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JIMMY PAGE & ROBERT PLANT MTV UNLEDDED 20 YEARS GONE/WHOLE LOTTA LOVE VOTED GREATEST RIFF /ROBERT PLANT INDEPENDENT INTERVIEW/WHOLE LOTTA WOLVES/OSAKA REVIEW/DL DIARY UPDATE

27 August 2014 8,298 views 4 Comments

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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant MTV Unledded – 20 years gone….TBL Archive Special:

20 years ago this week, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant reunited for two performances filmed by MTV at the London TV Studios for their Unplugged series. Appropriately dubbed Unledded, this saw the pair roll back the years with an inspiring re-evaluation of the Led Zeppelin catalogue. In its way this was every bit as significant as the 2007 O2 reunion as they sort to put into perspective their past achievements. The omission of John Paul Jones was in hindsight, a poor misjudgement but at the time, we were more than grateful for this reuniting of the pair. I was lucky enough to attend both days filming – indeed I was involved in supplying the TBL database for the ballot of ticket distribution. Looking back It was an incredibly exciting period that would lead on into more memorable nights in the company on the ensuing 1995/96 world tour.

This TBL archive special reproduces the passionate review of those two MTV Unledded performances I wrote for TBL issue 10 – it’s incredible to think that it’s all of 20 years ago as once agin it seems like a second ago –but a lifetime. It was another of those truly fantastic times to be a Led Zeppelin fan again…..so let’s travel back to the late summer of 1994 and two very special August days…

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Where to start? I mean, how do you begin to describe it all . . . The shivers down the spine when they did Rain Song with an orchestra . , . Robert’s dedication to Bonzo before Four Sticks on Thursday . . . the spontaneous applause for Jimmy’s solo on Friday’s version of Since I’ve Been Loving You . . . The running good natured banter between Robert and the audience throughout the event . . . the emotional intensity of the new Wonderful One . . . the last five minutes of Kashmir on Friday which was as good a section of live music I’ve been privileged to watch in my entire life .. .
So many highlights … so many disbelieving highlights at that. A clear seven days after it all, my mind is still reeling. Did it really happen? I mean, I’ve dreamed it enough times. But incredibly it DID happen. And what happened proved to be entirely in keeping with the legacy of what Led Zeppelin represented.

To backtrack on to all then: The weeks and days leading up to the timing had been pretty fraught tor me in being given some of the responsibility for assisting with the distribution of invitations. It was a responsibility I was more than happy to take on but the inevitable consequences of dealing with countless calls and demands surrounding the arrangements did prove to be a heavy burden to carry. Never before did the phrase “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” have such relevance. As somebody close to it all remarked to me – you can only get twelve to a dozen and there was always going to be disappointed fans by the size of the proceedings who were not going to be lucky on this occasion. Hearing such disappointments first hand was, understandably, not always pleasant.
My own personal arrangements to free myself to attend were somewhat rushed and flawed and it was only travelling down on the train on Thursday morning that I began to contemplate the enormity of what was happening.

The summary of events thus far had run like this: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had taken most of August to film the long-mooted MTV project, the end results of which would appear as an MTV Unplugged special in October. Location trips to Marrakesh and Wales would now be rounded off with two live performances before an invited audience at a secret London location set for the nights of August 25/26.

Feedback from those close to the project had been very positive. The filming in Marrakesh had gone very smoothly with the airing of three new songs – two untitled and one dubbed City Don’t Cry. In Wales, despite the rain they had managed to film some excellent footage with When The Levee Breaks proving particularly inspiring. A dress rehearsal for the London shows on Wednesday had also gone remarkably well, according to those in attendance. Confirmation of the deployment of a full orchestra and an Egyptian string and drum section certainly whetted my appetite it all sounded almost surreal. A few hours from now it would be a reality.

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Festival Pier 5 pm: The pic here is a rather weary looking me plus Gary , Terry and Kam.
This was the meeting point at which invited fans were advised to attend. From here we would be escorted to the location. Amongst the excited and expectant bunch of diehards I recognise and greet many familiar faces. An MTV official duly appears to take us to the nearby London TV studios – formerly LWT studios and home still for countless light entertainment TV recordings. Paul McKenna’s Hypnotism show is one such recording for tonight. An orderly queue awaits entry. “Hope Jimmy doesn’t get called in to appear or he’ll end up an Elvis impersonator”, shouts one wag – aware of McKenna’s penchant for ridiculing his contestants to imagine all sort of crazy roles while under his influence. I remember Paul McKenna myself when he was the morning DJ on the local Beds, station, Chiltern. In fact I used to do a weekly phone-in spot with him in my then role as local pop/rock informant. How strange our paths are crossing a decade later In somewhat surprising circumstances.
The other queue with their minds on more important matters are now being ushered into the studios by the mostly American imported MTV staff. Amongst them are 50 MTV/radio station competition winners flown all expenses paid from the US. They line up excitedly amongst the TBL fraternity and other lucky fans. The waiting in the corridor is long – predictably – but we warm ourselves to such ordeals by recalling the overnight wait at the first Knebworth. We’ve all waited longer for less – no gate-crashing tonight, though. The security is very tight – with everybody subjected to a metal detector test for obvious reasons. Around 7.45 we are finally allowed access to Studio 2. Interestingly enough the billing for tonight’s show on the ticket is “An Evening With Page And Plant”. Friday’s reads: “Plant and Page”… and the laminated passes have Page Plant at the top .. . and Plant Page at the bottom – a subtle method of solving the potential who gets top billing wrangle.

