Average: 4.7 (35 votes)

January 26, 1969

Boston, MA US

Boston Tea Party

Setlist:

Set One Includes: Train Kept A Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Killing Floor, Dazed And Confused (incl. Shapes Of Things), You Shook Me, Communication Breakdown.

Set Two Includes: White Summer / Black Mountainside, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, Pat's Delight, How Many More Times (incl. For Your Love, Over Under Sideways Down).

Notes:

77 programme

Boston Tea Party - (press release)
January 1969

(flipbook - 6 pages)

John Paul Jones:  “As far as I’m concerned, the key Zeppelin gig, the one that put everything into focus, was one that we played on our first American tour at the Boston Tea Party. We’d played our usual one hour set, using all the material for the first album and Page’s White Summer guitar piece and by the end, the audience just wouldn’t let us offstage. It was in such a state that we had to start throwing ideas around, just thinking of songs that we might all know or that some of us knew a part of and work it out from there.

So we’d go back on and play things like “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Please Please Me”, old Beatles favorites. I mean, just anything that would come into our head and the response was quite amazing. There were kids actually bashing their heads against the stage – I’ve never seen that a gig before or since, and when we finally left the stage, we’d played for four plus hours.

Peter (Grant) was absolutely ecstatic. He was crying, if you can imagine that, and hugging us all. You know with this grizzly bear hug. I suppose it was then that we realized just what Led Zeppelin was going to become.” – (NME, Feb. 1973)

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Submit your personal review of a particular show you attended, updates, corrections, etc., which will be considered for addition to the official online archive.You may also contact the webmaster at: webmaster@ledzeppelin.com

Boston Tea Party 1969

The Tea Party held about a thousand people. It was a place where lots of hippie bands played during the 60s. They had a mirror ball and strobes and those oil and colored-water projectors, first created by the Joshua Light Show, making trippy liquid designs on the wall next to the stage. The place itself used to be a synagogue, a big rectangular room with the stage at the end, huge high ceiling, no seats except a few folding chairs along the side and the bolted down seats in the balcony. It was like a hippie high school auditorium. On other nights I saw The J. Geils Band there, Jethro Tull, Sons of Champlain and some more obscure bands I can’t recall at the moment. But the Led Zep show was a big thing.

The first album was out and “Communication Breakdown” was an FM Radio hit. The music was so different than what we’d been hearing, so new and hard and driving, crunching guitars, pounding drums, high, screaming vocals. There’s wasn’t even a name for it back then, but soon it would come to be known as the future institution, hard rock. The record had only come out in stores the week before, nobody knew anything about the band, who looked so girlish on the back record cover, with their big heads of puffy hair and pale English skin, that it embarrassed me and most of the guys I knew – I was 17 and back then, anything ‘faggy’ was to be positively shunned, but the band was so good, we decided to let it slide. And they were singing about girls, in a way that raw and sexual, so we figured they were probably all right with us.

When Led Zeppelin went onto the stage that night, they walked through the crowd to get to it. Like kings, like conquering heroes parting the masses, it was a theatrical move and it worked. Jimmy Page and Plant were about two feet away from me as they made they royal way through. I’d never seen anyone that close who was so skinny and pale. And they had all that hair. And they also had that air, of knowing that they were about to be big. Very big. Nobody knew any details about the band but we knew the buzz was that they were going to be huge and the proof of it was there in the grooves, because the record sure as hell rocked.

They jumped up on stage and fiddled with their guitars and amps for a while. John Bonham thumped his drums, tested the foot pedal. That’s what bands did in those days, it wasn’t orchestrated down to the minute the way it is now. Bands would even stop to tune up onstage if they needed to and the audience didn’t seem to mind. It was all part of the thing. They didn’t play football stadiums then. Led Zeppelin would soon create that, ushering the rock world into arenas, giant money and legendary excesses. But this night, they were just four guys on a relatively small stage. Big Marshall amps. Bonham’s big Chinese cymbal. One guitar, one bass, drums, and a singer.

When they started playing, the sounds that came out of the amps and house speakers was deafening. Bands usually played loud, but not this loud. The vibrations hit your chest with physical force. It was... it felt... what’s the word? Heavy. They started with a song the Yardbird’s used to cover, “Train Kept a Rollin’” later claimed as a live signature song by Boston boys, Aerosmith. Zep had formed out of the ashes of the defunct Yardbirds. Their original name sounded like a Spinal Tap joke, “The New Yardbirds.” “Train” was the first song the band played together, when they first met and rehearsed in London.

"As soon as I heard John Bonham play,” John Paul Jones later said, “I knew this was going to be great. We locked together as a team immediately.” And the band was locked together that night as well, in an organic, often loosely spontaneous way, but it was like they could read each other’s minds. Page’s long solo on “Dazed and Confused” was appropriately jaw dropping, playing with a violin bow, getting sound and feedback that was as radical as anyone had heard since Hendrix. Page’s guitar playing was obviously rooted in the blues and was light years beyond most of the solo guitarists of the hippie type bands, who tended to be self-indulgent and noodled endlessly when they soloed.

This was different, his solos were as well constructed as a bluesman’s while at the same time full of room for improvisation and letting the spirit take over. Whatever spirit that happened to be. His guitar playing was rife with power that seemed to come from some elemental source, some ancient time of pre-history, drawing up volcanic turbulence, witches’ wails, storms from the mystic.

They did a stunning “You Shook Me,” showcasing the acrobatic, elastic voice of Plant. Here was another reason to absolutely love this band, the guy could hit notes that weren’t even written. They did “Communication Breakdown,” which was stunning, which we cheered for because we’d heard it on the radio already. The rhythm section of Jones and Bonham was crunching and fat, that metal sound of deep base and drums like thundering hooves.

The second set included the acoustic style guitar work of “White Summer” and the heavy metal meets folk “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Ending out on “How Many More Times,” leaving the audience gasping, wanting more but no encore, wondering what the hell we’d just seen, exactly. To repeat Jon Landau before he’d said it, we’d seen the future of rock and roll. Music got heavier, hundreds of bands tried but never came all that close to doing what Zep did.