DAVE LEWIS DIARY: KNEBWORTH SATURDAY AUGUST 11TH 1979 – 33 YEARS GONE/VINYL//OLYMPICS AGAIN/TBL 33
Another Saturday…another Knebworth anniversary. 33 years ago today Led Zeppelin performed what would be their final UK show at Knebworth Park
To mark the 33nd anniversary I’ve dug out my original August 11th review as initially featured in Tight But Loose issue 3. I can remember writing that as if was yesterday. Rose tinted or not, I stand by every word because that is the effect that it had on us all back then. It could and should have been a new beginning –as it was it became their last hurrah in old Albion. As with last week, I and many others will be recalling that final UK Zep extravaganza today. There’s three you tube clips here to enjoy, including that final scintillating run through Communication Breakdown.
Last Saturday, my Knebworth compatriot Tom and myself had a couple of toasts to mark the occasion. Stopping off at the Bedford Arms, the bar manager Bev brought out some vinyl boxes for us to have to have a wade through. Purchasers were duly made including James Last Non Stop Dancing volume 11 ( don’t laugh it features versions of Black Night and All Right Now! –in fact I think the next volume has Immigrant Song on –anybody got that one spare?), Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk and Ian McLagen’s solo album Troublemaker.
There’s nothing quite like stumbling across a record stall….and it’s even more welcome when it’s in a pub!
The day before the good lady Janet and I went with our good friends Marian and Terry to Hitchin. As the ladies shopped the boys searched out the vinyl and lo and behold bargains were found on the Hitchin market – Terry coming up with the best deal £2 for 6 very good condition LPs from the likes of Elton, Lizzy, Roxy etc.
Vinyl.…you just gotta love it – as Nick Hornby once said –it won’t change the world but it will make it a better place…
Tomorrow night the Olympic closing ceremony will bring the curtain down on what has simply been the greatest show on earth…
London 2012 has exceeded all expectations and then some…
Two weeks ago when we watched in awe Danny Boyle’s epic opening ceremony, nobody surely could have envisaged the sporting heroics that would unfold.
I’ve found myself enthralled watching sports I’ve never ever given much thought to prior to this amazing two weeks – Hand ball, Beach volleyball (what’s not to like!), horse dressage, hockey, sailing and many more – all of them providing compelling sporting contest.
Then of course there have been the Team GB achievements – Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford, Ben Ainslie, Andy Murray (at last!), Jason Kenny, Alistair Brownlee, Laura Trott and Sir Chris Hoy to name but a few ……plus of course the exploits of the man lightening Bolt…
The dedication, grace and dignity of these sports men and women has been in stark contrast to the usual antics of our overblown footballers. If the Olympic Games has proved anything –it’s that there is much more to sport than just football.
Above: This is what sport is all about – Sir Chris Hoy – a brilliant dignified champion…
Bedford itself spawned its own Olympic gold medalist in Etienne Stott who won gold in the canoe slalom event, is a local sporting hero who went to the same schools as our Sam and Adam.
So many Olympic heroes. And not just for one day….that is a fact.
Royal Mail are duly honouring all gold medal winners by painting one of the letter boxes gold in their home town’s and cities. I could not resist a visit to the Bedford gold letter box to see it in all it’s glory…
And in the middle of it all was the simply incredible day we were lucky enough to spend at the Olympic Park on August 1st – something we will be talking about for months, years…
I can honestly say that the atmosphere on that day was right up there with the likes of Earls Court and Knebworth – there was a tangible feelgood factor of being amongst people who were right in tune with the uniqueness of the occasion. it was one of the most life affirming days I’ve ever experienced. As TBL web creater Dave Linwood commented on Facebook in displaying his personal photos of his family attending…it’s been something special…
Olympic Feelgood Factor 1:Spreading the TBL word with our American friends at the Olympic Park
Olympic Feelgood Factor 2: Spreading the TBL word with our Brazilian friends at the Olympic Park
So farewell London 2012…let’s hope the afterglow of this incredible event lingers long after the last race has been run….of course there is the Paralympics to follow yet and I am sure that is going to inspire yet more sporting greatness.
