Friday, December 21, 2007

History repeats itself; Led Zeppelin album, merchandise sales on top

Who would have guessed last January that Led Zeppelin would be capable of releasing a top-selling album by year's end?

That's precisely the scenario that has developed, according to Uncut. HMV, a U.K.-based music retailer, said sales of last month's greatest-hits collection, Mothership, have risen since the Dec. 10 reunion concert to become this week's biggest mover, the publication reports.

It quotes HMV spokesman Genarro Castaldo as saying, "Sales of their album have had a massive, massive boost by the concert. It was our best-selling album today, up from number eight last week. Led Zeppelin t-shirts have also been our most popular since the concert."

Castaldo also confirms in the Uncut piece that "sales of the band's entire back catalogue are also up by 500 per cent since the concert took place."

Keen observers of Led Zeppelin's history will note that the releases of 1975's Physical Graffiti and 1979's In Through the Out Door in 1979 had a similar effect on sales of the group's previous albums. Higher record sales at those times, in the United States, resulted in multiple Billboard chart rankings for the group.

In addition, the Led Zeppelin record sales of 1979 is often credited with rescuing the dwindling record industry at the time.

Eleventh report from fans in London

The photos accompanying this post were taken by Nech, whose description of the Dec. 9 soundcheck rehearsal and initial thoughts on the Dec. 10 concert I previously printed. The entire set of Nech's photos are being hosted here, on the site by Bruce "The Buckeye."

The photo shown at right was taken of the near-empty floor before the crowd filled the O2 arena. The second photo, below at left, shows the guy you would have to get through to declare war on any part of Jimmy Page's guitar army -- definitely not something I would recommend to those who like the use of their limbs!

The following report comes in by e-mail from Jonathan Wood in the United Kingdom:

Hi Steve,

Just thought I would share some thoughts on the O2.

I was one of the lucky ones that gained tickets through the second ballot. I remember being sat in the office at work when I noticed the e-mail. without exagerating i let out a scream and several people came to see if I was OK ! I managed to compose myself but was just a bit embarrassed. The tension of working my way through the password and the Ticketmaster site was unbearabale, I convinced myself that one wrong click would mean my application would be withdrawn but of course it all worked out in the end.

Anyway off to london from Hull (east coast of the UK) with my son who is a big Zep fan. Found the O2 ok and was greeted with the predictable long queues. Not sure why it took so long but it seemed most people were a little disorganised with the paperwork, nevermind. Queuing for a T-Shirt was just terrible and had to wait 2 hours. How difficult is it to say "large black T shirt please".

Well, what about the show ? We were seated at the back up in the gods, miles away but still with a decent view of what was going on. First act was a supergroup featuring Keith Emerson, Simon Kirke, Alan White and Chris Squire. They knocked out a fantastic version of Fanfare for the Common Man with a Kashmir interlude that was very nice. Harvey Goldsmith did the introductions and paid tribut to Ahmet Ertegun.

Next up was Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings who acted as house band for other artists. Paul Rodgers did a rousing sing a long version of All Right Now which went down well. Mike Sanchez and Maggie Bell also took a turn alongside Paulo Nutini. The final band was Foreigner, who i thought were a real let down. They did I Wanna Know What Love is and tried to get the audience to sing with them but it all went a bit flat, for me anyway.

The stage was then cleared and it was fantastic to see Jimmy's ZOSO symbol return to the amps, a nice touch.

the lights dimmed and a section of the Tampa news report from the DVD was played. I must admit this lulled me into a false sense of security as i somehow thought that harvey Goldsmith would return for the big introduction. I nearly jumped out of my seat when the drums banged out the into to GTBT. The roar from the crowd was incredible. The sound was really good from our seats with all instruments clear.

He's the first person I've heard say the acoustics were good from the beginning. I digress.

I was really apprehensive about how this was all going to turn out. Would Robert put his heart and soul into it? Could Jimmy still pull it off after six years of non playing, and even the age thing? Could Jason deliver or was he there just for his dad? Jonesy, well, never any doubts. The answer after the first number allayed all these fears. Jason was just a revelation, he played out of his skin and hammered the drums for all he was worth. Jimmy played like he'd never stopped and nailed all the solo's also looking like the coolest man in the arena , Robert looked as fit as he ever has and sang with power and conviction, and Jonesy did was Jonesy always does best - holding it all together.

what were the highlights then?

The fact that you never knew what they would play next, everything was a surprise and delight, no out of place numbers. SIBLY was ace and I swear that at the end Jason litterally jumped out of his stool and brought his whole body weight down on the drums. Stairway - I read in some reviews that the crowd went mad at the beginning. i beg to differ, my recollection was almost silence as I don't think anyone expected the song to be played mid set or even at all, quite sureal, and we didn't remember laughter. Nobody's fault is always a personal favourite although no cries of "Oh jimmy". Kashmir was a real crowning glory and much more guitar dominated than I've heard before. The end of the show had the crowd going wild for the encores and they didn't disappoint. really too many highpoints to remember.

In conclusion it was a real honour to have been there. They all played out of their skins, i think Jason had been rehearsing for 28 years and it showed. Should they tour? I don't know, best leave it to them to decide.

Jonathan Wood

Thanks for sharing! It's been incredible living through the eyes and ears of the people who were there in person when Led Zeppelin took the stage and blew everybody away one more time.
Thank you to everybody who helped me to do this.

Jason Bonham humbles himself at the front of the stage before John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Tenth report from fans in London

Howard Mylett is the author of several books on Led Zeppelin and its members including Led Zeppelin: In the Light, shown at right, which he cowrote. He's been publishing books about the band since 1976, if I'm not mistaken, which has given him plenty of time to make his thoughts known about the band. But when the opportunity came for him to attend the reunion concert on Dec. 10 at London's O2 arena, he couldn't pass up the chance to spit out another several thousand words on the group.

As if it's no surprise, Mylett writes like an author would. There's no off position. In just this brief excerpt of his extensive concert review appearing in full at Enzepplopedia, his descriptions of each band member really provides the reader with a feel for who was showcased onstage.

Scanning right to left onstage, the silver-haired Jimmy Page was resplendent in a 3/4-length black 3-piece mohair suit and black shades, looking just as cool as ever! He played blistering, razor-sharp chops and riffs with a sound that was totally of his own unique making - never afraid to smile with recognition when his fellow members hit the perfect spot he was aiming to fill.

Robert Plant, now bearded but still looking like the ringletted time traveller we all know through some of his remarkable and inventive lyrics, had his black shirt tucked in. His dark trousers were looser-fitted than in the 70s, but he is still gifted with the greatest and most emotive vocal range of any rock singer.

Behind him was the natural heir to the drum throne of Led Zeppelin - the late John Bonham's son Jason. His knowledge of Zeppelin bootlegs carried him through six months of rehearsals and had slotted him into place, they say, from their first rehearsal. He only improved more as the concert beckoned. What an emotional night it must have been for him! All the other group members made regular eye contact with him as if to spur him on to bigger and better sounds. And it worked! His father must have been looking down and smiling. The Bonhams were a very proud family.

