Friday, December 14, 2007

Eighth report from fans in London

Wyatt in Illinois supplied the great concert photos shown here, while Sunila "The Dragonlady" in Switzerland writes the following about her experience seeing Led Zeppelin at the O2 arena:

I have a grin on my face, but I have just been crying like I haven't since my grandma died last year. So many emotions!

Rob and I were in the “Chicken shack section” (a litteral translation from the French “poulailler”) which means high, high up in the sky... close to the roof of the hall, but almost dead above the stage. We had been warned it was nothing for the faint of heart...

I am not a big lover of heights, but it added some kind of an edge to the experience. I mean it was quite a sight to be peering down from the "pigeon's nest" or should I say Dragon's Nest? It was tricky to stand up on the narrow ledge and balance there; thank goodness people stayed seated most of the time and we could happily bounce about on the comfy seats. Also good because the guy in front of us was huge.

The first part of the tribute show was a mega gathering of so many stars it would be hard to list them all. I especially enjoyed the performance by Maggie Bell and of course the Rhythm Kings with Albert Lee doing a lively rock number that had me bouncing up and down on my seat!

I wouldn't want to be any of the other bands and musicians who played that night, most of them came and said things like: “we're just passing by don't worry... I won't be long.. we know you're not here for us but... Poor guys! Then the first part was over (I thought it was a bit short but I'm sure some of the old timers down there on the floor were happy about that)!

Then came the moment where all the lights went out and the long wait finally ended! Some footage of old times was on the screen, one could make out a few silhouettes getting on stage, and then there they were, launching into “Good Times Bad Times”! I hate being far away from the stage and at first I couldn't really get into it; the crappy sound up there didn't help. At first I was struggling; it seemed so unreal, but this little silhouette down there was unmistakably Jimmy! I didn't really hear much of “Ramble On”; Plant's voice was too loud and I could hardly hear Jimmy.

Then during “Black Dog” the sound got a bit better and I sat, mesmerised. And by the time they started on “In My Time of Dying” I was really gone, the next thing I remember is “For Your life” amazing! How many times did I try to imagine this played live?

Another couple of numbers (“Nobody's Fault But Mine” and “Trampled Underfoot”) where I sort of touched the ground again because the sound has gone again and I have to fiddle with my special earplugs to try and make out something. But then they start “No Quarter” and I forget the sound quality. Finally seeing all 3 of them playing this. I was re-reading all my reviews on TBL and came across this phrase that I wrote after seeing John Paul Jones in Switzerland in 1999:

"No Quarter was introduced by a speech about dinosaurs and the old, old
times....'There were dinosaurs... oh, and also this...' During the keyboard piece I closed my eyes and tried to summon up the pictures of Vaduz last year when I saw Jimmy Page doing this song a mere 2 meters away and I tried to picture what it would be like to have them all on the same stage again... it'll never happen but it would be too much anyway, I'm not sure I could survive to such power."

Never say never, eh? And look, I'm still alive! The blue light is there as usual, and from up above it feels like a real ocean, hypnotising! It helped me getting into the songs, remember I am a visual person and usually express myself through colour, more than once did I forget to breathe as I was plunging into the musical colour pool.

“Since I've Been Loving You” has often enough brought me to tears and it didn't fail this time either. I could hardly see through the haze of tears, what a song!

“Dazed and Confused” has never been my favourite song but this is the occasion to concentrate on the guitar sound and really watch how amazingly tight the three still are and how Jason Bonham hits just as hard as his dad. “Young” master Bonham -- I'm 2 years younger than him but up there he's really the “kid” -- is really a powerful drummer and can be as subtle as his dad as far as I could judge. Plant has nothing to prove; his latest album is a pearl and his voice has never been better. Jonesy is always cool, but his bass shakes a hall like no other. And of course Jimmy is so happy and you feel happy just looking at him, he's never looked so healthy and happy, and he gave us the whole shebang.

“Stairway To Heaven” might be a crowd pleaser but it's still very impressive, one of the best songs ever written. I was torn between amazement that they were really doing it and exhilaration at seeing the double neck guitar again. Same during “The Song Remains The Same.”

“Misty Mountain Hop” had me recalling all my memories of Snowdonia and the wonderful moments there. One of them being the Priory concert at Bangor, and the “Plantations” accompanying it. *big grin*

And then the absolute highlight for me this evening: “Kashmir”! Already one of my favourite songs, and if I could have, I would have flown down to the front, I so wanted to immerse myself in that vibration, but no, I had to do with the muddled sound... still, I think I must have forgotten to breathe for half of the song, I was shaking so hard I could not even stand. I'll never have grandkids but this would have been something to impress them with!

