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ROBERT PLANT ROUGH TRADE Q AND A/DIGGING DEEPER/ LZ NEWS/SAVING GRACE US TOUR/CLASSIC ROCK SUBSCRIPTION OFFER/ TBL ARCHIVE BELFAST 1971 & ISTANBUL 1998/FAMILY/RSD 2020/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

6 March 2020 1,733 views 6 Comments

 

Robert Plant Q and A with Mat Everitt – Rough Trade East record shop London – Friday February 28, 2020:

With Adam looking after the good lady Janet last Friday I ventured into London for the Robert Plant Q and A at Rough Trade East record shop. I fared better than my last London visit.  I still felt anxious at times and was not 100 percent in the zone but it was an improvement. As for Robert Plant – a very engaging hour of chat with the excellent Mat Everitt – Robert as ever proved a highly entertaining raconteur. Looking very dapper in a smart suit, he talked eloquently about his solo career and more.

The Q and A was built around the playback of extracts of selected songs from the Digging Deep singles box set with Robert commenting after each selection.

”I’m a guy who started something – after something huge…and I keep going..”

First up was Shine It All Around (from Mighty ReArranger):

Robert lauded the playing of Strange Sensation on the Mighty ReArranger album and the coming together of the Bristol sound namechecking among others Clive Deamer, Johnny Baggott, Billy Fuller and Justin Adams.

29 Palms (from Fate Of Nations):

Here Robert gave a description of the song’s location adding that the song was about ‘’A romance that kicked off and ended there’’

Tall Cool One (Now And Zen):

Recalling his work with songwriters Dave Barrett and Phil Johnstone on the Now And Zen album he said ”I think they thought I was a museum piece they could fuck around with – it was a fantastic awakening for me”

”I was embarrassed by the 1980s until about 2010”

He noted Jimmy Page’s contribution to the track and the fun he had sampling various Led Zep snippets into the song after The Beastie Boys had done the same.

On the acceptance of this track as a then staple on MTV: ”I was chest of the year in 1969, king of cock rock in 1970 and by 1988 I was ‘Heavy Rotation’ on MTV!”

Morning Dew (Dreanland):

Robert discussed the songs origins and how he helped the writer Bonnie Dobson reclaim her songwriting credits for the song. He recalled Tim Rose’s version and John Bonham’s brief stint with the singer. ”Nobody really liked The Band of Joy except us and I was a bit worried one day when Bonzo unpacked his drum kit from the van and started cleaning it – next day he was off with Tim!”

Song To The Siren (Dreamland):

Robert mentioned his admiration for songwriter Tim Buckley and also for The Cocteau Twins/This Mortal Coil version with vocals by Liz Fraser (a version used as his intro music on tour in 1985). Matt mentioned how the Tim Buckley version can be seen in an episode of The Monkees TV show on YouTube.

Talking about his vocal delivery Robert laughed ”My singing on Led Zep I was shit…well not shit but I would have approached it differently a few years on”

There then followed a series of questions that had been posed by online contributions:

Asked what song he would have liked to have to have written he named Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire and Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

Asked what was his favourite performance of his career he quoted the last gig with The Sensational Spaceshifters in the US – going on to mention Led Zeppelin’s 1970 Royal Albert Hall show – ”There’s some film of that and we came on to We’re Gonna Groove.” He also remembered a  Page & Plant show in Brisbane where a lightening bolt interrupted Kashmir.

On the release of the Digging Deep singles box set he praised the vinyl format and joked ”I love vinyl,we were thinking of giving a turntable away with every copy.

 

 

There were several references to football and Wolverhampton Wanderers, notably how he had attended the Europa league match the previous night in Espanyol ( they lost 3-2 on the night but won on aggregate 6-3). The local police had penned the Wolves fans in – a request by one of his fellow fans to assist their exit ”Come on Planty tell them who you are!” failed to get things moving. Robert would of course been well pleased with Sunday’s 3-2 win at Tottenham – I of course wasn’t!

All in all, this was a hugely relaxed intimate evening in the company of Robert Plant reflecting on his career with wit and insight.

As I was a bit anxious I did not hang around too long afterwards but I was well pleased when Robert’s manager searched me out to give me a Digging Deep singles box set signed by Robert – such a kind gesture. I had already purchased a set on the night – Steve was happy to snap that copy up.

Many thanks to Steve Livesley for travelling down with me and looking out for me – and Krys Jantzen (who took the pics)  and Mick and Berni Bulow for being such great company.

Dave Lewis – March 4, 2020

Digging Deep

Here’s the full line up of the eight singles that make up the excellent Digging Deep set.

Vinyl 1:

Side A: Burning Down One Side

Side B: Like I’ve Never Been Gone

Vinyl 2:

Side A: Big Log

Side B: In The Mood

Vinyl 3:

Side A: Too Loud

Side B: Little By Little

Vinyl 4:

Side A: Ship of Fools

Side B: Tall Cool One

Vinyl 5:

Side A: Hurting Kind

Side B: Tie Dye on the Highway

Vinyl 6:

Side A: Calling To You

Side B: 29 Palms

Vinyl 7:

Side A: Song To The Siren

Side B: Morning Dew

Vinyl 8:

Side A: Shine It All Around

Side B: Tin Pan Valley

l 8:

Side A: Shine It All Around

Side B: Tin Pan Valley

I posted this last week but I am running it again here…

Just for fun…

Digging Deeper: The Other Side’s 1982 -2005

The recently released Digging Deep box set of eight Robert Plant singles is an admirable overview of his career – all superbly packed. The sixteen couplings on eight seven inch singles represents all the big hitters across his first eight solo albums from 1982’s Pictures At Elven through to the 2005 release of Mighty ReArranger. It’s a luxury way to enjoy some of Robert’s finest work and I for one will be eagerly looking forward to wading through it.

