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Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit Gig, Royal Albert Hall, London

9 February 2002 4,440 views No Comment

Robert Plant: If I Ever Get Lucky/Morning Dew/Four Sticks/Hey Joe/Song To The Siren/A House Is Not A Motel
Jimmy Page: Dazed & Confused

Pre-Gig:

Great to see so many faces in the pub. Lots of old and new friends, places such as Toronto, LA, Italy and Scotland were represented. Gossip centered on the possible appearance of Jimmy Page; Dazed & Confused with Paul Weller’s band?? “You sure?” said the doubters..”Trust Me” said the smug TBL Webman..!!

The Royal Albert Hall
Needs a lick of paint – and is in fact getting one at last! It’s a great venue – if you are in the boxes, or the stalls. The stage is quite low so you need to be tall to enjoy sitting/standing on the arena area. Up in the Gods you are, err up in the Gods, a long way away. The sound is not the best either. However, there is definitely something about the place that always makes events there special. I tried to estimate how many people it holds, around the 4000-5000 mark.
There is a funny ticket numbering system so I was gobsmacked to find that our seats were dead centre of the 8th row. As we waited for the show to start I was amazed at the amount of American voices we heard, striking up conversation with some of them, it was obvious it was not Weller that they had come to see…

This was always going to be a weird billing. Word on the streets is that Weller hates Zeppelin and that rehearsals with Jimmy Page have been tense. The audience is spit between aging rockers and aging mods. During the show, allegiances became apparent as some rise to acclaim some numbers – and the remaining seated sections of the audience rise to acclaim numbers elsewhere. This did deaden the atmosphere somewhat. I was at the previous night’s gig for the Who and the audience reaction had been great. Despite that fact that the tickets said the event would be filmed I saw no cameras anywhere..

7.30 lights down, on strolls Harvey Goldsmith (he’s lost a few pounds and looks better for it). He explains the purpose of the Teenage Cancer Trust and mentions that the proceeds from the five shows at the Albert Hall will pay for a complete hospital ward. He also explains that this makes nine dedicated wards in the country – and that we need 20. Still work to be done then. Finally, onto the music:

Gary Moore
The venue was pretty full as Gary played a compact and I have to say excellent “stratocaster-blues” 25 minute set. Moore seems to have his detractors and I agree that the faces he pulls whilst he plays can be off-putting, but despite this he is a fine guitarist. He managed to pass my brother’s “my hair’s-standing-on-end-test” after nailing yet another particularly fine guitar solo. I’ll be keeping a lookout for moore (cough) appearances in the future.

Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation
The hall empties out after Gary Moore’s set and people are caught in the bar as at 8.12pm, with the smell of Josh sticks comes wafting out across the first dozen or so rows, Mr Plant resplendent in a golden coat drifts onto stage. The audience is still seated much to some of the Americans disgust. The stage has a lob-sided look, the drums of off centre-left. Porl now has hair! and is wearing jeans! (Carpet spotters upstairs – was he still playing on his magic carpet?), Charlie Jones grasping his double bass occupies a stage-centre position. The sound is slightly odd; sound from the instruments radiates from the stage, Plant’s voice comes from the PA hung high above, slightly disconcerting.
I can’t remember the name of the first song, (I’ve heard it on the CD-Rs) but it includes a “That’s Alright Mama” vocal reference.
Morning Dew follows, this is the first time I’ve seen the Sensations do it live. It’s a driving, powerful version, very different from the introspective PoB version. It’s well received by the audience (which is now filling out).
Plant explains to the audience that it is a priviledge to play together with so many artists and thanks us for our support.
Next up is Four Sticks – and this is one of the best arrangements I’ve ever heard. I loved the contrast between the full-on, blistering chaos of the verse compared to the peaceful pause of the chorus with Jones playing well on the double bass. Looking at my notes from the show I wrote down “bloody marvellous” and “AAAHHHH”! It was that good. Sections of the crowd rise to their feet to acclaim the band.
Hey Joe recieved its “usual” treatment (Usual? You Sure!!). Unlike the CD-Rs the soundstage is totally widescreen – a really rich sonic pallette which delights Plant fans in the audience. Contrast the acid, jarring guitar on stage-left to the sinister plucking from the Gimre (spelling?) on stage-right. As Porl sets his guitar upon the torture table, I am drawn to the word “Quiet” stencilled on his fender cab… Plant’s voice is now warmed up – and the wails that graced this venue over 30 years ago return. More people on their feet at the end of this song.
Most of you are aware that I consider Song To The Siren to be over-long, but there are some magic moments – such as the beginning of the song. There was no noise from the audience – no whistles, no whoops, nothing. From where I was you could hear the PA hum. Plant’s gentle vocals caught the famous Albert Hall echo – and just seem to hang there for a split second. The song then proceeds its course but only receives polite applause – it was long for an audience which is unfamiliar (or unreceptive) to the arrangement.
The final song was described by Plant as “being in my back pocket since ’67” and was “A House Is Not A Motel”. I groaned inwardly when I realised this was their last song. Yet, it built well with thrashing guitars at the end. I would have preferred another Zeppelin number – and I suspect the audience would have done too. It would have been nice to have ended with the audience on their feet and I think the opportunity to win more people over was lost. BIGLY would have been nice – and people would have responded to a familiar song.
And that’s it. The intelligence proved correct. A short 50 minute set and they’re off. Personally, the best songs came first in my opinion. Plant looked well and sung well. I look forward to giving the Sensation experience more scrutiny in the future..

