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27 March 2020 1,989 views 2 Comments

Julie Felix 1938 – 2020:

I was so very sad to hear the news of the passing of Julie Felix aged 81. Julie was always so supportive of my TBL work through her association with John Paul Jones and I did a couple of very memorable interviews with her. This photo was taken at the Royal Albert Hall after her performance at the Icons of The Hall event in May 2017. Julie shone such a light for the folk rock and protest movement over many decades and her BBC2 TV show gave a platform to many performers including The Incredible String Band, Leonard Cohen and of course Jimmy Page in 1970. An incredibly passionate artist and wonderful person – RIP


More on Julie Felix…

In April 1999, Julie Felix performed a memorable concert backed by John Paul Jones on mandolin at Borders book shop in Oxford Street. I was lucky enough to be there and interviewed Julie beforehand. After the gig John Paul Jones and Julie signed CDs and merchandise. Here’s a pic of John with Julie – John is holding up a copy of TBL issue 14….RIP the wonderful Julie Felix…

Here’s my review of the Julie Felix performance at the Icons Of The Hall event within the Royal Albert Hall in May 2017.

The good lady Janet and I were at this memorable performance…her rendition of Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man was incredibly moving…

RIP the wonderful Julie Felix…

It was fantastic to see and hear the veteran folk singer Julie Felix. I haven’t seen Julie since she performed a memorable set with John Paul jones in the then Borders bookshop in Oxford Street in 1999. For a lady nearing 80 years young, she looked and acted very sprightly. In the Forum Julie mentioned that Jimmy Page had performed on her BBC 2 TV show in 1970 – most of which were wiped to reuse the video tape. As we know, Jimmy’s amazing performance does exist albeit with slight interference.

Julie performed a short live set – this included a compelling rendering of Bob Dylan’s Masters Of War  – Julie in her familiar spiritual way spoke movingly of how sad it is that many years on from when she first performed this song – the same themes remain prevalent – particularly in the light of the horrific Manchester terrorist attack.

Julie also performed Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man – her delivery really brought the flowing lyrics of this song to the fore – Julie sang the sweet refrain of  ”In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you” with a poignant longing. The verse that goes  ”Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky, with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,with all memory of fate, driven deep beneath the waves, let me forget about today until tomorrow” tumbled out with startling intensity.

I have to say I had a huge lump in my throat throughout – it was one of the most emotional performances of a song I’ve witnessed in an age. In a similar way that Deborah Bonham’s performance back at the UK Convention ( as discussed last week ) captured the moment – so to this performance of Mr Tambourine Man by Julie Felix, within the confines of the Royal Albert Hall. I will not forget it.

Dave Lewis – May 30, 2017.


The UK release of Led Zeppelin I – it was 51 years ago:

debut review

51 years ago this week saw the UK release of the Led Zeppelin debut album –  to mark the anniversary  – here’s some of my  thoughts logged at the time of the reissue in 2014:


Led Zeppelin in the white heat of technology in October 1968 – in the listening booths of Braggins department store Bedford and on a reel to reel tape recorder…

Though I had been a Zep fan since the end of 1969, I did not hear Led Zeppelin 1 until early in 1971. My Zep running order took in Led Zeppelin III on the day of release and then Led Zep II soon after that. Before then, pocket money did not stretch to shelling out the required 39 shillings and 11 as was the asking price back then.

However, I did know the opening track quite well as I had frequently requested it to be played on the listening booth in Braggins,our local department store that sold records.

Their ruling however for any youngsters requesting a listen to an album, was that they would only play the opening track on side one – thus I knew all about Good Times Bad Times but nothing else…I therefore would gaze at live gig reviews of the time and dream in wonderment of what Communication Breakdown and Dazed And Confused actually sounded like!

That situation is quite hard to believe when you consider today’s modern world of all accessibility le downloads/YouTube/ etc. Back in those days, access to the world of Led Zep was like entering a secret society.

All was eventually revealed by a recording I acquired on my reel to reel tape recorder in early 1971- less a remaster more a case of a hissmaster….but hey I had the entire 45 minute contents and was now in command of their complete catalogue.

My affinity for the first Zep album was perhaps always less than Zep II and III. One of the major reasons was that I soon began to accumulate a large collection of bootleg LPs and cassettes and this of course took me into the cave of Zep live recordings. That is when I realised that the studio albums were only the starting point.  Thus I soon became obsessed with searching out the marathon live performances of Dazed And Confused, the medley filled How Many More Times, the sparky Communication Breakdown with it’s improvised middle section – as for You Shook Me and I Can’t Quite You Baby – the extended BBC session versions quickly became the template for those particular bluesy romps.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Zep 1 with a passion but over the years it has not been as high of the playlist as the latter creations such as Houses of The Holy, Presence and Physical Graffiti.

Come the CD age, there was a resurgence of interest in my playing of all the Zep albums and it was back in the forefront again. As for the Zep 1 pressings, I have a fair few – the turquoise sleeve pressing I acquired through my good friend Dec around 1977 – for just £10. I have a very nice South African pressing with a brown lettering and an original US pressing with an impressively sturdy sleeve.

Over the years I have analysed the Zep 1 album in print for my various books and magazines – notably a major feature that ran in Record Collector in early 2009. I love the whole scenario surrounding it, such as the contribution to the PJ Proby Three Week Hero album during the making of it and the fact that Sandie Shaw recorded the first ever Zep cover version with her take on Your Gonna Come, appearing on her excellent Reviewing The Situation album in late 1969.