Once inside, the set looks extremely impressive – a lengthy stage set up with stylish and suitable abstract backdrop drapes. The whole thing is exactly like a gig set up bar one factor
everyone is in Block AA because that’s all there is room for – providing an excellent view from all parts of the studio. Above the mixing desk there’s a VIP gallery and already the Plant contingent are present – Logan, Maureen and a pregnant Carmen (no granddad jokes please!). Jason Bonham is also there. A blues album plays inoffensively over the PA: boom cameras glide above us in readiness for what is about to be captured.

Around ten to eight, Alex the MTV co¬ordinator does some cheer leading warm ups. “Let’s hear it for Rex King!’ shouts Alex and an appropriate cheer goes up for the long term Plant/Page aide who is marching around the stage checking last minute details – an appreciative cheer for the man responsible for many of us being here tonight.
Minutes later, with the camera angles tested and the subtle lighting set, a short no-nonsense announcement precedes what we’ve waited for fourteen years to hear. “Please welcome Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’ . . . and it’s a thunderous welcome.

Robert Plant strides on to the stage from the left followed by Charlie Jones and Michael Lee .. . Jimmy enters from behind a black curtain on the right, immediately taking off his suit jacket to reveal a Knebworth style blue shirt.

Robert and Jimmy . . . it’s taken so long. Of course there have been glimpses of them re-united – in particular the spirited spring ’88 jam at Hammersmith, and the Wearing And Tearing nutmeg at Knebworth 90. Separately not all has gone entirely well. Jimmy’s road to Studio 2 has been often turbulent – early ’80s drug busts, low key ramblings with Harper, the mismatch of The Firm, a fine attempt at winning back the audience with The Outrider project, and then, against all odds, the bizarre link with David Coverdale – the catalyst that certainly inspired his best post-Zepp playing. It could be viewed that such inconsistencies have only heightened the adoration within which he is held by the faithful. Mention of Page’s name anywhere and it’s instant legacy time. Still. And such is his fragile demeanour we seem to take a very motherly and protective view of our James Patrick.

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Knowing he can be brilliant and erratic in his performance within minutes of any given time is all part of the near masochistic pleasure in following his career. What we can never forget is, in the studio and on stage, Jimmy Page was the sonic architect (to use a rare warranted Coverdalism) of Led Zeppelin. His ability to create the perfect mood for the group (witness the remastering of the catalogue) was and never is in doubt. He was the true sound chaser – and it’s a title he still carries with much reverence. His ever onward stance in adding to the effects of his self-styled guitar army is also a major attraction for his countless admirers. Think of Jimmy and my most immediate mind picture will be that of him back in Earls Court 1975, flashing that cherubic smile as he emerged from the dry ice on May 24 to layer on that most exquisite solos during No Quarter.
Never as high profile as Robert in the past decade, any sighting is a moment to behold. Tonight’s is doubly so as he reunites with his old sparring partner. And the first thing I notice as he turns around to greet the audience is that familiar cherubic Page smile. He looks in excellent shape – and I d had my doubts after the Buxton show where he was carrying an uneasy amount of excess weight. No evidence of it now – he looks well fit with his hair jet blacked, permed and still with that side parting falling over one eye, ala 1969. Twenty-five years on he is still the quintessential English guitar hero. It’s sheer delight to be in his company again.

And the same goes for Robert Plant. Striding on stage with that angular bounce of his, crooked smile beneath the now customary retro shag pile hair, tonight given something of a new look by being parted to the side, brown leather trousers, overlong long-sleeved Indian top, waistcoat, he looks suitably regal and better than I remember from last year. My, this is all a long way from the jumpsuits and bouffoned hair of 1983 – The Tube. Big Log and all that. A different era. Who could have predicted today’s events back then?
over the past decade, but never less than Interesting. There have been some very odd phases, and some wild accusations and contradictions in his media statements, leading to him eating a sizeable proportion of his words on more than one occasion.

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But with Robert Plant what you get is what you get. And vocally he has matured like vintage wine. Last year’s Fate Of Nations album and tour was easily his most satisfying work in the post-Zepp period. His vocal prowess has if anything improved in recent years. Careful consideration in looking after this most precious instrument has paid off.
And perhaps the organic nature of the material, preserved on that album, led him to realise the potential there was for this opportunity to rework some of his finest compositions in the company of his former musical inspiration. And that’s how it’s turned out. Six months down the line maybe something of the affinity that he felt for Jimmy when they were ensconced in that cottage way back when has returned to the fore.

“He is the Paganini of the electric guitar – he’s brilliant”. That’s one of the best compliments I heard Robert pay Jimmy on MTV in the mid-’80s. A decade on, here he is linked with the station and in collaboration with the master. I can forgive him anything for making this decision – beatbox Heaven Knows remixes, that female walk-on part in Too Loud at the NEC, miming on TV, pretentious videos, you name it.