Paul Weller
I loved the Jam, never got on with The Style Council – and don’t mind his solo stuff. Alas for me, Weller seems to be going through a Plant-1980s like denial of his older material – so we only got an excellent version of “Town Called Malice” from the vaults. Again, the fragmented audience meant that the atmosphere never really got going until the encores. This seem to affect Weller. Guests rolled out included Noel Gallagher and Kelly Jones, Stereophonics (avec silly hat). At one point he scowled “this is for the Zeppelin fans” in the audience. We rose and scowled back..! Gossip in the pub had included the amusing story that Weller had refused to be on the same stage as Jimmy Page. Remember folks, its all for char-idee!! Weller finished his main set and left the stage mentioning “more special guests”…OK…Let’s Go!

Jimmy Page
No annoucement over the PA at all. At 10.58 the familiar site of a sunburst Les Paul being handed to a gentleman who strolls onto the stage. The mods sit down. Up get the rockers….JIMMY!
As expected, the familiar bass intro of Dazed & Confused wafts from the stage. What we get is an 8 minute abridged instrumental version complete with violin bow solo!
It will be interesting to see what others make of it. I have to say I wasn’t that impressed. Weller’s backing band obviously weren’t interested. They had bored expressions on their faces and their playing and body movements were very mechanical – the sort of body lanuage you see on kids as they are being lead into the dentist! At one point whilst Page was scraping away with the violin bow, the bassist and the guitarist were standing stock still next to each other having a conversation!
The problem with this song is that it worked in the 70’s with the framework of 4 talented and dedicated musicians. To attempt to “cut and paste” “best bit” segments into Albert Hall was brave, very brave . But for me, it was a hollow experience. I look forward to more courageous displays from Page this year – perhaps in less of a ambushed do-it-for-charity-or-else environment

And finally the last song of the night, Roger Daltrey strides on and delivers probably the best song of the night – a stunning rendition of the Who’s “I can see for miles”. Having witnessed the previous night’s Who show I can only say that the Who are on fire at the moment – and yet we dwell on the fragmented pieces of the Zeppelin legacy…

This From Aidan Naughton
A friend bought me a box seat on the strength of the advertised bill. I didn’t expect Robert and Jimmy to play together given the speculation over the preceeding weeks. Following Tuesday’s poor showing, I’d come to the conclusion that the evening’s entertainment would come from Paul Weller. I wasn’t wrong.
I’m not a Gary Moore fan and arrived just in time to watch the last 2 minutes of his closing number, a rendition of “Fire” which confirmed that I was better placed in the bar. Robert’s set was less of the same from Tuesday although his voice was in much better form. I think I enjoyed it marginally more, perhaps because my expectations were lower. “Hey Joe” was just as bad though (this was the consensus over both night from 11 different people).
I can only agreed with Dave Linwood on his appraisal of Paul Weller’s set and Jimmy’s appearance. I’ve seen Weller a few times before and always enjoyed him. What he shares with Zep live outings is feel and passion and we got that in abundance. Come the encores and the roadies start setting up a hefty fx board. My friends are unconvinced that Jimmy is going to make an appearance and frankly I’m not sure that he should. But he’s on the advertising and in the concert programmes.
When he strolls on, the some shudder of excitment appears as I get every time he and Robert hit the stage. It’s all a bit incongrous, though, when Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock strolls on in a fishtail parka to join him on guitar. Other than the opening notes of Dazed and Confused when you think maybe, maybe…, I wished he’d just get it over with. It was apparent that this was to be the only appearance of Jimmy Page and No Friends. Paul Weller sensibly chose to sit this number out. I also felt for the crowd somewhat. The first 10 rows seemed to be largely made up of Zep fans waiting for something to happen, standing for portions of Robert’s slot but sitting impassively for most of Weller’s set and the same seemed true in reverse for other portions of the Albert Hall who’d come to see Weller. Weller’s closing number of “I can see for miles” was definitely the set’s highlight (I was also pleased, because the Who excluded it from their set in Portsmouth a couple of weeks earlier). I end up, like Dave, comparing the power of the recent Who shows to the seeming state of disarray that Jimmy and Robert find themselves in.
Would I have gone, if it had been billed as just Paul Weller? Almost certainly not. Was I glad I went ? Definitely. I just wish Robert and Jimmy hadn’t appeared in their respective forms.