As for the known outtakes – when I met up with Andy Adams recently, we reminisced about the impact of the emergence of the unofficial Olympic Gold CD in the early 90s with the Tribute To Bert Burns/Baby Come On Home sequence , You Shook Me take 1 and two startling versions of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – the latter indicating the creative process that went into developing that track with Plant’s vocals at that point harsh and driven – in total contrast to the more controlled official version.

As we now know In approaching the companion disc for the Led Zeppelin 1 reissue, Jimmy felt there was not enough material – incidentally the studio logs featured in the accompanying Zep 1 book reveals that the bootlegged Sugar Mama was recorded at Olympic in October – I’d previously had this as a Zep II recording. We also know he was keen not to replicate too much material that was already out there -so the Zep I outtakes (said to be salvaged from being thrown out during a studio clear out) remain an illicit thrill.

So to the contents of Led Zeppelin I

The formula was simple but striking:

A a case of something old – Dazed And Confused and How Many More Times being leftover ideas from Jimmy’s last days with The Yardbirds, something new -Good Times Bad Times and Communication Breakdown were born out of their initial rehearsals together.

Something borrowed – Back Mountain Side being based on Bert Jansch’s arrangement of an old traditional tune titled Black Waterside, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You derived from folkie Anne Bredon and had been heard by Page on a Joan Baez album -Dazed now being attributed on the new remaster as being ”inspired by Jake Holmes”.

And something blue – their versions of Willie Dixons’ You Shook Me and the Otis Rush showcase I Can’t Quit You Baby was in keeping with the British blues boom of the time and also displaying both Page and Plant’s affinity for the blues.

Add in the immense musicianship of JPJ’s keyboard and bass playing, the discovery of the greatest drummer of all time in John Bonham and Plant’s unique howling at the moon  – well the chemistry was complete – Jimmy Page had found his niche and musically this really would be the only way to fly.

One final point – though this album (and indeed Led Zep II) may have been derivative in both style and material, it was always performed by Led Zeppelin in such a convincing manner as to make it totally distinctive.


unbox 3

Led Zeppelin in the white heat of studio technology in October 1968….on remastered vinyl and sounding better than ever before….

So to the Led Zeppelin 1 on remastered vinyl – this is how it sounded to these ears yesterday…

From the off…there’s just so much new sonic clarity to marvel at…

Good Times Bad Times – the echo on the opening riffs and Robert’s vocal – John Bonham’s bass drum patterns sounding more impressive than ever…just awe inspiring…and the first of what Jimmy described as ”heavy chorus’s” and it reminded me of how effective that tactic works.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – when the thrust of John’s drumming comes in – what a moment…Jimmy’s acoustic overlays so precise…

You Shook Me – that laugh in the vocal early on at around one minute 24, is now more prominent and the moment Jimmy’s guitars cascade across the speakers in the solo…phew…

Dazed And Confused – everything about this is sonic perfection –Jonesy’s bass on the intro, the return to the riff after the solo –all quite breathtaking.

JPJ’s organ intro to Your Time Is Gonna Come –this has never sounded so grand and regal like…then there’s the subtly of Jimmy’s pedal steel guitar parts and that rush of bass drum patterns as the song cross fades into Black Mountain Side – that first chord – oh yes..… the tabla drums throughout Black Mountain Side more pronounced than before..

Communication Breakdown – more great chording and oh the moment Robert squeals ‘Suck!’ as they hit the guitar solo. Lordy mama we’re gonna groove!

I Can’t Quite You Baby – this the real revelation for me – this has never really been high on my Zep radar but wow this is such a blast – you can hear John’s tympani and snare sound with a real crisp ‘right there live in the studio’ clarity and the whole ‘just having a blow quality’ is presented with a crystal clarity.

How Many More Times – the entry of the wah wah –just exhilarating and overall Robert Plant’s vocal depth again captured with renewed verve and swagger.

Summary: The vinyl has an incredibly expansive sound – all widescreen and clear but with an empathic boost at all the right times – best ever sound on this album I’ve ever heard -simple as that

Now I’m no audiophile but I know what I hear and this is just stunning.

As for the CD version – again a superb job, not quite with the expansiveness of the vinyl version but not compressed in any way and with a sonic thrust that more than does justice to the album’s dynamics. Jimmy and John Davis have done an incredibly admirable job.

In fact listening to it from start to finish, I was reminded what a total assault this debut Led Zeppelin album is on one’s musical senses.

This then is Led Zeppelin in the white heat of studio technology in October 1968 as presented as never before . Until the arrival of these new reissues I thought I could not love this album any more than I have done for the past 40 plus years

I was wrong – I’ve just fallen in love with it all over again – as you will too…

DL – 3.30 pm June 2nd, 2014.


TBL Archive:  

TBL Led Zep 1975 Snapshot:  

The final few dates of the 1975 US tour..




Set: 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/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog)/Heartbreaker.

snapshot 19

“Good Evening! My name is J. J. Jackson of KWLOS. We’re all here to welcome back to the LA area… Led Zeppelin!” A mass of firecrackers heralds the band’s arrival on stage.

The Forum has long been one of Zeppelin’s favourite venues and once again they revelled in the surroundings. Plant: “This is the place, this is the one. These are the last three gigs on our American tour and so we intend them to be something of a high point for us. Obviously, we don’t achieve that without a little bit of a vibe, that I can already feel, and a few smiles.”

