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Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. BBC3 TV Re:Covered

28 February 2003 2,755 views No Comment


Seven and Seven Is/Seven and Seven Is/Seven and Seven Is/Unknown Jam/Song To The Siren/Song To The Siren/Song To The Siren

Reports From Those In The Studio:

This from the TBL/Webman, Dave Linwood.
What a great day! An excellent pre-show gathering in a local hostelry brought in friends old and new. Pre-gig gossip centered around the structure of the show and the identity of the new bassist – allegedly named “Billy”. Although the weather had been mild, it decided to dump as much rain on the TBL crew as possible as we made our way to Riverside studios. Much merriment was had, along the lines of “TBL Crew back on tour, its 2003, it’s London, it’s wet: Again!”. The studios are familiar to Plant followers, they were used for the Plant/Page TFI Recordings back in 1998. TFI 98? Was that really five years ago??
Straight inside thanks to the TBL priority tickets and its straight to the bar. Another 75 minutes of drinking Guinness and meeting more friends to be had. Its a tough life on the road..! More intelligence about tonight’s performance, the other main band on the show are Feeder. Each band records two songs, one cover version and one other that they choose. Word is that Plant is doing Seven and Seven Is and Song to the Siren.
On into the studio. There are two stages placed opposite each other separated by floor space for audience and cameras. Feeder do their thing first which allows us to study the TV making process. Bloody Hell, these TV guys work hard! This is the BBC after all.
I liked Feeder – they covered Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “The Power of Love” and I thought they make a good job of it. Meanwhile as Feeder play, the TBL Crew are doing their own little dance; the “get me near the stage quick-step”. This involves being moved around by floor managers to avoid cameras yet never actually moving further than about five foot from Plant’s stage. Its tricky – but we’re well practiced – and when the lights go down for Plant I’m surrounded by familiar faces near the front of the stage. Job Done!

On come the band. “Billy” the new bassist is the spitting image of a UK comedian David Badiell (which I’m sure he won’t thank me for!). This causes a laugh amongst those near the stage. Plant is looking chilled. Dressed in a longish shirt and jeans, the fashion police girls report they are pleased the clogs have been left in the cupboard. He’s relaxed and in the mood to have fun. Bearing in mind that we, the audience are about four foot away from Plant, the laughter and the jokes fly. He has a way of not responding – when you bloody well know that he heard. There’s a sort of side-on smirk combined with eyes to the floor. I ask Plant to introduce the bassist to us. The bassist smiles. Plant not looking up mumbles something about him being a Scorpio…!!

First bit of fun, as the band get ready to start, Plant realises that there is no autocue for the lyrics to “Seven and Seven Is”. In fact they are on two large cards which then cannot be positioned correctly according to Plant because he hasn’t got his glasses with him! Once of these cards has been signed by Plant – you can bid for it in aid of Comic Relief – see the News Page.

