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15 July 2012 8,971 views 5 Comments

John Paul Jones with Minibus Mimps Cafe OTO London Friday july 13th 2012

John Paul Jones electronic noise venture The Minibus Pimps made their live UK debut on Friday at the Café OTO in Dalson North London. This arrangement sees him working in collaboration with Norwegian producer/musician Helge Sten a founder member of Supersilent who John has also been involved in.

We arrived at the venue around 7.30 pm and there was already a steady queue building. The venue is an open plan café with seating spread around the performance area. The café has built up a strong reputation as one of the key venues in presenting avant- garde jazz – to the extent that it has it’s on spin off label issuing vinyl albums of some of the acts who appear there.

The audience was predominately avant- garde jazz music enthusiasts  –with a few Zep/JPJ fans mingling in. The pattern for the evening was quickly established by the first act on -Sebastian Lexer on piano with Steve Noble on drums.

They proceeded to launch into a lengthy opus that had Sebastian creating noises out of the open top grand piano and Steve leading the way with what I can only describe as a bizarre approach to a drum solo.This had him creating all manner of percussive noises deploying various symbol effects and the use of brush sticks and conventional drum sticks. It may not have been Moby Dick but it did have a compelling intensity – as the piece progressed I found myself somewhat transfixed as to what percussive effects Steve was going to come up with next.

Suffice to say the avant- garde crowd lapped it up. As did one John Paul Jones who had been watching attentively throughout.

I had a chat with John before he set up with Helge. Affable as ever, he ran through his current projects which includes ongoing work on his  Ghost Sonata opera, an upcoming date with Seasick Steve in Switzerland supporting ZZ Top and dates with Supersilent – including a UK visit in the late autumn. ‘’I just keep on playing as required!’’ he laughed – I told him I had seen Robert the previous night and John was curious to know which Zeppelin number had been performed. I also informed him that news was coming through that Jimmy was at the Hard Rock Calling Hyde Park event.

Then it was time to set up for the Minibus Pimps UK debut. Helge Sten was situated to the right of John’s set up which included a lap top and keypad plus various effects pedals. The pair then drifted off into their own little world.

Photos Dave Lewis for TBL

Their 50 minute untitled improvisational piece began with John on the Manson ten string bass strumming against Helge’s pastral guitar and electronic effects. It proceeded to run through various stages of spontaneity, drifting into a drone like sequence that at various points had shades of the soundscape effect of Jimmy’s Lucifer Rising. When John picked up an electric violin and bowed against Helge’s effects, it was hard not to think back to the similar noises created on many a live version of Dazed And Confused.

Photo Gary Foy for TBL

That was about as far as any Zep influence went as the piece picked up pace. John actually had technical problems with the violin pedal effect (’’It ran out of juice!’’ he told me afterwards), but calmly brushed such problems aside and returned to the bass. At one point he held the bass up to his ear in that classic Jet Harris 1960s bass guitar pose.

Eventually the piece drifted towards a climax as the intensity between the two musicians increased –both of them vying for harmonic structural control. Then it was over – John and Helge took their bows to a rapturous reception.

Photos Richard Grubb for TBL

Afterwards, John chatted to various fans happy to answer a few tech questions that came his way. I had a quick chat with his wife Mo and daughter. With the rain thundering down outside and two trains to connect with, it was time to go.

We left the bassist in the best band of all time to carefully unplug and pack away his gear. ‘’Thank you so much for coming along to this night of noisy music’’ he said to us as we made our fond farewells.

Thank YOU Mr Jones for another captivating evening. Yes it was all very avant- garde but in the hands of John Paul Jones and Helge Sten, it all seem to make perfect sense.

Photo Dave Lewis for TBL

Many thanks to Adrian Molloy and hi to Tony Crowley, Michael and his lady, Kirk Peterson, Richard G, Will and Raff from Boot Led Zep.



Photo Richard Grubb for TBL

Many thanks for the feedback comments that we received in response to the Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters gig at the HMV London Forum last Thursday.

Well we asked for feedback and boy did we get it! We were inundated with feedback and apologies if your contribution went unpublished –there was just so many to wade through.

As I had sensed on the night, this was not going to be for everyone. The revue style nature of the band presentation seemed to take a lot of people by surprise. As Bill McCue noted, there had been ample coverage of the Gloucester show on various sites so the writing was somewhat on the wall.

However, there’s nothing wrong with healthy debate and there have been some very valid intelligent comments coming through and much food for thought.

Here’s another view which adds another angle!

Caught live… Robert Plant: Patty Griffin steals the show in dodgy HMV Forum:

Me? Well I guess I am easily pleased. On reflection the set did waver at times but overall there were enough moments (Fixin To Die,Tin Pan,Friends, Witchdoctor,  Who Do You Love) to enthral and provide the usual dosage of Plant power.

