Sunday, May 24, 2015

40 Year Itch : Led Zeppelin Plays Earls Court

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, in magic dragon suit. May 1975

   At the height of their power, less than two months following their American tour, Led Zeppelin performed a five night stand at Earls Court Arena in London on May 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25.

Critic Chris Welch is among those who claim these are the best Led Zeppelin concerts ever. He writes :

The band played with tremendous fire, possessed by an almost demonic power, amidst clouds of smoke pierced by green laser beams. Jimmy Page flailed his violin bow against the guitar strings, producing eerie, echoing gothic howls. 

At the time, I wrote in a review that "Robert Plant maintains an essentially human, chatty approach to audiences, almost like a guide taking us through the story of the band, a jester at the wheel of some fearsome juggernaut, offering sly asides and poetic ruminations between moments of terrible power." 

... The band enjoyed the Physical Graffiti material far more than the old war horses, and the best moments from the previous albums came in the shape of ballads and acoustic songs

  There were 40 tons of concert gear shipped in for the show: 100 speaker cabinets, 40 microphones, 200 spotlights all powered by generators capable of illuminating every neon sign on London's West End.

  What the 17,000 fans at Earls Court didn't know is that they were witnessing the band's UK swansong.
  They wouldn't return until 1979s Knebworth Music Festival.
And in the years between, tragedy and alcohol and drug abuse would all take their toll.

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