That problem sorted, we’re off. Take One. We are told that each song will get two takes for extra camera angles etc. The song is shortened, probably around three and a half minutes. Difficult to judge a performance in this atmosphere, the sound at TV recordings is always a bit weird when you are close up. Each take to me sounded a little better as the band and Plant loosened up. The ending is completely different from the live performances we are used to. It just sort of stops.
A quick interview follows with the presenter of the show Dermot O’Leary, Dermot refers to Plant as being “a God”. We cheer. Questions centre on familiar topics; Zeppelin meeting Elvis, Wolverhampton Wanders, A quick reference to the DVD Project and the Sensations numbers themselves. Whilst this is going on, the band are hanging around on stage, chatting to people in the audience, signing autographs. One Plant answer gets a somewhat different response from other band members!
A couple of the famous BBC canteen tea in hand, Plant saunters back on stage and we get Song To The Siren. The first version is stopped about a minute in. Plant is unsure that the tempo is correct. A quick discussion and a dab of makeup and we continue. Again the Song is much shorter, Skin’s guitar solo lasts about 8 bars. Plant sings well, it should look good on the Telly. At the end, Plant smiles and winks at the bassist.
And that’s it – apart from that jam…
Whilst there is a pause between takes as cameras are being moved, the band start up a funky skit which involved some lyrics and all the band contributing in some form or another. It sound too well laid out to be a skit – or was it? Could this be one of the alleged recent studio adventures? It got an applause that’s for sure. Hopefully we’ll find out soon..
This from Jen Lewis.
We ending up arriving really early at Riverside Studios, around 3:30 pm. Not having been there before, we had planned on just sussing out the building and were surprised to find that we could just walk right in and sit down and have a drink at the bar. Funnily enough, the minute we did that, Robert and the whole band came walking slowly through the bar and seemed in good spirits. Great, it was a relief to know that he was actually there – unlike the Cardigans who were listed on the tickets but not playing until the next day.
After a lot of anticipation and not a few drinks, we were finally inside the studio. I’ve never been to a TV taping and was surprised at how much the audience needed to be moved around to accommodate the big camera. Feeder were good, not that I saw a lot of them, most of it was tops of heads and occasional views on the TV camera monitor.
Finally the moment we’d been waiting for! For some reason when Robert came out all the stage directions seemed to get really confusing and neither the show directors, Robert, or the audience seemed to know what was going on! There were a lot of laughs. Clothing – Robert was wearing a light blue short sleeved shirt with white embroidery and jeans. They played Seven and Sevens Is three times and Song to the Siren 2 1/2 times and some sort of jam in the middle just to entertain the audience – I’m presuming this was new material?!

There was an interview conducted with Dermot O’Leary, I think quite a lot of it will be cut as they are quite short on the show. Robert had some amusing stories, talked about Elvis and did a “karaoke” Elvis duet with Dermot. Unfortunately I couldn’t see any of this but it all sounded good. Everyone seemed to leave when Robert was finished – I don’t think a lot of people had heard of the third act – Jameliah? With a stroke of good luck and perfect timing, we actually bumped into Robert on his way out – he was parked a couple of streets over and heading the same way we were. He was actually carrying his own stage clothes in a bag and wasn’t with the rest of the band members. I can’t wait to see how it all looks on the show as I know it will look so polished and slick compared to how it was! It was really a great night out.

This from Siarl Davies
What a great day out !
Well what a great day out, met up with old friend Jess Rowley in The William Morris, then it was off to Riverside Studios, after a drink and a chat in the bar, clocking Daves Lewis and Linwood, its off into the studio. Much laughter is generated by the floor manager, who runs through the scheduling, and its obviously that the greater part of the audience are here to see Our Bob.
Feeder put on a polished performance of FGTH’s The Power of Love (what a great song). Feeder’s Grant is interviewed by Dermot O’Leary, with questions concerning him taking his Burmese cat for a swim in the bath, and his fondness for Black Sabbath.

Jess and I make our way over to the opposite stage, and there we are six feet over from the big gug’s mike. Bump into some regular’s from the George and Dragon’s blues and rock jam in Acton (which I regularly play at. You must go, it gets packed with quality players, a young crowd and late bar!). The band come on. Robert looks great, with short-sleeved shirt, gold bangle, a couple of rings, blue jeans and casual shoes. Justin wearing an embroidered black shirt shirt similar to one worn by Bob on TOTP in 98.
We are told by the studio manager that they are gonna start with a real rocker, and this they do with 7 and 7 is. Quite a raunchy performance actually, tho’ Planty’s vocal is low in the mix (to avoid feedback I presume, as those who have heard him in intimate settings know how loud he still is). The band turn in three versions of this number all slightly different, with Robert making lots of classic moves, lifting the mic stand upside down in traditional rock-god stylee.