After ‘Over The Hills’, Robert states: “A gram is a gram is a gram!” Ambiguous and humorous remarks are rife tonight. Plant continues: “Since we saw you last time there have been a few developments in the camp and a few camps in the development – Bonzo decided not to have the sex change after all!” ‘The Song Remains The Same’ is about “places where the red light still shines for two rupees, places where there’s a magical feeling in the air… rather like Paul Rodgers’ bedroom when he takes his shoes off”

Plant describes the Mellotron as “A rather cheap, nasty, improvised version of an orchestra, but unfortunately with the tax and overheads, we can’t afford to take an orchestra with us anymore.”

Plant introduces Billy Miller – “Elvis Presley’s right hand man” – and sings a few lines from ‘Love Me’. After ‘Moby Dick’, Plant comments: “What a wonderful drum solo and a wonderful head job in the dressing room… thank you Ahmet Ertegun!”

‘Dazed And Confused’ is described as “The first thing we had a go at, apart from the secretary” but is rather uninspired in places tonight. ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is dedicated to “All our English friends that have arrived at the Continental Riot House. This is for the foundations of the Continental Riot House and for you people who have made this a good gig.” The whole band performed impeccably on ‘Stairway’ turning in one of the most impressive single performances of the tour.

Plant: “Children of the sun. Good night!”

As far as the press are concerned, the new additions to the set are now beginning to steal the show. Disc reports: “All the newer material was well received, although it seems that ‘Kashmir’ is set to become the star track and another classic. It was also while the group performed this number that I think the lights and effects were used to their best advantage.”




snapshot 20

Set: 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/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Spanish Harlem – Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – Lickin’ Stick –  The Crunge – Black Dog.

Yet another excellent performance – even better than the previous night.

Plant: “Last night we had a really good time. We had a great concert. It was one of the finest we’ve had in California for a long time!”

‘Kashmir’ is outstanding tonight and Plant describes it as being about ‘the wasted, wasted lands… and it’s not the lobby of the Continental Hyatt either!” ‘No Quarter’ is extended to truly epic proportions, lasting nearly 27 minutes with Jones and Bonham again favouring the jazz improvisation they adopted in Seattle four days ago.

‘Trampled Underfoot’ is dedicated to… “All the good ladies of America who’ve helped us get rid of the blues from time to time on the road… that boils down to about two!” Page’s solo is masterful and commanding. Plant ad-libs “drive on – feels pretty good” and again extends the number with lyrics from ‘Gallows Pole’, even throwing in a few cries of ‘Hangman’.

Bonham is introduced tonight as… “The man who broke every window in room 1019… the man who smashed wardrobes… the man who set fire to his own bed… the amazing man with only two cavities… Mr. Quaalude!”

‘Dazed And Confused’ was another stand out extended to 39 minutes. Page inserts a gentle Spanish sounding passage which leads into Ben E King’s ‘Spanish Harlem’ before running into ‘Woodstock’. ‘Stairway To Heaven’ shines once more. Page’s playing is sharp and decisive as the tension builds with each note. John Paul Jones is superlative.

‘Whole Lotta Love’ once again includes a snatch of James Brown’s ‘Lickin’ Stick’ and Plant ad-libs “Like a sex machine!” Page even includes a few riffs from the never performed ‘Nightflight’ prior to the Theremin section.

Plant: “People of the Forum. We’ve had a good time… It is the summer of our smiles…”

Indeed it was…




Set: 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/Since I’ve Been Loving You/No Quarter/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Loving You) /Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

Deep Throat porn star, Linda Lovelace introduces the band for the final show of the US tour. Plant returns the compliment: “I’d like to thank Linda Lovelace for coming on and making an appropriate speech about our presence, and we’d like to apologise for being late, but one of the cars didn’t crash!”

Bonham and Page are outstanding during ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, and although the band seem a little tired in places, overall the concert is a triumph. Plant comments that he’s glad the final show is in LA, because last time the tour ended in New York which is… “not the most pleasant place to be. There’s some nice ladies on 83rd Street. But the rest of it… no!”

During ‘In My Time Of Dying’, Plant ad-libs “please Lord, don’t leave me dazed and confused!” and then adds some of ‘You Shook Me’ before the number falls apart. He speculates that they may end up in the Fall doing a gig in the Sahara desert, due to their love of the East, and ‘Kashmir’ once again is spectacular.

‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ is a late addition to the set and is warmly appreciate by the crowd.  ‘Trampled Underfoot’ is now referred to as ‘Trampled Under Gallows’ due to Plant’s persistent injection of lyrics from ‘Gallows Pole’. ‘Dazed And Confused’ is one of the longest of the tour tonight, with a very spacey middle section as Plant repeatedly ad-libs ‘Loving You’.

This show clocked in at  nearly three and a half hours long and completed a  run of some  of the finest in the history of the band.

“Led Zeppelin At Its Peak In L.A. Forum” reports Billboard. Bob Kirsch writes: “‘Zeppelin has two major strong points. It has mastered the technique of combining musical excellence with mind-boggling volume. And it is able to operate either as a unit or each can move into a subordinate role for whoever happens to be soloing at the time.

“Zeppelin has long been the target of critical barbs for crashing volume and the seeming sameness of its material. Yet in an age when headline acts are often boring, sloppy and create no excitement at all, this British quartet stands out as a masterful example of what rock and roll was meant to be.”

Snapshot Listen – how it sounded today:

The final riot night of the US tour was a mass celebratory affair with the band fully aware that with this tour they had turned adversity into triumph. From the moment Linda Lovelace cutely introduced them onstage to Plant’s ”We’re coming back baby” this was a true prelude to what the UK was about to be served.

