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Carousel Theatre - August 21, 1969

  • Includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, What Is And What Should Never Be, You Shook Me, How Many More Times.
srapallo's picture
on September 20, 2007 - 7:39pm
Rate this show: 
Average: 4.8 (47 votes)
August 21, 1969
Framingham
MA
United States
us
Setlist: 

Includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, What Is And What Should Never Be, You Shook Me, How Many More Times.

Note: 
'69 Programme

Click here to view the 1969 Tour Book

(interactive flipbook)

Support act: Orpheus.

During the show, Robert Plant announces that "although the band had been travelling for 18 days without stopping", he and his colleagues "were willing to give a try to to a first - their first appearance onstage performing a number, What Is and What Should Never Be."

News Report: Zeppelin takes off at Carousel

Led Zeppelin is the British rock quartet whose appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival last month was an off-again, on-again affair. It seems the producer of that show, in an attempt to get gate crashing rockers out of town, denied that the group would ever appear; yet, in the end, it did.

Apparently, Carousel Theater's Frank Conley had such trepidations last night, even with the massed lurking on the hill that overlooks his Framingham tent. Before a packed house of 2,600, the Zeppelin proved to be made of something more than of air.

The first half of the program featured Orpheus, a Boston based group that is turning up everywhere these days. A sort of East Coast (hard) version of the Beach Boys, they ran through a tight set that featured rich vocal blendings.

Then the Zeppelin flew in, total theater of blues-rock, lead singer Robert Plant was the shrieking flight engineer, guiding the ship (imagine, if you will, a male Janis Joplin). Lead guitarist Jimmy Page was the orange-bedecked pilot, the man really in charge. Drummer John Bonham was the engine, always roaring lest the Zeppelin crash. And bassist John Paul Jones was the-passenger, seemingly along for the ride.

Most of the tune's came from the group's album (Atlantic SD 8216). There was Willie Dixon's Down and 'dirty Blues, "I 'Can't Quit You Babe," featuring a fine Jimmy Page solo, Later came Page's own earthy "Dazed and Confused," to be greeted by a standing ovation. Next there was a zinging Indian-influenced solo tune by Page again; then "But 'What Is and What Should Be" (never before done on stage); and at last Dixon's "You Shook Me."

The Zeppelin flew high all right, and therein may be its problem; it has a tendency to soar, rather than keep on a straight flight plan. In short, many of the tunes wander, and some people feel the blues should be played only straight ahead. But, after all, Zeppelins are flying machines. Even the kids on the hill must have liked the takeoff. (Aug. 1969 | N.COBB, Globe Staff)
 

 

Notes: 
'69 Programme

Click here to view the 1969 Tour Book

(interactive flipbook)

Support act: Orpheus.

During the show, Robert Plant announces that "although the band had been travelling for 18 days without stopping", he and his colleagues "were willing to give a try to to a first - their first appearance onstage performing a number, What Is and What Should Never Be."

News Report: Zeppelin takes off at Carousel

Led Zeppelin is the British rock quartet whose appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival last month was an off-again, on-again affair. It seems the producer of that show, in an attempt to get gate crashing rockers out of town, denied that the group would ever appear; yet, in the end, it did.

Apparently, Carousel Theater's Frank Conley had such trepidations last night, even with the massed lurking on the hill that overlooks his Framingham tent. Before a packed house of 2,600, the Zeppelin proved to be made of something more than of air.

The first half of the program featured Orpheus, a Boston based group that is turning up everywhere these days. A sort of East Coast (hard) version of the Beach Boys, they ran through a tight set that featured rich vocal blendings.

Then the Zeppelin flew in, total theater of blues-rock, lead singer Robert Plant was the shrieking flight engineer, guiding the ship (imagine, if you will, a male Janis Joplin). Lead guitarist Jimmy Page was the orange-bedecked pilot, the man really in charge. Drummer John Bonham was the engine, always roaring lest the Zeppelin crash. And bassist John Paul Jones was the-passenger, seemingly along for the ride.

Most of the tune's came from the group's album (Atlantic SD 8216). There was Willie Dixon's Down and 'dirty Blues, "I 'Can't Quit You Babe," featuring a fine Jimmy Page solo, Later came Page's own earthy "Dazed and Confused," to be greeted by a standing ovation. Next there was a zinging Indian-influenced solo tune by Page again; then "But 'What Is and What Should Be" (never before done on stage); and at last Dixon's "You Shook Me."

The Zeppelin flew high all right, and therein may be its problem; it has a tendency to soar, rather than keep on a straight flight plan. In short, many of the tunes wander, and some people feel the blues should be played only straight ahead. But, after all, Zeppelins are flying machines. Even the kids on the hill must have liked the takeoff. (Aug. 1969 | N.COBB, Globe Staff)
 

 

Setlists: 

Includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, What Is And What Should Never Be, You Shook Me, How Many More Times.

Comments

Alex MacDonald's picture

This was an amazingly small and intimate venue; Round tent with circular layout, not a bad seat in the house.

