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IT WAS 40 YEARS AGO TODAY – LED ZEPPELIN AT EARLS COURT SATURDAY MAY 24 1975

24 May 2015 2,046 views 3 Comments

nicky horne intro

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

Turning the clock back 40 years..

SATURDAY MAY 24 1975

TICKET BLOCK AA ROW B SEAT 8

Ticket Price £2.50

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. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

My friend Dec had queued up for these tickets for this one over night when they went on sale in March. Seven of us went from Bedford (Hi Dec,Tom and Phil!) We went shopping in Oxford Street where I brought a pair of hip mirror shades for the Lorret holiday to follow. Then it was over to Earls Court in the afternoon – one of our crew  Gary Felts had made a top hat ala Slade’s Noddy Holder with Zep photos around it which got plenty of attention in the pub beforehand.

So into the arena – walking along the aisles and up to the front of the stage, well you can imagine the feeling. We were just so close to Bonzo’s drum kit-and the amp set up. It was so amazing. I was second row to the right of the stage – Jimmy was literally a few yard way.  We posed for a photo in front of the stage before the show.

boys-EC

The Bedford Crew in front of the Earls Court stage May 24th 1975 – DL with mirror shades and patchwork jeans, Dec with his school scarve (I kid you not), Phil H with denim coat as advertised in NME and Gary Felts with custom made Zep top hat.  Having (one of )the time (s) of our lives….

So what can I say – being in such close proximity to one of the highest profile gigs Led Zeppelin ever performed, well it was beyond compare really.

Images ingrained on my brain for 35 years: Watching Jimmy slither across the stage as they hit Sick Again, Plant seemingly lost in a trance right in front of us as Page did the solo in Over The Hills, dry ice seeping above us over the front rows in No Quarter (should have bottled it –imagine that on ebay!), Jimmy holding the Gibson double neck aloft during the Song Remains intro, the stand up microphones being brought out for the four part harmony of Tangerine, being so close to them clustered together for the acoustic set (incidentally listen to the various soundboard bootlegs – just before Going To California Robert introduces the song saying ‘’This is a song about the would be hope for the ultimate…for the ultimate’’ – after which you can hear a distant yelled squeal just before somebody starts whistling – that’s my squeal folks), Trampled Underfoot and the revolving lighting creating a real sense of speed, the normally reserved Dec next to me going crazy in a manner I’ve not seen since, Page’s violin bow and going ”Ahhh’! as the lasers spiralled above us. The last few moments of Stairway as the mirrorball created that swirling spinning effect and thinking I must have died and gone to heaven!

More thoughts and pics below by Stuart Whitehead:

Earls Ct-01

A combination of my familiarity with the much bootlegged soundboard tape – not to mention the fact that I was lucky enough to be in the second row – has elevated this show to a night I will never forget. It remains one of the greatest gigs the band ever played, certainly the most accomplished I ever witnessed.

At the helm was Plant’s rapport and enthusiasm, and Page’s joyously deranged playing. Witness Plant’s heartfelt “This is for our family and friends and the people who’ve been with us through the lot” speech before a particularly melodic and caressing version of Tangerine, and superb phrasing during That’s The Way. Witness Page’s absolutely out-there-and-who-knows-where-it’s-heading solo on a ferocious Trampled Underfoot, the ending of which somehow collided with lines from Gallows Pole.

And then there was ‘No Quarter’. If the May 18th version stands as the definitive JPJ exercise, this May 24th version saw Page staking his own claim on the proceedings, emerging from the dry ice to layer on a series of solos, each quite exquisite in their delivery and command.

After That’s The Way, Plant sings a few lines from Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ and jests: “This is all a preview for the talking shows we’re gonna do in the Fall… when we’ve really made it!”

Trampled Underfoot was another stand out performance after which Plant ad-libbed lines from Little Richard’s Rip It Up. “I’m not upstaging anybody, am I?”

Earls Ct-06

Add on a truly memorable Dazed And Confused  with the best version of Woodstock ever played live, plus an affecting Stairway To Heaven and a galvanic Whole Lotta Love/Black Dog encore and you have the definitive Zeppelin in-concert experience.

Hey and add England beating Scotland 5-1 into the bargain! Not that Bonzo cared that much: “I think football’s a load of bollocks,” he bellowed, ambling up to the mic as they came back for the encore. Plant retorts: “I’d like to say that soccer’s a wonderful sport, the best sport!”

The Whole Lotta Love encore included James Brown’s Sex Machine ad-libs and Let Your Love Light Shine On Me.