They even gave a hint of Earls Court fashion by introducing his Miss Selfridge cut off shirt and Page wearing the Dragon suit trousers that would become such a visual imprint of May 1975.

Their confidence was subsequently overflowing as they attacked In My Time Of Dying, Plant throwing in a few lines of You Shook Me.

”Anybody remember?” he asks at the end as he would a month later in SW5.

The version of Since I’ve Been Loving You was a real bonus and something sadly that Earls Court did not receive.

”A change in the programme- we were gonna do…..but this is a blues and I think this is where we first came in”. An impromptu set revision that delighted the LA audience.

A rare latter day stand alone delivery (in ’72/3 it had been segued with Misty Mountain)) recalling the majesty of Blueberry Hill at this very venue five years back. Rarely played in ’75 they ached their way through the old Led Zepp III standard -Page’s solo as precise and inventive as that night back in September ’70.

On the home straight it was nothing less than a victory stomp. Stairway played as was the case as Earls Court as though Plant believed every word, and the final incendiary Whole Lotta Love/Black Dog medley with the added visual spectacle of that neon lit sign. Images and sounds that London would soon delight in.

Acknowledging their enthusiasm,  Plant told the final LA audience ”It’s really nice to know that we’re giving you what you are giving us because after tonight I think we’ve got three gigs in England. I don’t believe well work again for quite a long time, so this has got to be good”.

That last night in  LA  was indeed good…very good ….and Earls Court awaited…

DL – March 2020




It was 22 years ago this week – so here’s the Mad Month of March text from TBL 13 that chronicles this intensive period that saw them stage the showpiece Shepherds Bush gig plus appearances of Top of The Pops and TFI Friday.

1998 really was a fantastic year for Page and Plant activity – for some of  us in the TBL crew perhaps the last carefree period before we got a bit older and a bit more responsible (not!).

Personally looking back over this text it almost seems like another age – it was the age for me of balancing a frantic music retail job along with all the TBL capers – my I must have had some energy back then –or maybe it was the pints of fosters! I was running on adrenalin that’s for sure but it was incredibly exciting at the time…amazing to think that back then that our Sam was only 7 years old and Adam just over 2.

As for Jimmy and Robert …you forget how good they were together at this point – and the late Michael Lee was integral in making their performances so enjoyable – he really kicked the whole thing along…

Hello to the many TBL crew members who shared all this back then – prepare to get most nostalgic and most high in recalling the time when we were walking into everywhere with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant back in March 1998:

The DL/TBL  retro diary picks up the events as they announce the Shepherds Bush gig.

Wednesday March 11 1998

There have been rumours of a special Page Plant launch gig for the album happening in London for some time. They did attempt to book the Shepherds Bush Empire back in January. Locations in Islington and Kilburn have also been checked out in recent weeks. An early morning fax from the PP PR office confirms that on March 25 they will be playing a special gig at a London venue.

Tickets will be made available on a first come first served basis from 8am on Saturday at the Virgin Megastore in London – limited to just two per person. The London Forum (formerly known as the Town And Country Club where Plant played in the late ’80’s/ early ’90’s) is named as the venue – but this is quickly retracted by mid day when it becomes official that the gig will now take place at the popular Shepherds Bush Empire. Jimmy and Robert announce the fact during an excellent early afternoon live interview on the alternative rock London radio station XFM. For me this kick-starts a hive of TBL activity as I speedily mail out a stop gap Newsletter Extra and inform many others by phone. It’s soon becomes apparent that to ensure entry it’s going to mean an early morning trip to London to buy tickets. Fellow TBL crew member Gary Foy and I plan our strategy. Only 1,000 tickets are going to be sold and as the news spreads it’s evident that many fans are making a big effort to get in line.

Saturday March 14 1998:

Well I really thought my queuing days were over! Overnight stays for tickets for Earls  Court, Song Remains Premiere, Knebworth etc. were all part of the game, way back. (Trivia note: It’s 23 years, almost to the day, that tickets went on sale for Earls   Court; and 3 years since the tickets were released for the ’95 UK tour.) The advent of credit card bookings had rendered that method all but redundant. Not today. Luckily it’s a very mild mid-March morning as I leave Bedford on the train at 5.30am I must admit my heart was beating pretty fast as I ventured up the tube steps at Tottenham Court Road – just how long was this queue going to be and were we in with a chance? Well the queue was certainly long, with about 150 already in line, but it looked as though we would be OK. Many at the front of the queue had camped out all night

The atmosphere is really excellent – something of a Led Zepp Convention reunion as many TBL subscribers and faces come over to say “Hi”. Many have travelled overnight form far and wide: Pat Lyons is here from Wales; Gary Woollard from the West Country; Anne Marsden from Stockport. By 8am the queue is moving forward into the Virgin Megastore. (Incidentally this is a place I know well as I’ve attended many meetings here for work – though I never thought I’d end up queuing to get in!)

It’s a funny old feeling to shuffle by a display of Zeppelin titles CD’s and books including Concert File and Celebration. Finally at 9.15 we get served and the tickets are in our hands. The tickets themselves sport the new Page and Plant logo script writing. Myself and Gary celebrate with a McDonald’s breakfast, a quick look around the record stores and a couple of lunch-time pints. Then it’s home to watch the Most High video which has been aired that morning on the Chart show. The job is done. Next stop Shepherds Bush.

Wednesday March 25 1998:

As usual before a period of PP activity the days leading up to the events had been a little fraught.

In fact I have to say for me personally it was a real strain that often had me wondering if all this was worth it. (at least for two minutes anyway).

