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23 May 2015 1,412 views No Comment

ticket 23

TBL Celebrates the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 40 years..

Friday May 23, 1975

Ticket Price £1.00

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. San Francisco)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

So imagine waking up on a Friday morning with the prospect of over nine hours of live Led Zeppelin in store over the next three days.

Talk about the weekend starts here!

young dl

But that was the treat in store as I went to catch the train on Friday May 23rd for EC gig 3. Earlier I’d had a passport photo taken in a booth in town suitably dressed in Earls Court T shirt and looking dazed and confused at the prospect of  nine hours of live Led Zep ahead. (see pic here) I was due to fly out with Dec, Tom Phil etc for our first holiday abroad to sunny Loret De Mar at the end of the month.

The days in between the first two gigs had been pretty non stop. Tuesday at short notice I went to see Swan Song artists The Pretty Things support Status Quo in Ipswich with the Atlantic rep who called on the WH Smith record department I worked in. Next day he brought in to the shop 30 copies of the limited edition UK Trampled Underfoot single – yet another bonus!. Thursday was spent soaking up the music press with the arrival of the NME and Melody Maker front covers (those cover pics were just awesome!) – The excitement just didn’t stop.

After the frantic pace of attending the two first gigs,  Friday seemed a much more relaxed affair and I took much more in. The weather was good too and beforehand we drank a bottle of wine in Hyde Park. Then it was to SW8. The view this time was the opposite side to last week and we scrambled down a few tiers taking some empty seats. A full on if slightly distant but clear view on Jonesy’s side. From the moment Plant gave out an excited Immigrant Song ”Aha ah” squeal as Bonzo and Jimmy did the usual warm up, well it was so evident they were up for it. Fashion note: For this night only Robert wore the cherry wrap around shirt he’d favoured on most of the ’75 American tour.

And they were just so up for it, as evident right from the moment when Plant gave out an excited Immigrant Song-style “Ah ah” squeal as Bonzo and Jimmy did the usual pre-song warm up. Following Rock And Roll and Sick Again Plant attracted huge cheers when he explained: “Last week we did a couple of warm up dates for these three nights, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We believe that these were the first three gigs to be sold out so these must be the ones with the most energy stored up because you’ve been waiting…”

The had fared pretty well in the press, garnering memorable front page cover stories in both the Melody Maker and NME. However Charles Shaar Murray’s slightly less than complimentary review irritated Plant enough for him to throw in a couple of press digs on stage.


The freewheeling on-stage energy was evident throughout, with Plant at his most gymnastic vocally, throwing in verses from You Shook Me at the close of a thrilling In My time Of Dying, and keeping up his Healey references with a “bye bye Denis” during the song’s close. Before Kashmir Plant explained he’d just had a vaccination in preparation for their impending exile… “‘Ready for when we go hunting in the jungle for new words and new songs for a new album.” He and wife Maureen were due to leave the country on Monday.

It’s worth mentioning that tonight’s  version of Kashmir did not go entirely to plan – they missed the cue after Robert’s “Woman talkin’ to ya” ad lib, coming in a few bars late – an illustration that these shows, like many others, had their fair share of musical mishaps born of tendency to leap before they looked –  but Led Zeppelin live on stage was never about perfection. It was that air of unpredictability that made them such an engrossing live experience.

Other highlights:  Another truly scintillating Page solo in Over The Hills (one of the very best ever), , the image of Page swathed in blue light up on the screen delicately picking out The Rain Song with such lyrical finesse, Tangerine yet again so moving and the intimacy of the acoustic set.

During Dazed And Confused they brought back a revival of the previously much deployed ‘San Francisco’ insert. Stairway To Heaven was introduced with the cryptic shot at NME scribe Shaar Murray: ‘’I believe there’s a psychiatrist on the way, Charles. Just hang on!” They left the stage to the hum of feedback and the swirling lighting effects provided by the mirror balls suspended above the stage – another nightly Earls Court ritual.

“Thank you very much England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland… and may the best team win!”

This time we did miss the train ( a trend that would continue) and we hung around Kings Cross finally getting back to Bedford at 4.30am. It was now Saturday May 24th and this one was going to be the big one.  Second row seats beckoned. Who needed sleep with that prospect ahead…


DL Diary Update:

Another highlight of the Earls Court week 40 years ago was the emergence of this promo single in the UK. The Atlantic rep who called on the WH Smith record shop I worked at left a box of them – and in one of the perks of the job, I was able to acquire a handful of these lovely gems. They go for around £20 now.

Trampled DC1

It’s been a memorable last few days looking back to that epic week of 40 years ago. Listening to the tapes and watching the DVD footage confirms for me that this really was the on stage peak.

As for my own memorises – they remain as vivid as ever. Looking back, it was the Friday May 23 gig that really boosted my appreciation of this group manifold. The May 17 gig had gone by in something of a nervous blur while matters of the heart had come in to play during the May 18 gig. This was a real rites of passage period for the this particular 18 year old as I was discovering about love and life in equal measures…and of course about the power of music to influence it all – and there was no finer power than that being generated from the stage of the Earls Court Arena that week of 40 years ago.

The ‘weekend starts here’ vibe of the Friday May 23 gig allowed me to really enjoy and soak up the show. In doing so, it brought a new level of appreciation of the onstage prowess of this amazing band of musicians. Coming back from Earls Court in the early hours I was filled with optimism – later in the morning I began jotting down notes of the first three gigs – this was the very start of me putting pen to paper to relay my thoughts and opinions on Led Zeppelin. It was these notes that I used to base my Earls Court Relived feature that appeared in TBL issue number one.

So in many ways, their performance at Earls Court on the evening of  Friday May 23 was a real watershed in my ambition to chronicle what this band meant to me and share it with other like minded enthusiasts. I was in it with them for the long haul and writing this 40 years ago to the day -my desire to chronicle the world of Led Zeppelin is as passionate and committed as ever…

On that note, I am now ensconced  in the text and design of the forthcoming TBL magazine issue 39 which I am aiming to be ready to go out in late June. More on this soon.

barn 22

Friday vinyl treats at the excellent Vinyl Barn stall in Bedford yesterday – as the pic shows a lovely crop – Television’s second album Adventure on red vinyl, Patti Smith’s classic Horses, the second volume of Polydor’s Supertracks samplers and an original Django Renhardt album on the HMV label with sleeve notes by Alexis Korner! Along with plenty of Zep at Earls Court, that’s the bank holiday playlist sorted..

With the May 24 anniversary upon us tomorrow, I will be reuniting with my fellow Block AA Row B Earls Court attendees Tom and Phil for a bit of an Earls Court anniversary get together here tomorrow night and we plan to Skype Dec (the man who queued  for the got the tickets!) in Ireland to bring him into the celebrations. Along with a few other close friends, beers will be drunk and vinyl played as we mark this high point in the Led Zep at Earls Court calendar. Right I’m off to play the May 23 CD…my they were great that night…

Dave Lewis, May 23, 1975.

To be continued….

You Tube Clip: That’s The Way…

Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy –  May 23, 2015 

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