To the left of the stage, with keyboards and bass at the ready, stood the enigmatic Zeppelin bass man, John Paul Jones - often the underestimated anchor man of the group. Nearly all sixteen of the tracks performed that evening benefitted from the punchiest bass-laden sound I've ever heard. I'd seen Led Zeppelin live in concert seven times from 1971 to 1980, and the drumming complemented this bass really well. The Zeppelin engine room had stoked up for full steam ahead!

Mylett's full review of the show unearths the entire concert experience in a very palpable and moving way, and it's available exclusively at Enzepplopedia.
Speaking of Enzepplopedia and concert reviews, the site's new third Enzepplozine installment (available to members only, but all you have to do to join and log in is type your e-mail address – big challenge!) features a late San Francisco jazz/blues critic's memories of the Fillmore West concert he attended on the first birthday Jimmy Page celebrated with Led Zeppelin. Philip Elwood recalls the show quite vividly in this never-seen-before interview conducted with Frank Reddon in 1998. It is one of several interviews that will appear in full this September upon publication of Volume 1 - Break & Enter, which will be the first installment of Reddon's 40th anniversary commemorative book series, Sonic Boom: The Impact of Led Zeppelin.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

John Paul Jones to produce Sara Watkins album

John Paul Jones will produce the debut solo album of his one-time touring partner, musician Sara Watkins. The California-born singer and guitarist reveals on her blog that work on her first solo project is scheduled to take place at the end of February with Jones producing.

"I'm really excited and a bit nervous, but in a good way. In a way that will keep me on my toes and working hard," writes Watkins, who sang for the band Nickel Creek, which played its final concert Nov. 29 in Nashville.

In December 2000, Watkins and the other members of Nickel Creek -- her brother Sean and mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile -- teamed up with Toad the Wet Sprocket singer Glen Phillips to record under the name Mutual Admiration Society. To support the album's release in July 2004, the all-star cast supported it on tour with the additional rhythm section of John Paul Jones on bass and Pete Thomas on drums.

Thomas and Jones worked together in 1994 as the rhythm section on an album and tour for Diamanda Galas, and Thomas also drummed on half of Jones's 1999 solo album, Zooma.

Watkins said her new band began rehearsing in September. In addition to the expected contributions by Jones, the project is to consist of several other holdovers from the Mutual Admiration Society touring lineup. These are Thomas on drums, and both Phillips and Sean Watkins both on guitar and vocals.

They will also be joined by Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on piano and organ, Greg Leisz "on pedal steel and other slidey things," Davey Faragher on bass, and Luke Bulla on vocals, fiddle and guitar.

Sara Watkins writes that her goal will be to record an album with purpose. "Truly what it comes down to is that I'm tired of buying CDs and then thinking 'Really? Did this CD really need to be made? Really?' I don't want people to think that about my record."

Watkins's Myspace page currently includes an a cappella demo of her singing an original called "Where Will You Be," alongside a pair of demos she recorded in 2004 with her brother and two other musicians. She plays fiddle on both of those tracks and also sings on one.

She writes, "If I had put something out two or three years ago, that would have undoubtedly been the reaction of many. But I think the timing is right and I am hopeful it'll be something I'm proud of."

Watkins also writes that she and her brother attended Led Zeppelin's Dec. 10 reunion concert "and it was completely worth the trip," she recalls. "Without a doubt. They were great and it was a privilege to be there on that Momentous night."

She says the highlight for her was the band's performance of "Kashmir." "Now there's a band," Watkins writes. "It was surreal. I can't imagine what it was like for the band. All the things they were remembering and thinking about."

Jones has produced many albums over the years for bands including R.E.M., the Mission U.K., and the Butthole Surfers. Most recently, Jones produced Waterloo, Tennessee, the sophomore album by Uncle Earl.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ninth report from fans in London

Simon Woolf, whose submitted photographs and words comprised the entire "first report from fans in London" prior to the concert, has submitted some photos from the concert along with his recollections of the event. As for this latest set of photos, he says he concentrated his shots of the crowd because he knew the onstage shots of the band members were already being documented by others, which is certainly proved in the previous eight reports from fans in London here.

“The day a dream came true”
By Simon Woolf, with edits from Jane Woolf

It was a cold crisp day, bathed in glorious winter sun as we set off on our journey on December 10th. 2007, This weather is a rarity for the UK claims my wife Jane, who hails from Nebraska and describes the UK weather as grey! A quick check to ensure those golden tickets were still safely tucked away in a very deep pocket and the red wristbands were still securely attached from the previous day; it was time to go. We took the lunchtime train up to Marylebone Station in London with nothing planned until 7pm that evening, some inspiration from Jane, took us via the tube (subway) to see St Pauls Cathedral. We climbed the 446 stairs to the top, passed the Whispering Gallery and the Stone Gallery to reach the Golden Gallery, 280 feet above the ground and what an astonishing view of London! As we watched the sun setting over London, we knew we had to tear ourselves away to get over to Greenwich for our appointment with history.

We walked from St Pauls across the Millennium Bridge, famous for its now non-existent wobble, towards Tate Modern to catch the 4:54pm River Bus to The O2. The journey down the River Thames was magical as we slowly meandered our way down stream under Tower Bridge and past the towering offices at Canary Wharf to arrive at our destination at 5:45pm. Through the doors, past more queues of people in line to register where we had stood for 2 1/2 hours the day before, it was time to find some food.

We found a great Sushi Bar which serve some most excellent food, all washed down with a very warming bottle of Saki. It was the only place that could offer instant food, whereas all the usual Burger and Pizza restaurants were full with queues of people looking to grab some food before the concert. Refreshed and content, we set off to find our seats - block 402 row H seats 488 & 489. We went passed the place where the night before we had met up the hard core fans camped out to ensure they had the best place to see the concert. By now they would be in their prime spots! We were ushered to the security point to check our tickets and bags; I was still in dream like disbelief expecting to hear someone say at any time "Wake up simon, it's time to get up!" Then we were through and were guided to the escalator with the words "enjoy the concert". As we ascended to the top of the dome, everyone was in an excited mood and we watched groups of two huddled about, eating, drinking or turning to another group of two to start a conversation. You could feel the buzz of that common bond which had brought the lucky few to The O2. The mixture of people was so great to see. There were couples, both young and old, lifelong friends, a parent and child, and new friends who had just met via the internet to share the experience. As we counted down the block numbers to Block 402, I could see through the doors the vacant space of the arena with beads of blue illuminating the darkness. Then it was our entrance, conveniently nestled right next to the bar!