Trying to arrange everything at work so I could get away was a constant pressure – the previous week I’d put in a 66 hour week (I kid you not -this retail manager lark is hard work!) .Then there were the many arrangements to make for the next three days and the repeated phone calls for tickets info etc. The night before the show I took 14 calls in two hours including one when I was in bed!

There’s no doubt that this particular show has spurred a huge wave of interest and the desire to get tickets is quite staggering. I do my best to help all those I can which does begin to cause concern when one or two options don’t go as planned As well as the gig, other events have unfolded: they are recording a Top Of The Pops segment at Elstree tomorrow night; and a live appearance will follow Friday on the popular Channel 4 show TFI Friday. Days of worry over gaining entry to the latter (and ensuring as many other key fans could gain entry as well) have ensured – not least being the little problem that TFI’s regulations adopt an 18 to 30 age limit! A call from their office asks me just how old those wanting to attend really are. I manage to convince them that we are young thinking thirty something’s (nearly).

But first there is the little matter of the first proper Page Plant show in London for three years. The gig itself is being used by Mercury as something of launch for the new album – with over 800 tickets being made available for European press and media. In the delightfully titled Moon On The Green on a grey March afternoon, it’s very apparent that this is a real hot ticket. Touts are asking, and it would seem selling tickets for up to £200. or two late arrangements see old TBL stager Tom Locke in        There’s a real buzz in the air, this one really does feel like an event.

I’ve already seen Luis Rey and Howard Mylett, but to complete the Zep author line up it’s great to bump into Robert Godwin, coupling some London business to catch the show. The venue itself is excellent – a real theatre (it was formerly owned by the BBC and used for countless TV variety and music shows) – while the downstairs area is very intimate and in close proximity to the stage where-ever you are. The TBL crew decide on a down the front strategy and within minutes I’m in a superb vantage point in front of the stage to the left by the PA.

This is going to be very exciting indeed. And sure enough the excitement mounts as the lights go down ,the spotlights flash on the assembled and that Egyptian music (boy how I love than tune!) signifies the beginning of the Page Plant return to London.

From my view I can clearly see Jimmy Page with Gibson strapped on in the darkness at the far side of the stage waiting for the cue and for Robert to fly on as is the custom as they hit the intro of Wanton Song. And fly on he does, dressed in identical garb to the Istanbul second night, black leather trousers tucked in the boots, dark rimmed T-shirt. And we are off. Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker and Ramble On follow in quick fire succession. Plant may not be quite as immediately vibrant as he was in Istanbul, pacing himself maybe for what’s to come. Page though is already lighting up the stage – seemingly lost in the noise of his own creating.

“Well the old devils are back,” laughs Plant. Walking To Clarksdale featuring Page on the new PRS guitar with McCarty neck follows, complete with that supercharged tempo change and then it’s into No Quarter. Here Page drifts through the solo, eyes closed, slightly leaning back and oozing out that much missed solo.

So far so good. Then an early magic moment. It occurs when Page lets out a couple of heavily reverbed tremolo chords, and those in the know can tell what’s coming. It’s the world premier of the new ballad When I Was A Child. This is masterful as Plant unfolds the reflective tale with ease. It’s always a real privilege to witness a piece of Page Plant history unfolding and that’s how it feels as they delicately offer up this new one. There’s a great moment right at the close as Robert goes into the final lines “When I was… when I was a…’’ stepping back from the mic each time as Jimmy’s final chords echo around the theatre.

Robert has a humorous running banter with our own resident TBL barrack boy responding to a shout of “California’’ as they take to the chairs. “No it’s Birkhamstead actually!” Memories swim before us as they deliver a wonderfully melodic Tangerine, causing instant Earls Court retro lump in the throat for this particular viewer. An urgent stomp through Gallows Pole follows.

From there the on in they can really do no wrong. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You enjoys it’s first UK live airing by the pair for some 29 years. Burning Up is dominated by Page scrubbing out that repeated riff and How Many More Times is just outstanding. I have a perfect view of Page leaning back and step-ping on the wah wah for the intro – an image that I will retain and store alongside other great visual moments in their history (such as the same guitarist stepping on the wah wah for Trampled Underfoot down the road in Hammersmith ten years back). The violin bow episode is greeted by huge cheering and the moment it all speeds up is another great one with Michael Lee proving his worth yet again. Most High is next as we hit the home straight. This month’s signature tune as I stated before that really brings the best out in Plant. A cocksure Whole Lotta Love signals the end of the main proceedings.

Then they’re back on and it’s another premiere – an incessant drum track booms out and then Page holds down the most delightfully grunge like wah of wah of House Of Love. This one really swings live with Plant screech-ing out the chorus line “It’s just a little too much,’’ and Page hitting those descending chords. A Sick Again for the millennium.

“So this is the alternative to Radio Two,” laughs Robert. “It’s been great, thank you!’’

They’re back on again and Page begins pumping out some fast urgent lines. For one minute I thought this was going to swing into Sons Of Freedom from the new album, instead it heads into a blistering rendering of Crossroads performed · la the Cream version.

Finally we get an emotional (can it be anything else?) Thank You which has Page again taking on the solo in his own time and Plant commenting at the close “Just some silly old buggers singing some love songs!’’ Rock And Roll then proceeds to inspire the best reaction from a London crowd I’ve heard since… well you name it… They take a bow and exit right.

The aftermath glow as we slowly disperse soars through the atmosphere. By coincidence, or maybe not, a couple of long tern fans Dena and Nigel D joyously echo the same state-ent to me. “The best since Earls Court.’’ Now that is some accolade.