However, it got me thinking that there is vast scope to produce an alternate set of singles that represent the lesser known parts of the Plant catalogue. So I got to work in investigating these lost bits and pieces again spanning the years 1982 to 2005.

What I have come up with is eight potential seven inch couplings that each mirror the officially released versions – in so far that they are taken from similar eras. I’ve deployed obscure outtakes, various odd B sides and occasional live performances – most of which are readily available across the 66 To Timbuctoo 2003 compilation and the Nine Lives box set issued three years later in 2006. Given such a release, the majority of these performances would be appearing on vinyl for the first time.

So here purely for fun (although it would be easy to playlist these performances for your own listening delight) is an alternate version of the officially released eight single box set. This is Digging Deeper – The Other Sides…

Vinyl 1:

Side A: Far Post

Side B: Pledge Pin (live)

Far Post originally released on the Burning Down One Side 12 inch single in 1982.

Pledge Pin recorded live in Dallas in 1983 – originally released on the B side of the In The Mood single in 1983.

Vinyl 2:

Side A: Turnaround

Side B: Thru With The Two Step (live)

Turnaround recorded at the Principle Of Moments sessions in 1983. Originally released on the Nine Lives box set in 2006.

Thru With The Two Step recorded live at The Summit, Houston on September 20,1983. Originally released on the Nine Lives box set in 2006.

Vinyl 3:

Side A: Road To The Sun

Side B: Easily Led (live)

Road To The Sun recorded at the Principle of Moments sessions in 1983. Originally released on the 66 To Timbuktu compilation in 2003.

Easily Led recorded live in Dallas June 25 ,1985 – originally released as part of the Little By Little remix double pack single and 12 inch in 1985.

Vinyl 4:

Side A: Upside Down

Side B: Walking Towards Paradise

Upside Down recorded in 1988 – originally released on the 66 To Timbuktu compilation in 2003.

Walking Towards Paradise originally released as the B side to the Heaven Knows single in 1988

Vinyl 5:

Side A: Don’t Look Back

Side B: One Love

Both tracks originally released as extra tracks on the Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You) 12 inch single in 1990.

Vinyl 6:

Side A: Rollercoaster (demo)

Side B: Hey Jayne

Rollercoaster demo recorded at the Fate Of Nations sessions in 1993. Originally released on Nine Lives box set in 2006.

Hey Jayne originally released as the B side to the I Believe single in 1993.

Vinyl 7:

Side A: Dirt In A Hole

Side B: Last Time I Saw Her (remix)

Dirt In A Hole originally released on the UK , Australian and Japanese pressings of the Dreamland album in 2003

Last Time I Saw Her (remix) originally released on a CD single in 2003

Vinyl 8:

Side A: All The Money In The World

Side B: Red White And Blue

All The Money In The World originally released as the B side of the Shine it All Around single in 2005

Red White And Blue originally released as a bonus track on the Japanese and French pressings of the Mighty ReArranger album in 2005

Compiled by Dave Lewis – February 27, 2020.

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Saving Grace for US tour:

This via LZ News:

Robert Plant’s Saving Grace will tour the US in May…

Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook.

Many thanks to James Cook.

Led Zeppelin

  • Led Zeppelin published the ninth episode of its History series online this week. Watch it here.

Robert Plant

Upcoming events:

March – Jimmy Page’s new book, “Jimmy Page: The Anthology,” will be released and the standard edition of Jimmy Page’s Sundragon amps will be released.
March 6 – Danny Barnes’ new album “Man On Fire,” which features John Paul Jones, will be released.
March 9 – Jimmy Page and Scarlett Sabet will be interviewed at the Groucho Club in London.
March 19 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Tenby.
March 26-29 – John Paul Jones will perform a solo set as well as a second set as part of Sons Of Chipotle at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
May 8 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Mark Lanegan’s new album “Straight Songs Of Sorrow,” which features John Paul Jones, will be released.
June 19-21 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the Black Deer festival in Kent.
July 15-18 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the HebCelt festival in Stornoway.
September 25-26 – The next John Bonham celebration event will be held in Redditch, UK.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

http://ledzepnews.com/

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

http://ledzepnews.com/

…………………………….

More Saving Grace….

Robert Plant’s with Saving Grace – an official live video of them performing a cover of “Everybody’s Song” by Low – this is suerb..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpmoAAg2WuU

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Classic Rock Exclusive Tight But Loose Subscription Offer:

Classic rock have been in touch to offer this exclusive subscription deal.

The offer is 3 issues for £3 plus a free Led Zeppelin e-book worth £10. Also attached are four front covers of the magazine and also a picture of the ebook (bookazine).

https://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/crktbl20/

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TBL Archive Special Part 1:

Belfast and Stairway To Heaven -it was 49 years ago…

March 5 marked the 49th anniversary of the milestone Led Zeppelin performance at the Ulster Hall Belfast

Here’s a review from TBL 15 of the then newly surfaced Belfast March 5th 1971 tape:

March 5th tape ensures this historic night will never be forgotten


Led Zeppelin on stage at the Ulster Hall Belfast, March 5th 1971. Photo G. Irwin.