As we found our seats, the story of Ahmet and Atlantic Records was unfolding on two huge screens. All around people were either watching in silence or talking to their neighbours with the first question being "Hi, where have you travelled from?" Everyone was so incredible friendly, it was like we were all one big family. I sat next to a father and son from San Francisco who had made 2 trips to London, the first two weeks before being laughed off as the trial run! Our conversation is then interrupted by Harvey Goldsmith who welcomes everyone and introduces the first act, Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake and Palmer plus others who played "Fanfare for the common man". A succession of different artists joined the stage for the support acts, but most notable for me was Paul Rodgers of Free who sang "All Right Now". This really got the crowd going. Foreigner ended the support acts with “Do You Want To Know What Love Is” although as soon as a children's choir joined in the chorus, it was time to check out the bar for 2 pints of Boddingtons! Our timing was perfect as no sooner had the drinks been poured, the arena emptied for the intermission and queues began to quickly form! With the house lights on, the stage was quickly cleared and a giant TV screen was lowered as a back drop. Things were happening, drums were tapped, microphones were tested, Ladders were dropped from the lighting rig above the stage and then two brave road crew members gingerly clambered up their respective ladders to possibly the best seats in the house. A cheer came when they reached the top!

Suddenly everyone started to return to their seats and the floor below. Even those seats that had remained empty during the support, began to fill. At one point we did wonder if these empty seats belonged to people denied admission having failed the tight security measures to beat the touts. Those fears were quickly dispensed, it was a full house. At about 9pm, the lights started to dim and darkness returned. The arena erupted into a massive cheer, the main event had started! A clip played from "The song remains the same" film of The Band's arrival in Tampa in 1973 and as each band members was announced on the screen, a huge roar came from the audience with the loudest being for John Bonham. Then suddenly from the darkness there is a thud from the drums and a flash of bright light, then the unmistakeable sound of a Led Zeppelin chord bellowed out from Jimmy Page's guitar with the distinct voice of Mr Robert Plant, quickly followed by a massive cheer, "Good Times, Bad Times" was being play live by a band I thought I would never have the opportunity of seeing. The emotion began to well up inside me as I and 19,999 others watched in awe and disbelief, Led Zeppelin are back on stage playing live. The sound was awesome and as each number was played, they got better and better. I have seen Jimmy Page and Robert Plant perform twice before, but they were never this tight. They needed the solid base riffs that only John Paul Jones can give and Jason's thumping of the drums were just like his father, they were simply brilliant.

So for our favourite bits.... Well for me it has to be all of it but if pushed I would say "Kashmir" and the encores with "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock and Roll"; For Jane, she loved "Dazed & Confused", especially when JP pulled out his infamous bow. Jane was fixated to this through our binoculars; it was a pity that we could not take photos through the binoculars! Even though we were high up "above the gods", we could feel the music vibrating through the floor and seats, but then who was sitting during the encores, long live Rock and Roll!

The show ended and the three original members of the band huddled together as Jason dropped to the ground to pay homage to them, but they would not have it and pulled him up and greeted him as one of their own. They left they stage; the show was over and I can confirm the songs most certainly remains the same! Now we had to get out and quick, it's 11:10pm and the last train from Marylebone leaves at 12:10am. Everyone makes for the escalators, but we make a bee-line for the lifts (elevators) and make it to the ground floor to the exits, passed all the waiting journalists, some with their camera crews ready to catch the eye of a passing fan and pounce. Some are stopped and a microphone is thrust towards them with the question "What did you think of the concert?". On our right, hoards of people had descended on the merchandise counters, eagerly trying to snap up the last T-shirt, mug or special Limited Edition Posters at £60 each (only 1,000 were produced). I hear that everything sold out by the end of the evening!

We made it to the station within 5 minutes of leaving our seats and descended to below ground to find our train. Everything was well organised, two trains were waiting to take us westbound to Baker Street Station and we found two seats on the train, which quickly filled. Everyone spoke to everyone, sharing stories of what they had just experience. One guy had flown in from Australia, but having now made it to the UK, thought he would stay a few months and find work! Another recanted how he has seen Led Zeppelin twice before, but felt the sound they produced tonight was the best he had ever heard. He then went on to tell the story of when he was on a flight and it was delayed at the airport (I can't remember which and the reason for the delay), so decided to pass the time at a bar, only to find he was talking to someone who had also been delayed and notice the "R Plant" on the boarding pass. He suddenly realised he was talking to Robert Plant and was soon joined by Messrs Page, Jones and Bonham who joined him for some drinks! And as we journeyed under London, other stories were recanted; we reach our stop and said our goodbyes well in time for 12:10am from Marylebone and home. It was truly a magical day out.........

Best wishes

p.s. near the end of the Led Zeppelin set, we saw 6 security guys escort someone from the standing area of the Arena. Does anyone know what happened to cause him to be ejected?

The final series of four photos depicting the group hug is from Wyatt in Illinois.

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 clichés 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.

So Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will tour, but what about Led Zeppelin?

A celebratory worldwide reception to the Led Zeppelin reunion concert on Monday -- the first such event of the 21st century, and featuring a fully capable Jason Bonham on drums in place of his late father -- gave fuel to the old will-they-won't-they question that has plagued the band ever since the cruel hand of fate took away one of them.

For perhaps the first time, the question has an answer other than definitely not. They've just appeared onstage and were overwhelmingly successful in recapturing the spirit and the magic of their original incarnation. Each one of them has been quoted, separately, saying the band is playing well and that the future of playing together is possible. So, what's the deal? No official announcement? Have they even made up their own minds yet? Why not keep the momentum going and see what else can be done at this point in time?

The answer is be patient; just wait and see.

One thing that might hold it back -- and this is certainly not the only factor -- is that Robert Plant is too versatile a musician to stick with just one project. The perennial troubadour already has at least one other project on his plate for 2008. Remember, when Led Zeppelin confirmed rumors that it was going to play one show in London to pay tribute to their late mentor, Ahmet Ertegün, it was less than three weeks away from the album release date that introduced the public to the next phase of Plant's career. Indeed, his partnership with Alison Krauss is one he intends to extend beyond only their existing album. Not only will they take their Raising Sand material on the road, as they announced yesterday, but Plant at least once hinted that he and Krauss could be making more studio dates to record a second album together, perhaps next month even.

Already, they are set to spend the month of May touring the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. From this, the logical assumption is that further dates will be in store in the United States, the obvious choice for a bluegrass tour as the music was developed on the American homeland. So, would those shows be in the early spring, or just after the European tour, or some other time? Whatever is implicit here merely puts a temporary limit on the openness of Plant's calendar for outside musical activities.

If only Led Zeppelin didn't have such a versatile singer; he wouldn't be in such high demand! But the simple fact is, folks, he is a versatile singer who, with Alison Krauss, is being energized by a style of music he has heretofore overlooked and performing songs with an approach that is unique in his career. The album came off remarkably well; Raising Sand has been certified Gold by the RIAA and remains high up on Billboard's charts. For a few weeks, it was all I was listening to.