It’s easy to get carried away with the sheer presence of the occasion. But let’s not beat about the bush (no pun intended!), this really was a special occasion. A real intimate reconciliation with their audience. Let’s face it for the paying fan this was an audience that really wanted to be there, given the effort needed to get tickets.

For me personally it’s been a real revelation to be in such close proximity to it all. To experience once again that feeling that makes everything (including all the negativity and stress running this thing causes) worth-while. This has been a very memorable evening. Best since Earls Court? Well I have to say for pure out-and-out enjoyment this one will take some beating.

  Thursday March 26 1998:

A day of drizzling rain brightened up by several excited calls from those in attendance last night.

Then it’s to Elstree, which handily isn’t too far down the Bedford Thames link train line. A dull and wet Elstree 7pm on a Thursday night inspires the usual “What the hell are we doing here’’ cry amongst Mr and Mrs Foy and myself. What we are doing here is getting ready to line up in the queue to gain entry to the special recording of Page and Plant for BBC’s Top of The Pops. That’s right, Top Of The Pops, the programme Led Zeppelin stoutly refused to appear on, and by default the programme Whole Lotta Love (in a big band rock version) became the signature tune of throughout the ’70’s.

They are filming tonight for what will be an exclusive live performance insert in the coming weeks of their new single Most High. Radio One gave out a phone number to ring last Friday to ring for tickets. Luckily the TBL crew have been on the case (Thanks Rob D and Mr Linwood), and here we are in line. The regular Top Of The Pops has already been filmed earlier in the evening, we now wait to gain access to the studio. We are let in out of the rain at 8.30 and ushered into a cloak-room area. The crowd does seem to be an odd bunch. Around 20 or 30 are known to me – the rest seem to have jumped on the Radio One ticket bandwagon – I’d love to have asked a few of them the depth of their interest in Zeppelin/Page and Plant.

Anyway, after nearly 3 hours of waiting – at 10pm we are led into the small studio. A small stage set up with a cut down Page amp run (one Fender amp, two cabs and oddly, the Theremin set up) features a large Jimmy Page Robert Plant logo on the actual floor which will no doubt be captured by the overhead camera.

A pair of warm up announcers relay the instructions “We want you to make the most amazing noise possible when they come on.’’ To get us in the mood, the studio version of Rock And Roll is given a playback. The rent-a-crowd behind me push forward giving me a rather splendid vantage point right in front of Jimmy. Last night was close, but hey, how much closer can you get?

Rock And Roll fades and on they walk – Robert wearing the long sleeve shirt he had on at the first Istanbul concert. Jimmy has his first noticeable change of clothes on the tour – pin stripe trousers and a nice dark silk shirt sensibly worn outside the strides. They move forward shaking out stretched hands at the front. I had wondered if they were going to do a mime playback to Most High. From the moment Jimmy slugs out the opening chords I know I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is most definitely live and we are most definitely high!

From Istanbul via Shepherds Bush to Elstree. Most High has travelled a bit in the last few weeks and now, here at 10 past 10 on a Thursday evening, not far off the East Enders set, well it sounds a very British experience despite the ethnic feel. To the left Phil Andrews adds the oriental keyboard solo as Jimmy turns to Michael Lee to add some rough-shod rhythm. Its all over too soon, and what we want is a little bit more. Robert looks over to Jimmy and nods – a guitar change ensures as the familiar Gibson is brought on. A smiling Jimmy straps on – “Here’s a new one from our latest tablet of stone’’ laughs Robert. The backing drum track of House Of Love duly rolls out but hold it- Jimmy has a problem. He waves his arms “No hold it – I can’t see my cue!’’. It would seem the cameramen leaping in and out of them has covered the cue sheet that rolls on one of the monitors. Second take and they’re off. This is turning into a great live number with Robert’s “It’s just a little too much” refrain’ incessantly hitting home.

Is that it?… More milling around on stage ensures… will they or won’t they? They will! Jimmy goes off to change his sweat soaked shirt. He returns wearing an Abbey Road T-shirt. Meantime, Robert enjoys some banter with the crowd. “Wolves for the cup’’ shouts one wag, “’You don’t mean that!’’ he laughs. “Where’s Pans People?” (a reference to the old all girl dance troupe the programme featured years back) is another cry that inspires a laugh on stage.

Jimmy appears and Robert explains the origins of the next number “OK here’s one that was written even before we were born’’. A compact run through Crossroads which is fast becoming the cover version standard of the ’98 tour follows.

Right at the close Jimmy holds the Gibson aloft, and even before he has had time to finish the song a member of the audience jumps on stage to shake his hand, to be followed (a little foolishly) by a handful of others who hug Robert and add to the on-stage chaos. Fearing “Zeppelin stars in stage riot at Top of the Pops” type headlines assorted roadies and road managers disperse the crowd and Jimmy and Robert lead off. It would seem the mini invasion might well have curtailed anything else they might have been planning.

“Well that was absolutely fucking brilliant!’’ shouts the announcer back on stage. Are they doing anymore… hold on, no, that’s if for tonight. Thanks for coming!’’

It’s all happened in under 20 minutes, and no sooner than being cut off in our prime we are walking along Elstree High Street in search of the nearest chippie. (We later hear Jimmy had gone off to eat at the local Wimpey!).

Well that was bizarre. Did it happen? Well it did but the whole night holds something of a dream like atmosphere. It all happened so quickly. But yes, they were there, on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night, just like it used to be when I religiously watched it each week hoping for a glimpse of something decent… perhaps Free, or the Stones doing their new single. But never surely Jimmy Page and Robert Plant together. Surely that would be a sell out.

