Average: 4.9 (534 votes)

August 4, 1979

Stevenage, UK

Knebworth Festival

Setlist:

The Song Remains the Same, Celebration Day, (Out On the Tiles intro) Black Dog, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, Hot Dog, Rain Song, White Summer ~ Black Mountainside, Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand, Jimmy Page solo, In The Evening, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker.

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Knebworth soundcheck

 

I saw the gig advertised on the Old Grey Whistle Test, apparently the Eagles had pulled out and Zep stepped in, that was it, decided, I was going come hell or high water. First things first then, tickets – when and where? Virgin store St Johns Shopping Centre Liverpool, probably some time in June. I arrived at the store, sleeping bag in hand around 6pm on the Sunday night, tickets went on sale on Monday, I was 3rd in the queue, after a sleepless night low key parting with fellow fans we ended up at opening time with a queue around the whole shopping centre, straight in 1 x £7.50 ticket – must have been a whole weeks dole money then! To be safe I had also applied by post for a ticket which when it came back was for the then announced second concert.

 

So a couple of months fly by and its time for the gig, well being 17 and a bit naïve, I thought – OK I had to camp overnight to get a ticket, how bloody long before should I get to the concert to make sure I get a good spot…? OK I figure a week should do it! So Monday morning (30th July) I hops a lift off an acquaintance down to the M1 junction at Luton, soft bugger only lets me out on the motorway instead of going round the roundabout! Had to jump the barriers and walk across a couple of fields down to the roundabout. From there I think it took a couple of hours to get over to Stevenage.

 

From Stevenage I walked up the lane leading to Knebworth. As I was walking up near the top of the lane a Transit pulls in front of me and the back doors are flung open..”Want a Lift?”, Silly question, I hopped in to the van and there were 4 or 5 people in it. They asked if I was here for the gig, …yes of course, did I have a place to stay or camp, …no. Come with us we are camped on a kids playground, loads of room, …Cheers!

Now my questions.. you here for the gig? (ok silly question), What you been doing? … working on the rig. What Rig?..you know the stage. Fuckin Hell Any Jobs?.. Yeah come down tomorrow with us theres loads to do.

 

So there I was day one, our own private camp site within easy walking distance of the Lytton Arms, few good ales and the prospect of working on the stage.. Happy Days!!

 

So Tuesday I gets up and gets a lift in with the others down to the stage area, had to go and see a guy called Gerry who was doing the hiring, job no problem its £1.50 an hour if you work at heights and £1.00 at stage level – well that’s decided I’ll take £1.50 thank you very much.

 

Was working with a couple of guys called Happy and Jade, great couple of lads we were putting up the white sheeting around the stage area which would keep the weather out if it rained.

 

Great day, ended up in the Lytton Arms for tea and beer, back to camp where everyone was getting stoned.

 

Wednesday, same sort of day only it was raining for some of the day but it would take more than a bit of rain to dampen my spirits!

 

Wednesday we got the news that Zep would be there Thursday for the soundcheck.. YIPEE!!

 

Thursday, back to work as usual then I think it was around 2pm the band started arriving, first was John Paul Jones in a BMW 6 series with his wife, second Plant, who I think was on his own, third John Bonham with Jason who must have been around 12 at the time. Last but by no means least Pagey and Peter Grant arrived in a helicopter. Needless to say I had stopped work by then. I grabbed a page of the Sounds music paper from someone and a felt tip pen and went round getting all their autographs, well all except Grants – he was terrifying, and I didn’t ask Jason for his either.

 

Whilst he was waiting Plant had a play on the piano and on the keyboards with JPJ. So eventually they all got sorted and Bonham started hitting the drums – noisy bastard I was right in front of a bank of speakers it nearly took my head off. 

They did half a dozen songs for the soundcheck, Rock’n’Roll , Trampled Underfoot – which Jason played the drums on – Brilliantly by the way, at 12!! Hot Dog, In The Evening and a couple more which I can’t remember.So that was that, needless to say cracking evening in the pub followed.

 

Friday was just a work day and the evening in the pub as usual, I had made £60 in my pocket for the 4 days work which in 1979 for a schoolboy was a lot!

 

Saturday was up early, around 4 ish I think and in to the arena. In the end I was slightly disappointed with the gig as I had had a private show 2 days earlier and there were, at the most, 30 people watching.

 

Another naiive moment I had was on the Friday, a lad who had only worked for 2 days had approached Gerry (the hirer and firer) because he didn’t have a ticket, Gerry said he would sort something out for him. As I had a ticket I felt quite smug and safe in the knowledge I would definitely see the gig. Anyhow on Saturday afternoon I was over by the VIP enclosure to the left of the stage and who is waltzing around in there? Yep mr 2 days, free bar, loads of space, all the bands and guests….DOH!!!!!!!!

 

Anyway, comes Monday and naiveté strikes again, I went into Stevenage and spent most of my hard earned cash on a new camera so I could get pictures of this weeks sound check … oops no sound check this week!

 

By Tuesday I was bored, no work, no money so I thought bugger this and hitched back home. I still have the ticket for the 11th.

Ahh Memories!

 

John Harrison