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HOWARD MYLETT ONE YEAR GONE – TBL ARCHIVE TRIBUTE

18 June 2012 4,953 views 7 Comments

One year ago today, Howard Mylett, the legendary Led Zeppelin collector and original author sadly passed way.

I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to Howard by reproducing the text of a review I wrote of the Page & Plant concert in Paris that occurred on June 6th 1995.  Howard was at this show with his wife Anita and we travelled back with them on the overnight coach and ferry back to England.

I have real affectionate memories of this trip because Howard’s wit and wisdom made that journey fly by. It was one of the first times I’d spoken to him at length for a while and we reminisced on many a past Zep inspired escapade. One of his wry observations was that he and I should open a shop named Zep R Us and another of his lines on that trip was that if he and I had lived in America we had been millionaires. It was typical of the delightful shelf deprecating humour Howard brought to many a conversation – a trait that I and countless others dearly miss.

I spoke to Anita last week and I know she will be touched to know all are thinking of him today.

This Paris affair was one his favourite shows so this one’s for Howard – forever remembered and in our hearts as a true pioneer in the art of chronicling Led Zeppelin and so much more.

Above: Howard and myself standing in front of the screen showing the Seattle 77  footage at the Return Of  The Destroyer TBL fan gathering London April 28 2007

 A word about this performance: Within all the on-going rightful acclaim for the Led Zep legacy, it’s often underplayed how effective this first tour by the reunited Jimmy Page and Robert Plant really was. There were nights when it hit some spectacular highs and this first European stop off was certainly one of them. Back in June 1995, it really did feel like the evolution of Led Zeppelin was unfolding in front of our eyes…now read on: 

Tous en Scene Revisited:

Jimmy Page brings it all back home,

So finally after weeks of revelling in the reports being fed back from the US, the Page Plant World Tour is on our doorstep. And never has the gateway to Europe been so accessible. The wonder of the Channel Tunnel has made it easier than ever to reach t destination of show number ones:

The Palais Omnisports, Bercy, Paris on Tuesday June 6 1995 – D-Day exactly 51 years on.

Today there is a different kind of off-shore landing as the Zepp contingent head for the French capital. And early evening on the steps of the Bercy there are many familiar Zep heads in attendance – Howard Mylett, Luis Rey Andy Adams, Simon Pallett, Dave Fox -and many other fervent followers make it something of a home from home.

As for the local turn-out, in terms of age it’s not too dissimilar to the US. The emphasis is on the new generation {average age around 25), proudly bearing their newly purchased-shirts or ’93 Fate shirts.

The usual expectant questions fill the air as we wait outside (none of the usual pre-pub conferences here due mainly to the extortionate bar prices). Most of the discussion surrounds the set list and the chances of it differing much from the US. The general opinion is that at this stage it will not deviate too much. Other talk revolves around the possibility of Jimmy wielding the old violin bow at some point, and quite where it will all head af­ter the tour: speculation and con­versation that’s all part of the pre-gig build-up.

So it’s into the arena. A vast purpose built affair with no seating on the flat. Capacity is around 15,000. Though not a complete sell out, the arena is well packed, particularly on the flat where it’s evident that down the front it will be pretty hectic. For me personally this gig represents the 51st occa­sion of seeing Robert Plant sing live – through Zep, Honeydrippers, the solo years, Unledded and now. Twenty-four years on from when I first saw him stalk the Wembley Pool stage with the then bearded guitarist in tow, who would have believed that when I last saw them together on stage in Europe in 1980, it would be an­other 15 years before the opportu­nity would arise again.

It hits home again what a re­markable period this really is. Aided by the mass-communication tools at our disposal, the Page Plant tour profile has been at an incredibly high level for months on end. From Unledded to Live in Europe there have been many twists and turns. The album, the video, the Demon show. Stairway in Japan, Hall Of Fame, US Music Awards, Pensacola, New Jersey, etc.