Led Zeppelin’s decision to visit Belfast as part of their spring 1971 UK tour was heralded as a very brave move back in 1971. Few rock artists included it on their intinery due to the escalating political situation and threat of rioting. Earlier in the year T.Rex had pulled out of a planned appearance in Belfast. The Zeppelin concert itself was played out to the background of far off Friday night disturbances in the troubled parts of the city.

Until recently the only recorded remnant of that Irish visit was their March 6th date at Dublin’s Boxing Stadium. Now in a perfect piece of timing, a very rare recording has emerged of the Belfast Ulster Hall show. It was captured by one Norman Hanna – 20 years old at the time. He smuggled-in a newly purchased Phillips cassette recorder and taped the show some two thirds of the way back with the cassette machine positioned on the floor.

Unsurprisingly this newly discovered tape has been negotiated into the hands of the ever enterprising Japanese label Empress Valley and will probably have emerged by the time you are reading this as a deluxe four CD set containing the Belfast and Dublin shows.

The set will include a fourteen page booklet with photos and press cuttings from their Irish shows. This includes reproduction extracts from the review of the show featured in the Northern Ireland newspaper City Week.

Of the fifteen UK dates that comprised the Spring ’71 Back to the clubs tour only the aforementioned Dublin show and the officially released April 1 BBC In Concert recordings have emerged until now. This Belfast recording is therefore most welcome.

The tape recording quality is fair to good for the time – a little distorted and with occasional interference but mostly very listenable.

The most striking aspect of hearing it is the sheer force and determination in their playing. This opening night of their ’71 campaign was their first gig in over five months -the longest lay off so far in their career. It followed an eight week period of intensive recording sessions for their fourth album conducted at Island Studios and on location at Headley Grange.

It’s evident they were itching to air the newly recorded material in a live setting. Before those historic premieres we hear them storm through the then customary Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker opening.

Witnessing this in the Ulster Hall must have been extraordinary. Plant extends the vocal shrieks and the Page solo is just completely out there. Off mic you can occasionally hear the excited babble of Irish accents from the crowd. Then it’s a relaxed run through of Since I’ve Been Loving You. Plant on absolute peak form attaining the high pitched notes with ease. Black Dog is the first of the new songs employing the opening riff of Out On The Tiles. It’s back to the greatest hits for a no-nonsense, compact, Dazed And Confused,

More history making follows: Stairway To Heaven live performance number one. A straight rendering slightly tentative with Page playing the unfamiliar, but soon to become more than familiar, tune on the newly acquired Gibson double neck guitar. It suffers slightly here due to cuts and a high pitched sound from the original recording.

Evidence that the softer side of their playing as deployed on Zep 3 would still be present on their forthcoming album was duly demonstrated by the performance of the new Page/ Plant composition Going To California.

The more familiar Zep 2 standards What Is And What Should Never Be and a powerful Moby Dick take us into the finale – the now expected Whole Lotta Love medley including Let That Boy Boogie, Honey Bee and The Lemon Song.

The encores are just plain shattering. A thrashing Communication Breakdown followed by the debut live performance of Rock And Roll – then known as It’s Been A Long Time. A final welcomed bonus brings this historic recording to an end. There’s quite a delay before they get around to performing and it’s evident they are trying to work out what to play. They opt for a rarely played post 1970 version of Bring It On Home performed in a unique delivery sans vocals and harp in the final section.

“If everybody was like this to each other every day there would be no problems,” Plant can be heard to inform the audience just before the second encore. A nostalgic and relevant comment of the times.

Which is exactly what this Belfast discovery represents. It’s a true document of the band at a crucial moment.

Flushed with the massive success of the past, fresh from a welcomed lay off and enthused by the studio sessions that provided yet more new on stage impetus, this is prime 1971 Led Zeppelin.

In short, this tape is a brilliant reminder of how good they were at that stage of their career. Freeze-framing a period when they were receiving deserved mass popularity and acclaim at a time when they were also producing some of their most powerful and vital work.

Incredibly it all happened thirty years ago. The Belfast people haven’t forgotten. Thankfully, the emergence of this tape will make sure they never do.  

More on all this next time…

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TBL Archive Special Part 2:

TBL ARCHIVE SPECIAL :JIMMY PAGE & ROBERT PLANT LIVE IN ISTANBUL – 22 YEARS GONE…

Whenever early March rolls around my thoughts drift back to 1998 and the completely mad month it was in the chronicling of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. It’s incredible to think this is now all of 21 years ago – it really does seem like yesterday. When I look back to that period we almost took it for granted that Jimmy and Robert would be up there on stage doing it night after night. With a US tour ahead and a UK tour to follow , they were certainly high profile that year – but as we were to discover – it was not to last. So it’s a great period to look back on  – with the late great Michael Lee on drums, this line up really gelled and with an impending new album due out, it was a very productive period. So let’s turn the clock back to 1998…

istnabul 6

Now this one is a bit of an epic.  This was first published in TBL 13 – It’s an road chronicle of the TBL crew’s adventures in pursuit of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant across the and month of March 1998. This took in two dates in Istanbul – something of a zenith in my own ‘’Crazy things I’ve done in the name of Zep’’ portfolio, followed by the superb Shepherds Bush Empire gig which in turn was followed by successive TV recordings at Top Of The Pops in Elstree and TFI Friday in Hammersmith.

