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June 29, 2011 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Chuck Klosterman breaks down Led Zeppelin's 1979 Knebworth Festival performance of In the Evening. Bonus: Led Zeppelin when they were crazy good in 1970.
posted by zzazazz (43 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Argyle sweater vest? Total rock and roll.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2011


huh, grantland is still around.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plant vamps the appropriate amount

Debatable. I am distracted by his vamping, torn between "Robert Plant is super hot and is an awesome lead singer" and "Stop flipping your hair around!"
posted by theredpen at 10:16 AM on June 29, 2011


dragon pants rule.
posted by clavdivs at 10:17 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Internet, I'd like a photoshop of Peter Grant in dragon pants, please. Theremin optional. Thx!
posted by swift at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2011


That "crazy good" link is the January 9, 1970 (Page's 26th birthday) show at the Royal Albert Hall - when they indeed played like gods. You owe it to yourself to obtain one of the many bootleg recordings.

Their 1979 selves were a sorry facsimile, I'm afraid.
posted by Trurl at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how Led Zeppelin typifies everything I hate about ridiculous over-the-top self-important 70s megarockstars, and somehow transcends that to also typify much of what I love about rock. It's like they are living Spinal Tap while they film and laugh at it, while getting high as fuck and creating great original music they stole from poor blues guys they deeply respect. At the same time.
posted by freebird at 10:28 AM on June 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


I was walking around our farmer's market downtown and heard some Zeppelin coming from a few blocks away. Far enough that I couldn't tell if it was a recording or live. As I got closer, I could tell the drums were real and thought, "Huh.. maybe some some old cover band got up early to rock out. Haven't heard music like this at the market before."
Got close enough to see them and they couldn't have been more than 16 years old, just CRUSHING Black Dog.. air tight. It was a good morning.
posted by starman at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


He began his career dressing like a Victorian bullfighter3 before briefly switching to sweater vests,4 thus becoming the only human to ever don a sweater vest and immediately seem less gay.

And thus we learn that there are in fact things gayer than wearing a sweatervest.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw them a couple of times in the same year -- probably 1971 or 1972 -- at Liverpool University Students Union, a hall that held about 800 or 1000 at most. I was never a fan of the band or their albums at all, but they completely knocked me out live.

I think Led Zep III must have just come out because they opened with Immigrant Song?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:04 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Got close enough to see them and they couldn't have been more than 16 years old, just CRUSHING Black Dog.. air tight.

Good Times, Bad Times - The Hoover High Stage Band
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2011


> You owe it to yourself to obtain one of the many bootleg recordings.

Or buy (or otherwise obtain) the DVD, which does indeed rule.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2011


I saw Robert Plant get hit in the head with a tennis ball at a concert in Dallas in 1988. That is all.
posted by punkfloyd at 11:16 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apparently, it was May 10th, 1971. Here's a shot of the venue. I watched the opening of the set from that balcony, and then half way through, went downstairs for the better dancing.

Saw them on the Liverpool Stadium the same year and was bored shitless, so they were obviously pretty variable back in the day.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2011


I enjoyed this article, but couldn't disagree more with the grades he gave their album covers. Pretty much all of them were mediocre-to-lame (ESPECIALLY Presence), but the first album is an A+.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:20 AM on June 29, 2011


In 1979 I was 15 and agreed with Paul Simonon about Zep but after I grew up I realized that I mostly hated the meat-heads in high-school who were into Zep and that the band itself was pretty amazing. What freebird said above is pretty close to how I feel about them, somehow they're everything wrong about '70s Rawk and yet everything I love too.
posted by octothorpe at 11:33 AM on June 29, 2011


I saw Robert Plant get hit in the head with a tennis ball at a concert in Dallas in 1988. That is all.

Tennisball!

People in all walks of life were getting hit. . .
Tennisball!

Respected men in high places were getting hit. . .
Tennisball!

Betrand Russell got hit. . .
Tennisball!

Kim Novak got hit on tv on front of millions of viewers. . .

Since 'Tennisball Tuesday', it appears that the number of instances has started to taper off. For many, the decline is a constant source of anxiety as they wait and hope that some fine day, they too . . . but alas. . .