Robert Plant has seldom shied away from a challenge. And he surely realizes bluegrass is not the only possible musical challenge he could be taking on next year. Being the Led Zeppelin singer at the age of 59 is another, a challenge he met head-on for a few hours on Monday.

This development in no way diminishes any chance there is for Led Zeppelin to fly again before audiences in America and elsewhere in 2008 and/or perhaps beyond. In fact, of the rumored concert dates for Led Zeppelin that have been mentioned, the most credible one seems to be the rumored upcoming appearance at the Bonnaroo festival, which takes place this June in Tennessee.

Tacked onto this rumor is the report of Metallica also appearing on the bill, perhaps headlining as one report suggests. (Management for both bands said the report was inaccurate, but it wasn't clear whether they meant the whole thing was or just a minor detail was.) But come on, would Led Zeppelin be playing a festival it wasn't headlining? My opinion: Not in this century! Led Zeppelin might play the festival, but Metallica will not be headlining over Led Zeppelin.

It's interesting to note that the October 2007 "Guitar Heroes" special issue of Q magazine quotes Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett about his appreciation for the live version of "Dazed and Confused" from The Song Remains the Same. "I used to listen to it every day when I was learning how to play guitar," he said. "That's a total guitar wankathon." The magazine ranked it track the second-greatest guitar track of all time, just under the studio version of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Hammett continues, "Jimmy Page cycles through so many moods and levels of intensity, then he breaks out the violin bow."

Hammett then shifts into a story about the group that took place when he was 14 years old and another six years away from joining Metallica. "I saw Zeppelin in 1977 at the Day On The Green [in Oakland, California]. It was the show where [promoter] Bill Graham threatened to throw the Zeppelin guys in jail and there was a big argument before they went on. I remember sitting in the crowd for an hour and a half. Someone came onstage and said, Sorry for the delay, something's wrong with Jimmy's double neck guitar. The funny thing is, I could see it off to the side of the stage. I was thinking, Well, there it is. I wonder what's wrong with it?"

Bonnaroo aside, Led Zeppelin dates at Wembley Stadium in London, Madison Square Garden in New York, and Olympic Stadium in Montreal have also been rumored to be booked, in the works or, at the very least, being contemplated. There is certainly a buzz about the chances of Led Zeppelin performing live again in 2008. Just be patient. We must wait and see.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Robert Plant, Alison Krauss announce European tour in May

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are scheduled to perform 11 shows in May 2008, according to the Tour page on their official site. Their announcement contains dates, locations, showtimes and ticket purchase information.

Their tour is to begin and end in the United Kingdom, with initial dates May 5 at the NIA Academy in Birmingham, May 7 at the Apollo in Manchester and May 8 at Cardiff International Arena in Wales, and concluding May 22 at Wembley Arena in London.

The middle of the month is to include dates in Dusseldorf, Germany (May 10); Brussels, Belgium (May 11); Paris, France (May 13); Amsterdam, Netherlands (May 14); Stockholm, Sweden (May 16); Oslo, Norway (May 18); and Bergen, Norway (May 19).

Each concert is also expected to feature the musicianship of T. Bone Burnett, who produced the singing duo's album Raising Sand and played guitar on it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seventh report from fans in London

Michael traveled from Montreal to attend the Led Zeppelin reunion concert. When his night was finally over, he had a few words to send over the Internet:
It's 5 am Zulu time, finally back in my hotel room.

If I were to write a full, lengthy report right now, it would be gibberish. I'll save that for when I'm sober and lucid and back home in the suburbs of Montreal. Suffice to say it was everything we all hoped it would be x 10.

You know the setlist by now, I'm not going to scoop it for anyone. When Robert said "We need to do one last (?) great show..."--I don't know if it'll be the last, but oh, my Lord, it was Great.

If I had to pin it down to one song that did it for me, it'd be "Since I've
Been Lovin' You." Those of you who I've had the pleasure to get to know online and, in some cases, meet in person know that's my ultimate live Zep tune. And tonight, they brought it on home for me. That was when I got the goosebumps and my tears, they fell like rain.

In the words of Ahmet, "It is a great life, this life of music."

Michael wrote another update last night, supplying the top photo shown here:

Got back home a little earlier this evening, safe and sound and still blown away by what I and 20,000 or so other lucky souls from 50 countries had the privilege to experience for two hours in London, England, on December 10, 2007.

The other photos shown here are from Simon W. in the United Kingdom, who supplied the photos taken Sunday just before the soundcheck, including the pictures of the line that had formed of hardcore fans willing to camp out overnight. Here's word from one of the fans shown in those pictures, another guy named Michael:

That was me in the front of the line in the pics of fans queuing for the show (the guy from Nebraska who is working on his doctorate in music, blue jacket and proudly wearing my dress rehearsal pass as well).

I had front row between Robert and Jimmy and close enough to get some great photos all night. I'll post them on picasa and send the link to you all next week. It was a great experience, like you have been hearing.

I spoke to Robert's assistant today at the airport who was also heading back home to Nashville and he said the guys in the band thought it was an ok show, but mentioned that the crowd was a bit disappointing and lackluster. (I agree, but I genuinely think we were all in a but of shock and awe seeing this happening before our eyes.) Anyway, there is my viewpoint of things.

A very Zeppelin morning in Washington, D.C.

When I arrived at work today, one of my coworkers greeted me and immediately told me to look at the Style section of the Washington Post I was already carrying in my hand. I'm glad I did because there's an excellent concert review submitted by a fan by the name of Erik Huey. The guy appears to be very well versed in his Led Zeppelin reading, referencing the "sons of thunder" comment and other details only hardcore Led Zeppelin fans would know. Perhaps he visits my blog...?

Here is what Huey was thinking during their performance of "Dazed and Confused":
It is not long before the violin bow comes out, which Page proceeds to use for his trademark assault on his Les Paul. All notions of rock idolatry aside, it has now become obvious that Page is simply not human. He is some kind of formless shape-shifter, channeling darker forces as he languidly glides across the stage, his visage made all the more eerie by the shock of white hair that flows to his shoulders.
As part of Huey's personal story, he recounts a typical scenario he encountered during his transcontinental trip to England. It's like he's telling an old joke we've all heard before but is worth repeating in its latest incarnation:
I'm standing in front of a young customs agent at Heathrow who asks, "What is the purpose of your visit?" "To see Led Zeppelin," I emphatically reply. She nods politely and says "Oh, Led Zeppelin, is it? When is he playing?"
Talk radio station WWWT had also played a one-minute clip from Monday's performance of "Black Dog" and went into a bit of discussion about the Led Zeppelin reunion. Cohost David Burd said he'd seen some Youtube clips of the band and was very impressed with what she saw. His counterpart, Jessica Doyle, said she'd heard that the guys in the band are playing better now than they did back in the '70s – reason being that "they're clean now," she said. Then Burd joked that Jimmy Page does admit to being addicted to Vicks VapoRub, smearing it on his guitar so that he can slide his strumming hand down the neck of the guitar more easily. Burd also asked whether a DVD is going to come out officially. The British accent-using sideman who calls himself Nigel said it's positive there would be an official release. As to when it would be out? "Not soon enough," he said, adding, "I could get you one in an hour" off the Internet, claiming he has some connection with the soundboard man.