The encores with the neon sign lighting up…Plant strutting over to our side in Black Dog and looking straight at us and smiling.

It was just too much. We left in a dazed state -how could we not – we had just seen Led Zeppelin at the ultimate vantage point. Nothing else mattered right then.

Certainly not rushing for the train. We predictably missed the last one back and slept on the station amongst several disgruntled Scotsman –sore at the 5-1 England defeat.

Finally it was back to Bedford at 8am. The party was drawing to an end, but there was a final memorable date with Earls Court remaining…and one that really would cement for all time my addiction for this band.

ENGLAND 5 SCOTLAND 1

There were other events going on aside from Zep at Earls Court on that epic Saturday. In the afternoon England beat Scotland 5-1 at Wembley – a result that made for quite a few depleted and drunken Scots as we made our way to Earls Court. For the record England’s scorers were Beattie, Bell, Johnson and two from Gerry Francis. (Sorry Billy F!)

The England line up that afternoon read: Clemence,Whitworth,Beattie,Bell,Watson,Todd,Bell,Channon,Johnson,Francis,,Keegan,sub Thomas.

Can’t say Bonzo would have been too excited over this result. ”I think football’s a load of bollocks” was his no nonsense summary as they came back on for the encore.- a retort to the numerous soccer references Plant had made on stage during the gigs.

Some 24 years later history would repeat itself when I watched England triumph 2-0 over Scotland at Hampden in the Euro 2000 play offs before setting off to see Robert perform with the Priory at the Red Lion Birmingham. In stark contrast to Earls Court’s 17,000 ,there were just 300 were in the pub that night.

swag

40 years on…

May 24 is always a golden date in my calendar…and as relayed above, 40 years ago tonight I was in Block AA row B watching Led Zeppelin..I”m going to celebrate that fact and that the Earls Court photo book is a wrap throughout today and tonight..so let’s get the party started…

Dave Lewis on the morning of May 24 2015.

You Tube clips:

Rock And Roll/Sick Again:

The Song Remains the Same:

Tangerine:

To be continued….

Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy –  May 24, 2015 

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3 Comments »

  • Kevin said:

    I was at this concert, £2.50! According to the calculator below, this is worth £23.29 today!

    A £7.50 Knebworth ticket is worth £38.51. Are we being ripped off these days?

    http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-1633409/Historic-inflation-calculator-value-money-changed-1900.html

  • Raymond Mitchell said:

    Hi Dave,

    40 years ! Well I was there that weekend for the Saturday and Sunday night shows,and that weekend as stuck with me all my life. I saw them at the Guild Hall Preston January 73, but this was a whole different ball game. These concerts are certainly a milestone in my life as being a music fan, as i am sure it was for most people who were lucky enough to witness these magical concerts. I have been listening these shows this last few days and plan to watch the dvd later today. I have been keeping up with your up dates on the forthcoming book and i am really looking forward to my copy landing on my doorstep.Keep up the good work Dave.

    Cheers
    Raymond

  • Larry said:

    Thanks for these EC entries Dave, great stuff.

    May 24 is the one for me. And it has little to do with the video (although of course I love it and it was the Holy Grail back in the day). I go back way before the emergence of the video, to the single LP bootleg simply titled Earls Court on the Europe label, and the complete audience tape I was able to procure back in the days of trading cassettes(!).

    It takes the band a few minutes to warm up during this one, but they hit their stride during Dying Time…TSRTS is incredible, and talking about the video, Jimmy delivering the opening passage while Jones and Bonzo rumble away is one of the great moments…Kashmir on this night is magnificent…No Quarter is superb…Tangerine is another of the great moments, and the acoustic set is simply transcendent. Robert’s singing on That’s The Way is one of his most memorable and heartfelt performances.

    Tonight also features what is imo the all-time greatest version of Trampled Underfoot, 10 of the most smoking minutes of Led Zeppelin ever captured on tape! Stairway from this gig may well also be the best, and if it isn’t there’s only 2 or 3 other possible contenders. Not sure why these versions weren’t chosen back in 2003 for inclusion on the official DVD…

    Jimmy and Robert also provide a memorable theremin/vocal workout during Whole Lotta Love, one of the best moments of the video.

    And finally, for those of you who are lucky enough to have that old Europer bootleg LP, slap it on the turntable and take a listen to Woodstock…the audience recording vividly provides the effect of being in the hall that night, and all of the Power, Mystery and Hammer of the Gods one might ever imagine (and then some!) are all right there in those 5 minutes!

    The boys did alright on May 24…

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