Above any solo career moves Robert Plant will always be best known as the voice of Led Zeppelin. It’s a role model he has not always carried easily over the past decade. Tonight, as he strides up to the mike (“one solitary mike and we all know who that’s for* – how I remember writing that statement after Knebworth), I get the feeling he has prepared himself very carefully to carry that status and use its power to happily reconcile the past with the present. Never before has the legacy of what Led Zeppelin represented rested so contentedly on his shoulders.

Looking slightly nervous but ready to do what’s got to be done, they briefly confer in the centre of the stage like newly-weds after signing the register. For this particular re-marriage the ceremony is about to begin.

“Good Evening . .. Let’s get, er, plugged in then” remarks Robert, tongue in cheek and immediately debunking the idea that this will be the familiar Unplugged arrangement. Jimmy straps on the cherry red Gibson and picks out the welcoming chords of Thank You, a tentative run through delivered in the arrangement employed on last year’s Fate Of Nations tour. Jimmy switches to the Gibson 58 prior to his ex-partner uttering the words “and if I say to you tomorrow” right next to him. You have to go back twenty two years for the last time such words were spoken on stage within the vicinity of the pair. What Is And What Should Never Be is a much welcomed if slightly flawed second number – Jimmy being particularly hesitant on the solo. It warms up towards the end as Jimmy scrubs across the strings for that familiar stereo panned Zepp 2 trademark.

Initial thoughts so far: They are understandably nervous and you get the feeling these two early run thoughts are mere warm ups. The sound however is absolutely crystal and the whole atmosphere of the studio feels like you’re almost in their backyard – privy to the best garden party you could wish to enjoy.
For the next song it gets rather interesting. Jimmy settles into his chair (the regal looking upright backed affair used on the Coverdale Page Japan tour and the Take Me video) and straps on an Andy Manson three necked guitar. This I haven’t seen before. Robert introduces Nigel Eaton on hurdy-gurdy, James Sutherland on Bodhran percussion and Pori Thompson on acoustic guitar, and welcomes to the far left of the stage an Indian female vocalist, Najma Akhtar. .. who will sing the duet parts with him. For this is Battle Of Evermore 1994. It’s a joy to hear Jimmy picking out the melody against the whirring Hurdy-gurdy and the interplay between Robert and Nashma is very effective. Towards the close they add a new coda refraining an “ah-a ah-a” sequence, ala Achilles. Never an easy number to project live back in ’77, this arrangement is the first fruits of the ambitious extended Plant Page alliance. And it work supremely well.

“From here to Balies’s is not that far” jokes Robert in a reference to the cabaret circuit they have so far avoided. The same line-up (minus Najma) stays on for Gallows Pole. Long rumoured to be part of the new set, I Ve been really looking toward to this and there is no disappointment. Jimmy strums over the 12 and 6 stringed Ovation double neck, Charlie provides a steadfast bass anchor to the intricate arrangement, Pori handles the banjo parts and Michael Lee storms in, as the pace builds. This is the first display from the drummer that confirms once again his ability to bring just the right amount of dynamics to the rhythm section, striking the drums in a very Bonham-like manner that adds to the whole atmosphere. As the song speeds to a climax Robert really lets go, losing himself in the “Keep a-swinging” repeat refrain before it all dramatically stops.
“We’ll be back in a while” informs the singer, signalling end of part one. As the lights go up we excitedly exchange views. Everybody has been knocked out with the last two numbers and are similarly agreed that the opening pair of Zepp 2 standards had been merely a warm up. But, of course, we really haven’t seen anything yet.

During the break to the left of the stage the European orchestra, as it’s dubbed on the run-through sheet, sets up. A mixture of male and female string players more suited
perhaps to the surroundings of Henry Wood’s Promenade Concerts but ensconced tonight to provide accompaniment to what we might have described in 1969 as the Pop Proms. The orchestra is led by Ed Shearmur who performs on Hammond organ.
Jimmy and Robert reappear with Charlie and Michael. Charlie dons a huge double bass as the principal pair settle down, seated at the centre of the stage. “Perhaps this is how we should have done this song originally, all those years ago”, announces Robert. What happens next sends the biggest shiver down my spine since 1980. Jimmy picks out on acoustic guitar the intro of Rain Song.

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Hang on – I think I’ll write that line again, just to make sure it really did happen. Jimmy picks out on acoustic guitar the intro of Rain Song. Robert comes in with the first verse and then the orchestra majestically glides in to replace the melletron parts of the studio version. This is quite breath-taking. Robert sings the lyrics beautifully and Jimmy plays like mint, fingerpicking in all the right places. As the song beefs up, Michael comes in with suitably dynamic tom-tom injections (early on in the song he’d employed the brushes, adding yet more Bonham authenticity). It’s left to Jimmy to close proceedings with that lilting sequence which he carries of, perfectly.
From one emotional moment to another. Jimmy restraps on the Gibson and picks out another familiar intro. This is Since I’ve Been Loving You and it’s played with all the intensity of 1971. This is a real crystallisation of the power of the Plant/Page alliance, aided subtlety by the string orchestra. On the chorus they strut forward over the mike, ala The Song Remains movie version. Plant is brilliant here, breaking into a fully-fledged mid-’70s pose with mike
in hand and Jimmy’s solo is a crescendo of notes, the like of which we haven’t heard for many a long year. This is almost Led Zeppelin in all but name and the spirit is alive and kicking. Compellingly so.