Incredibly this all occurred 21 years ago…

As Gary Foy remarked to me earlier this week, this was one of the last real on the road assaults we undertook – there was a second UK leg of gigs in the late summer autumn which was also a real buzz but after that it got harder to just take off at short notice. Jobs, children and other priorities began to take precedent. This was definitely the period when if they were playing somewhere and we could get there, we’d be off. Great days and definitely crazy days. There some incendiary Page & Plant live performances in 1998 and we saw a good few of them. Read on to soak up a blow by blow account from the era when ‘’Walking into everywhere’’ was their motto and ours…

Part One has all roads leading to Istanbul for the beginning of another new chapter….so reach for those P & P ’98 CD’s and here we go…

More strange tales from the road: Crazy taxi drivers in search of the Bostanci Centre, power failure before the show, repeated chants of ‘’Zeppelin’’ ‘’Zeppelin’’ from the Istanbul faithful, How Many More Times back after 23 years, Saturday morning queues in Tottenham Court Road, the Empire strikes back in Shepherds Bush, Yes it’s number one it’s Top of The Pos, building a House Of Love in Elstree, followed by Rock And Roll on a Friday night TV show in Hammersmith…it all happened during the mad month of March 1998…

Thursday March 5, 1998:

This is a moment that crystallizes yet another rejuvenation. It happens towards the end of Thank You which is being performed in a slightly differing arrangement to last time. As they come out of the final verse, Robert as is customary picks up the tambourine and stands in that classic pose. Jimmy swings around with the Gibson – low slung as ever and they’re both primed for the finale… Robert glances at the guitarist expecting the solo to hit in, Jimmy for his part hesitates for about three seconds. Robert is momentarily knocked off guard and then it happens. Page takes a few steps towards Michael Lee and Crunch! He scrubs those strings’ like there is no tomorrow… like it just might be the final solo ever. Robert gives a knowing grin, picks up the flow and checks in for the final pleadings. “You’re my heart and soul, I still love you so, I wanna Thank You, oh oh oh ooh’.’

The song grinds to a halt and there’s the singer shaded by the golden spotlight soaking up the applause – and to his left the guitarist happy and smiling, knowing the joy he has brought to the audience.

And Istanbul surrenders. Just as in the past, Mannheim has surrendered… Sydney has surrendered… Los Angeles has surrendered… Wembley has surrendered… Sheffield has surrendered… You name the location – their music has touched every culture and country they’ve come into contact with.

Surrendered to the sheer power and glory, that these two musicians have been championing for nigh on thirty years. From the earliest days of Led Zeppelin through to this latest and long awaited new incarnation. And right now it still feels and looks so utterly convincing. Dancing Days are here again? Too true they are.

Yes it’s been a long time. To be precise, it’s been 949 days since I’d last heard that final cry of Thank You ring out aloud. Back then it was in the confines of Wembley Arena in July 1995 – the final night of the Unledded UK tour. Since then they’ve gone through some changes… and we have to. Back in January though, the wheels began to roll again with the announcement of an eight date Eastern European tour.

Initially I had little thoughts of going over. The expense and logistics seemed to halt any such notion. Gradually as I kept writing out the tour dates for the TBL Newsletter Extra, it began to get a little exciting. Unsurprisingly, others were feeling the same way and various options opened up. There was the offer of a drive from the UK to attend the Prague and Katowice date (thank you Steve ). That proved too difficult in terms of how long I’d be away.

The opportunity to attend the first date in Zagreb also proved impossible due to work schedules. Then the ever enthusiastic Mr. and Mrs. Foy came up with the Istanbul package, by no means cheap, but viable in so much that I’d only need to be away from Janet, Sam and Adam for three days. Permission from the Totnes HQ was granted (Janet in at number one, yet again, as the Most Understanding Wife of All Time). With Turkey not being so very far away from the projected air strikes, I did have a rather worrying time when the unrest in the Gulf blew up (any projected Istanbul bootleg being jokingly forecast as being titled The Human Shield by one wag) but thankfully that all died down. Frantic arrangements were drawn up, many an international call to Istanbul logged and before I knew it, I was waving the family good-bye yet again in search of the musical inspiration that continues to be a reason for being – rather than having been – as the singer once so astutely put it.

So it is I find myself on a plane bound for Athens over night leading into March 5. What with coping with my work schedule over the past few days to free up these days, I’d had little time so far to get really excited about it. The three and a half hour flight provides time to reflect. This is the seventh night of the tour. So far the reports have been enthusiastic – though not without some reservation. Like many others I was a little disappointed at the set list structure being very much along the lines of the ’95/6 jaunt. On closer inspection it’s apparent that there are nine songs being performed that I have yet to see Page and Plant play live. I’d been lucky enough to receive an audience video of the Budapest show so I had a good idea of the set list and stage set up. Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale? Bring them on…

Reading matter on the way over includes the NME which has a full page ad for the Uncut magazine. And there they are on the cover… “The Old Devils Are Back” is the cover boast. They are back but not quite in our sights yet. The Foys and I have to endure a three hour stop-over at a deserted Athens airport at three in the morning. Finally we are on the hour long flight bound for Istanbul and we duly arrive in the city at 9am. The first perilous taxi drive follows. The traffic out there is quite frightening with constant horns being tooted and pedestrians darting in-between the cars. Give me my push-bike back in Bedford any day.

