Monday, May 17, 2010

Dave Lewis remembers Zep at Earl's Court, 35 years later

Even with Issue 26 of his fanzine Tight But Loose now fresh from the printing press this morning and ready to be distributed to subscribers around the world, Dave Lewis is ever mindful of today's date. This being the 35th anniversary of his all-time favorite series of Led Zeppelin concerts, there was never any chance Lewis would let the occasion slip without offering some classic write-ups about Led Zeppelin at Earl's Court arena in London.

In 1975, today's date was a Saturday and the beginning of Led Zeppelin's five-night stint in front of thousands of people from all over England. Some were witnessing the band for the first time. For most who'd seen them before in England, it had been a good two years since the last time. Lewis poetically recalls today what it was like when Led Zeppelin took the stage and started to play:
"... [W]hen the stage burst into action following Bob Harris's intro just after 8pm, well it was the moment my life switched into colour after the previous 18 years had been viewed in grainy black and white."
Today's reflection is short and sweet, but that is to be expected. There is tons more to be published this week as he has dubbed it "Earl's Court Week" for TBL/Web. Take my advice and don't miss any of his installments!

Also not to be missed is his aforementioned print fanzine, which this time seems even more jam-packed than ever before with all sorts of interesting information. One highlight is his interview with Glenn Hughes, formerly of Deep Purple and now a solo act as well as the singer for a certain unnamed band that recently recorded an album with Jason Bonham. Portions of the interview that were released early include Hughes providing early details about the new band project, but there's still a lot more in that interview to see -- especially in terms of the stories Hughes tells about his fellow musicians, Robert Plant and John Bonham.

The theme for the three issues of Tight But Loose to be released this year is the events of exactly 40 years ago. This is obvious from the cover, with the words "Led Zeppelin Flying High in 1970: New Decade, New Directions." The centerpiece of this first issue is said to be a piece submitted by Mike Tremaglio, chronicling Led Zeppelin's concerts from that year. If that sounds like familiar territory, don't underestimate the number of revelations still possible. Says Lewis:
"Well, aside from being the most accurate day-to-day log of that period ever compiled, you can find out which band had the distinction of being the only indoor support act to Zep in 1970; the name of the venue that hosted Zep, Pink Floyd and Yes in a matter of months; the time they all went to view the Woodstock movie; and the venue that hosted a Minnesota North Stars hockey team playoff game in the afternoon and a live performance by Led Zeppelin in the evening. Such minute detailed info has made Mike Tremaglio the foremost chronicler of Zep concert history. Once again, it's an absolute privilege to showcase his findings."
That was 40 years ago. Earl's Court was 35 years ago. The subject of a book Lewis is releasing this September deals with events that took place 30 years ago. With all the talk of anniversaries, there is one more that Lewis does not overlook, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's first concert tour together in the post-Zeppelin era. Already, this is 15 years ago. Lewis brings us up to date with his modern-day reflections on the 1995 tour by Page and Plant:
"Given all that's happened since then, with the O2 reunion, etc., it's easy to forget the impact that first Page & Plant tour had back then. In parallel to the Vultures, at the time it gave fans old and new a fresh opportunity to see why the Zep legacy was held in such  esteem -- not to mention the pure joy of hearing the No. 1 rock catalog of all time performed live by two of the integral players. However, in hindsight, JPJ's non-involvement seems even more bizarre now. Reading my thoughts from the shows in the Meadowlands I witnessed and the reviews of the time does bring back the sense of wonderment of that period. What we got, we were grateful for at the time. This look back, I hope, inspires readers to dig out some of the 1995 Page & Plant recordings as there were some amazing moments -- 'Achilles Last Stand' in Atlanta, 'House of the Rising Sun'/'Good Times Bad Times' in New Orleans, 'Since I've Been Loving You' in Sheffield, 'That's the Way' at Mountain View, etc."
Lewis is also hopeful that another piece in TBL 26 will prompt readers to listen to some other recordings. There's a series of interviews conducted by Stephen Humphries, who sought out three guitarists from various eras in Robert Plant's solo career. He speaks with Doug Boyle (Plant's guitarist from 1987 to 1992, including two long tours and the albums Now and Zen in 1988 and Manic Nirvana in 1990), Francis Dunnery (one of Plant's guitarists on the 1993 album Fate of Nations and that year's tour) and Justin Adams (one of Plant's guitarists in the Strange Sensation touring band from 2001 to 2007, and the albums Dreamland in 2002 and Mighty ReArranger in 2005). Lewis says of the piece incorporating this trio of new interviews:
"It really gets to the heart of the views of these three excellent guitarists and their take on their respective involvement with the various stages of Robert's solo career. I'm sure it will prompt readers to go back to [Plant's] albums ... with renewed perspective, which is always one of the magazine's objectives."
There are many other features in this issue I haven't listed here, making it quite the fetch. To order a year's subscription to TBL and have access to timeless articles like these, visit TBL/Web for ordering information.

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