How times have changed. And incredibly, there’s more TV fun to come tomorrow.

Friday March 27 1998:

And so it goes on. This week really is turning into one of, if not the most, memorable Zeppelin related since Earls Court and today it’s Friday so it must be TFI Friday. That’s right, the immensely popular music show hosted by the incredulous Chris Evans and scripted by big Zepp fan Danny Baker. Now I have much admiration for Evans – one of the most gifted broadcasters of the last 15 years. I also never miss the show – it’s brand of celebrity interviews, sketches and live music is never less than interesting. Page and Plant were announced for the show a couple of weeks back. Pleasingly the opportunity arose to ensure some TBL representation at the show (a situation that once again was not without it’s stress for me but I guess it was worth it in the end).

It’s nice to be taking along the good lady Janet today – it was 15 years ago in a similar TV studio setting such as today (The Tube in June ’83 – my word that seems a lifetime ago!)) that she first became acquainted with the live Robert Plant experience. So it’s fitting that we should be going back to a TV studio to see not just Robert but Jimmy too, an opportunity for her to enjoy the event and perhaps view at first hand the reason for all the endless phone calls that disrupt Coronation Street and many other things in the Totnes household.

Lunch time in Hammersmith. Unfortunately the TBL crew meet has gone a little off course. The pub we were advised to meet in has, er, well, been renamed! Luckily we all manage to catch each other in the Wetherspoons pub and from there it’s off to the near-by Riverside Studios.

Another queue begins but finally we are in (and no problems with the age situation, so Zimmer-frame rock rules after all!) Then it’s more excited waiting outside the studio and eventually we are moved in around 4pm. (Not before the strains of a Most High run-through have been heard earlier). Once in, we quickly gather around the stage that they will be performing on. Which is not too hard to decipher. Clues: Ludwig drum kit, Jimmy’s effects panel and one solitary microphone at the front (and we all know who that’s for).

A studio announcer runs us through pro-ceedings and gets the rules out of the way. We’ve got to keep smiling and dancing throughout whichever bands on. “I know a lot of you are here to see one special act’’ says the man to a huge cheer. Before long it’s ready to roll, red light on and cue the music.

Chris Evans is giving the programme run down… he’s already making a big thing of Page and Plant being on – and as he’s doing that, it all starts happening down the front. Tim, Charlie and Michael are in position, Jimmy climbs up to the stage and straps on the Gibson. Robert hugs the mic waiting for the cue. (Fashion notes: Jimmy retains the pin stripe trousers and reverts to the black T-shirt; Robert has a similar T-shirt on to Wednesday, but opts for the baggier trousers similar to those worn early on the Eastern Europe dates. “They sold 100 million albums… second only to The Beatles and Woolworths! They raised rock on high, they juggled both Led and Zeppelin… and they’re here now, and now with Rock And Roll here are Jimmy Page and Robert Plant!’’

tfi pic

And it bloody well is – right in front of our eyes. How close can it get! Bedlam follows as we rock it up with them – Jimmy looking supremely confident as he struts around – Robert mic off within a minute – all the old poses. It’s absolutely glorious.

Three and half sweat soaked minutes later and they finish to rapturous cheers. Phew now that was pretty exiting! “Led Zeppelin!’’ proclaims Evans. “Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll by Mr Jimmy Page and Mr Robert Plant!”

The rest of the show follows – we nod along to The Smiles and Divine Comedy, cheer to a montage of Gary Lineker’s goals that are shown during his interview and also get well excited everytime Evans mentions Page and Plant – everytime he does the riff of Whole Lotta Love is played, inspiring mass air guitar movements from Evans and those in the bar. After an interview with Full Monty star Paul Barber (who says he’s a fan) it’s time to welcome Page and Plant for their interview. We see them walk along the gantry into the bar. The interview is an excellent one. Plant has a Wolves scarf tied around his wrist and dryly comments that “Old men do it better!’’ in reply to Evan’s question on how they keep it up. Evans brings in Steve from Manchester, a fan who had rung into to his radio show in the morning. (The popular Virgin Radio show had turned into a 45 minute spontaneous Zeppelin showcase.) He asks about the chronological live album “Yeah it could happen in the future” replies Page. Jimmy is really good humoured throughout the interview, another example of the fun they seem to be having. Chris manages to get their names mixed up in his own excitement (Robert Page and Jimmy Plant) and asks a question faxed by Jeremy Clarkeson: “Is it true you once cancelled a tour due to the hose pipe ban,’’ gets a hoot of laughter from Plant, “That’s a good one!’’

Plant does his own Midlands accent describing how the Wolves fans comment to him “Alright Planty, still doing a bit then!’’

Down on stage the cameras have been moved allowing us the ultimate vantage position right under Plant’s monitor. How close can you get! (again). Evans introduces the finale, “Page and Plant playing the new single Most High’’. Charlie and Michael kick into a riff as the boys climb down the stairs and up on to the stage.

Our signature tune kicks in yet again. Page’s guitar sound so pure and clear as he strikes the strings just feet away is just awe inspiring. Robert meanwhile wheels the mic stand around just avoiding the top of our heads. On the solo oriental part Jimmy crunges out the most amazing riffs leading where the oriental part usually leads. And then the finale – with Plant extending the lyrics (rolling up on the monitor in front of us incidentally) and it’s over. Huge cheers, big smiles. They’ve done it once again.

