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Oakdale Musical Theatre - August 17, 1969

  • Includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown
srapallo's picture
on September 20, 2007 - 6:19pm
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Average: 4.2 (32 votes)
August 17, 1969
United States

Includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown


M.C. Ken Griffin of WPOP (Hartford). Opening act: The Mustard Family,


M.C. Ken Griffin of WPOP (Hartford). Opening act: The Mustard Family,


Includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown


KenNessing's picture

At the start, you should know that me and my younger brothers were immense Yardbirds fans, and greeted the blurb in Cream magazine that Page was putting together "The New Yardbirds" with joyful anticipation. Later, after LZ I was released, it seemed logical they would play the Oakdale; hell, The Cream played there the summer before. We bought tickets the day they went on sale in March of 1969; August 17th of that year couldn't come fast enough.

A late afternoon thunderstorm had just finished but the air remained sticky; the back flaps of the tent were opened to help with ventilation. As noted in previous posts, the Oakdale was a summer theatre-in-the-round, the rows gently sloped down to the rotating stage; prior to 1969 it played host to every major Las Vegas type act you can think of.

This night, the opening act was The Mustard Family; I cannot remember anything about them. During the 20 minute intermission, I walked over to see the M.C., Ken Griffin of WPOP in Hartford; he was standing behind John Bonham's drum set. I noticed the drum throne; instead of leather, it was a 12-inch wide, bowl-like metal seat, with half-inch holes drilled in it. I ran my fingers along the outside of it and thought how uncomfortable it must be. And then, back to my seat.

After Griffin introduced them as "the next supergroup," they immediately launched into what I would later recognize as the uptempo middle section from Heartbreaker, as LZ II hadn't been released yet. Jimmy did White Summer, and spent a lot of time tuning as the humidity was atrocious; as he played and the stage slowly turned, the rest of the band sat on the floor behind Bonzo's kit, smoking cigarettes and drinking orange juice out of 8 oz. cartons. I can remember the smoke wafting straight up; there wasn't a hint of a breeze.

Jimmy's hair cascaded onto his shoulders; he wore a pink T-shirt, matching crushed velvet trousers, and patent-leather buckled, burgundy high-heels. Quite a site in Wallingford, Connecticut on a hot Sunday night.

They played feverishly, and with a palpable "we aim to please" attitude. It was astonishing. All of it -- the music, their other-worldly rock-star look -- makes me pause each time of think of it. I was 15.

Jay Marciano's picture

Without a doubt one of the best concerts I experienced. Robert Plant made a comment about Woodstock-- saying there was "... something happening at a farm in NY" (90 minutes away). I was 14 years old. I wanted to be at Woodstock- my parents said I was too young to go. Woodstock was a develolping story the night LZ played. I new all the songs on the first LZ album by heart. Robert Plant could not finish a song title before the audience cut him off with screams "Communication.... (Scream) "Dazed and (scream)... these were serious fans, they new LZ music. As the lights went down, my brother, 13 at the time went up on stage ... we were waiting for the band to come out - and he grabbed a drumstick right from the drum set and walked back to his seat. One of the roadies came up to him asked for the stick back and taped him over the head with it- not hard ..a sort of warning. I was so embarrassed and afraid we might get thrown out. Oakdale was a small in the round venue and folks could see what was happening if they were paying attention. We were sitting pretty close. I will never forget in the communication between Page and Plant- it was jaw dropping. It was like seeing the Beatles at the Cavern (what I think it must have been like) this was a band on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream of musical stardom. They had a core group of devoted fans- who were there for the music. LZ belonged to that large group of album bands- there was no reason to have a 45 (a single released) in the top 10. There was no fluff or throw away songs on the first album and the crowd was there to see what they had been hearing. They were working hard- the sound was clean. Bonzo's drums sounded so rich- and had that dry thumping sound that kept rolling out. I realized that night how important his drumming was to the group's overall sound and energy. If I remember he had a "gong" up on stage- that just added to the mystical vibe LZ carried with them. "Dazed and Confused" knocked me out that night, and the voice and guitar exchange between Plant and Page was remarkable- human voice-electric guitar call and response, the back and forth, then they became one. Robert Plant was very sensual- I experienced how live music could pull you in and hold you there. I was 14 then- I will be 55 next week- and this experience- was a game changer. I wanted to go to Woodstock-- I wanted to be there- but as soon as LZ started playing-- Woodstock became "a farm somewhere in NY," and for the folks in this little theater in the round in Connecticut- long before the stairway to heaven- the barn door was blown wide opened.