You'd think talk radio in Washington, D.C., would be completely engulfed in waterboarding and the presidential race. Well, it's not completely engulfed. We do still have personalities. Led Zeppelin is the talk of the town. I'm sure others of you in your respective cities and towns have heard or read coverage of the concert like this. One person listening to 100.7 The Bay – a Baltimore station, if I'm not mistaken – responded with a comment about the coverage on that station, and I read that Seattle was this way Tuesday morning with a local TV station going gaga over the group. How is the band being treated in your area? Comments, please!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Led Zeppelin songs in lower keys

As expected, several of Led Zeppelin's songs at yesterday's reunion show were played in a lower key than normal. Update: It actually turns out that all but six were played in lower keys.

The Exeter Express & Echo quoted Hugh Manson on Sept. 14 as saying, "Some of the songs [at the reunion concert] will be in a lower key than usual and, while you can tune a guitar to accommodate almost any note, the best way is to make an instrument to do the job - and that's what this is. In fact, all the basses used by the band in the concert will be ours."

So, for John Paul Jones to play a song on his bass in a different key doesn't require any additional work. He's said he plays many of these songs out of rote memory; his hands automatically know where to go because he's played the songs many times over the years. Changing the tuning of an instrument from E-A-D-G to D-G-C-F means it is parallel, just lower, and his hands will be in the same places as usual even though the notes being output are lower.

The same goes for Jimmy Page, who is now using a model of guitar that fixes itself to preset tunings. Again, his hands are doing what they would normally do, but since only the tuning is different, the output key is different.

This is what we heard with several of the songs yesterday:
  • Good Times Bad Times - played one whole-step down, in D instead of E
  • Ramble On - (updated, now that I've heard it) played one whole-step down, in D instead of E
  • Black Dog - played one whole-step down, in G instead of A
  • In My Time of Dying - played one whole-step down, in G instead of A
  • Nobody's Fault but Mine - (updated, now that I've heard it) played one whole-step down, in D instead of E (Robert must have been using a G harmonica instead of his traditional A)
  • No Quarter - (updated, now that I've heard it) played in C minor, one whole-step down from the D minor Led Zeppelin has always played it live
  • Dazed and Confused - played one whole-step down, in D instead of E
  • Stairway to Heaven - played one whole-step down, in G minor instead of A minor
  • The Song Remains the Same - played one whole-step down, in C instead of D
  • Rock and Roll - played one whole-step down, in G instead of A
With the exceptions of "No Quarter" and "Stairway to Heaven," anything else John Paul Jones played on the keyboards was in its proper key:

  • "Trampled Under Foot" was in its original key of G minor
  • "Since I've Been Loving You" was in its original key of C minor
  • "Misty Mountain Hop" was in its original key of A (updated, now that I've heard it)
  • "Kashmir" was in D

In addition, two songs without keyboards -- "For Your Life" and "Whole Lotta Love" -- were both in their proper keys: G and E, respectively.

One advantage of playing a song in a lower key than usual is that the singer doesn't have to work as hard to hit the song's highest notes. Now, those highest notes are lower because every note is lower. But another side effect of this is that the lower chords have a bit more edge to them.

Bands like Soungarden and Stone Temple Pilots wrote songs in the 1990s in a drop-D guitar tuning specifically so the lowest possible note their guitars were capable of playing was lower than in the standard guitar tuning. They argued that playing a D power chord as the foundation of a song gives it a deeper, harder edge than does playing an E power chord. Bands like Alice in Chains went even deeper and used a C# tuning to exploit that effect even more fully.

As far as Led Zeppelin's songs being played in lower keys, I think "Dazed and Confused" probably benefited the most from this. Playing "In My Time of Dying" in this key was probably another good idea. I'm not sure the effect on "Stairway to Heaven" is the same. I'd look forward to anybody else's analysis on this subject.

Sixth report from fans in London

Mark from the U.K. provides the following insight:

It must be said that Jason Bonham is easily as good a drummer as his father. I've had the pleasure of seeing Zeppelin in their pomp and in their prime in the '70s, and Bonham Senior was perfection for a rock drummer. Power, passion and precision. Bonham Junior has all his father's attributes, talents and strength. He was 10 out of 10 all night... except for the difficult drum intro to the encore of "Rock 'n' Roll". Here he was only out 8 of 10... but that's me being r-e-a-l-l-y picky, I must confess.

Working for the past 30 years for one of the long-established big city radio stations in the UK, I've been very priviledged to attend some awesome gigs over the decades; last night at London's O2 Arena topped the lot. I was sat (in the VIP section, naturally!) directly behind Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, who stayed to the very end and was discreetly singly along, as was Lulu, Bob Geldof (and daughters), Genesis' Tony Banks, Formula 1 Team Boss Eddie Jordan, top model (and surprisingly tall bird!) Naomi Campbell, amongst many others.

After the first two songs, the (unintended) feedback virtually all but disappeared; the sound cleared and the band soared. A very loud and a very clean sound (eventually); what more could one ask for at a Zeppelin gig?

The After Show party was attended by all the above -and more- notables and the musical entertainment was supplied by former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings; featuring the brilliant Albert Lee on (a lovely green, vintage) Fender Strat., keyboard legend Chris Stainton, and Roger Waters' / David Gilmour's live drummer Graham Broad amongst many others.

Set list for Led Zeppelin at London's O2 Arena, Monday 10/12/07... or for Americans (!) 12/10/07.

'Good Times, Bad Times'
Intro'd with a clip from 'The Song Remains The Same' with an old American news clip showing how they had broken The Beatles' attendance record for their gig in Tampa, Florida.

'Ramble On'
'Ramble On' was very slow and bluesy, with great electric guitar chops from Jimmy Page.

'Black Dog'
Page looking good wearing his cool rock star shades, but spoiled by a poor (not quite-yet-balanced) sound.
Everybody replied to Plant's "ah-ah" lines.

'In My Time Of Dying'
Page on bottleneck. Plant spoke for the first time before starting the song, with his
traditional 'Good evening'.

'For Your Life'
The song's live debut.

'Trampled Under Foot'
Before starting Plant told the crowd it was nicked from Robert Johnson's 'Terraplane Blues'.

'Nobody's Fault But Mine'
Fantastic use of the huge screen behind the stage.

'No Quarter'
Following the song Plant paid tribute to John Paul Jones, who played fantastic keyboards throughout the track... plus a ton of dry ice too.

'Since I've Been Loving You'
An epic version... very bluesy.

