LED ZEPPELIN AND 56,800 AT TAMPA STADIUM – 39 YEARS GONE
These were the remarkable events that were unfolding in Tampa Florida 39 years ago today…
SATURDAY MAY 5 1973
LED ZEPPELIN IN TAMPA, FLORIDA
Set: Rock And Roll/Celebration Day/Black Dog/Over The Hills And Far Away/Misty Mountain Hop/Since I’ve Been Loving You/No Quarter/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Dazed And Confused (inc. San Francisco)/Stairway To Heaven/Moby Dick- Heartbreaker- Whole Lotta Love (inc. Boogie Chillun’)/The Ocean/Communication Breakdown.
Modestly billed as “An event… The supershow of the year”
Led Zeppelin attract 56,800 persons to today’s show and break the single concert attendance record set by The Beatles in 1965. The show grosses an estimated £309,000.
“Hello. It seems between us we’ve done something nobody’s ever done before… and that’s fantastic!” is Plant’s triumphant opening comment.
Robert’s voice is a bit hoarse at first but overall it’s a fine performance for so early in the tour. The set list has had some major changes for the American shows. ‘Celebration Day’ has been recalled and now follows directly after ‘Rock And Roll’. ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ has now been moved back in the running order to fourth place. ‘Black Dog’ is now performed with a few bars of ‘Bring It On Home’ as an introduction. ‘Dancing Days’ and ‘Bron Yr Aur Stomp’ are both dropped from the standard set. John Bonham’s solo ‘Moby Dick’ is reintroduced, although in a much truncated form. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is also now much shorter, losing most of the medley section – only ‘Boogie Chillun” is regularly retained.
The sheer size of the crowd tonight causes problems at the front of the stage. After ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, Robert appeals to the crowd: “Listen, as we’ve achieved something between us that’s never been done before, will you just cool it on the barriers here. Because otherwise a lot of people might get poorly, right? So, if you have a little respect for the person who’s standing next to you, then possibly we can have no problems, ‘cos we don’t want no problems, do we? It’s bad enough with the balance of payments!” The situation doesn’t improve however, so after ‘The Rain Song’ Plant addresses the crowd once more: “We want this to be a really joyous occasion. I gotta tell you three people have been taken to hospital and if you keep pushing on that barrier, there’s gonna be stacks and stacks of people going. We are animals, but we can move back a little bit because it’s the only way.”
Robert comments that ‘Dazed And Confused’ takes him back to when he was 19… “before I got the clap or anything” A power packed 11-minute version of ‘Moby Dick’ flows straight into ‘Heartbreaker’ which is in turn links non-stop into ‘Whole Lotta Love’. This is the only occasion where these pieces are linked in such a manner. Plant makes references to beating The Beatles’ record during the ‘Boogie Chillun” section.
The first encore of ‘The Ocean’ is complete with Bonham’s spoken introduction and ‘Communication Breakdown’ closes the show.
200 white doves are released as the band leave the stage.
Peter Grant recalls: “The thing with Tampa is that I didn’t tell them really how big it was going to be but when we drew up Robert was going ‘Fucking hell G, where did all these people come from?’ And I just said ‘Don’t worry son. I know you’re still on probation with the band but you’ll be alright’, which of course he was. I was confident they could handle it. In fact, I knew they would rise to the occasion.”
Plant: “I think it was the biggest thrill I’ve had. I pretend – I kid myself – I’m not very nervous in a situation like that. I try to bounce around just like normal. But, if you do a proportionate thing, it would be like half of England’s population.
“It was a real surprise. Tampa is the last place I would expect to see nigh on 60,000 people. It’s not the country’s biggest city. It was fantastic. One would think it would be very hard to communicate; with 60,000 people some have got to be quite a distance off. There were no movie screens showing us, like in Atlanta. The only thing they could pick on was the complete vibe of what music was being done.
“It’s a bit like amyl nitrate. It’s like a rush that you’re not ready for. I didn’t know how many people were going to be there. I had no idea what it would look like. There was nobody else but Led Zeppelin, four of us, and all those people as far as the eye could see. But the minute we walked out there, there were so many little matches held up that the whole place was glowing and that is a start. When you get that sort of reception as a start, you know the medium is set.”
From Led Zeppelin The Concert File by Dave Lewis & Simon Pallett (Omnibus Press)
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