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Richard Allinson Show, BBC Studios, Maida Vale, London

22 June 2002 2,491 views No Comment

Set-List: Celebration Day/Darkness Darkness/Fixin to Die/Morning Dew/Tall Cool One/Song To The Siren

Paul Harper who was lucky enough to be there..
I was one of the lucky 10 who won tickets to witness Robert live at the BBC on 22nd June, we were able to take a guest. So having unexpectedly received the tickets the previous week I rang Dave my co Zeppelin fanatic to tell him. Two very gobsmacked and excited 45 year olds then have a whole week of trying to concentrate on other things and personally I struggled to do so.
Lots of questions, visions of the day, hoping that it would be just a few people but happy to be there regardless.
We arrived from the twilight zone that is Stoke-on-Trent at the Maida Vale studios, an old building with an obvious long history…
We were let into the studio at 3pm, the studio itself was much smaller than we had envisaged, on the main floor was all the bands equipment, and a little studio for Richard Allinson to broadcast from.
We were shown to the balcony above the main studio floor. An open balcony directly above the equipment, my vantage point directly above the keyboards only a few feet below us. A full panoramic view of where the band would be. The excitement grew as the other members of the band ran through an instrumental version of Song to a Siren.
The sound was excellent and the closeness of the band and the small studio giving it a very intimate feel. Many of us said that it couldn’t get any better than this and Robert hadn’t even sung by that point. But the excitement grew and grew. We could see him through the control room window initially and then he came out and said hello to us. This pushed the anticipation levels even higher. Here he was up close and personal. He looked fit, very relaxed dressed in faded denims, white long sleeved shirt with blue sleeves and tan coloured boots. He just seemed to fill the space. His mike being in the centre of the encircled band.
It was explained to everybody what the running order of events would be. We could see the running order of songs on papers taped to the floor. Anticipation growing all the time as the first set loomed.
Then they were off and running into Celebration Day. If you heard it on the radio it sounded so good, but even better from a few feet away.
It really couldn’t get any better than that, the other songs maintaining the momentum and throughout there were 20 grinning faces on the balcony. I think many of just couldn’t believe how lucky we were. I was looking forward to Darkness Darkness and Song to A Siren but they could have sung anything really it really didn’t matter. We were there witnessing it live from a few feet away.
Throughout the afternoon the atmosphere was very relaxed, no rock god pretentions in the studio, no arrogant attitude that many stars throw into their performances.
Robert and the band genuinely seemed pleased to be there and played accordingly.
He was in excellent form, the moves, the grins, the fingered gestures to the mixing desk to adjust the volume and of course that voice! You just can’t take your eyes off the man.
It was just a total joy to watch.
Two things stood out from the interviews which were his statement about the band being a democracy and him happy for it to be so ( Page and Plant issues here?)
And I was able to watch him being interviewed from a stair vantage point and he did visibly stiffen at the whispers of him and Jimmy getting together.
Set followed set, I don’t believe any of us wanted it to end. I have seen many live gigs over the years, Zeppelin, Plant, Page, and other bands and many memorable events, but this was something so different. This was something special, probably one of those once in a lifetime event, so memorable.
And then as Siren faded the music was gone. The responses you heard on the radio came from just 20 or so of us but on the balcony it could easily have been hundreds of us up there. Sheer joy!
We had asked if Robert would come to meet us, we had already been give signed copies of the Morning Dew single so at least a signature. He then came up to us and said hello, signed autographs and chatted to the throng that seemed like hundreds of people.
I have been such an avid follower of all things Zeppelin related since 1969 and I have seen Robert 27 times but this was my first signature and meeting. I am glad that I took my Zeppelin Over Europe book to be signed.
And then Robert was gone. All to brief but an afternoon that will linger in our memories for a very long time I am sure. Then it was time to head home, leaving the studio behind both of us singing along to Manic Nirvana blasting out of the car stereo.
What a great day!!!!! It really couldn’t get any better could it?


And a view from the radio speakers…from Dave Linwood.
A great show yesterday. Despite the schedule given to TBL, the 3 hour show was interspersed with Plant at times other than we stated! Plant “appeared” three times over about a 2 hour period playing 2 songs each time. As usual, the reliable old Beeb managed to get the live sound just right. Plant was in jokey form and provided a few amusing answers.
As for the songs, Celebration Day was full of slide guitar and usual Plant phrases. Darkness Darkness sounded great and captured the guitar “chimes” well. Fixin To Die starts a bit quirky but builds and builds from the moment the dischordant guitar kicks in. Tall Cool One was my favourite of the songs played with some great Plant wails towards the end. Song To The Siren closed the proceedings.

A few unusual questions emailed/SMS text in by the radio audience, including one from a chap who bought a house on the strength of a signed Now & Zen LP in the hall.
(The LP was owned by a fireman who had helped put out a small fire at Plant’s house!)

A final quote from Plant: “This is just the beginning of the Strange Sensations”…

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