The first encore was “Whole Lotta Love.” Say what you will about the clich├ęs and all, but it was so good to see the violin bow and the theremin again in this context. And I admit that when I saw the green laser pyramid I let out a nice series of French swear words!

The second encore was “Rock And Roll,” what else? Oh the power! How can these not so young men still have such energy after a long show like that? Magic! I was very impressed by the discipline in the crowd I expected a rowdy floor crowd but no... people were cramped like sardines but they listened religiously and of course cheered in wall shattering roars between numbers. I almost regret I wasn't on the floor but I also appreciated being seated... old bones and all. *grin*

After the concert I felt a bit "abandoned" meaning there was no gathering of fans like before the concert, just when you feel like sharing all the feelings tumbling in your head. I always hate crowds but after an event like this the crowd is suddenly missing. Smiling at perfect strangers who think the same as you is a cool feeling.

A day after it's hard to be really objective. When you're a diehard traveling Ledhead (remember these?) and you finally see your favourite band. But objectively, I think they rocked for good, even though the sound was crappy up there... sound waves don't travel well vertically.... sigh.

7 comments:

  1. Hey! Thanks for posting that! It's alway nice to share these things with other fans!

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  2. Hey Steve,
    Thanks for putting up the clips in concert form. Saw it last nught. Was pretty disapointed in Plant. Looks like he was very tentative for the first half of the concert, wasn't sure of the songs, came in at the wrong time, poor timing and didn't know where songs ended. Did he even practice for this thing?

    It's not the quality of the clips that make me say this, being a vetern of the old boot's on vinyl, but being open minded and filtering out a bad recording you still are able to hear what's good.....and what's not. I hate to say this but, if you don't have complete commitment, you might as well hang it up. I will be really suprissed if they do put this out on pro DVD. It's gonna take a lot of sweetening to fix the mistakes, if not a complete make over on some songs.

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  3. Being a little hard on Plant? I don't know, I couldn't detect many poor timing issues. In "No Quarter" and "Whole Lotta Love," he was doing a few things that are unique to his Strange Sensation arrangements and didn't meld 100% with the Led Zeppelin arrangements the rest of the guys were doing, but they weren't really timing-related.

    One thing I noticed that was timing-related was Jonesy's intro to "No Quarter," which seemed a little fast but was easily tempered by Jason when he came in.

    Also, Jimmy and Jonesy didn't quite match up with Jason in the first full-band chords of "In My Time of Dying."

    Neither of these things had anything to do with Plant, and I can't really detect anything timing-related that is his fault. Quite the contrary, I think he seemed on and his heart in the right place.

    What I noticed and detailed above are just nitpicks I noticed because I've watched/heard the concert a few times through now over the past few days. It would be easier to go through and mention all the things I thought went especially well, like that glorious concert debut of "For Your Life." I think everybody's heart was in the right place, and I think this was a great show. I wouldn't trade this show for any from 1980.

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  4. Let's be real here and look at his thing with our eyes open.

    You're a musician right?
    Can you honestly say that in the first 3 or 4 songs that Plant actually looked prepared?
    I am not trying to nit pick and I know that in live situations you can’t always turn in perfect a performance. Shit happens. I’m just saying he didn’t look prepared. I’ve seen that look before. He was pussy footing around with the songs.

    That equals unprepared, and unprepared equals Live Aid & Atlantic’s 40th and now Ahmet Ertegun.

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  5. Not sure I'm seeing what you're seeing. Does that make you more observant?

    Plant did drop out of the second chorus in "Good Times Bad Times" and attempts only the first half of each line in the "Ramble On" chorus (did the same on tour with Page in 1998).

    But other than that, I don't see anything to make me believe he was unprepared. Remember, the opening songs did suffer from bad sound.

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  6. Hey Steve,
    I didn't count or jot down little place's were the problems occurred. These were just the 1st impressions I that I got after viewing the show only once.

    Being a performer, you can pretty much tell when somebody is comfortable or not, or is unfamiliar or unprepared with the material. They are very tentative. Maybe he was nervous? I don't know.

    I think he might have felt the weight of it by the statements I read on the net about "carrying around some kryptonite".

    The morons in the press understood it like he felt like Superman. The way I saw it, was like maybe he was afraid that he might ruin the whole thing with vocal problems, a sore throat or whatever.

    The whole band performing well - together - is like "Superman". The one who blows it, is the one that brings the "Kryptonite", therefore destroying "Superman" (the band).

    I'm not looking to argue or fight. It's just my point of view. I just wanted to see my heroes perform one great one last time, and no one likes to see their heroes fall.....
    But I think he did.... In the 1st half of the show.

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  7. Correction:
    "one great "gig", one last time

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