We couldn't get tickets, but went anyway.We were listening to the show from outside on the hill. There was a disturbance of some kind and the cop guarding the entrance nearest us took off to help out. My buddy and I slipped in in the confusion and quickly found room to sit.

We sat behind and below the drum kit, must have been 10 feet from John Bonham's bass drum .

Almost as many people outside on the hill surrounding the tent as inside. The band was tight and performed extremely well. Even where we sat, the sound was fantastic.

A haze of smoke hung over the entire field outside the tent, and as I recall, it was extremely smoky inside as well. I kept thinking, these cops must be getting high...they were great and didn't bother anyone. They really must have been in shock...

I remember being impressed when John Bonhom used a wooden handled claw hammer during his solo. Never have I seen a show as good or as much fun as that...

Al Wade's picture

I was stage left about eight rows back. Bonham did a 15+ minute drum solo, broke 5-6 pairs of sticks and finished with his hands. Nothing before or since comes close!

LD's picture

We worked at the Carousel Theatre in Framingham back in those days. Stories and some photos are on the Carousel Facebook page. Come share.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carousel-Theatre/127811150623189

peace,
LD

John Gill's picture

I had just graduated from Wellesley High School two months before and was college bound the following week when I went to hear Led Zeppelin with a girlfriend at the Carousel theater in Framingham, Massachusetts, on August 21, 1969. It was a perfect New England summer night. I have no memory of Orpheus as the opening act, but I had seen them at our high school the previous year anyway. In my eyes, they did not hold a candle to Led Zeppelin. I was a dyed-in-the-wool Yardbirds fan, a guitar player myself, following Jimmy Page into his next phase! I remember that at some point in the set the band had sound problems, and when they fixed them Robert Plant appropriately announced "Communication Breakdown" as their next number. When they ran out of tunes, they played some 1950's rockers and Yardbirds songs. It was a great concert in an intimate setting! I saw Led Zeppelin at the old Boston Garden two years later after they had achieved huge acclaim. They played a much louder show featuring "Stairway To Heaven" for a way bigger audience, and I can honestly say that the show at the Carousel eclipsed that later performance. The greatest irony: I now work in an office building that occupies the spot where the Carousel Theater once stood, forty-two years ago.

Jim Bowen's picture

As a 14 year old kid, I recall that my older brother was going to a concert. I knew that Orpheus was playing -never heard of Led Zepplin. I figured Orpheus was the headliner. Anyway, my Dad and I went to pick him up after the show in our family car. We waited outside for a while, so Dad , getting frustrated told me to go in and get my brother. I simply walked right in. There was Robert Plant singing Whole Lotta Love, sweating and tossing his long hair. The place was filled with smoke, the crowd was in a frenzy and I was mesmerized. I stood there in one of the aisles and watched with stunned amazement as I got my first shot of rock and roll. It seemed that they just kept playing one encore after another. God knows when I finally left and got back to the car. But, I do remember that Dad was totally pissed. As we drove home, i was so quiet- all I could think of was that my life would never be the same after hearing that music.

Richard Alberty's picture

Wow, went to Framingham from Marlborough with Robby Dwyer & Mike (Bass Player) long time ago man. I was 14 yrs old. We snuck under the tent skirt just to the right of John Bonham. He was drinking Heinekens . Inside was quite smoky indeed. These guys were on fire. Remember when Page was playing his guitar with a violin bow during How Many More Times. Still get goose bumps today when I listen to the 1st Album some 29 years later it being Aug 12th 2008. almost 29 yrs to the day. What a coincidence finding this site. Saw Hendrix here year before. Orpheus opened. I was sitting on hill with many other folks. Was a gravel bowl surrounding Tent. Place was right across from what is now TJ Maxx Headqtrs on Ma Pike, What a night.
Dick Alberty

shaun's picture

our collective minds were blown by L.Z. first album... my friends and i had just returned from our trip to upstate new york for a little gathering... we heard the buzz about L.Z. shows at the Boston Tea Party but had not seen them...

The Carousel theatre was a round tent much like the South Shore Music one in Cohasset Ma. which is still in operation... One of the fraudulent BOSSTOWN SOUND bands opened up... I think it was ORPHEUS or BEACON STREET UNION... L.Z. came on and tore it up... they played a couple of songs twice because their catalog was limited to the first album and a bunch of oldies... One of the greatest shows ever... my guess is no more that 2500 under the tent...

Saw them again at the boston garden later that year with THE MC5 and JOHNNY WINTER opening....

Dave H's picture

...me and a friend from school; we were sixteen. My dad gave us a ride although I lived within a twenty-minute walk of the place at the time. I distinctly remember Orpheus being there but not much of their set, once LZ got on; I also remember Robert Plant's faded bell-bottoms and tie-dye t-shirt and him swinging that microphone around in the air. And Jimmy Page got out his double guitar at one point and a fiddle bow at another. It was amazing. And the air inside that tent theater was thick with incense and pot smoke. My dad picked us up after the show and we must have reeked of pot but he didn't notice, being a pipe smoker himself. We were also pretty wrecked. I had no idea this show was listed on the net. Very nice. Thanks for a great show, guys; my intro to live rock on stage, and we were about six feet away from you, nearly front row.