Amongst all the Olympics and vinyl activity here… there’s been a lot of preperation going down on the next TBL – issue 33 and there is a lot of work ahead to bring it to fruition. This is already taking shape and there’s some great stuff lined up including Mike Tremaglio’s summary of that understand stated 1972 USA tour and much more . More on this as it unfolds. On the player here Hot August Night that great Fort Worth Led Zep 1971 performance, Bowie Aladdin Sane, Joni Mitchell Hissing of Summer Lawns, Mungo Jerry Electronically Tested LP as purchased at Hitchin market. Elvis Presley From Memphis to Vegas LP in advance of the 35th anniversary of his passing next week. Also watched Blur’s video for their excellent new single Under The Westway filmed on top of a roof ala The Beatles.
Above – a sample of what the TBL magazine is all about…
So plenty going on here -we celebrated the boy Adam’s 17th birthday on Thursday and he is now on holiday with his friend and their family near Great Yarmouth –away from home on his own but hey he’s 17 now!
Above – the boy Adam on the occasion of hsi 17th birthday.
other stuff going on – I am hoping to catch up with the Hats Off To Led Zeppelin boys at their Milton Keynes Stables gig next Saturday. I did an interview about the From A Whisper book for Mon FM this week and Zep enthusiast Brian Gardiner covers the book on his Ramble On pod cast and has also reviewed it
To subcribe to his podcast see link at
Here’s the review:
From a Whisper to a Scream is a biography of Led Zeppelin told through the music. Missing is the superfluous: no sharks, no groupies, no drinking or drugs. Just the music, year by year, album by album.
Starting with The Yardbirds demise, Lewis takes you through Led Zeppelin’s 11 year journey album by album, song by song and, to a lesser extent, tour by tour with the music always being the sole focus of the narrative. By focusing on the songs, how and when they were created, recorded and performed, Lewis creates a biography that’s extraordinarily detailed. It’s chock-a-block full of information, some that was new to me, presented in such a way From a Whisper to a Scream also works as a resource.
It is simply, one of the best Led Zeppelin books out there.
Praise indeed which has made all the work that went in to it well worth it.
You can order the book at this link:http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/tblweb09/?page_id=14483
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and be sure to follow us on Twitter – LedzeppelinTBL
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Right…time to wallow in the Knebworth nostalgia of 33 years ago and this is how it was for one particular 22 year old….
AUGUST 10th 1979:
Thousands of fans have stayed on to camp out the week ready for the second concert…. By Friday night the familiar smell of campfire smoke once again fills the air…Unfortunately the night itself is wet and rainy…Morale at this point is not at its highest…
AUGUST 11th 1979:
Early morning….morale is quite definitely not at its highest…The trek to the arena seems longer this week. Maybe it’s something to do with the sprinkling of rain that descends upon us….Inside the arena the rain gets heavier…For over an hour it pours, this is no fun…But miraculously by 9am the clouds begin to clear and by 10am the sun is shining…Thank you Lord….Chas and Dave open the live music to nil reaction…Commander Cody and his band follow and it’s loud…too loud, take a walk… The site is filling up but nowhere near as fast as last week… Southside Johnny And The Asbury Dukes arrive on stage and play (to these ears) a dull set…The sun is beating down strongly, it’s hot…Extremely hot….By mid afternoon most of the punters have settled in the arena, some eighty thousand this week…The atmosphere is not quite so vibrant and expectant as last week, but there’s still a lot of people here, many no doubt for their second week…A few clad in Stones T-shirts here for the Barbs…That’s a long way off though…
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia hit the stage, Todd, in a less whanger-showing outfit this week. He performs an erratic but professional show marred again by his over-indulgence…Late afternoon, still very hot, The New Barbarians due at 6pm…6.30pm arrives and the stage set up is complete…still no sign of Ron and Keef though…Nicky Horne appeals to the crowd to cease the trading of cans by air, but he’s clearly talking to a frustrated audience….7.30pm still no Barbs… barbs or something of their own….8pm. At last they arrive on stage. Frankly it’s all a bit of an anti climax….Honest Ron proceeds to dominate the stage with his loony stage antics (boring after ten minutes), while Keef restrains himself to a low key power-chording. ’Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Before They Make Me Run’ and an encore of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ get the required response but really it was a bit of fuss about a whole lotta of not much. Nicky-H tells us we’ve got an hour and fifteen minutes to wait for the change over…Well we’ve already waited longer for less. Nearly time, the stage is set, my heart skips a few beats in anticipation…After all, this is Zeppelin’s first gig anywhere for a whole week…and it’s not often you can utter that statement is it?…
It’s after 10.30pm when the canned music dies down and the lights flash on to the stage, the signal means they are ready. Nicky Horne is the man who announces (not unlike the way he did at Earls Court) “Ladies and Gentlemen…Jones, Bonham, Page and Plant – Led Zeppelin.” Once again, the sight of them on stage again performing ‘The Song Remains The Same’ is incredible. They go on to perform practically the same set as the previous week. Robert is quick to backlash the music press when he states early on:
“Well, it didn’t rain, but it rained on us in the week from one or two sources, and we’re just gonna stick it right where it really belongs.”