Proceedings take yet another slant when Robert offers stage right to the arrival of the Egyptian string and drum section, led by Hossam Ramzy who is handed the mike to personally introduce the boys in the band. He develops an instant rapport with the audience as he runs through the team sheet and causes much amusement when humorously he gets a plug in for his brother s Indian restaurant. “I think we should dedicate this to the original drummer with Four Sticks” says Robert, to rapturous cheers. An ambitious arrangement of Four Sticks follows with Michael tearing along with two stick in hand – a lovely tribute. To hear this long lost nugget in a totally new arrangement is another highlight, with Robert accurately interpreting, in a slightly lower register, every nuance and phrase of the original lyric.
Jimmy again derives the riff on acoustic guitar and it all speeds up to a compelling climax as the three sections (European strings/ band/Egyptian strings) compete for authority.

Robert asks Jimmy to introduce the next number and in usual fashion he humbly greets the audience before handing over to the Egyptian section to move into a lengthy intro. This is shades of Bombay orchestra ’72 -and those familiar with the Bombay CG CD will know how the 94 attempt at Friends sounds, with Jimmy awaiting the call to strum out the familiar riff. This is a little unsettled in tempo early on but unravels successfully enough by the second verse. If Friends appeared just a trifle laboured, the next number wipes out any minor misgivings completely.

Robert duly gets into a lengthy and revealing speech regarding this new alliance and their desire to look back and revisit some past glories. And they don’t come any more glorious than Kashmir.

UNLEDDED FOYUR

This is no mere Atlantic-like stroll through. The Pride Of Led Zeppelin is radically reworked for the ’90s, opening with Robert singing the first verse in a slow tempo, accompanied by Jimmy on the Trans Performance Gibson, creating a phased gizmo effect on the pedals. This merges into the Hossum percussion of the East -and then on into the familiar and invigoratingly performed riff and they’re off on that road to tan tan again. What makes this exercise so fulfilling is the interplay between band and orchestra – on numerous occasions Jimmy and Robert halt the band performance and glance over to the Egyptian players who take it all into a different time zone. The finger cymbal player merrily jigs around to the riff, much to Jimmy’s amusement. As we get to the fade and the “Let me take you there” refrains, the whole thing speeds up into a truly memorable climax which sees Jimmy playing a rumbling, Achilles-like, riff off against Michael Lee s stop-start drumming. In turn they pass the riff over to the Moroccan brass and string players, formulating a call and response sequence that threatens to take the roof oft. It the TV cameras have got the right angles, this will look sensational on screen.
With that number successfully captured, they leave the stage together, smiling and waving as they go. That appears to be the end -particularly when the background blues music strikes up again. Bill Curbishley himself signifies otherwise as he rushes up to the mixing desk. “Fade that, they’re coming back on again” he demands. Minutes later they appear from behind the black curtain at the side of the stage and make their way on stage again.

Jimmy straps on the Ovation double neck. Robert makes another little speech. “This was written on the side of a Welsh mountain in a cottage, about half an hour before the young lady furiously taking pictures in front of me was conceived” (a reference to Scarlet in the front row). “Was I there? Possibly!” laughs the man, with Jimmy grinning behind. “See, we’re happy again!” – a memorable statement which the entire audience would certainly endorse.
A lovely lilting laid back arrangement of That’s The Way follows with Michael Lee adding a new drum accompaniment and Pori taking up the banjo. Robert picks up the tambourine and strikes up that classic pose – a pose I’d long since give up ever seeing again. Jimmy meanwhile rocks back and forth as he strums out the chords to a song that was last performed live by the pair nigh on twenty years ago.

Smiles, handshakes, cheers, waves goodbye and it’s all over. “Thanks for coming along – hope to see you tomorrow” says the man from MTV. The crowd begin to filter out, still disbelieving at some of the events that have appeared before their very eyes. “That really was something” an excited Aussie, Peter, tells me near the stage. Scarlet’s there too, beaming with the pride ot her father’s performance.

Predictably there’s a buzz in the air as we disperse – a buzz so strong you can almost touch it. It recalls to mind the afterglow present as we all deserted the Knebworth site after the first night, fifteen years back. It’s a buzz that signifies that tonight has been another very special night – a night that truly encapsulated the affinity Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and its audience still has for the music of Led Zeppelin.

And, incredibly, there’s more to come tomorrow …

DATELINE: FRIDAY AUGUST 26
“I Want My MTV”.

Twelve hours later I’m sitting in the Dog And Trumpet pub off Carnaby Street as the appropriate soundtrack of Sting’s voice cuts across the smokey bar from the Dire Straits juke box choice.

I want my MTV? You bet I do. Last night had been truly remarkable. I can hardly believe it has actually taken place. I mean I’ve dreamed it often enough. Sharing our fresh memories around the Royal National Hotel (which seems to have become something of a Zepp stop off landmark since the Conventions) in the afternoon with TBL staffers Gary and Kam, Grant from Canada, Billy Fletcher from Scotland and Liz and co., well it certainly did happen – and despite a period of daytime fatigue which reduced me to drinking water(!) I was now ready to gird my collective loins for another memorable evening.