Tennisball doesn't work that way!
posted by Herodios at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Herodios: "People in all walks of life were getting hit. . .
Tennisball!
"

I was trying to fit this into the "boot to the head" tune, and just...couldn't. Hope me?
posted by notsnot at 11:50 AM on June 29, 2011


Zep in 1969, Dazed and Confused, suitably overblown and rather wonderful. They don't half generate a head of steam here, and I'm not talking about the dry ice.
posted by Decani at 12:02 PM on June 29, 2011



I love how Led Zeppelin typifies everything I hate about ridiculous over-the-top self-important 70s megarockstars, and somehow transcends that to also typify much of what I love about rock. It's like they are living Spinal Tap while they film and laugh at it, while getting high as fuck and creating great original music they stole from poor blues guys they deeply respect. At the same time.


I feel the same way. This pitchfork review has always summed up for me what I think is the proper approach to Zeppelin:
The band was a big, dumb example of every opulent shark-story rock cliché of the 1970s: They were heavy-handed, irresponsible purveyors of the "blues"; they were fake hippies and fake mystics who managed to strip even the grandest statements in rock of their power via mind-numbing drum solos and bowed-guitar expositions; they were the original Spinal Tap, replete with whole songs about Greek myths, ancient Celtic rituals, completely inappropriate bits of Bach spliced into Page's "Heartbreaker" solo, and a manager who was at once imposing, apologetic and the butt of Bob Dylan's jokes. One more thing: They were the greatest rock band to ever set foot on a stage, so what they fuck are you talking about?
posted by anazgnos at 12:07 PM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, just get the DVD - disc one could be used to break concrete bunkers and disc two isn't far behind. And there's just way too many quality boots to recommend.
posted by Ber at 12:56 PM on June 29, 2011


The oldies medleys are often the best part of any Zep boot, and not because the oldies themselves are so great, but it's the one moment where you get all the energy and pummeling force of the band with all the ponderousness cut out.
posted by anazgnos at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2011


My understanding is that the DVD is augmented with tastefully restrained overdubbing. As such, I can't recommend it as a document of their live performance.

Among the boots, I can't enthuse wildly enough over the evening show on September 19, 1970 at Madison Square Garden that appeared out of nowhere a while back. It's a decent audience tape, nothing more, but the performance beggars superlatives.
posted by Trurl at 1:37 PM on June 29, 2011


I kind of hate listening to late coming zep fans trying to figure how they can like something so completely against their principles. It's fairly obvious, their principles sucked, but that part never comes out.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


When I was old enough to care about such things, probably around 1983 or 1984, I loved The Clash because they struck me as authentic (even if that was arguably a pose) and Led Zeppelin because they rocked.

Every 30 minutes or so, the little Joe Strummer and the little Jimmy Page in my head would get into a fist fight and I'd end up listening to American Top 40 to shut them both up.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:20 PM on June 29, 2011


it's the one moment where you get all the energy and pummeling force of the band with all the ponderousness cut out.

On reflection, that's probably exactly the difference between the two times I saw them in the same year. The first time, at the Liverpool Stadium, they were the archetype of boring prog rock -- tedious noodlings that all went on way too long.

The second time I saw them though, they raced through a bunch stuff off the new album and a handful of their greatest hits -- and it came out like a kind of heavy metal power pop
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:32 PM on June 29, 2011


The oldies medleys are often the best part of any Zep boot...

Yeah, for the reasons you stated. There's some bootlegs around of a sound check from 1973. They play Chuck Berry and old Elvis songs. I understand you probably don't want to play something like The Battle of Evermore to warmup, but I thought it was neat, here's Zeppelin at the height of all their powers, more drugs, money, and sex than anyone could want, and what do they play when no one's looking: Chuck Berry. I'm sure that's what I would have done if I was a 1970's rock god.

Good article zzazazz and good post, when you sent me that link earlier today I thought "If he doesn't post that to Metafilter I probably will." Reading it's giving me something to do while I download Springsteen bootlegs off of BigO. I love the internet and I love days off work.
posted by marxchivist at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2011


Obligatory iwuzrthere: I was there. And not everyone was 'losing their hash-riddled minds'. My main memory of the latter part of the concert is that I was dog-tired after a night under the stars and a day under the sun. There were no big screens in those days, and the band was probably 100–150 yards away from me, so the band needed to 'vamp it up' and use laser shows, otherwise there would have been sod all to see.