Eventually we check in and get settled. In the afternoon it’s over to the Merit Antique Hotel for the Press Conference. The Turkish press is afforded a playback of the album as they await the arrival of the pair. Around 3pm Jimmy and Robert saunter in apologizing for being late and for the next forty five minutes fend off the most inane questions.

istanbul 1

One of the first is “Where is John Paul Jones?” Understandably this irritates them immediately. “Believe it or not that’s not the first time we’ve been asked that question” is Plant’s reply. Jimmy only becomes interested when someone asks about the Puff Daddy Kashmir project. “We set up a studio satellite link with LA and it sounded really good.” At one point, Plant takes a few pictures of the assembled with his own camera. Having fielded the questions they’re off to the venue to prepare for the show. We strike it lucky by (and I kid you not!) seeing a sign on the main road a few hundred yards down that proclaims “English Pub”. It wasn’t quite the Fox and Hounds back home but it’ll do nicely as the adrenaline pumps up.

The venue itself is situated a few miles over the city in the Asian area of Bostanci. The gig is scheduled for 8.30 so one for the road around half five seemed well in order. We couldn’t have been more wrong! The taxi drive over to the centre was nearly enough to make me want to take up smoking.

Stress levels were at their highest as we battled traffic congestion that made the M25 look like a B road. The poor taxi driver was also having trouble trying to find the place. Several times he snatched up one of our tickets and rushed out to passers-by.

Cue visions of the ticket being snatched away and leaving us in a state of limbo! Eventually, after viewing the sights of down-town Istanbul at length, and after nearly two hours, the dome-like building that is the Bostanci Centre draws into view.

Old songs, new songs and hot songs

Outside there are lengthy queues to gain entry and much scurrying around. Soon we are in the arena and the excitement really begins. The Bostanci Centre holds around 4,000. Already there are a number of fans huddled around the front. The actual structure of the building reminds me of the St Austell Coliseum. There’s terracing around each side and even the far back terracing is in close proximity to the stage. The audiences are a mixture of young Turks grateful for any kind of rock event in their vicinity and older looking fans weaned on Zep 4. The average age I’d say is around 25. There’s also quite a strong young female presence. Amongst all of these of course are some old friends.

It never fails to amaze me this devotion to the cause – and how certain enthusiasts (or loony’s!) decamp to whatever country, state or town Page and Plant inhabit.

Tonight the Bostanci is quite full but comfortable. We endure the half hour support act onslaught of progressive rock (i.e. what Marillion would sound like if they’d been born in Turkey) which actually goes down well with the locals. There’s the usual milling around the stage from the roadies – and it does begin to get very exiting when Jimmy’s Theremin is tested – and when the guitar tech straps on the Gibson for testing.

I’ve worked out that this is something like the 60th occasion I’ve been privileged to watch Page and Plant perform live either as Led Zeppelin, on solo tours or as part of the Unledded project. That’s 60 shows, across 26 years. And here we are again. How will it be? I mean how long can they continue at this pace? It’s a re-occurring question these days. Being far from home in a completely foreign country only goes to heighten the excitement and anticipation as the lights go low and the familiar Egyptian intro music booms out.

The answer to the above questions arrives in just about the time it takes Robert Plant to whip the microphone off it’s stand and strut in regal pose seconds into the opening number Wanton Song.

I get a mental flashback to the sense of awe at the opening of previous Zeppelin events – notably Cologne in 1980. Because, this is another rejuvenation.

As they stomp through the opening number it’s immediately apparent how much more focused this 1998 set up is. This is Page and Plant functioning in a four piece rock band again and boy does it rock. And they look good too. I’d had reservations about Plant’s earlier appearance in the tour with the baggy pants, but tonight he looks every inch the veteran star front man. Long sleeved pattern shirt and leather pants tucked into boots; Page with black T-shirt, perhaps a little paunchier, but hey, this lot have a combined age of 104! It could and maybe should look faintly ridiculous. But somehow it just doesn’t. It just looks like it should do – two superb musicians performing with an enthusiasm that simply defies the years.

They don’t need to justify being up there. The crowd reaction does that as they leap up and down in time to Robert’s pogo-ing. The opening salvo of Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker (first time I’ve seen that played live since August 4 1979) is an immensely exiting segment. It’s Plant who is the immediate eye opener. In 1995 he was content to often hug the mike stand and recoil from those old poses – perhaps rendering them relevant only to a bygone age. Not tonight. He’s up there agile as ever and strutting mike in hand with supreme confidence. Jimmy shares that confidence playing with a fluency that we could only have dreamed of a few years back. It may not be note perfect and there are one two early fluffs but nothing that blows the momentum. The PA sound is also a revelation – crystal clear and exposing the quality of Plant’s vocals.

“Good evening Istanbul. Tonight we’d like to do some new songs, some old songs and some hot songs.”

Ramble On inspires more pogoing down the front – and it’s still a great tune. There’s a switch of guitar (a new addition to the guitar army: a PRS model with tremolo arm) for the new Walking Into Clarksdale. Another delight with its rockabilly guitar and deft change of tempo. Here Page lays back and shoots out the first real solo evoking memories of The Yardbirds latter days with its fluttering style.

It’s worth explaining at this point the stage lay-out and lighting. Gone is the big cloth backdrop. The stage rig relies on the lighting alone to shadow it. The lighting itself is really impressive. Clever uses of solo spot-lights are supplemented by on stage spots that are often used to illuminate the crowd. Simple but effective. From our vantage point up on the terracing by the left hand side of the stage it provides many visual flashbacks as the silhouetted figures wallow in the light.