Festival Pier 5 p.m.:
Here we go again. The waiting this time out takes place in an orderly queue along the Thames. It’s a markedly more relaxed atmosphere amongst us – many are here for the second night and we know what to expect. The prospect is mouth-watering and aids the good natured banter amongst the faithful. It’s good to see so many familiar faces again – fans I’ve been in touch with for years – Howard Mylett, Luis Rey, Tim Ellock, Andy Adams – this gathering is a mini convention in itself.

Over at the London Studios the demand for entry seems to have heightened considerably with many more red ticketed guests in line. Lining up towards the door is a tense time with more than a little confusion of who is eligible to go in and who is not. Once inside studio 2 it’s evident there is far more in attendance tonight with many standing around the doorways at each corner of the studio. The warm up music is one of Robert’s Indian choices. Once the big door is shut with a boom and the red light goes on, it’s also evident that those assembled are a lot more relaxed tonight and in the mood to enjoy every moment of this last night of filming.

This state of mind transcends to the players involved and, after a polite intro, Jimmy and Robert stride up and take the stand. Looking well at ease, Robert throws a nutmeg to the intended set list by switching into What Is And What Should Never Be and then Thank You. The opening number is marred slightly by some feedback but Thank You is spot and inspires the first spontaneous cheer of the evening when Jimmy turns his back towards Michael and spits out a fluid Gibson solo. As Luis Rey might put it – tonight Jimmy Page is definitely on!
The set list for the rest of the proceedings is similar to last night. The Battle Of Evermore is perfection – a modern day mantra that puts any previous precarious incarnations well in the shade. During a break following a false start for Gallows Pole, Robert sings the opening line to When The Levee Breaks explaining that “this was one we did to eight people including two sheep in Wales last week”. Gallows duly follows and is again heightened by some intensive Plant scat singing at the close.

The end of part one break allows again for some exchange of views amongst the crowd. The consensus of opinion is that the latter two takes will surely end up in the finished article.
Back on stage with the orchestra. Rain Song is performed with much subtlety if not just slightly more hesitantly than the previous night. “This is one of everybody’s favourites ‘ is the signal for them to take it up a gear for another startling delivery of Since I’ve Been Loving You the solo of which inspires another spontaneous burst of applause from the appreciative audience.

Another considerably enjoyable factor tonight is he relaxed on stage banter between Robert and the audience. The intimacy of the studio allows for a clear rapport – inspiring heckles from the likes of Mr Gary Foy – “Tell us a joke, Jimmy” – “He doesn’t know any” replies Robert – “I know you’re here David . . . although I can think of one . . . Dear David . . what would we do without our Dave .. .

Another sketch revolves around Robert’s comment on his in-between song rap on the various bootlegs – “Have you heard some of the talking on the bootlegs – crap isn’t it?” – “Especially last night” shouts out some wag – “Oh wait till I tell Jimmy that!” says Robert, moving over to where Jimmy is tuning up.
The Moroccan roll of Four Sticks and Friends bursts forth with the latter infinitely better than Thursday’s version. I am sitting next to the wife of one of the string players and her enthusiastic whoops and hollers confirm the fact. During another change over of gear Robert muses on a call from the audience on what it’s all about. .. “What’s it all about? Well . . . it’s a way to spend a life.”

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Indeed, and for the next fourteen minutes, my life is considerably enhanced, spent in the company of messes Plant and Page as they deliver a new revamped version of Kashmir. This really is awesome. A mesmerising performance complete with retro “Woman talkin’ to ya!” adlib from Plant during the drawn out section and an Improvised last five minutes which really does reincarnate the spirit of Led Zeppelin with dazzling accuracy as they Improvise dangerously around the speeded up finale. Page In particular Is so spot on, laughingly aping the dance steps of Mr Finger Cymbals – and then tearing nonchalantly Into a battering blistering clatter of notes against the similar battalion ot Michael Lee. It brings to mind the crazed unpredictability of middle period Zepp live epics such as Dazed and No Quarter – and all the while Plant undercuts It with the pleading charm of the lyric and the Egyptian section bring It on home, quite literally. It’s a devastating statement that had me hugging and shaking hands with fellow devotees at the finish In glazed triumphant abandon. Truly, this Is the pride of Plant and Page.

A standing ovation Is nothing less that they deserve. Back they stride for the new look That’s The Way . . . and off they go again as the lights go up. Some people think it’s all over… but a welcome announcement to return to our seats signals the arrival of Jimmy and Robert who group seated at the front of the stage. Jimmy dons the Ovation double neck. A tape loop recreating the absent Moroccan musician due to play on this number revolves around the studio. This Is the starting point of the premier of the new Plant/Page composition Wonderful One. The loop has a repetitive percussive feel similar to the opening of Come Into My Life from Fate Of Nations. The song itself develops mournfully as Jimmy drifts over the strings. Plant sings, poeting couplings In the All My Love vein as the gentle love song washes over. It’s shivers down the spine time yet again for me.
Intact the exercise Is repeated when they decide to run through that number again for the benefit of the camera angles as Plant baits the technical crew – “Mike we need the loop now but not that loud.”