Tom Broderick's picture

Zeppelin's sound was visceral and kinetic but the music I heard that night which remains with me to this day was made by Orpheus.

Orpheus was actually more well-known at the time due to a huge hit single called "Can't Find The Time" released a year prior. The song is now widely considered a true classic. At the time, their latest single was a Joe Henry-penned song called "Brown Arms in Houston" but they didn't perform it that night. Instead they played their earlier material as well as some covers done in the band's uniquely melodic style.

The ones that stuck out in my mind were "Good Day Sunshine" and "Don't Be Cruel". The lead guitarist and singer, Bruce Arnold, had an amazing voice and played really unusual chords - the kind of chords Jimmy Page would be playing years later. The drummer, Harry Sandler, was clearly a hack but was good natured enough to just slide by. As an interesting aside; Sandler was never used on the Orpheus albums. It was actually John Bonham's idol Bernard Purdie who played on the recordings - uncredited, of course. The rest of Orpheus was more professional but Bruce stood out as the most accomplished and talented. I recall thinking "this guy should be out on his own".

There was definitely an excitement in the air about this "New Yardbirds" group that J.J. James and the FM crowd were buzzing about but Orpheus reminded the listeners of what a unique and sophisticated band they were. When Zeppelin started to draw from folk music and Jimmy began to explore southing acoustic sounds, I was reminded of the 75 minute set of timeless music that preceded Zeppelin’s performance that hot August night. I wonder if Jimmy was taking notes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT-iQ_yLEX4

NameAlex MacDonald's picture

We snuck under the tent skirt next to Bonham as well. You must have come in at the same time. There was a fight at one of the aisles, and all the cops left there places. We were on the hill and saw our chance and in we went. Blown away completely by this show. Never seen anything like it before or since. And only 2600 people ? outrageous.

Chester's picture

Hey,

I went to this show as well. It was sold out but managed to slip under the tent with a friend and catch the show right behind the stage. It was laid back to a point where Plant sang a few songs sitting on a stool. All about the music which was awesome. Back in the day.. it was not uncommon for bands to wonder off during a song into a jam. That's the way it was when they were an upcoming Rock band Powerhouse. They were all in street clothes..Bell bottoms and tee shirts. Show was all about the music which was top of the heap as far as Roc music goes.
Months later when they played Boston Gardens... they were totally different. Fancy satin clothing. glitter and running all around the place taking away from the music. Still a great show but for freaks like me,,, they sold us out.
Chet

EPC's picture

Yes, what a show. I was a junior in high school and loved the heavy Zeppelin bluesy sound. Page was amazing ... Guitar slung down by his knees, he would stand knock kneed whenever he soloed, Bonham was just thunder behind the band. Orpheus were more "pop" sounding and were pretty familiar to anyone who went to concerts in Boston in those days. Good harmony but nothing compared to the power of Led Zeppelin.

Kyle's picture

The most interesting part of your comment is where you mention Orpheus playing your high school. What was the school and what date did they play?

Richard Alberty's picture

Some time in Saxonville, rode over from Marlborough with Rob Dwyer & Mike McGrath. We snuck in under tent skirt just right of stage. Stood in front of Zepplin. First time I ever saw anyone play guitar with a Bow. They certainly laid down a great show. Liked the delay on Whole Lottah Luv.There was a mili second delay when the Bow hit the guitar strings and made for a kool affect  I was 14 years young. They had Acoustic Amps.  The Amps with the Blue center and sides. avant garde at time when most atrist used Fender & Marshall Amps.. Sunn Bass amps too.. Some time back than, I tell yah..

 Richard Alberty

Kent Spottswood's picture

Bar none, Led Zeppelin's Aug. 21, 1969, performance under the big tent in Framingham is the best live act I've ever seen. With tickets at $26 putting us only a few rows from the stage and the band facing us most of the night, we almost felt like personal friends of Jimmy, Robert, John and John. Plus my companions were two sassy lasses who were into me in a big way. I doubt there ever was a happier teenager than me that night.

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Memorabilia:

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Comments

If I relive one night, this is the one by Kent Spottswood (not verified)
The most interesting part of by Kyle (not verified)
Zep 1969 by Richard Alberty (not verified)
Snuck in next to Bonham by NameAlex MacDonald (not verified)
Zeppelin over Framingham by EPC (not verified)
Hey, I went to by Chester (not verified)
My dad dropped us off.... by Dave H (not verified)
The stage is gone but the memory lives on by John Gill (not verified)
LZ 8/21/69 - Bonham Solo by Al Wade (not verified)
WOW !! by Richard Alberty (not verified)
our collective minds were blown by shaun (not verified)
This was an amazingly small by Alex MacDonald (not verified)