The next number evokes a great cheer from the crowd but it’s a controversial moment. We’re hearing the familiar electric keyboard motif of No Quarter played · la Zeppelin circa 1973. Opinions will be divided on the merit of this inclusion which is perhaps a little close for comfort. I’m sitting on the fence here because they pull it off very well. Jimmy’s solo is very spirit of MSG ’73 and his grin seems to confirm his pleasure at dishing that one out again.

The acoustic interlude follows with Plant on a stool and Page sitting down with the acoustic. Keyboard player Phil Andrews supplies the mandolin. Going To California garners a huge audience response and is followed by a wonderfully nostalgic Tangerine (first time I’ve heard it played live since May 25 1975)- Plant off the stool, dragging the mike around.

Thankfully Robert avoids the “In olden days” spiel for Gallows Pole, opting for that tale of how the song travelled up the Mississippi Delta to the UK story. This is a track I got played out on during the ’95 tour. it sounds fresher in a more simplified arrangement and both of them are well animated for the speeded up finale.

It’s back to the full force of the riff infested Burning Up from the new album. Page excels here as he churns out the smoldering riffs that lead the song. Michael Lee is also impressive underpinning it all with a solid time honored tom-tom fills. Only Plant suffers a little – sometimes straining on the chorus although he is supplemented later by what appears to be some sampled backing vocals · la the album. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You follows and is a real highlight. Faultlessly delivered, with all the required dynamics and a twist in the arrangement that allows Page to turn in a very bluesy Since I’ve Been Loving You type solo.

“Do you like Jazz?’’ is Plant’s odd request that makes more sense when they enter the Coltrane like beginning of How Many More Times. Now this is really something. They haven’t played it in full since 1975 and the audience soaks it up with perhaps the younger element very familiar with it as part of the BBC set. Page wields the violin bow for the eerie middle section and then it drifts into a delivery of In The Light (· la the Calling To You/Whole Lotta Love medleys of last time out). There’s a great moment when they both cluster together in Achilles like tandem before the pressures back on for the up tempo ending which again raises the crowd to a frenzy – a fact highlighted by the spot-lights that engulf the audience in bright light.

“This is our new single, and it’s one of my favorite new numbers,’’ announces Plant over the looping Arabic intro to Most High. This is already becoming something of a ’98 tour signature tune. Page’s revolving guitar riff kick starting them into an infectious trek through some proven ground. It’s a track that carries all the pomp and extravagance of past Arabic adventures and the crowd immediately clue-in on it’s infectiousness.

“Thank you for your hospitality in your country – we’ve got to say goodnight.’’ Page keeps the sparkle Trans performance Gibson on to fire out the riff of the hit single that wasn’t. Yes it is Whole Lotta Love. It’s over familiarity could easily grate on me – but it never fails to have us pumping the air with it’s barnstorming riff which in turn leads to the Knebworth revamp section “1234 da da da dadadum” – you know the one. Then Page stalks over to the Theremin for a last bout of expected showmanship. Lights up, handshakes, hugs and farewells. Then they are gone.

And then it starts, a slow rumble first then building to a crescendo: “Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin”. The repeated cry goes up. It’s along time since I’ve heard this sort of eager reception.

They return for a beautifully restrained Thank You. Performed in a new arrangement that finds Page hanging on to every solo. Then there’s that great moment of hesitancy before he scrubs out the final run. More exits left, more chanting and then it’s welcome to Rock And Roll. (“This is how we say… Oh no not again…’’); Page has saved up the energy for this one as he duck walks across the stage pausing for a couple of mini jumps (at least 4 inches off the ground!) while Robert milks the crowd for the “Lonely lonely” parts. In fact there’s one great final visual image – Robert goes down on one knee and then jumps up and grabs the mike in a pose that’s identical to the Neal Preston photo to be found on page 104 of Cross And Flannigan’s Heaven And Hell.

“Istanbul Goodnight!’’

There’s a real warm glow about the audience as they shuffle out. And something of a mini Zepp Convention ensures as the UK central Europe clan gather excitedly. I point out a young lady of around 18 who I had seen dancing enthusiastically throughout the show. Led Zeppelin had clearly played their final American tour years before she was born. But that’s always when it really hits me. To see a new generation inspired by this music just as we’ve been inspired years before. Yes the wheel rolls. It’s enough to make you feel bulldog British proud.

istanbul 2

Mr Foy outside the venue…

Friday March 6, 1998:

A few hours later we are outside a very wet and miserable Bostanci Centre. After yesterday’s pleasant weather it comes as something of a surprise. In fact I’d have been well advised to have worn the new leather coat that one of the eager local tradesman had hoisted upon us when we checked out the local McDonalds earlier. The rain coupled with some unfortunate stress I’m having to deal with makes the morale somewhat low.

Quick aside: This involved an incident  where we inadvertently (it was a genuine mistake!) took a ride from the hotel to the second gig in the tour bus that was meant for the road crew – thus leaving them to get taxis to the venue. Unsurprisingly this did not go down too well and I had some explaining and apologising to do rather quickly – I can laugh about it now but back on the day it was stress city believe me! The complete story is one for the memoirs for sure…like I said these were crazy days!

Still, the show must go on. Well nearly. Tonight it’s evident that there are many more in attendance. It also seems to be a younger age group overall. Things begin to get a little bit scary when around 8.30 the whole place is plunged into darkness. This does no favors to those trying to gain entry by the main door. A series of heavy pushing and shoving results in a few people being carried out for medical assistance.