Andy's picture

Before the concert I had only heard of the band; afterward and to this day it was my favorite concert.

Argenteum Astrum's picture

This is all that exists from this show ... I heard that the taper stored it for years in bad conditions and this is the only undamaged part of the tape. A very powerful fragment and it leads me to believe the rest of the show was equally powerful and exciting. And oh yes, Woodstock was in Bethen while the band performed during that night. Fantastic! It's reported that Peter Grant didn't want to push the band as just another act billing between the others so they rather wanted to headline their shows alone.

Stuart  's picture

Sets sound about right. This concert was one of the best I had ever seen. We were in the second or third row. The venue was in an open theater in the round.

The music was way better than the albums. They played with great energy and electricity.

I was so lucky to see them.


PR's picture

Great memories--I was there, too. Chose this gig instead of Woodstock...glad I did,,,,PR

rick's picture

I went with my friends and I was 14 too. I had heard LZ but didn't have any records and so went to concert sort of a blank slate. I was blown away. I do remember Page did an acoustic guitar piece called "Winter Rain".  That one really caught my attention. Or did I imagine it?

(note:  It's called "White Summer")


Andy Czarnecki's picture

My first concert ever at 13 years old

I'll never forget it.

Such an intimate theater, 1200 seats, in a tent.

I will cherish those memories, they have been my favorite band ever since

Jim Evans's picture

This was the only time I ever saw LZ.  It was the "best" part of my worst and best weekend of RnR... I was at Woodstock with friends and missed all of friday and sunday and saturday night after 2am...  so when my friend (who had the car) said we were leaving on SUnday morning I had to decide to stay or go home ( I was 17 so  bit freaked cuz I had no idea where in NY I was). So I went home.  After a shower I read the Courant and saw LZ was playing the Oakdale. So Hank and I drove to the Oakdale and scaled the fence (in fine Woodstock music is "free" tradition) and that made my weekend... Free show, Led Zep!  other shows we got into to see for free, Janis in Springfield, Hendrix in Framingham (another theatre in the round), Cream in New haven (the arena is gone now).. Life was good in the 60's...  Rock on fellow travelers..!

Eileen E.'s picture

I was there and it was fabulous!


Woodstock was all of the news that weekend, trumping news of the war, and I desperately wished I could have gone.  My mother would not let me go to Woodstock, especially after my sister's boyfriend said that there was going to br Hell's Angels there and all sorts of violence!  Haha!


The Oakdale was a more intimate venue, smaller with decent seating and a revolving stage.  I am not sure if it was sold out.  It seemed full but not overly crowded.  It was a hot night, just after a huge thunderstorm (lightning had stuck very close to where we driving!).  Led Zeppelin put on a hell of a show that night, but in between sets they seemed relaxed and natural, just like a bunch of friends hanging out.


I had already had their first album, but they were not yet very popular at the time  I was hoping I would see Jimmy Page play the guitar with a bow and I was not disappointed!  When it came time for Jimmy Page to play "Black Mountain Side", he pulled up an ordinary folding chair, sat down and started to play and what was memorable  was that his body barely moved, but all of this amazing music came out!  Everything that they played that night was great!



I was 17 then and they have remained my favorite band!



FRANK's picture

The same weekend as Woodstock...The Who had played there in July.

The Doors,Cream,The lovin Spoonful, Blood ,Sweat & Tears, Creedance ,Hermin Hermits, Dave Clark Five,Iron Butterfly,The Byrds,Sam the Sham & the Pharoughs,Turtles, Mitch Ryder& the Detroit Wheels,Four Tops, Temptations,Frankie Vali & the Four Seasons,The Wild Weeds,Paul Revere & The Raiders played there in 68& 69.Boy was I fortunate to be able to see all those legends.