The general atmosphere is not quite so electric as last week, and the band encounter one or two technical hitches early into the proceedings. During ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ several speakers blow loudly’ just before the chorus and Robert is forced to swap mikes half way through. To their credit they manage to plough on unaffected by this, but the last straw is when Jimmy breaks a guitar string during the closing bars.
The sound trouble continues through ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ but the band recovers well, and things are back to normal with the next track, a peerless ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’. One other slight hitch occurs when the screen goes a bit crazy during ‘No Quarter’, but apart from that it’s all plain sailing. Robert is in fantastic voice, Jimmy is sweating and grinning cheerfully – playing a feast, while Bonzo and Jonesy are keeping it rock steady behind them. Incidentally, the entire band is wearing the same garb as last week.
Robert dedicates ‘Hot Dog’ to the Texas Road Crew, and makes a very interesting statement following that song, maybe hinting at something?
I’m never going to Texas anymore, but we will go to Manchester. Around Christmas should be good, and Nottingham, you’ve got a lot going for you already, and Worcestershire…, and Wolverhampton…yeah, I know…”
They leave out ‘Ten Years Gone’ (shame) this week but do a magnificent ‘Rain Song’, and as they hit the home straight the power of the performance just keeps on climaxing.
‘Kashmir’, ‘Trampled Underfoot’, ‘Sick Again’, ‘Achilles…’, Jimmy’s violin bow episode and ‘In The Evening’) – still fantastic second time around – leap from the stage…and of course Robert’s introduction of ‘Stairway…’ is full of sentiment.
“…and when it comes to the time now when we really gotta thank you for hanging about for four years, you English folk, and you French people, for hanging about since – Oh, I don’t know how long. And I’d like to thank everybody who’s come from everywhere to create part of the atmosphere we’ve had. The other bands that we’ve had with us – Commander Cody, good, good, good, good. Todd, Keef and Ronnie… Peter Grant (come on!). Thanks everybody.”
‘Stairway to Heaven’ is an incredible finish tinged with sadness (this weeks ad-libs – “I’d like to say I hope so…Our stairway lies on the whispering wind…Sometimes that’s all you’ve got…”). They encore with ‘Rock And Roll’, (“Good evening! Can you do the dinosaur rock?!”), and return a second time to perform the re-vamped ‘Whole Lotta Love’, that this week segues into ‘Let That Boy Boogie’.
Finally, an old chestnut is re- roasted…. …’Communication Breakdown’ crushes everyone. It’s that sort of performance and it’s a fitting end.
With that Robert turns and with the rest of the band leaves the stage. Led Zeppelin at Knebworth is over.
“It’s been great, thank you very much indeed…We’ll see ya soon…very soon. I dunno about the Marquee but somewhere soon – Goodnight – Bye.”
A triumphant return – no doubt about it. Of course the majority of the critics slammed it, but Led Zeppelin don’t play for critics…they play for their fans. It was all about the hundreds of thousands who came to see them at Knebworth, and it’s their reaction that mattered. Everyone who I saw loved it.
Led Zeppelin returned to the stage with a performance that didn’t rest on their laurels and this was no exercise in going through the motions. They set their own standards and pushed themselves to the limits with a display of dynamic emotional rock and roll energy. The very nature of the material they chose to play made it a joy to listen to. Gone was the excess and self indulgence of the past. I for one was not sorry to see the omissions of marathons like ‘Moby Dick’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’. What we did get was a balanced programme that included just a little spice of everything that is Led Zeppelin. A performance that took you to the highest high, at its mightiest able to rock you ’till your bones trembled, while on the other side of the spectrum also move you near to tears. And all this talk of being old and dormant…I just fail to see it. Zeppelin more than lived up to their reputation and not only that…actually bettered it. One of their best performances ‘In The Evening’, being a track previously unheard… proof that it was not a case of trading on former glories.
Enough of this though. I don’t have to justify Led Zeppelin’s performance at Knebworth. They did that themselves, and in doing so created a little bit of heaven for everyone to share, and after four years they can still do that…give thanks. Dave Lewis, August 15 1979.