The lights come back on partially. And announcement from the stage informs that the area has been hit by a power cut and the PA is being powered by an emergency generator (shades of Copenhagen ’79). Thankfully the lighting improves and the support act kick off around 9.30. By the time the stage is cleared ready for Page and Plant the arena is packed to over-flowing with little room for manoeuvre. I’d say at least 2,000 more are in tonight, which makes for some uncomfortable viewing but luckily I manage a good spot to the right of the stage.

Around 10.15 PM the lights go down and we’re off again. Page retaining the black T-shirt garb; Plant has switched to the dark with white trim T-shirt he’d worn on earlier dates with the leather trousers.

The show runs very much to last night’s structure. If anything Robert’s performance is even more impressive. During Heartbreaker he does one classic shimmy across the stage that ignites the crowd into a huge roar. “This is the last night of the tour… so let’s have some fun.’’

On Burning Up he hits the notes perfectly sparring with Page’s trademark licks and riffs. Tonight’s crowd offer up most response to No Quarter, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (especially the final Stairway tease) and How Many More Times (“Do you like jazz… Liars!’’) Robert throws in a quite breathtaking accapella verse from In My Time Of Dying before the In The Light insert.

Most High is also enthusiastically received spurring Plant to raise the tempo as they hit the finale. Prior to delivering the new single, Plant had welcomed over various record company people who had come here for the weekend. During Whole Lotta Love Jimmy does a quick guitar change mid song from the red sparkle Trans Gibson to the light brown model.

“We’ll try and see you in the summer when we’ll play outside and the tickets will be cheaper,’’ explains Robert as they re-appear for the encores of Thank You and Rock And Roll. “I guess this is why we’ve been doing this for 30 years,’’ is Robert’s comment as he surveys the adulation. It’s obviously a moving moment for him as he hauls up Ross Halfin on stage to photograph the crowd, for perhaps his own posterity.

The usual bows and waves… and the 1998 Eastern European Tour is over.

istanbul 5

Saturday March 7, 1998:

Reflections on the plane journey back. Well as I’d hoped this Page Plant project has moved on.

It really does feel like a four piece rock band again and the focus is clearly on the two principal players. There are definite parallels to the rejuvenation Zeppelin attempted in Europe all those years ago.

This is very much a stripped down show from ’95 in the same way that the Over Europe tour was very much stripped down from the Knebworth shows. Seeing all this in a foreign country has been a real eye-opener and confirmation once again that this thing is an international phenomenon that shows no sign of waning. The flight back is a little tiring – I pass the four hours by managing to finish off an excellent novel by Charles Higson called Getting Rid Of Mister Kitchen.

It takes over an hour to recover our baggage through Heathrow and finally it’s home and back to reality with our  Samantha’s evening school disco to attend.. Here the plaintive tones of Aqua, All Saints and The Spice Girls replace the likes of Most High, Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale. Suddenly Istanbul seems a million miles away….

Dave Lewis

PART TWO TO FOLLOW: Queuing by the sick, Shepherds Bush, Top Of The Pops and TFI Friday.

First published in TBL 13

……………………………..

Hiroshi on Family…

One thing I share with Dave Lewis is our mutual affinity and appreciation for Family, the legendary late 60’s/early 70’s group from Leicester, led by singer extraordinary Roger Chapman and versatile guitarist Charlie Whitney. I personally feel that Family had something in common with Led Zeppelin especially in their eclectic musical approach, blending blues, hard rock, English folk, prog rock, West Coast, Indian music etc.
Speaking of a Zep connection, Peter Grant co-road managed the group’s ill-fated first American tour, Spring, 1969, with their manager John Gilbert. When bassist/violinist Rick Grech was headhunted to join the supergroup Blind Faith at the very beginning of the tour, Grant contacted ex-Animals guitarist/violinist John Weider who was staying in California, cajoling him to join Family as a bassist. In short, Grant saved the group from the predicament.
Dave asked me the other day if I could submit my top 5 Family albums as well as top 10 fave tracks for TBL website — easy and tough job at the same time. Easy because they released only 8 albums (including 1 compilation album) in their active years as a group, and just picking their most famous songs and hit singles counts up to 10 with no difficulty. And tough because, under such circumstances, the selections may easily end up as something predictable.
“Anyway (the group’s oft used in-joke and their 4th original album title. Also my favorite Family album)” —
My top 5 Family albums (in order of release):
  1. Family Entertainment (1969)
  2. Anyway (1970)
  3. Fearless (1971)
  4. Bandstand (1972)
  5. Family Live [tagged as recorded at the Rainbow Theatre but actually the recording for the BBC radio broadcast at the Playhouse Theatre, 1971] (2007)
My top 10 fave tracks (in order of release):
  1. Mellowing Grey (1968)
  2. Hung Up Down (1969)
  3. Processions (1969)
  4. No Mule’s Fool (1969)
  5. Wheels (1970)
  6. Good News Bad News (1970)
  7. Save Some For Thee (1971)
  8. Broken Nose (1972)
  9. Buffet Tea For Two (1973)
  10. The Weaver’s Answer [live] (2007)
I can hear the voices from those in the know — “Where is Music In A Doll’s House? And where is Drowned In Wine? In My Own Time? Burlesque? My Friend The Sun?” No offense, but that’s where some predictability would creep into the so-called top selections, you know —
For anyone who is interested, the best website on the group is:
Over to you, Dave.
Thanks Horishi. I came to be a fan of Family after hearing the brilliant Strange Band maxi single in October 1970. The Weavers Answer was the lead track and hit single at the time. From there I was further enlightened by the superb Old Songs New Songs compilation. The In My Own Time and Burelsque singles sound as fresh today as they ever did. A truly great band…
I am an avid collector of Family LPs and singles – I have a US copy of Anyway on the United Artists label and recently picked up a couple of UK pic sleeve singles from the excellent Slide Records – No Mule’s Fool and Today.
My top five Family tracks:
1: The Weavers Answer
2: No Mule’s Fool
3: Hung Up Down
4:Observations From a Hill
5: In My Own Time
My top five Family albums:
1: Music In A Dolls House
2: Family Entertainment
3: Old Songs New Songs
4: Anyway
5: Fearless
………………………………..
Official Record Store Day Listing 2020:
Just announced – the full Record Store Day listing – I will be having a good wade through this…
https://recordstoreday.co.uk/releases/rsd-2020/
There are two excellent Led Zep related releases as follows:
Sandie Shaw – Reviewing the Situation