I spoke briefly to Robert, Patty and Justin Adams after the show and they all look to have thoroughly enjoyed it. Womad and the US shows are next up and it will be interesting to see how the set evolves from here.

You can of course listen to the London show via the official download which is available at:


On Friday, Jimmy was in attendance at the Hard Rock Calling event in Hyde Park featuring Soundgarden and Iggy & The Stooges. TBL’s Michaela Firth reports that when Jimmy was caught on camera on the big screens watching Iggy and The Stooges  at the side of the stage a huge roar went up from the crowd. There are photos of Jimmy at the event up now on Ross Halfin’s website – see link at


Many thanks for all the positive feedback about my new Led Zeppelin From A Whisper to a Scream book. All pre orders are now on the way. Let me know what you think. If you have yet to indulge here’s the ordering link:

So ends a couple of very memorable days  in the company of the component parts of Led Zeppelin. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be out there amongst so many fans and sincere thanks again for all the inspiring comments and good wishes ( and beers!) directed towards Gary and myself regarding TBL which makes it all worthwhile.

And amidst it all, well there’s been a measure of controversy, a measure of the avant- garde and a whole lot of interaction in sharing the passion we all have for these musicians who continue to captivate and engage us in so many ways.

…..And that is what it’s really all about.

Dave Lewis – July 15, 2012.     

There are more photos of the Robert Plant and Minibus Pimps gigs on the Tight But Loose Facebook page

 You can follow Dave Lewis/TBL on Twitter – LedzeppelinTBL

and Facebook (add us as a friend) at!/profile.php?id=161129



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  • Kristine said:

    I think I agree with just about everyone here. I listened to the download of the Forum concert the other night whilst doing other stuff and it was great. I’ll admit I didn’t have to contend with the horrendous acoustics that the live gig presented and that would have dampened my enjoyment for sure. Everyone on stage sounded like they were having a good time,playing really well together and making the most of the moment.The song arrangements were really enjoyable..a few had me guessing which song they were actually playing..and that’s no bad thing,I can play the originals any old time.
    I will admit also that I’m not a big Patty Griffin fan. I’ve tried to listen and like her solo stuff but her voice alone doesn’t do it for me. However the songs she chose to sing on the night fitted in well and I wasn’t put off by her performance.
    I say if we can follow the man to “Manic Nirvana” and make it back alive,we can follow him anywhere. Lead on Robert…I see Womad up ahead.

  • Ingy said:

    I was not at the recent gig at the HMV Forum, but have watched lots of it online. I am amazed by the negative repnsne from some quarters.

    I think part of the issue may be that the Shapeshifters are essentially a re-tread of Strange Sensation. However, the reworkings of Zep songs, covers and solo stuff are entirely new and really exciting to my ears. Maybe we are getting complacent about Robert being the most adventurous and engaging musician of his generation bar none. If Jimmy would produce 5 minutes worth of similar output we would be waxing lyrical about the return of a genius.

    Robert has been simply the only real ‘live’ connection to Zeppelin around in recent years and we should savour every moment as who knows how long it will last.

  • Michael, Melbourne said:

    I completely agree with John Thomson. The download of the show is great. I thought all the songs were good and the musicianship is first rate. (The sound quality of the download is high, dodging completely the acoustic horrors that some who were there on the night complained about.

    I also agree that Mr Plant seems to cop flak simply for being out there and demonstrating his craft. I was fortunate to be in the UK at the time to see Jimmy perform with Roy Harper – it was a superb effort but it must be said just one song in one performance.

    Like John, I think it would be fantastic to see any of Messrs Page, Plant or Jones down here.

    I saw Jimmy and Robert in 1996 and John in 2010 with TCV. But,as the song says, it’s been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely time…

    Thank heavens for TBL!

  • John Thomson said:

    It is funny seeing Robert’s new show being degraded when down under we haven’t seen him here since 1996! – But I thought maybe it’s true – thanks to your site Dave I found the download for $10 and listened – it sounded great, really great. The middle Patty part reminded me of the mid-60s Bob Dylan when he used to bring out Joan Baez for the middle of his show – I wonder if it will be seen in a similar light – always in insight. Considering Jimmy hasn’t done much for a few years and JPJ is a bit obscure (although some more Crooked Vultures would balance the force) I watch from afar wishing I was there!

  • John C said:

    John Paul Jones = genius, simple as that.

    It didn’t surprise me of the mixed reactions of Robert’s performance (and I’m not talking Robert, I’m talking about what people expect from him), but for some reason whatever John does seems to get acceptance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing him – far from it. I think it must be his down to earth approach to life/music in general. As you put it Dave (I agree 100%), whatever he seems to do makes sense.

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