Average: 4.9 (531 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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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

The day I dodged Led Zeppelin

The day I dodged Led Zeppelin
From Street Machine Magazine Dec. 1979

I was one of the lucky thousands who made it to see Led Zeppelin’s concert on August 4th at Knebworth, home of the Street Rod Nationals for the last two years. If you didn’t get there, but live within about a five mile radius (like Mr. Wearing (the magazine editor)) then you probably heard it regardless.

I had decided that as I was going to be there all day and at least half the night, and as Knebworth Park is not exactly famous for facilities more comfortable than a grassy bank, something more suitable to retire to than my car was in order, (brewing tea in the Buick is not really on!) So I had a word with Rodger Williams, the man who runs the ‘Willhire’ car, van and truck rental outfit, and he kindly lent me his Dodge motor home which you can see elsewhere in this issue – it’s just one of his amazing collection of vehicles, including Ferraris and vintage Bentleys. He even has a street legal Formula Ford racer, taxed and MOT’d would you believe. Still watch ‘Street Machine’ for more about that later.

The Dodge is ideal for literally living in – it sleeps five, it’s got a cooker, fridge, air conditioning, stereo, toilet and wash basin and even a shower! Plus it looks good, and with a healthy V8 it goes pretty well (even burns rubber!). So I was in for a civilised concert.

We spent the first part of the day getting blown about by various members of the Rock ensemble who kept dropping out of the sky by helicopter right next to us (one has to tolerate such things, doesn’t one). The supporting bands played their way happily through the day and there was a wonderfully relaxed, friendly atmosphere everywhere you went, even the constable who rode ‘shot-gun’ with me through the crowds, seemed to be enjoying himself.

At about nine in the evening I positioned myself for an attack of sound, ear-trumpets at the ready. Half an hour later the stage exploded into life and a brilliant combination of lights and music ripped through the gathering darkness – this was what we had waited for.

The first few numbers had the same feel as the Earl’s Court concerts of about four years ago, and I felt it was their way of warming themselves and us up for what was about to come. I was right. They went through a beautiful rendering of ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and the combination of Robert’s voice (his range seems endless) and Jimmy’s guitar was spell-binding, sending a chill up my spine – you could feel the electricity in the crowd.

Other memorable pieces included magnificent versions of ‘Trampled Under Foot’ and ‘Kashmir’ plus ‘Achilles Last Stand’ which hurtled through the arena like an irresistible force. We all had a sing-along with ‘Misty Mountain’ and stood in silent reverence to ‘Stairway To Heaven’. But THE high-spot was Jimmy’s violin bow.

The stage was dark save for a pyramid of green laser beams. In the middle of them stood the lonely figure of Jimmy Page with a bow that glowed like brilliant neon. All you could see were the lasers and the orange bow, trembling, rising and falling, creating strange and wonderful sounds across the guitar strings.

Suddenly, he raised the bow and a dazzling green light appeared at the end of it, next a pencil beam of green laser came from the light and he waved it through the arena and into the sky. The effect, combined with the music, was so devastating that even the paralytic drunks in the audience stood up and gaped in amazement! This piece ran straight into ‘In The Evening’, a track off the new album ‘In Through The Out Door’, spurred into life by Robert Plant’s penetrating voice. This piece of music is like an animal with a soft centre – hear it – you’ll know what I mean.

After three encores they finished at about 1.30 am, nearly four hours of sheer musical excellence, backed up by well-conceived lighting and special effects, a piano solo from J P Jones and John Bonham doing his best to pound an expensive set of drums to dust. I think if I had done a mural of Adolph Hitler in the middle of them he wouldn’t have been able to hit them any harder.

I got home about 6am after a gradual calming down of the senses, wondering how I could postpone a show engagement the following week, so I could go back for Zep’s second performance.

Ray Mumford
www.raymumford.com

Incidentally, this was prior to the release of ‘In Through the Out Door’, but I had been sent a tape of the album, a few weeks before the gig, so was one of the few people who recognised ‘In the Evening’.