Wonderful One Is the first newly premiered live Plant Page composition since they ushered In Hot Dog and In The Evening in Copenhagen and Knebworth. I feel the same Instant affinity for Its as I did for the latter epic. If this Is where the future lies then let them take you there,.,

Exit stage left and again It seems all over, ., until an MTV official consults with the outside Manor Mobile Studio and realises there need to be more , and back they stride again, “We’re going to do one number again and then one we didn’t think we were going to do. So here goes” I for one have no objection for them doing another take of That’s The Way with Jimmy weaving some beautiful descant chording around those familiar lyrics. Finally, and this time it really is finally, with help from Paul on guitar and the hurdy-gurdy man, Robert leads them through a welcomed Nobody’s Fault But Mine (“Another one we did in Wales to eight people Including two sheep”). However this is not the heavyweight blues stomping Presence arrangement but a swinging rootsy semi-acoustic run through with Jimmy on the Ovation double neck, In fact this arrangement has far more In common with the Blind Willie Johnson original than any other version I’ve heard them attempt and It all flows to a satisfying climax, “We’ll see you again soon.” There’s a great moment for the cameras as they make their way from the stage – Jimmy and Robert cuddle together both smiling gleefully. It’s a moment that crystallises the spirit of the whole event.

The lights go up, revealing so many similarly smiling happy faces. As the technical crew move In, talk goes around that Jimmy and Robert will reappear once the crowd has dispersed to re-shoot Gallows Pole minus the audience as some of the camera angles didn’t quite come off. In the end they decide against it – staying In the studio canteen to meet and greet the well-wishers before exiting the building after twelve, For Robert, It’s back to the Midlands to follow the latest fortunes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, A relaxed looking James Patrick emerges with chauffeur, happy to pose and sign autographs.

For me It’s all too much – along with several fellow shell shocked members of the Zepp fraternity it’s down to the pub to celebrate and dissect Just what It’s all meant, “Dancing Days are here again” Is the repeated chorus. And really I guess that’s how It’s been.

It’s a strange feeling that prevails In the 48 hours that follow me back to Bedford and relative normality. “Daddy, how did you get on in London?” asks Sam – one day I hope she will grasp the enormity of It all. But, like all key Zepp related events, It’s virtually Impossible to explain the feeling that has been evident throughout these remarkable days. But it did happen and that Is happened with the utmost Integrity for the legacy of Led Zeppelin makes me feel so good.

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AFTERMATH
Just twelve months ago, such events of course would have been beyond the wildest expectations. With Jimmy seemingly set to hit the road with Coverdale and Robert committed to the Fate Of Nations World Tour – that was until fate took a hand Itself with that meeting In Boston last November. And then came the Initial rehearsals, the Buxton appearance and now this.
What was most striking about the MTV filming was the sheer integrity with which they approached the whole affair. Without all the hyperbole of a fully-fledged Led Zeppelin reunion, Jimmy and Robert have managed to recreate the key ingredients of the Zepp ethic by cleverly reinventing the catalogue. In recycling those original songs for ’90s consumption, the pair have brought a respect to this project that has been sorely lacking in the mega tour reunions of their ’70s peers. It also goes to prove what dividends a lengthy period of rehearsal can provide. The chemistry of this re-alliance was more than plain to see and perhaps it put into perspective once and for all the shortcomings of the ill-prepared Atlantic 1988 reunion. You can’t expect it all to come flowing back within days – but given a responsible period of preparation and the affinity these long term musicians and friends have for each other becomes very evident.

Finally in employing the extra trappings of the orchestra and Egyptian players, this MTV project has definitely proved to be a case of them completing the painting of a previously unfinished picture. The experimenting with those numbers is something that maybe would have emerged had there been a 1980s tour Part One. This was always the beauty of Led Zeppelin – never a vehicle for mere rock music. Time and again they transcended the genre. Now 14 years on in the hands of two of the main components, the group’s legacy has been reborn. And they have ultimately proved that they really were the very best. Page and Plant. . . Plant and Page . . . whichever way it lines up, the chemistry remains.

It’s been an undoubted privilege to witness this artistic rebirth at first hand. And when I recall the intensity of performances such as the reworked Kashmir and the newly created Wonderful One, I’m filled with the hope and pure joy that this really is a new beginning and that very soon both on screen and on tour, every one of their followers worldwide will get the opportunity to bask in their glory.

For never before in the post 1980 years, has the spirit of Led Zeppelin shone so vividly than when Robert Plant and Jimmy Page recreated the magic within the intimate surroundings of Studio 2 in the London TV Centre over August 25/26 1994.
And when it’s subsequently aired on MTV, I’m sure seeing will be believing.

Dave Lewis  September 7th, 1994

……………………………………………..

Whole Lotta Love voted the Greatest Riff of All Time:

jimmy page 77

Whole lotta Love has been voted the greatest riff of all time in a poll conducted by Radio Two.

The  Top 100 Guitar Riffs Of All Time voted by listeners  countdown aired on Radio Two on Bank Holiday revealed Whole Lotta Love as the number one spot over Sweet Child ‘o  Mine by Guns and Roses and AC/DC’s Back In Black. Prior to airing the number one, there was an interview clip with Jimmy talking to DJ Zowie Ball in which he graciously acknowledged the listeners votes…

Jimmy said: “I’m knocked out by this, because I didn’t expect that to happen. I wanted a riff that really moved, that people would really get, and would bring a smile to their faces. But when I played it with the band, it really went into overdrive. There was this intent to have this riff and the movement of it, so it was menacing as well as quite sort of caressing.”