This from Tom Cory
Wow! What a night! I great night of quality of entertainment & although I was a little reluctant at paying £65 for a ticket, I now think it was money well spent! I tried to find the meet up pub but my mum, dad & I found ourselves looking at houses once owned by Winston Churchill etc. & so decided to go straight to the Royal Albert Hall. Sorry chaps!
Anyway, to Led Zep matter….. Robert’s Strange Sensation set was very interesting & I’m most certainly looking forward to hearing the album when it is released in April. I think Robert presented a pretty strong set & I very much welcome back the ever growing influences of Eastern influences which continues to push its way into Percy’s vocabulary. For me, the highlight was the Tim Buckley number, Song To The Sireni, I think it highlighted the reason why I for one am such a huge fan of the man. Every single word was drawn from his heart instead of it being blurted out like so many other vocalists which are now ten a penny. I could have cried a couple of tears I know that for a fact!
I think Robert has a great band, but in all due respect I feel everyone is just waiting for the interplay between guitar & voice or a seering solo, when more times than not we were left with thinking just what might have been…..
Jimmy’s set – Well, mixed feelings on this one really! With him being billed so heavily as one of the ‘headliners’ & the huge prints on sale at the merchandise stall (mine’s number 1556, btw! Oh, & are they actually signed?), I though we might have a bit more action to assess, rather than just a revamp of ‘Dazed & Confused’. However, what we did see was also a bit mixed. The band wasn’t brilliantly tight & were pretty lathargic during something which could have been spectacular. (I think that comment is also true to Jimmy’s performance, with the half hearted bow solo etc.). After the show I heard so many people playing up Jimmy’s slightly less than ripened performance, I think Pagey is one of those artists who can go and p**s in the wind and people will praise him for it at times! I mentioned to my dad when Jimmy came on ‘wouldn’t it be funny if someone came on now’, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. But all in all, that same ol’ sound that we’ve come to love & adore so much over the years rang all around the Royal Albert Hall, and thats was what we came for. I personally believe that playing here for your main return to the live circuit isn’t really a great place for doing it, but Jimmy’s never been a person to do things in halves & if we can take any message from Jimmy’s performance its ‘I’m back’. A message that ssooo many of us would welcome with open arms. Tom Cory, aged 17 – Carrying the Zeppelin vibe forward into the future!

This From Paul
Robert started off with If I ever get lucky, it seemed that his voice was in good nick from the off. He sounded really good from up in the area of the Gods. I feel that he should have added another rockier number to leave us with seeing that many people there would have been unfamiliar with what he is playing at present. I am looking forward to a tour soon ( I hope)All the same he was in good form, he looked fit and well from even up in the roof. Porl did have his carpet to stand on.
As for Jimmy he looked lean and fit too, he has lost some weight by the look of him. To come on and just do a short spot like that was something and to go straight into D&C was for me very special, he played so well. I agree that the bass and guitarist looked like they were doing someone a favour, the drummer played well though. A great reaction from the majority of the crowd though to Jimmy, even the Weller fans around me seemed to react positively. Some not even born when Zep ended..
It was all just too short however. For me a 350 mile round trip needed a little more. I’m sure some of the others who came from even further afield would agree.I’m not a big Weller fan as such but I did enjoy his set. Interesting crowd reaction to a drum solo. A few years back weren’t they one of the reasons bands like the Jam came along and sought to nail the so called ‘rock dinosaurs’ ,drum solos were scorned upon were they not? The feel of his set reminded me of a 70’s type, with some extended guitar work too. Whatever happened to the 3 minute pop or protest songs? Perhaps one day Changesman will stretch out to 20 minutes?
An enjoyable evening however.