Finally it’s on our doorstep. Be­fore we get what we came for we have to endure a pointless support set from a mainstream French rock band. The crowd whistle early dis­approval. They last about 25 min­utes. Then it’s the final waiting. I must have heard the Tales Of Bron poem countless times, ensconced in the TBL HQ back at Totnes Towers. The thrill of hearing it boom out loud and clear, live at The Bercy shortly after 9pm is one of immense gratification and ex­pectation. The fabric curtains drop down behind the stage {similar in size to the US set up: however for the Europe dates there are no video screens which in a venue this size is something of a disad­vantage) . . . and we’re ready to go.

Silhouettes stalk the stage. “But sweet of music strikes the ear” drones the incredible Mr. William­son. And that’s the cue for Page and Plant to step forward into the light and perform Thank You. Some have reported this is a rather low key entry number against The Wanton Song. No way tonight. They both milk the pauses for all it’s worth. And one striking factor is apparent from the moment he marches towards the stage, Gib­son in hand – Jimmy Page is ON. No messing.

The silk shirt, that will soon be drenched in sweat, dazzles in the spotlight as he takes the first solo. His hands become a scrubbing low fret blur. The sound is mighty. When he’s on this sort of form, well these are truly moments to savour. On some dates in the US he has restricted his stage move­ments to spasmodic bursts. Not tonight. He dominates the centre stage with a devastating display of showmanship – showmanship Page-style. We’ve seen glimpses of it over the years; The sideways glances, the low slung guitar hip-slinging, the goosesteps, the leaps, the shuffles. Tonight every nuance of the Page persona is re-enacted for the Paris faithful. It makes for some spectacular viewing.

In fact so striking is Jimmy’s presence, Robert seems almost surprised by his partner’s intensity. Hair tied back slightly, cut off T-shirt with Indian slogan, brown leathers, he extends some of the opening song’s lyrics by employing the now familiar wavering Arabic drawl. Thank You shifts into the short and sharp Bring It On Home and then to Ramble On. The uplift­ing chorus prompts mass pogoing down the front area which has now developed into a veritable mosh pit. The swaying masses produce a regular fall-out of fans being pulled all over the barrier. I’m surprised Robert did not do one of his “Everybody take two steps back” routine. It all looked well hectic to me as I viewed it from the relative safety of my side seat.

Some band line up observations: The band do seem tighter than when I was in New Jersey. Charlie though fairly anonymous on stage does exactly what’s required. Porl has certainly developed a rapport with Jimmy, timing the duet runs to perfection. As for Michael Lee -he just gets better an better. Dur­ing the next couple of hours he gives a performance so dazzling he convinced me he is the second best drummer the pair have ever worked with, driving the band along in a manner that is not too far off the deceased master Bonham himself.

Shake My Tree kicks in with Plant cockrocking with a growing confidence. This remnant from the Coverdale Page songbook has been accepted into the set as a playfully kitsch exercise. The theremin sequence is a delight, as Page flashes out the shapes that lit up countless Whole Lotta Love medleys back in the heyday. Plant duly addresses the crowd in fluent French leading to the introduction of the band and Lullaby. This goes down well with the Parisians, The Cure having always enjoyed a good reputation here. The stage is swathed in atmospheric green light as Porl jams around the psyche­delic guitar stabs against Jimmy’s lead lines.

For No Quarter Jimmy again runs away with himself, delaying the opening lines with some pleas­ing White Summer runs before they perform a perfunctory run through of the title track of the al­bum. Reaction is a little mooted here and I feel that this sit down segment does take the mood down unnecessarily and is perhaps up for a rethink.

Enter N. Eaton for Gallows Pole, introduced as ever by Robert’s “In olden days . . .” spiel. Nigel’s hurdy-gurdy solo leads to Nobody’s Fault But Mine. It’s about this point that Plant takes his performance up a gear, perhaps realising that old Jim is not for tir­ing. In fact from here on in, the whole pace ups considerably.

Hey Hey What Can I Do is a warm pleasure with Page strutting around with the twin Ovation in celebration of one of the great un­known parts of their heritage. Which then leads to The Song Re­mains The Same. Porl plays the duet part brilliantly and Jimmy swings the neck in time-honoured fashion. This is also one of Robert’s best moments despite dropping the mic (he carelessly does the same thing during Calling For You). All in all a great re-enactment of a slice of their col­lective history.