Yet another proud moment to be a Led Zeppelin fan…

Further info see link at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f7xn6

………………………………………….

Robert Plant Independent Interview:

Excellent Robert Plant interview in last Saturday’s Independent: See link below:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/robert-plant-interview-on-his-new-album-and-his-led-zeppelin-days-9683308.html

…………

Whole Lotta Wolves:

Lovely story here from Alan Stanley

wolves one

I took my Grandson to see Wolves v Cardiff last Saturday…..and it doesn’t take much working out who we bumped into!

Had a very swift chat – he was with his family – but I did remind him that I had seen the Honeydrippers at Newport ‘The Village’ nightclub in 1981- a secret gig – so secret there were only about 30 of us there!

He couldn’t have been more friendly and happily agreed to a quick photo –  a real gent.

Re The Honeydrippers gig – Robert had a drink before the gig in “Osborne’s”  in St Mary’s Street, Newport which was owned by Ozzy Osbourne who lived just outside the town. My mate was a friend of the owner, and so after the gig we were allowed into the private bar upstairs and stayed drinking with the band until the early hours

…………………

Robert Plant  Sensational Space Shifters Osaka Japan Review:

This report and pics for TBL via Hiroshi:

  “The Osakan Return of Robert Plant”

Summer Sonic Festival – Osaka – August 17th, 2014

Setlist:

Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You/Tin Pan Valley/Turn It Up/Black Dog/Rainbow/Going to California/Little Maggie/What Is and What Should Never Be/Fixin’ to Die/Whole Lotta Love

Eighteen years. It’s been a long time since the man set foot on the Japanese soil last time, as part of Page/Plant’s 1996 world tour. This time Robert and the SSS were allocated with an eighty-minute timeframe before the Arctic Monkeys who were the headliners of the Summer Sonic festival, in Tokyo 16th and Osaka 17th of August, respectively. I caught them on the latter, the last show of their summer tour dates.

DSCF8363

Six minutes into the proposed show time, the BGM of blues classics fading away, the SSS members took the stage among the roar of the audience. Skin Tyson fingerpicking some Spanish-flavoured warm-up phrases leading to the intro of Babe I’m Gonna leave You , the man strolled out of the right wing, moving slowly towards the mic stand, the twilight sunshine all over on his rose flower-printed shirt. As he started to sing, his old charisma unfolded in all its glory, the one-of-a-kind vibe running through the air like electricity, touching, capturing me — and every one of us who was there for sure. Three days to go before turning 66, he now looks more like Zeus than Apollo, but his impeccable “rock god” presence was all intact and there to be seen and felt by the crowd, the “ah”s and “oh”s uttered here and there eloquent manifestation of how they were impressed with the figure on stage.

“Good afternoon,” the man greeted the audience after the opener, the majority of them not even born when Led Zeppelin paid a visit to play in this area more than forty years ago. “There is no past, no future, just now,” he emphasized, more than once during the show, as if he was meaning he had never left Japan.

In Osaka, Robert and the band performed ten songs, and the show lasted just over seventy minutes, a typical, truncated festive setlist. The possible encore — Rock And Roll, printed on the setlist sheet with question mark added at the end — was not played, apparently for the time constraint. Despite the shorter length, the show had a lot to offer and was very enjoyable. From beginning to end, there were incessant smiles on Robert’s face, and apparently he enjoyed every minute of it himself. The “jadedness” and “tiredness” often reported on his shows in his home territories were never noticed on this occasion, not one moment, at least by me. There was even a sense of rejuvenation there — he may have found it refreshing to be back where he was away from for so long, perhaps.

DSCF8368

Three new songs were introduced, all of them the ethno-trance rock tunes  (so to speak) of the SSS brand and very good. Of the three,  Rainbow was particularly well-received, participated in by handclap from the floor (to add a lovely episode regarding the song, reportedly, as they finished this in Tokyo previous day, miraculously enough, a real rainbow turned out over the sky, then just after the rain had stopped, drawing a big smile from the man as well as the audience members — the most talked-about topic among the Japanese Zepdom over the internet right now).

I attended two UK shows last year — Wolverhampton and Manchester — but, being in Japan, and in my home city, this one was most impressive and emotional for me. That Robert Plant  returns to the place, after so many years, where Led Zeppelin played some of the greatest shows in their history, is a touching remark in itself!

……………………..

Dave Lewis Diary Update:

It’s been a week of catching up after our fantastic holiday in Ibiza…

Over Ibiza 2014: Some thoughts on our holiday in Santa Eulalia: While there was no Zep related tribute band activity, during our stay we did encounter plenty of enjoyable musical entertainment. The excellent Mirage bar had a nightly showcasing of tribute acts- notably a rather excellent Elvis Presley impersonator who despite his advancing years, rolled out an impressive array of Elvis standards.