'Dazed And Confused'
A ten minute-plus version of this live classic. At the end of it of the song Plant told the audience 'On guitar Jimmy Page, just as on 'The Song Remains The Same' DVD.

'Stairway To Heaven'
The whole audience went absolutely wild from the very first note. Afterwards Plant said "Hey Ahmet, we did it!

'The Song Remains The Same'
A good and faithful-to-the-album version of the classic. The sound was poor on this track for some reason.

'Misty Mountain Hop'
Plant kicked this one off by praising drummer Jason Bonham, and mentioned that both his mother and father were both great singers. Jason tried -albeit very briefly- to emulate their vocal talents. 7 out of 10 for his efforts!

Another epic, ten minute-plus gem. Plant said on the intro: 'We've got people from 50 countries here and this is the 51st'. Following 'Kashmir', they left the stage to thunderous applause... but will we get a rare encore?
You bet! It was...

'Whole Lotta Love'
A great extended theramin-drenched rendition; They again left the stage with an emotional Plant saying: 'Thanks to everybody. Thanks Ahmet Ertegun, this one for is Ahmet Ertegun as we can remember the days when Atlantic Records was the best label on the planet!'

'Rock And Roll'
They couldn't leave out this live classic. And what a way to end an historic show!

Rumours abound within Zeppelin circles that they'll be doing "eight major cities aroud the globe next summer, with five nights in each". Watch this space!

Fifth report from fans in London

Simon K. from the U.K., who supplied the photos used here and is seen on the right in the photo to the right, has sent me the following thoughts from the concert experience:

What a gig!
I have seen many, many bands over the years including Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, AC/DC, Whitesnake, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Guns n' Roses, Metallica etc. etc. etc.
But nothing else comes close ........... this really was the mother of them all!
In the front, centre stage, standing who could possibly ask for more.
Still dazed and confused by the whole experience but nonetheless proud and privileged to be part of history. Outstanding!

Nech from New York provided the following:

Music. Life. The love of life and music. The love of your family, friends, and people you don't even know.... it is a wonderful thing indeed.

I discovered many things about myself and people around me tonight. I'm not gonna go and start a whole University Professor discourse here, but it is the joy of dancing round without boundaries that really breaks down all boundaries between people.

Over the past 2 days, I have met folks from Australia to California, downtowns to uptowns, young tweens wearing brand spanking new repro ’77 tour shirts to grey haired grandfathers wearing their original ’73-80 stretched out over their bellies shirts. All had one thing in common...the love of good music. The love of Led Zeppelin.

The Song does indeed remain the same.

It's pushing 6 am my local time at the moment. Yeah, body clock think's it's only 12 but, I feel as awake as I ever will be. This wasn't just a weekend of Zep, this was a weekend of great music all around brought to us by the late great Ahmet, and the musicians that created it. And if they themselves weren't around, their kin, their spirits, filled the air with magic, and wonderful, wonderful , my wonderful one, noise. Noise that make this guy you all simply know as Nech...Dance. Yes Dance. Dancing Days were here again.

I will go into more details next post, but in this one I just was trying to convey my gut feelings before delirium sets in. No sleep and no food (except a Thai chicken wing breakfast ) make me a bit woozy.

My family knows the true joys of my heart. It's the joy they bring me. But for this weekend I enjoyed truly what it means to be a rock and not to roll...
After Nech wrote this, he responded to an e-mail that asked, "Why do I get the feeling this was the best Zeppelin show ever?" Nech replied:

Because it was.

It really was.

06:24 and I'm still awake...reelin' in the feeling.

I wish ALL of you could've been here. What a joy to see THEIR joy.

This needs to be shared properly with the whole music world....not via youtube or any really compressed and beyond distorted clip from my pos camera I can provide.

Release the dogs....I mean ...oh you know what I mean....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Led Zeppelin reunion links

Complete Led Zeppelin set list from the O2 arena

Here's the complete set list from Led Zeppelin's performance on December 10, 2007


Update: Links to Youtube clips added above!

Another update: Incorrect reports said "Custard Pie" was played. It evidently was not.

Fourth report from fans in London

(Photo from yesterday's soundcheck taken by Ross Halfin)

The concert is underway, and Led Zeppelin is about to start. Stay tuned!

Update: Songs played will appear in the comments section of this post!
Looks like the lineup was a bunch of Ertegün favorites. This according to New Musical Express:
The Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert is now well underway at London's O2 Arena.
The concert started with a supergroup of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Keith Emerson, joined by Alan White and Chris Squire from 60's prog rock group Yes, and Bad Company's Simon Kirke, performing 'Fanfare Of The Common Man'.
The group were then swiftly followed with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings taking to the stage, who are to be the night's house band.
Singer Maggie Bell, rock'n' roller Alvin Lee and Mike Sanchez then took to the stage to perform a succession of 50s soul ballads.
Paul Rodgers came on next performing his classic riff track 'All Right Now' followed by Bad Company's 'Seagull'.
Foreigner then took to the stage with their biggest hit 'Do You Want To Know What Love Is', the band were accompanied by a children's choir for the huge sing-along chorus.
The stage is now being cleared for what presumably will be Led Zeppelin.

Third report from fans in London

Chris from Virginia, who got two tickets in the first passcode drawing, just called me from a pub near the O2 arena to let me know he's in the presence of Led Zeppelin authority Robert Godwin. In case you didn't know, Godwin is the celebrated author of "The Press Reports" and "The Collector's Guide to Led Zeppelin" among others. And, according to the story Chris just told me, Godwin is also the guy who coined the name of the bootleg Listen to This, Eddie!

Godwin was apparently fed up with hearing the fictional story about the bootleg title being attributed to some radio disc jockey who had Eddie Van Halen on his radio program. According to that old wives' tale, Eddie was complaining about Jimmy Page's guitar playing as being sloppy, which miffed the DJ, who then played a fine counterexample, ordering him, "Listen to this, Eddie!"

Well, the story has now been debunked by none other than Godwin himself, who says he coined it. The bit about Eddie Van Halen complaining about Page's guitar playing as "sloppy" was correct, but it was Godwin who suggested to the publisher of the first unofficial release of Led Zeppelin's show from Los Angeles on June 21, 1977, that the guitar playing on that date was so good it should be played to Eddie Van Halen. Godwin suggested that someone ought to take this concert recording to Eddie Van Halen and say, "Listen to this, Eddie!" And hence the bootleg title was born! Thanks for the tidbit, Chris!

Speaking of bootlegging, somebody "anonymous" wrote a very nice comment today on my blog posting from September 2 about bootlegging. It reads like an essay, and it offers a very nice suggestion for bands that have been recorded. It is some very useful advice for Led Zeppelin.

Word has it the Ahmet Ertegün tribute concert is going to open with an all-star performance of "Fanfare for the Common Man," the Aaron Copland piece popularized by ELP. Participating in the performance are to be the E of ELP -- Keith Emerson -- along with Alan White and Chris Squire (who are both members of Yes and played with Page in a band called XYZ shortly after the demise of Led Zeppelin) and possibly also Rick Wakeman, who may or may not be wearing a cape. What a beginning to the show this would be!