Since I’ve Been Loving You is similarly impressive with both of them anxious to make an impact. For Robert it is a tortured perform­ance with an extended ‘B-B-B-B-baby’ phrase that gets the cheers. Jimmy’s input is a frenzied solo that burns and grinds and prompts an enthusiastic “Jimmy Page gui­tar!” from Robert at the close.

The reappearance of the Trans Performance model signals the turn of Dancing Days now with the added attraction of the Egyp­tians who underscore the riff as well as providing an opening and closing sequence for Page to riff around on. This is particularly im­pressive on the new reprise part. Plant’s delight at performing this number is evident as it prompts him to sans the mic stand and strut around in the pose that dominated the ’70s. His raising of the mic above his head in glory at the song’s end is a wonderful moment.

From Dancing Days to revela­tion days . . . “This is a song I wrote about three years ago about greed” is the cue for Calling To You. This might loosely be termed the “new Zeppic” as it takes on a mid-song life of its own. Plant ea­gerly prowls the stage, still without the mic stand as Charlie and Michael pummel out the foundations from which Porl and Jimmy will solo.

Page seems utterly possessed here, almost in a trance as he crouches over the red cherry Gib­son pouring out a cavalcade of riffs, firing out the hand signals in line with Michael Lee’s stop-start drum patterns. One particular riff section stands out a real muscular affair that rips into the night in deft repetition. It spurs an instant “new Zeppelin” shiver down the spine – a feeling that first emerged when Jimmy played off Michael Lee on that Crunge jam they did at Buxton. This is perhaps where it all might have headed had there still been Led Zeppelin in the early ’80s.

This stirring avalanche eventu­ally clams down to allow another welcome set addition. Enter a Down By The Seaside for the ’90s which has Page scrubbing out the Encomium arrangement as Robert mournfully sings the opening and last verse – the latter word per­fect, right down to the “Yes she well . . . yes she will . .  .” lines. From there they liven up the crowd with the pleasing delivery of The Door’s Breaks On Through and on into The Dazed sequence -Robert’s opening wail of “Been Dazed And Confused for so long it’s not true” is right out of the Zep 1 arrangement.

Four Sticks is performed with a no messing approach and comes over as one of the most friendly and familiar parts of the post-Unledded era. Jimmy takes to his chair for this one, blowing for air and spouting out the now customary drool. In The Evening is graced with that stirring Egyptian intro {a faster version than the early part of the tour) and it’s just wonderful to see the duo dancing and preening along with them.

Robert’s entry is suitably dy­namic as he croons against the Egyptian strings. The crowd are a little slow to pick up on the call and response aspect of the chorus which went so well in the US. And then it’s into the Carouselambra insert and it’s great to watch Page slither over the Strat in the merg­ing of two pieces from the In Through The Out Door era – the album that according to the Sounds review at the time sig­nalled the moment to close the door and put out the light.

Sixteen years on, this under­rated part of the catalogue is alive and still shining brightly before our eyes. By the close the crowd have got the idea of Robert’s request, echoing the “Loove” chorus across the arena. And then it’s a good­night from them. Momentarily.

Ten minutes of the Bercy stomping and cheering and the duo return – Page with black T-shirt, ready to cut loose on the Out On The Tiles intro before Robert kicks into Black Dog. And however many times we’ve heard it, the sing-along silliness of it all is still utterly irresistible. As the last bars crash in, Page pulls in the custom of recent shows – a guess the riff before it’s gone segment which tonight, if you’re quick, is recog­nisable as Misty Mountain Hop. So then it’s one last gasp and the final majesty that is Kashmir. And my . . . how far this epic has travelled in just a few short months. The moment Page slaps on the wammy for the gentle drift­ing intro spur instant crowd reac­tion. They’ve all seen the MTV video and know what’s in store. And they duly kick in for a blister­ing performance highlighted by Page’s non-stop goosestep around the stage routine, and Robert’s effortless command of the lyrics. The speeded up finale is pure white noise intensity, preceded by the stirring violin solo which is played in a different arrangement. “Medication . . medication …” More instant throwbacks, the “It’s what I need, It’s what I want” se­quence, the Black Dog reprise, the “In My Time Of Dying” bye bye . . . a final “Let me take you there” re­frain and it’s all over.