Format:

2LP

Label:

UMC / Virgin EMI

More Info:

Sandie Shaw was one of the most successful British female singers of the 1960s, forever famous for winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967 with “Puppet On A String”.She dominated the UK charts with a flood of pop hits during the late 1960s – including three number one singles – yet ventured into a funkier direction with this her fifth studio album.This was Shaw’s first time producing an album herself and she chose songs by alternative artists from the 1960s with covers of tracks by The Beatles, Rufus Thomas, Lovin’ Spoonful, Dr.John, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and what, on release in 1969, was the first ever cover of a Led Zeppelin song (Your Time Is Gonna Come).Her sensual voice and a strong backing band, featuring Ian Wallace of King Crimson on drums, gives these classic tunes a new lease of life.This release features the long lost mono mix of the original album plus a second disc of bonus material from the same sessions, including versions of Paul McCartney’s ‘Junk’ and ‘Frank Mills’ from the Broadway show Hair, collected together on vinyl for the first time.

The Yardbirds – Roger The Engineer – Expanded Edition

Format:

2LP x 180g White heavyweight Vinyl

Label:

Demon Records

More Info:

Available exclusively to RSD2020, ‘Roger The Engineer’ is the 1966 studio album by the Yardbirds.Featured in both Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘500 greatest albums of all time’ and Robert Dimery’s book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’.Recorded by the classic era line up of Jeff Beck, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, Chris Dreja and Paul Samwell-Smith, the band began exploring new sonic territories, pushing their blues-rock sound into the realms of avant-garde, psychedelia and Indian music.This newly expanded edition includes the classic studio album on LP1 and a collection of 1966 studio recordings on LP2, housed together in an alternate sleeve inspired by an ultra-rare 1966 EP cover.Among the highlights are the vocal track from ‘Ever Since The World Began’ and an earlier version of ‘Farewell’, both of which are previously unreleased..Pressed on 180g heavyweight White vinyl.

……………………………………………

DL Diary Blog Update:
From my Facebook page yesterday –
On World Book Day…a line up of the Led Zeppelin books I have written or co-written – foreign editions included…
I was pleased to make it along to the Robert Plant Digging Deep Q and A but I was not in the zone 100% and I am still struggling with meeting people and that sense of anxiety is hard to shake off.
Looking over the above Page & Plant Istanbul 1998 report above reminds me of how carefree those days now seem – it all seems a long time ago. Such reflection makes me very melancholy and somewhat tearful. It does not take much at the moment for emotions to run high…
Aside from the mental issues, I’ve not been feeling too good health wise  – and like everyone, we are  very concerned here about the growing coronavirus situation.
The good lady Janet has been resting her leg and we are preying and hoping the healing process is taking its course. Janet continues to be amazing in every way and such an inspiration.
So we take a deep breath and carry on…
There has been much needed musical inspiration from among others the following:
Robert Plant – 66 To Timbuktu 2CD compilation
Led Zeppelin – Transmissions 1969 2CD
Lesley Duncan -Everything Changes LP
Nick Drake Fruit Tree LP box set
John Lennon – Imagine LP
Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark LP
Graham Nash – Songs For Beginners LP
Bob Dylan – Hard Rain LP
The Who – Who’s Next
Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic
Cat Stevens – Catch Bull at Four

Dave Lewis – March 6,2020 

Until next time, have a great weekend

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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6 Comments »

  • Ian in NZ said:

    Hi Dave. You might like to check out John Crace – Guardian writer of a certain age, suffers from anxiety/depression, Spurs fan!

    His weekly Digested Week might strike a chord or two: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/mar/06/despite-the-experts-back-in-charge-im-having-coronavirus-anxiety-dreams

    His sketches might raise a grim smile!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Andrew review to follow – I was on the guest list that night

  • andrew R said:

    Dave how about a review of the actual digging deep boxset
    i know we all know the music ,but quality of pressing
    how its constructed ,is there a booklet? Would all be welcome and most
    importantly ,how do they sound?
    Ps How did Planty know you were there to gift you a signed boxset?
    i am one of his biggest critics but that is such a beautiful gesture
    especially with your ongoing problems. Top bloke.

  • Roger Berlin said:

    Hi Dave
    Thank you for your new news.
    Your friend Roger

  • Richard Lee said:

    Saving Grace are playing in York, July 11th, at the Pocklington Platform Festival. I bought tickets this morning.
    Night after that they are in Whitley Bay near Newcastle.

  • Jez Firth said:

    Pleased to say Dave just ordered Digging Deep boxset, fuck the budget!! Hope your feeling ok mate. Always here for a chat. Best wishes J

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