One of the problems with the rock gods of the day was that they hardly ever seemed to tour, and then they only played enormous venues. The punk & new wave bands were always on tour and played venues that were small enough for most of the audience to be within gobbing distance of the stage. And you could afford to see the new bands.
posted by StephenB at 2:57 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this, zzazazz.

Joey Michaels: "Every 30 minutes or so, the little Joe Strummer and the little Jimmy Page in my head would get into a fist fight..."

I may just have to name my MeFi mix-tape "Joe Strummer And Jimmy Page Are Fighting In My Head".
posted by Room 641-A at 3:10 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's fairly obvious, their principles sucked

What principles?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:29 PM on June 29, 2011


I kind of hate listening to late coming zep fans trying to figure how they can like something so completely against their principles.

The first rock album I heard was Bat Out Of Hell, and I was into Wall-era Floyd before I got into Zep. Zep sounded restrained by comparison.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2011


Colorful, quality piece. Though as a Zeppelin fan myself, I'm not really convinced the nitpicky aspect of the points really hold up with the colossal and diversified body of work that constitutes their work. I like my Zoso raw, thumping, and free.
posted by Meatafoecure at 5:32 PM on June 29, 2011


1) A good friend of mine saw Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979. He said that after the first encore, the band came back and lit up a double lighting rig for the climax of "Kashmir". He said it was very impressive.

2) Klosterman can be funny and insightful, but he never quite achieves the Lester Bangs levels he aspires towards, although this essay does reflect those disses on live concerts by heavy metal dinosaurs which Bangs loved to do. I do like his vague backpedal conclusion:
This is Led Zeppelin when they sucked. And wouldn't it be wonderful if all things were this bad?

3) Led Zeppelin were not the model for Spinal Tap. Uriah Heep were the model for Spinal Tap, and they were a really excellent heavy rock band.
posted by ovvl at 5:47 PM on June 29, 2011


The Doors were better.
posted by bardic at 9:06 PM on June 29, 2011


The Doors were better.

No, they weren't. And I say that as a man who's yelled long rambling poetry over heavy rock while wearing leather pants.

The article gets props for a Drive-By Truckers reference in the first few paragraphs.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:13 PM on June 29, 2011


I thought Scorpions were the basis for Spinal Tap?

(actually they were based on no one particular band, but let's not go there)
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:34 PM on June 29, 2011


after I grew up I realized that I mostly hated the meat-heads in high-school who were into Zep and that the band itself was pretty amazing

Precisely the same for me. It took until a good friend reassured me (and gave me his Zep tapes, as he was converting it all to CD) that I took a good listen at age 24-25. Been a big fan ever since. Shame on my teenage bigotry.
posted by grubi at 7:19 AM on June 30, 2011


and it came out like a kind of heavy metal power pop

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by grubi at 7:22 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as the argyle sweater thing, I always got a kick out of it. I just assumed he had to wear it because his grandmother gave it to him for christmas and she was in the audience that night.

I thought Scorpions were the basis for Spinal Tap?

(actually they were based on no one particular band, but let's not go there)



I saw some nods to Deep Purple in the movie, and of course they went through drummers like The Grateful Dead went through keyboard players.
posted by TedW at 7:24 AM on June 30, 2011


Status Quo, too.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:09 AM on June 30, 2011


What are "Achillie's Last Stand" and "Kasmir"? I thought this guy was like the king of all rock journos.
posted by Clustercuss at 8:14 AM on June 30, 2011


What are "Achillie's Last Stand" and "Kasmir"?

Obviously, those are the cheap Chinese knockoff versions.
posted by grubi at 8:20 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


and it came out like a kind of heavy metal power pop

You say that like it's a bad thing.


Indeed. Indeed, part 2.

When I worked in the valley, my company had a shuttle that drove people to and fro San Francisco, and even though there were only 10-12 of us, sometimes (usually Fridays) we would get the big bus with the Polish driver who made us watch The Song Remains the Same every single damn time. Those were the good days.

(Go ahead and skip to part 2, 1:20 for the first actual music of the stupid movie.)

I love Zeppelin with a furious, burning fever of nostalgia that neither the most annoying fan nor the most disturbing development or commercial jingle could ever destroy.

Shame on my teenage bigotry.

Shame on all teenage bigotry. As cheesy and cliched as it may seem, a midnight Zeppelin laser light show at your local planetarium is always a fun time out. (At least until Frances and Joe get in yet another predictable fight about social welfare, public schooling, and the "tyranny of low expectations...")
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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