This From Craig Borda
Althogh I am an admitted Zep/Plant/Page fan from the earliest days of ’68, I still feel justified in giving my biased, if not accurate, view of what is going on with the Boys. After reading last years reviews of Plants shows, Jonses shows and most recently this “thing” at Royal Albert………..
I am left feeling somewhat drained of all my interest in any one of these fine performers. I do realize that with the kind of money they have , none of them have to do anything that the general public would want. But I would probably feel better (can’t explain it) if none of them would even bother to produce their little mini ego projects (dumb cd’s & lackluster tours) !
I personally wouldn’t walk down two blocks from my house to see The Who , but I will give them credit for the fact that they are willing to (and realize who they are) tour and even take a crack at a new cd. I’m sure Townshend and Daltrey and whoever aren’t soulmates or buddies or whatever anymore, but the demand and respect from their audience begs for it. So does Zeps audience. Yes, we want to see their best songs played live again with all three members present. We could care less about what inspires any one of them. Somehow Page seems the most normal minded of the three of them, in terms of his reverence for what was done as Zep in terms of getting excited about playing it live (why else would he have bothered with the Crowes thingy?) Sometimes it all sounds so crazy (the unwillingness particularly of Plant to reunite) that one has to wonder how much they ever enjoyed touring together in the first place. The Houses of the Holy were a seperate entity from the recordings and from any other band in modern history.
Perhaps Plant thought (and continues to think) it was a joke then and now as well. Doing old stuff is living in the past Plant says. Guess what? Timeless stuff has no past………. It was….. It is…….. and It will be…… Wonderfull…….

This From Mark Williams
On Saturday night, my brother & I as dedicated Jimmy & Robert fans took our seats at the Albert Hall with the usual hightened level of expectation whenever those guys are playing under the same roof. Post-Zep, having seen them on stage together at the Hammy Odeon on Plant’s ‘Now & Zen’ Tour, numerous times on their ’95 & ’98 outings together (best was ‘Clarksdale’ premiere show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire), it seemed incongruous that the two greats would not ‘lay down their arms’ (!) and run with the spirit of the evening by at least recognising each other’s presence at this Charity event.
However,we knew that nothing was likely to happen and that basically we’d have to make do with Plant’s current musical vehicle of choice (not the new Cadillac Sports utility vehicle advertisement that the boys have been recently handsomely rewarded for by Cadillac for the rights to use ‘Rock and Roll’ !).
Anyway, Robert & the boys take to the stage after what I thought was an excellent crowd warming- up mini-session from Gary Moore . Great to see that ‘ The Mane remains the Same’ with Robert, not bad for a 53 year old ! Stand out tracks for me were : Song to the Siren,Morning Dew & Hey Joe…..Porl Thompson really acting as good foil for Robert,some great guitar work and worthy of inclusion in Plant’s future band line-up should he ever ditch his Stange Sensations ! HOWEVER, WHY DOES ROBERT PERSIST IN IGNORING HIS OWN SOLO BACK CATALOGUE, WHEN HE HAS SOOOO MUCH TO DRAW ON…. ‘Little by Little, Six’s and Seven’s,The Greatest Gift etc’ would not go down badly with real fans I’m sure. Priory of Brion were interesting to see, a little ‘throw-back’ to an earlier rock n’ roll time but I think the Strange Sensations hold promise for taking things forward, something Robert strived to do in the earlier part of his Post-Zep solo days.
10.55 p.m and still no Jimmy ? We were beginning to think maybe he & Paul Weller hadn’t seen eye-to-eye during rehersals. Jimmy strolls on stage to tumultuous applause, and looks great – slimmer, more upright,less hunched (compared the the Crowes shows)….however, in my view seeing Jimmy out there on his own,(albeit kicking up a great rendition of ‘Dazed & Confused’),is rather sad. It reminded me of when he played ‘Stairway’ solo on the ‘Arms’ benefit concerts, also at this same venue. The weird thing is that there are millions of vocalists & musicians the world over who’d give their right arm to be on that stage supporting their idol, but poor old Jimmy ends up with a bunch of ageing mods,( fishtail parka!) whilst Planty is somewhere back stage or elsewhere maintaining his distance from the guy who discovered him in the first place ! Shame on you Robert……Anyway, musn’t be too negative, it was a good night but of course could have been better…..

This from Andy Adams
Been reading the various comments, thoughts & words of wisdom on the Tour Watch bit, & my own impression of it all is this:-

1. It was great to see the Ol’ Dark One treading the boards with such aplomb and venom. Maybe all the trauma & arguements leading up to the event left him with a sense of sticking up his middle finger (musically speaking) and just going for it. Certainly he pulled out some vintage moves and for the first time in a while the guitar became just an extension of him.

