For no good reason whatsoever, it’s been almost 5 years since I last posted a Led Zeppelin concert. There are times you assume everyone has heard every note and every handclap of every album and every concert they ever did. And since Past Daily is, for the most part, committed to offering out-of-the-way or sadly-overlooked artists, I decided to overlook Led Zeppelin all this time because I figured you already heard it all.
My bad – won’t do it again. Led Zeppelin, aside from being one of the cornerstone Rock Bands of all time, were also the band that shook things up from the doldrums of the late 1960s and injected a bit of adrenalin into the musical landscape. They also dragged hedonism to new heights (or depths depending on how you look at it), and were essential programming on just about every FM rock station worth its Kilowatts.
During the 1970s, Led Zeppelin reached new heights of commercial and critical success that made them one of the most influential groups of the era, eclipsing their earlier achievements. The band’s image also changed as the members began to wear elaborate, flamboyant clothing, with Page taking the lead on the flamboyant appearance by wearing a glittering moon-and-stars outfit. Led Zeppelin changed their show by using things such as lasers, professional light shows and mirror balls. They began travelling in a private jet airliner, a Boeing 720 (nicknamed the Starship), rented out entire sections of hotels (including the Continental Hyatt House in Los Angeles, known colloquially as the “Riot House”), and became the subject of frequently repeated stories of debauchery. One involved John Bonham riding a motorcycle through a rented floor of the Riot House, while another involved the destruction of a room in the Tokyo Hilton, leading to the group being banned from that establishment for life. Although Led Zeppelin developed a reputation for trashing their hotel suites and throwing television sets out of the windows, some suggest that these tales have been exaggerated. According to music journalist Chris Welch, “[Led Zeppelin’s] travels spawned many stories, but it was a myth that [they] were constantly engaged in acts of wanton destruction and lewd behavior”.
This concert, part of John Peel’s In Concert series takes place at the BBC’s fabled Paris Theatre in London, on April 4, 1971. Robert Plant, recovering from a cold and the reason for a last minute cancellation the previous week, apologizes if his voice isn’t up to scratch. No worries – he’s in fine form.
And for the next 90+ minutes, you’ll get to hear vintage Led Zeppelin relatively early in their career.
Sit back, crank it up and enjoy.