February 25, 1972
Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I've Been Loving You, Celebration Day, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, That's the Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed and Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love (medley incl. Let That Boy Boogie, Hello Mary Lou, Let's Have a Party, Going Down Slow), Communication Breakdown.
A Special Report: Fear & Led Zep In New Zealand
RAY COLBERT- AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Robert Raymond is: an Australian, a qualified lawyer, sun-tanned, pleasant-mannered and a promoter who has taken up residence in Remuera, a very plush suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, and from there he has brought over Tom Paxton, Creedence Clearwater, Mary Hopkin, Mungo Jerry, Elton John, Led Zeppelin and a few others I've probably forgotten -- all this in less than six months, to a country which is veritably Townshend's Teenage Wasteland. Or was, up until less than six months ago.
Most of these acts would doubtless have made it over here anyway, the difference here being the rapidity in which they have arrived, but where the appearance of Elton John was an eye-brow raiser, the arrival of Zeppelin brought a near-catatonic reaction from the country's rock freaks, who descended on Auckland from as far away as Dunedin (the other end of the country: about 900 miles) for the open air concert February 25th. Three planes brought the equipment across the Tasman, and from what Raymond would say, it appeared that the whole thing would cost him around $40,000. Seats sold at $3.10 and $4.10 and somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 filled the Western Springs Stadium (a couple of miles from Auckland city and usually used for stock cars and other related entertainment) -- so it seems the genial Raymond did OK. They don't pay lawyers that well over here, that's for sure.
Zeppelin had come from Australia, and in keeping with a number of rock acts who've played there, they didn't have much of a time there. A harrowing raid on their motel in Perth had obviously left it's mark on a still-shaken Jimmy Page at the small party quickly arranged for them the night they arrived. You sensed they were going to play this one through on alcohol before getting back to Sanity. "Australia was really pretty s-----," said Page as his eyes wandered around the room -- the occasional groupie grooving to Sha Na Na (Sha Na Na?), the inevitable media people whom Raymond tactfully remembered to invite, and John Bonham filling the intermittent silences with amusing and loud imitations . . . a chick with "Merlene" knitted across her breasts, was arranging "interviews" (EMI's delightful press liaison girl Louise told me Merlene was "a strange person who read poetry in Wellington -- 500 miles away") and it was later dutifully reported that Merlene had scored two out of four.
Our little group was heavily into the Raoul Duke thing -- those ROLLING STONE issues had just arrived in New Zealand -- as we laid our goodies out on the table (what's more, I'd just flown up from Dunedin to discover that AUCKLAND WERE NOT YET INTO NITROUS OXIDE, and so the gleaming blue 275-gallon cylinder took pride of place in the middle of the table. Something to sustain the stone later in the evening.)
It was a good three hours before starting time when we set off for Western Springs (we began to peak prematurely as the Yugoslav taxi-driver quickly launched into an excited discussion on communes and people-who-live-on-beaches: "Have you seen them?" he roared at us as he snaked dangerously in and out of the lanes. Roger tipped him ten cents at the end and we ran off). Three hours wasn't in any way early and we got some of the remaining good seats on the hill overlooking the stage, perhaps 75 yards away.
We were warmed up with the Allman Brothers' live double album. I don't know how many knew that Duane Allman was dead (I don't know how many knew Duane Allman actually) but the razor-sharp lead guitar came through the superb system with each note crystal clear. Then it was dark, 8 o'clock, and we knew it would be any minute . . .
There had been some publicity on how there would be live animals jumping through hoops, but all that had sort of been forgotten what with all the mind-food fighting for a hold in our heads. But suddenly there was a lion on stage: Plant. I mean we all read the rock magazines over here and the record companies sportingly release just about everything with half a reputation, but we didn't realize that Zeppelin were so loud -- specifically Plant doing the jungle intro to "Immigrant Song." And then Page hitting those chords...most of us had seen Townshend a couple of years before (just about the time the Who were breaking in America) and we'd always thought that was the way to play chords. But Page has moved along with the times -- and weren't we lucky to see him. On the other side of the world. Wow.
I'll skip the way they put the concert together -- it was exactly the way we expected they'd fill three hours and doubtless exactly the way they'd done it many times before. Suffice to say they played excellently, relative to their records and relative to reviews on how they'd played in the past.
It was really quite a significant evening for New Zealand and for New Zealand rock. On record there are a few bands that still have it over Led Zeppelin for my taste, but working simply on what I have to work on, I can't really see there being much better live rock around -- possibly because Zeppelin came here with a definite mystery thing where say the Stones have been exposed both live and on record live: Zeppelin haven't done anything live and they refuse to be filmed (Two detectives accompanied the NZBC film crew around Western Springs to ensure the cameras would never swing round onto the stage).
Bob Raymond has a lot more goodies planned, and he's moving into records too (a group called Ticket, who have stunned New Zealand by getting their debut album accepted by Ahmet Ertegun for release in America on Atlantic, will probably hit your shores in around six months after Australia and Japan). Winter's coming on now but around say October it gets really nice -really green, you know? But you could always ask Led Zeppelin about that. (RS107) Rolling Stone Magazine, April 27, 1972