Smiles, hugs, handshakes. A curtain call bow with everybody grouped in the middle. And they slope off… the job well and truly done. But this has certainly been no chore for the principal perform­ers. And there’s the guitarist -sans guitar – wandering around, sweat dripping, soaking up this adulation and flashing that cheru­bic grin that we missed so much for over a decade. Tonight was really his triumph. It will never cease to amaze me quite how he finds the reserve to offer up such a vibrant performance after all that’s gone before. This was Jimmy Page playing with the same energy, col­our and spark as he did as a fresh-faced 25 year old when grac­ing the Tous en Scene television studio in this famous city back in ’69.

As complete performance of electric and acoustic guitar playing as anyone had the right to expect. And perhaps when it’s time to re­flect back at the whole tour, we will look to this opening European date and proclaim it as one where Jimmy Page exceeded all levels of expectancy to defy the advancing years and truly live up to his past legacy.

In short, Paris tonight belonged to Jimmy Page.

Dave Lewis – June 8 1995

For Howard Mylett 1947 – 2011

 

Orginally written for TBL 11

Copyright Dave Lewis/TBL 2012

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7 Comments »

  • russell ritchin said:

    DAVE

    GREAT PIECE AND I CAN ONLY ECHO THE THOUGHTS OF EVERYONE THAT KNEW HOWARD ALTHOUGH I DID NOT KNOW HOWARD AS LONG AS YOURSELF AND MANY OTHERS HE WAS SUCH A NICE GUY AND ALWAYS HAD TIME FOR A CHAT AND
    IT WAS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO MEET HIM HE IS SADLLY MISSED IM SURE HE
    WOULD APPRECIATE SOME OF THE HEARTFELT COMMENTS.

  • John C said:

    He answered my emails, which were basically me babbling on how he was the most important and influential Zep fan to me personally. As a boy I listened to the music and read his book – cover to cover, time after time. I enjoy a Zep read, and there are always new stories emerging, or new angles to right about, but Howard gave you the foundational facts – the rest was up to you and your commitment.

    Thanks Howard, I am still committed – thanks to no small part of the “6th Zep member”.

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Great review Howard, thanks Dave. I think I’ll pull Tangents off the shelf and give it a read again in Howard’s honor.

  • John Webster said:

    Lovely tribute Dave. Howard was a lovely man who I got to know in his later years. He was very generous to me in sharing his Zepp memorabilia and he and Anita’s hospitality was delightful when I visited him at home on a number of occasions always going home with a bagful of goodies. He is much missed.

  • Mark Harrison said:

    It has to be remembered and stressed that you used to be able to go into a bookshop and NOT see a SINGLE Zeppelin book – NOT ONE!!- Until Howard Mylett came along that is. He changed it, opened the floodgates and inspired so many others to do the same. Given this you would think that his doors would be “closed”. Oh no Not Howard. He loved nothing more than talking about Zeppelin – seeing new photos and articles, hearing new stories. He seemed to have all the time in the world for anyone who shared his passion. Always having a sharp line ready with his quick wit he soaked up my paltry(next to his!) collection. He was a legend and inspiration was the “Brighton Magpie!”
    RIP mate with a cider!
    Mark

  • steve raynsford said:

    Dave- This is such a lovely and fitting tribute to Howard, personally me and my wife miss Howard dreadfully, especialy me because I’ve known Howard since 1973 and I was remembering all the good times we had together. He was a very specialy human being – thoughtful and caring. Once again Dave, thank you so much for your tribute. Steve and Colleen Raynsford.

  • andrew R said:

    Dave, as fresh and enthusiastic as if written yesterday.A fitting tribute to Howard Mylett.(a year already unbeleivable!)

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