As we shuffle away from the stage I feel a real pride – the same pride I felt on the last night of Earls Court… at Knebworth when we sang You’ll Never Walk Alone… in front of the TV at 1 am in the morning as the camera panned away during Stairway at Live Aid… after they demolished Wearing And Tearing at the Silver Clef show… at Meadowlands Arena during the ovation they received after a stinging Song Remains The Same three years back… and now yet again in this little TV studio on a Friday night – 23 years to the day when they played that famous last night at LA in ’75.

It’s still valid and it still inspires and moves us. Even some of the younger fans here for The Divine Comedy picked up on the vibe. It feels so good to be part of it, knowing that a UK audience of four million are about to see it on the small screen themselves.

7pm Outside Riverside Studios. Robert comes out to applause and walks along with his five year old son Jesse. Eventually he straps into his Gold 500s Mercedes pausing to make a call on his mobile, and drives off with Jesse in the back. Bound for the Midlands and a Sunday rendezvous at Molineux for Wolves against Portsmouth. Jimmy is in an upstairs hospitality room behind Cedrics Cafe. A swelling crowd of well wishers, press photographers and autograph hunters await. Eventually he strolls out looking very relaxed happy to sign for all and sundry -posing with a small child and parents,

Then he’s driven off in a blacked out car.

The TBL crew head back to the Wetherspoon pub for some rousing aftermatch talk passing Hammersmith Odeon (or Apollo as it’s now known)on the way. Ten years ago almost to the month it was there that we witnessed one of the major reunions of the ’80’s when Jimmy joined Robert for that famous segment. They played Rock And Roll that night too. Back then in our wildest dreams we could not have predicted the remarkable series of events we’ve witnessed these past three days. Around the Hammersmith flyover railings there are already poster flyer boards advertising the new single (though not as many once Mr and Mrs Foy and Rob D have been passed). Once in the pub the ale flows. I feel a huge relief that the last three days have gone so well – and at last it’s a time to unwind. Many a beer is drunk in celebration. Luckily the good lady Janet is around to ensure the train doesn’t keep on rollin’ when we head back.

Saturday March 28 1998:

It’s back to work with a predictable hangover. However it looks as though TFI Friday has had the desired effect. “When’s the new Led Zeppelin album out?’’ asks a genuinely interested punter “Weren’t they great on TFI last night’’!

Page Plant, Led Zeppelin… I guess now it all blurs into one. Watching the video on Saturday night brings it all back. Catching ourselves on camera and many other familiar faces. One clear fact emerges from this very special TV appearance – it was a real Event with a capital E. To his credit Chris Evans played it up appropriately knowing he was in the presence of men with a legendary past – and a great future. Once again it was a real privilege to have been luckily enough to witness it all. It brings to a close a week that really does in hindsight rank alongside those heady days in SW5 23 years back.

 Final Reflections: Three days After:

Once again Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have exceeded my expectations. These past three days have produced so many highs, so many moments of absolute pure musical magic.

Can it ever be this good again? Has it been this good before in recent years? Who knows. Perhaps not, but the fact I was able to witness it all is a major triumph and relief. A triumph and relief that for me personally succeeded in successfully re-evaluating the reason why I devote so much time and passion to this thing, and put it all firmly back into focus.

The memories that I and all those that shared in it can now be stored- taking their rightful place in the category marked “Unforgettable’’. Because this mad month of March really was, and is, as good as it gets.

Dave Lewis, April 2nd, 1998.

So that is the way it was back in 1998…

Incredibly this was all of 22 years ago this week …amazing times they were…

Dave Lewis – March 27, 2020


Bob Dylan…

Now this is much needed unexpected Friday inspiration…

This via Bob Dylan’s YouTube channel..

Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you. – Bob Dylan

So here’s a new previously unreleased Bob Dylan track nearly 17 minutes long, his longest track – The topic is the assassination of JFK and the lyrics name check The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Tommy, The Acid Queen, Etta James and a host of others…

Meanderingly beautiful and one of his best vocal performance in years…

Here’s the link:


DL Diary Blog Update:

Janet and I were Incredibly moved to take part in the NHS applause at 8pm on Thursday – as we looked out our doorway it reduced me to tears…

That doesn’t take too much at the moment as I’ve been struggling…

I know everyone reading this will be under strain with the continued escalation of the coronavirus crisis

I know too we are all facing very tough times. I have been really struggling this week. I am still suffering the issues of anxiety and depression that surrounded Janet’s accident when she badly broke her leg, her long haul ahead and previous anxiety issues before it. The one to one counselling I have been having has now had to stop understandably. I’m missing it a lot.

One of the worst aspects of suffering this state of mind is that it takes away my ability to enjoy the very things that should be providing inspiration to get through these times – the playing of records and enjoying music, sharing music posts on my Facebook page, reading books, watching TV, indeed inspiring Janet Sam and Adam. At times, there’s little motivation to do so and all too easily I close off and go to bed to try and forget the problems. Not the answer of course.

I am desperately trying to get in a positive zone and be the Dave Lewis I want to be and need to be for Janet, Sam and Adam ahead.

I am trying to keep on top of the TBL website and post my regular music posts on my Facebook page.

I know everybody has their own set of circumstances they are having to cope with and our thoughts and prayers are with you all as we face the difficult weeks and months ahead.

Dave Lewis – March 27,2020 

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out

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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Many thanks Rick

  • Rick said:

    Great post, your writing really takes you there, I can feel the crowds, hear the music and the banter!! It’s been a while since I have seen a really good show and this makes me want to find one as soon as this mess is over. Thanx Dave we’re pulling for you and your family!

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