Paul Rosano's picture

The immediacy of Oakdale can’t be overstated. We were in first-row seats, luckily, among about two or three other friends. Zeppelin had what normally would be a stack of Marshall amps on each side of Bonham’s drums, but they were set up with the cabinets one-high rather than stacked. This was because Oakdale was trying something different for this concert, something it would stick with into the 1990s when it was converted into a proscenium theatre.

The stage was going to revolve for this show. That’s right a revolving stage. That was good and bad. It mucked up the sound terribly with Zeppelin very loud and full for several minutes then fading when you were literally in back of their speaker cabs. The good bit was that the disenfranchised audience that sat opposite the sound booth and entrance way to the stage and had sat through so many concerts looking at the back of entertainers, at least at rock concerts, now could see the group for at least half of the time from the front.

Zeppelin had already been to America several times in its short lifespan. This was I believe their third tour of the year. They were scheduled to play through August, including a show at the Texas International Pop Festival in Lewisville, Texas, which has been quite available over the years and is remarkably similar to the Oakdale set.

The group opened with Train Kept-A-Rollin’, a Yardbirds staple with a fierce, driving rhythm. But it was short-lived as the group surprisingly went into the slow blues I Can’t Quit You Baby. That seemed an odd way to start a concert.

I was a big fan of John Mayall and when hearing Page’s interpretation of this blues classic on record, I didn’t really like it as much as the Bluesbreakers with Mick Taylor’s take on it. But seeing Page play it live changed that. For one thing, the riff, which sounds kind of dirty on record, sounded brilliantly clean in concert. In fact, almost all of Page’s more technically adept guitar parts that utilized speed came through cleaner live. I thought that strange but it was undeniable.

Parts I thought he was just making in the studio were stunningly on the mark with no missteps at all. And the tone from his Les Paul was sharp and crisp with powerful sustain. I found out later that the unusual riff he played in I Can’t Quite You Baby is actually much closer to the Otis Rush original as well.

Zeppelin also made a huge visual impact. The good-looking Plant with complete command of the stage, moving fluently as he unleashed his high, proficient and acrobatic voice, and Page often coming to the edge of the stage head down, bent over with his knees pointed inward almost touching each other, are lasting impressions.

Jones, of course, was understated as he would be throughout the band’s life, and Bonham explosive from in back of the kit, particularly when he was featured in a solo near the end of the set.

Next came the tour de force Dazed And Confused, the origin of which has been written about often, even here. Suffice to say what was easily my favorite track on an album of favorites came off perfectly live, featuring Page with violin bow in hand, wrenching all types of unearthly sounds from his guitar.

They also played You Shook Me and closed with How Many More Times, with more mini-sections tucked in the middle than on record, including some soul diversions, vocal and guitar exchanges and a drum solo. The encore was Communication Breakdown.


A powerful performance that had a hyped-up quality unlike any concert experiences I had to that point. The only qualm was the revolving stage but in all that was slight given the show in total.

Larry Mates's picture

I was there and will never forget it !

Bob G's picture

I was there and at Jimi Hendrix in Bridgeport, Ct.
Hendrix website says Aug '68, I thought it was 69. Purple Haze!!!

Doug T's picture

Second show in 2 weeks after my first "Big Time Concert" with Chicago Transit Authority at Oakdale. The rotation device was f'cked at the CTA show and we were were fortunate enough to have seats that were in front of the stuck position. At this show, all was well thank god, cuz I would have been at the back of the band if the stage didn't rotate. LZI was the rage and we knew that LP well. LZ II hadn't been released yet. This was just an amazing show in a very intimate venue. Sound quality was really good with Bonzo and Page helping my tinitus get a head start. Mind blowing for a 15 year old soon to be a high school sophomore. I think tickets were like $3.50. Oakdale and the New Haven Arena were the best venues in the area for music and you didn't have to be wealthy to participate. We were lucky.

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