I was listening to some Foreigner the other day. Great stuff! I called up one of my brothers out of blue that night and asked him what the best saxophone solo in rock history is. I didn't give him a hint that I was looking for a particular answer. It took him a minute of listing off a few contenders, and then he got the exact song I was thinking of: "Urgent" by Foreigner.

Second report from fans in London

Nech, a fan from New York state known among Led Zeppelins as a core contributor to the discussion group For Badgeholders Only, was greeting longtime friends when he started to hear the unmistakable sound of Led Zeppelin beginning its soundcheck with a run-through of "Good Times Bad Times." The song opens Led Zeppelin's first album, but the band is not known to have ever performed the song in its entirety. Nech was in a line waiting to be allowed into the arena to be in the same room as Led Zeppelin performing. He writes that hearing the song from the line, "It sounds like a barnburner!!!"

That ends, and soon we begin to hear another tune...and no mistaking this
one either as that bass line snaked its way into our collective souls..."Ramble
On"!!!! And sounds Like Plant is belting it out!!!
After this, Nech says, the line began moving.

That goes quick and we are litterally running for the door. Meanwhile some
undecipherable jam had went on. Sounded like they were redoing a bit of "Ramble
On" again..or possibly a quick snatch of "The Wanton Song"???

We walk out onto the floor but are then guided by security up to the seats stage right... Jimmy's old side!!! But Jimmy, Jonesy and Plant are all kinda huddled together in the middle of the stage talking so what's gonna happen here?!?!?!

Hmmmmmmm what are they gonna do. Then my heart lurches... Jimmy's got a slide on and I recognize THAT tuning!!!! And lo and behold they launch into "In My Time of Dying".....chills, people...chills.....The sound's a bit boomy but that gets tamed and as they progress along one thing in particular sticks out. Robert's voice is incredible!!!!!!!!! Jason's driving it along with what I think looks like a double kick pedal and Jimmy, well Jimmy looks like the cat that ate the tweety bird. HE IS ALL SMILES!!!! HE IS DANCING!!! HE IS KICKING HIS HEELS AND TOES IN TIME.. In my opinion Jimmy is in heaven.

There's a break in the sound as snap crackles and pops replace Jimmy's guitar and soundmen scramble...They don't miss a beat and they continue on. I am in heaven too. At the end of the song Plant starts ad libbing "Honeybee" and they play along before bring it back for one "oh my Jesus... Jesus make up dying bed..." and I feel like at this point I can die happy. THEY ROCKED IT!!!! The gel was there!!!!

I lost my voice as I just could not contain the small audience clapped along I just had to let out a huge YEEEAAAHHHHH!!!!! And the crowd took it as their cue to, yeah, so what if it's a soundcheck...APPLAUSE...LOUD APPLAUSE.... I think the guys on stage were taken aback, but so appreciated it.

Plant was already back as the Plantationator.... joking and laughing about as he called out, "Where are the children in need, people?" A small group stood up and Plant in the same swagger of '70s barechested Golden God goes, "Well, I'll see you later during the drum solo!" Those in the know laughed ourselves silly.

Meanwhile, the guys are switching gears...Jones has taken off his bass and is meandering about his keys. He's travelling light these days. Just two sets it looks like, one definitely a large Korg and another smaller set mounted on top of that. One note...he hit one note and that was enough...."NO QUARTER"! A couple more adjustments as Jason starts hitting his large gong....gong...gonggg....gong.....Jones continues noodling teasing us with 'No Quarter' snippets as Jimmy now brandished his Les Paul. Plant meanders off stage to the floor for a cuppa tea and they start into "No Quarter."

At first, vocal-less, but then I do hear some ..where's that coming from ??? And then I realize, It's Jason bending down low and singing through a drum mike adding an eerie quality to it. When Jimmy hit that first wahhed riff again...chills. It sounds raw, devlish...dirty and in my opinion right on. Jones does just a short solo before Jimmy start in with that familiar descending riff into his solo. No pinky problems here, folks... Jason belts them all into a crescendo and with "the dogs of doom" Jimmy breathes life into his Theremin and I just had to stand and raise my hands straight up high... master master!!! And then the second Jimmy wah-wah, PHENOMENAL!!!!

As the song ends Jimmy raises the Gibson over his head in triumph. Again, I cannot contain myself and scream out to them "We're not Worthy" in my best Wayne's World way. Also Plant ended up sitting on the drum riser as the song wound down, perfectly content to let them have worked this out without him.

Then something amazing...Jones switches over to his 8 string bass and he starts plunking out the "Nobody's Fault but Mine" riff... once twice... that bass sounds mean. I guess a bass can sound mean, no?! Slightly distorted it could practically double for Jimmy's riffage. Plant has his harp and launches right into his solo just as Jimmy also picks up his Les Paul and they are working out what I believe is going to be a brain-breaking start-stop harp affair that is gonna bring the house down. Amazingly it looks like Jason's calling the shots on this... As I sit there thinking out loud, that it's odd to be working on a number this late in the game, I see what's happening.... the improv, the groove... no no no Jason's saying listen .... tappa tappa tappa, humming out his idea...they catch on to it and never play the whole tune, but like I said, if it's what I got out of it, life is never gonna be the same. At one point Plant kinda just goes off on his own doing a quick blues harp thingy whilt JPJ, Jimmy and Jason talk semantics...

Jones changes up his bass again as Jimmy seems satisfied ... As the others meander off, a tearjerker of a moment. Jason's son with daddy standing behind him is on the kit. He plays out a couple simple patterns and gets a round of applause. Looks like Dad says, go ahead son and that kids laid down some rolls that probably had Bonzo spilling tears in Heaven. I know it touched me as I had to wipe another away. Like father, like son, like son.

As contest winners are being whisked away, a crew guy summons the band and all the crew onto the Stage for a great big group shot....

This is gonna be great. So great that I am hoping that all those cameras on and off stage are not just gonna be for the gargantuan screen backing the entire stage, but something the whole world can someday see.

As with my previous post, the photos are courtesy of Simon W. from the United Kingdom. It looks like there aren't going to be many fan photos from inside the arena, if any at all, as security there is pretty tight and collecting anything resembling personal media. (Update: This proved wrong, and thank goodness!)

As Nech mentioned, however, there are cameras inside, and one report from MTV in Canada claims the entire concert, including all acts, will be captured for a future DVD release. We'll see what comes to fruition.

First report from the Led Zeppelin fans in London

Simon W., a fan from the U.K., won a passcode in the original drawing for the Ahmet Ertegün tribute concert. He wrote me from London, where he and his wife received their tickets and wristbands on Sunday to attend today's concert. They spent about two-and-a-half in line for those and then another two hours in line to buy some merchandise. The whole time, they were able to talk with other likeminded fans.

