Great to see that the superb Robert Plant album Fate Of Nations is being reissued as a Record Store day release on 180gm vinyl –that one alone will be worth queuing for.

As can be seen I did pick up an original 1993 copy a couple of years ago in the now sadly closed Black Barn Records in Cambridge on a record shopping day out with my fellow Bedford record  enthusiasts Pete Burridge and Mat Roberts It was a good fifty quid to get that one and I was well pleased to find it…it’s his absolute best album in my view.

As ever I am very excited at the prospect of another Record Store day and the countdown is on -I have been analysing the expansive list and there are quite a few gems that will be on my wants list – more on all this to follow…

This week’s match report:

A keenly contested encounter last Saturday afternoon between Bedford Albion and Lea Sports of Luton. Albion went ahead with this penalty and added a second by half time. Lea Sports got one back in the second half and were well in the game up until the last five minutes when Albion were awarded a free kick just outside the area.

Up stepped Adam Lewis to hammer home his 18th goal of the season. Like last week’s free kick, it fairly flew in the net to seal a 3-1 win. Well played Adam Lewis.

It was good to see Tottenham back on winning ways with a very fine 1-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund tonight making it a 4-0 two legged triumph. The last eight in the Champions league now beckons…

The old hay fever has really kicked in these past few days and my eyes are feeling well heavy. There’s a lot to do so I am getting on with the ongoing packing of TBL 44 and more. As mentioned above, the good lady Janet and I are looking forward  to the Coda gig at Bedford Esquires this Saturday – it will be good to get out and about amongst like minded admirers of the catalogue we know so well – as reproduced by Coda live on stage with much verve and passion. We look forward to seeing all that can make it along…

Dave Lewis – March 5, 2019

Until next time, have a great weekend

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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YouTube Clip:

Evenings With YouTube clip:

Below is a YouTube clip about the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book via the US radio station WPLR New Haven:



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