One great sketch was the way he kept appearing at the open windows of the bar in an ‘Elvis has left the building ‘type manner – or in this case via the window…!
Also of note was singer Richard Sharp who did a neat line in Buddy Holly hits mixed with some irreverent stand- up comedy and also proved to be a very proficient blues/rock guitarist and interpreter of 70s hits –his T Rex cover of Get It On had the place rocking. We had a chat with him afterwards and he recounted a story of playing in a blues club in New York circa early 90s when Jimmy Page walked in. Down at the Mariner bar the duo Me and Him were equally deft musicians – the bassist deploying a five string JPJ like model. Their version of Hotel California hit the mark as the San Miguel and champagne sangria flowed. Had to laugh when they did a version of Eric Clapton’s Cocaine with the lyric changed to the more family friendly Champagne…only for the PA to blast our Eric’s version during a break!
Also enjoyable were the Skiffle Kings, a sort of Chas & Dave meets Status Quo outfit –indeed their version of Wild Side of Life was a right old stomper. A one man band with backing track Steve La Porte had a fair old repertoire of 60,70s and 80s material – best of which was a vibrant delivery of The Jam’s Town Called Malice which had both me and the good Janet nodding along enthusiastically.
ibiza one
Other notable Santa Eulalia musical moments – hearing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five on the radio on a bus bringing us back from visit to Es Cana – and on the i-Pod, plenty of Miles Davis, Santana and Stan Getz (thank you John P) as the sun beat down upon my face …
As for the location – we came to Santa Eulalia nine years ago with Sam and Adam and dubbed it paradise island. Nine years on that’s exactly how it still is. The hotel (Tres Toress) was excellent as was the food and aside from one day of rain, the weather was spot on. Apparently It was the first time in had rained since May and boy did it pour–though even the torrential downpour we endured last Saturday had a silver lining as we took refuse in a bar showing Spurs late 1-0 win over West Ham! Result!
The San Miguel was very welcome alternative to Fosters and though I got my right ear blocked with all that swimming in the sea, it was more than worth it -thankfully a visit to the doc upon our return restored my hearing back to full stereo.
Overall, It was an absolute tonic (particularly as I have not been in a great mind-set recently) to get away from the relentless social media and TBL demands and be in a Led free zone and experience again the delights of this beautiful east coast of Ibiza coastal location. This particular party is now over and I need to quickly pick it all up and forge ahead with TBL projects– but what lovely memories Janet and I will take from this blissful past seven days …

I’ve spent the last few days catching up on the post etc and there’s been more work on TBL 38 – notably work on Mike Tremaglio’s comprehensive log of the March/April 1969 club,TV and radio appearances.

There’s been a visit to the docs for me this week to assess where I am at with the bout of depression I explained about here a few weeks back. May I say once again many thanks for the incredibly inspiring support and feedback I have received in recent weeks.

On the player- Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Faces Ooh La La, The Best Of Family and Jimmy Page & Robert Plant No Quarter/Unledded and with autumn ahead the forever autumnal Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake.

I’m currently reading an excellent book Fire And Rain, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor,CSNY and the lost year of 1970 by David Browne  –it focuses on the above artists and the albums they released in 1970 of which the relevant LP’s from my collection are forming a suitable soundtrack…

ibiza 2

I’ll also be digging out the single of The Honeycombs Have I The Right on the Pye label. For this was the record that was number one on the UK charts when the good lady Janet was born on August 31st, 1964.

It’s a big weekend ahead here as we are now leading up to the 40/10 celebrations of a milestone birthday for a very special lady indeed….

Happy 40/10 birthday Janet Lewis on Sunday!

DL-  August 27th 2014.

…………

You Tube Clips: MTV Unledded Thank You:

 

:MTV Unledded Wonderful One:

MTV Unledded Kashmir:

:

Robert Plant Returning to the Borders:

And finally…

Robert Plant ALS ice bucket challenge…

Until next time…

Have a great weekend

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – August 27th , 2014.

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4 Comments »

  • Dave M said:

    Strong memories of Unledded in the soundtrack of my own life.
    Where did those 20 years go?!

  • Rob said:

    Hello,

    Thank you for all of the great updates and information! To actually be present at the taping, magical!
    I came across a really good interview with Robert in the Canadian press yesterday. It says that the band will be playing cities across Canada in the spring and the mini North American tour is just a warm up! Great news! I live in Montreal and will be looking forward to updates about this, I just can’t make the Toronto gig in September…

    http://globalnews.ca/news/1534407/listen-robert-plants-lullaby-and-the-ceaseless-roar/

  • Henning said:

    There is a prelistening-stream of “Lullaby” over at this german site:

    http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/musik/robert-plant-lullaby-and-the-ceaseless-roar-im-streaming-a-988840.html

    Henning

  • Wools said:

    Dave,
    Another great story of your attendance of a very anticipated rebirth (if you will) of Page and Plant’s UNLEDDED special! I could not have imagined being there! As I nervously awaited the world premier on MTV here in the States, I remember how incredible it must have been for those in attendance when the special commenced! I was blown away at the quality and the rearrangement of songs presented. What a great day as I remember watching this show still to this day (as I asked my wife at that time to leave the room so I could watch without her distractions)! A good decision on my part.
    I too was disappointed as to JPJ not being present as you noted. But to be truthful, as we have learned that JPJ learned through the press about this reformed collaboration without him, I had to press on without. Sorry Jonesy!
    Great story Dave, Thank you!

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