2. What does anyone expect from a backing band that doesn’t know/like Zep very much and has only had a couple of brief rehearsals of the song? Far from being safe, it was a pretty bold move, especially coming after a Weller set that had a large number of the audience on their feet (until the slower and badly jammed numbers). Jimmy’s sound, attitude and performance was fantastic to us, ‘cos he went for it and really came over – above Robert & Daisy Daltrey – as a LEGEND, not just a star. That’s not my opinion, but that of many younger people around us – many of whom had come to enjoy all the music on the bill and not just sit in the Weller or Zep camps.

3. I know I’m a bit long in the tooth, but why does there have to be this ‘he did the best bits from that arrangement’ and ‘he left out that section’ kind of attitude. After all, it’s supposed to be Rock ‘n’ Roll which should be enjoyed and not analysed too much. Save that for the reviews of the Bootlegs! Maybe sitting with someone who’d never seen Jimmy onstage before was a big help – a fresh pair of eyes & ears not dragged down by the ‘seen/heard it all before’ syndrome but actually looking forward to it with an open mind. Whatever anyone says, the hairs on the back of my neck (what few are left….) certainly stood up!!

4. Yes, it’s a damn shame him & Bob couldn’t have done something together, but the thing that struck us the most was the end of the evening should have been an all-star jam of ALL the participants on the night to round it off.

5. Yes, Bob was his usual self to me. Vocally as good as he has been for many a year, but with a frustrating selection of numbers. Were we alone in thinking ‘Hey Joe’ woz awful?(especially coming after a monumental ‘Four Sticks’!). Maybe a bit of ‘Heaven Knows’, ‘Slow Dancer’ or ‘Easily Led’ would have been an idea, eh?

This from Freda Hyatt
I have had my ticket for the gig at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust for less than a week, hoping for the best. Then, on Saturday morning I pick up the paper and read my stars: ‘Don’t expect tonight’s events to go as planned…’ and groan. Then I read the rest: ‘but you will be pleased and not disappointed with the alternative’ and decide all is not lost.

When I arrive at the RAH I appear to be the only person on my own. My ticket appears to be for the 7th row off to one side, but that’s not where it is. Actually, I am in the second row. Dead centre. Is this the event not going as planned?!

I have heard on the grapevine that Robert will be on second and play for about 45 minutes. Jimmy is due to do one number – an accoustic one – during the finale. On the dot at 7.30 the show begins with a tight little set from Gary Moore. Not my style in guitar players but enjoyable none the less. Then, after a short break to shift off some equipment – and to tape some joss sticks to the monitor! – on comes Robert. He’s dressed the same as at Bristol in midweek: dark red shirt, brocade waistcoat, tapered black pants and what appear to be black canvas boots with zips on the side .I have my camera with me, but since the use of
them is stated on the ticket to be prohibited – and I don’t want to get thrown out before Jimmy comes on – I don’t take any photos. I can’t remember the name of the first track, but then its ‘Morning Dew’, ‘Four Sticks’, ‘Hey Joe’, a beautiful version of ‘Song to the Siren’ and ends with ‘A House is not a Motel’. It doesn’t seem to get the audience on hits collective feet, and we don’t get an encore. There is now a longer break before The Paul Weller band take the stage. I am not impressed. I liked him when he was with The Jam, but this new stuff does nothing for me. He invites on several guests, including Noel Gallagher of Oasis, and Kelly Jones of The Stereophonics. At least we are spared Emma Bunton (ex-Baby Spice) who it was rumoured would be there. Then there is another couple of minutes break before a Les Paul and – gulp – THE BOW are brought out onto the stage. And then there he is.

Jimmy looks good. He’s in an open-necked, long-sleeved dark lilac shirt and black pants, and looks lean and healthy, grinning at the reaction he is getting. And here comes the second ‘evenings plans not going as expected…’ as we get an 8 minute version of ‘Dazed and Confused’ and not an acoustic number. Its all over far too quickly, but I am determined to capture something of it so risk being thrown out by taking a few photos. Dunno if they will come out! Then he’s gone with a mumbled thanks, a grin and a wave.

The last special guest is Roger Daltrey who gives us a version of ‘I Can See For Miles’, then after a word from the charity organisers, we file out into the night. Okay, it was just one number from Jimmy – but at least he was back on stage and he saw – FELT – how much he was missed, so hopefully he will be back doing something with someone before long. And I intend to be there too……

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