The O2 arena must just be full of Led Zeppelin fans. Some devoted people, upon receiving their tickets and wristbands, were preparing to spend the night in line. Being the first to arrive, they would be the ones with the best view at the front near the stage. The first to show up had been there since 2 p.m. on Saturday. This is the bearded guy in the photo on the left. Wearing the wool cap is a student seeking a Ph.D. in classical music from Lincoln University in Nebraska. (Update: His name's Mike, and I've actually known him through my newsletter for a few years!) The fan along with him is from Colorado, and they arrived in line on Sunday at 6 a.m. Members of the press spoke the the fans who were earliest to arrive, and the promoter also arranged for these fans to receive all-access passes dated 12.09.07 so they could enter for Led Zeppelin's soundcheck.

(Photos all courtesy of Simon, as well as the details above.)

The soundcheck consisted of five songs. More on that very soon...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Interview opportunities abound for Led Zeppelin members

Welcome to December, the month of the Led Zeppelin reunion concert. The one-off performance by Jason Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant takes place little over a week from now.

The interviews from all four guys are coming fast and furiously! Following is a sampling of some of the latest.

An interview with Jason Bonham is cited both in Rythm magazine and in Rolling Stone. Read these pieces reprinted here: and

Robert Plant enlightens in this audio piece:

John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page discuss the reunion in this videotaped question-and-answer:

And while you're in the mood for interviews, here's a portion of one that took place years ago but never appeared in print anywhere until published recently on Enzepplopedia. Author Frank Reddon interviews original MTV veejay J.J. Jackson, who was an early supporter of Led Zeppelin. In discussing the 1969 debut album, J.J. shares some impressions of that LP many fans have likely missed.

Read this, and you'll probably want to go grab the album right away!

It's all part of the latest Enzepplozine available at Free registration is required to access the contents; no password necessary, so this means no more than submitting your name and a valid e-mail address.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Led Zeppelin makes top 10 Billboard debut

Mothership, Led Zeppelin's two-disc best-of set released Nov. 13, debuted at No. 7 in the Billboard 200 chart.

The same Dec. 1 chart listing also ranks Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" at No. 14 Billboard's among hot ringtones. The 1971 track also peaked at No. 30 among hot digital songs.

The new album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss is hanging on to Billboard's top 25 in its fourth week since release. Now at No. 25, Raising Sand was an unexpected hit right away, peaking at No. 2 in its first week.

Next week's chart listings are expected to contain Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same soundtrack. The double-disc release was reissued on Nov. 20 along with a new 2-DVD adaptation of the band's 1976 movie of the same name.

Zep members promote bluegrass projects

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded an appearance on the nationally syndicated public radio program "World Cafe." The singers recalled their meeting and detailed their favorite moments from their collaborative album, Raising Sand, in a segment with host and interviewer David Dye that aired Nov. 22. The appearance is archived online here.

Uncle Earl is scheduled to appear on the show Jan. 15 as part of a U.S. tour so far scheduled for the East Coast and Midwest. Their second album, released March 2007, was produced by John Paul Jones. He plays various instruments on four of the album tracks including in their latest video, and he has appeared onstage with Uncle Earl several times.

The group last week completed a tour of the United Kingdom. Jones attended both the first and last shows with his wife, Mo (Maureen), according to Uncle Earl's official newsletter:
Of all the 2 million people trying to get LED ZEPPELIN tickets right now, the really smart ones came out to see Uncle Earl on the first and last days of our tour. ;-) John Paul Jones & his wife Mo made it out to London & Bristol, which made us feel pretty special.
The same week as the Uncle Earl video featuring Jones makes its debut online, the bluegrass project engulfing Robert Plant is premiering on the Country Music Television network. The Bluegrass Blog reported that the video for "Gone, Gone, Gone" with Plant and Alison Krauss "is set to enter CMT in a medium-heavy rotation, with better than 20 airings weekly."

The Plant-Krauss video, which can be seen online here (and below), is slated to be included in the country channel's countdown program beginning Thursday, Nov. 29, according to a few blogs including Miranda Lambert's.

Clips of a prototype of the "Gone, Gone, Gone" video aired during the duo's "Today" show appearance on Oct. 24 and other televised interviews at the time. The video now online includes previously unaired scenes and represents a vast improvement over the prototype, containing some playful glances exchanged between the two singers.

"I've met my match with the American roots musicians I'm working with at the moment," Plant told the Observer in London, for a piece published Sunday, Nov. 11.

"My love for discovering new things is ceaseless, but I have missed white American roots music entirely," Plant continued. "I thought it was just guys in the hills singing black people's songs, and I was so wrong. This is a mountain song about a woman who goes off the rails, and he tells a tale, and he's got a way of singing that goes deep; you can hear the experience in his voice."

Plant even alluded to the related work of his fellow Led Zeppelin member. "I've been seeing more of John Paul Jones recently, who has been in Nashville, and I've been working with Alison Krauss and T-Bone Burnett, so the doors have been flung wide open," he said.

In an interview alongside Krauss for the December 2007 issue of Mojo magazine, Plant expounded on his earliest and more recent impressions of Nashville.

Monday, November 26, 2007

John Paul Jones cameos in Uncle Earl music video

John Paul Jones makes a cameo appearance in a new video by old-time string band Uncle Earl. The video, shown below, is for the song "Streak O' Lean, Streak O' Fat," a track from the album Jones produced.

Jones, who made his acting debut in Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same in 1976, stars with confidence in the role of the piano player. It is a part for which he is well suited because he actually did supply piano to the track, released on the album Waterloo, Tennessee, in March.

"The one thing I can say about John Paul is that he might be the one other guy who is in love with the Uncle g'Earls as much as I am," video director Tom Krueger tells "The reason he's smiling so much in the video is cause they were all right over my shoulder dancing just for him."

Jones is also credited with some back-up hollering on the track, which features the lead vocals of Uncle Earl's Abigail Washburn. The lyrics, which she supplied along with Jon Campbell, are sung in Chinese and describe eating braised fatty meat, excessively drinking liquor, and dancing.

Washburn explains the story behind the song's recording in the album's liner notes. "Before we knew what was happening, the g'Earls were sitting in a circle in the recording studio, busting down on the tune with JPJ on piano, and I was yelling lines out in Chinese," she writes.

"Although the reference may seem obscure to some, hongshao rou happens to be known as Mao Zedon's favorite dish from his home province of Hunan," continues Washburn. "Really it's composed of a small streak o' lean meat with a big hunk of fat, and it freaks out the foreigners when it lands on the dinner table."

In the video, Jones gets into his piano playing with his right foot propped up on the piano bench. A downward shot reveals that the Led Zeppelin member was wearing open-toed shoes.

"Oh, and he doesn't normally wear those kind of sandals," said Krueger, "but since we were in a Chinese restaurant we thought it went better and he just sighed and slipped 'em on."