Robert says that ‘nowayadays all the songs are quicker and shorter’, then Clive plays a humurous drum break, followed by RP saying ‘That was Immigrant Song’, followed by cheers, to which he adds teasingly ‘Plenty (more) of that later’
Throughout the breaks a serf keeps polishing the metallic stage flooor, with Bob looking on most concerned. You could tell he was well aware of the front row’s conversation, when someone said it was a shame Bob didn’t live in a caravan, as he could have got the guy to clean it for him, which raised a smirk with the band.
Someone asked him to introduce the new bassists (That was me! TBL/Webman), to which RP replied ‘We’re not married, you know’ then ‘ he’s a scorpio, not a capricorn’.

A foxy young ladywalks on stage and touches up Bob’s makeup before the interview, and we all get to stand right behind the maestro. The comical floor manager ushers over some pretty ladies right behind Bob, and much to his approval. The interview starts with Dermot telling Bob that the reception in the studio confirms that he is in fact ‘God’. They talk about karaoke, Primal Scream, The Flaming Lips, Bob’s meeting with Elvis, the tackiness of Gracelands, duet on a few lines from Elvis, with Bob adding a few lines from ‘Love Me’. At one point Dermot gushes ‘I can’t believe I’m singing with robert Plant’.
Robert denies any possibility of a zeppelin reunion, praises Jimmy’s work on the DVD, and talks a little of his recent trip to Timbuktu, adding that he, Justin and Skin had written three new tracks…all good stuff
Standing from behind we noticed quite how thick and curly Planty’s hair still is ! a trivial point maybe, but at least he won’t have to wear a wig for years to come.

Next back on stage for ‘Siren’. the first version is way too slow, and Bob does a ‘stop, come on stop’ routine which reminded me of the false start to ‘Georgia on my mind’ in Monmouth 1986. The next version glides along beautifully. Then a bit of floor polishing. RP is clearly finding this absurd, and tells the guy ‘how can you do that, it’s demeaning….women’s work’ the crowd howled with laughter. he then turns to the band and says ‘I don’t know if I can do this!’ -the front row shout ‘You can do anything’, he then mutters that he is losing is top notes. However the performance is if anything far stronger and gutsier, although retaining the delicacy of the studio and earlier live versions.
He ends signing a couple of autographs, and Justin shakes a few hands and chats to some of the audience, telling me how much they enjoyed Mali.

A great day out, indeed, and what luck to see Bob, in fine form, with such a friendly humble, yet stunning band.
Let’s hope we won’t have to wait too long for the new album, which judging by last year’s performances, and this show should be one of Mr Plant’s best ever works
Reports From The TV Show:
Seven and Seven Is/Song To The Siren.

This from the TBL/Webman, Dave Linwood.
AHA! The digital TV revolution is upon us. Sitting pretty in front of my nice big widescreen, I wait expectantly waiting for Plant to appear in glorious 16:9 aspect ratio and full colour… but woah, what’s this? Black & White? Also there are five little boxes with multiple Plants! Swirling around the screen, all very arty but there’s so much emptiness on my Telly! Bah!
OK, shock over with. In fact it’s not bad at all. Seven and Seven has been given the full promo video treatment – this is BBC3, which is a TV channel pitched at the “yoof” of Great Britatin (14-28 years) so we need to have plenty of gimmicks to keep the old attention span. The whole effect though is quite dynamic and explosive. Adds to the song. The sound is very good too. Nice stereo sound, well mixed.

Next we get the remnants of the interview. Most of it concentrates on a Elvis “duet” between Plant and the presenter Dermot O’Leary.

Song to the Siren has also been treated by the video production boys but at least we get the full aspect ratio. The visuals have been put through the black-and-white-and-colouro-gram i.e. the band are all in black and white and Plant’s in colour, no wait- he’s all black & white again but the cymbal is in colour. Etc. The song is short – very short but again, the sound is very good.

In conclusion, a nice change of presentation. Different from the usual that you get when bands play in front of studio audiences.

This from Mark Herdman
I know this isn’t the right forum for this but I had to say something to somebody – what was that Re:covered show? It was like watching a bad screensaver! And they cut Song to the Siren short – obviously our MTV-mangled attention spans aren’t up to hearing the full song! Right, rant over. (I was there for the filming of the show and just about recognised what I saw on the telly)

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