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Alexandra Palace - December 23, 1972

  • Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (medley incl. The Crunge, Everybody Needs Someone To Love, Let That Boy Boogie, Let's Have a Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can't Quit You Baby, Going Down Slow), Heartbreaker.
srapallo's picture
on September 22, 2007 - 8:16am
Rate this show: 
Average: 4.9 (169 votes)
December 23, 1972
London
United Kingdom
uk
Setlist: 

Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (medley incl. The Crunge, Everybody Needs Someone To Love, Let That Boy Boogie, Let's Have a Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can't Quit You Baby, Going Down Slow), Heartbreaker.

Note: 
UK '72 / '73 Programme

Click here to view the tour programme. (flipbook)

Press Review: ALEXANDRA PALACE in north east London was never built to rock. The shamefully neglected building, which housed the BBC for many years before the TV centre in Shepherds Bush became a reality, sits on top of Muswell Hill like a decaying reminder of the past, and the extravagance that aristocracy demanded in the 19th Century.

It's Ally Pally now. Stripped of the famous pipe organ that once drew crowds into classical recitals, it seems destined to die a lonely death as no new use can be found for what the planners now call a white elephant.

But it breathed again over Christmas. The attendants had a handful on their hands again, and the bars and cafes were humming as twelve thousand Led Zeppelin fans – six thousand a night for two nights  - made a joyous pilgrimage up the winding roads to see Britain's first and foremost heavy rock outfit.

Neither frost and rain outside nor the cold and damp inside seemed to lessen their enthusiasm. It's been a year since Jimmy, Robert, John and Bonzo last crashed through a set in London and nothing would keep them away this time. After all, it might well be another 12 months before Zep are back.

But Ally Pally wasn't built to rock. The atmosphere inside this giant hall seemed cold and forbidding. It  would have been possible to fit twice as many fans inside but fire regulations don't permit that, so there was an abundance of space around the throng who crowded into the centre.

And for those who didn't get into the centre, seeing and hearing Led Zep was a chancy business. If you were very tall you could probably see over the sea of heads, but even then there was a diminishing  sound that flew up into the rafters and  returned as a disjointed series of echoes.

The promoters had done what they could by fixing a series of thin cloths at a fixed height up the centre of the hall, but my guess is that only about half of the fans heard the music as it should have been heard.

A shame, because Led Zeppelin are about as perfect a band as you could hope to hear. Roy Hollingworth said it two weeks ago and I said it a month ago before that: Led Zeppelin are so good at what they do that the countless others whose style is similar are left streets behind.
They played a lot of new numbers and a lot of old numbers and a couple of encores. They played the rock medley to end all rock medleys, swopping and changing numbers in mid-flight so often it was hard to keep up. They commanded respect during the dramatic pieces, and they demanded energy during the rockers.

It never struck me before Ally Pally, but during the rock medley I realised just why they are called Led Zeppelin – Led for heavy, and Zeppelin for flying. They're the heaviest flyers we've got, a fact which provided you were sitting in a good place, must have been very obvious to all at Ally Pally.
There's so much power in this quartet, whether it's the pounding riffs of "Black Dog" or "Whole Lotta Love," the swirling majesty of "Stairway to Heaven" or the deep blues of  Since I've Been Loving You," that you tend to reel back in awe.

Each member of the band does his own particular Job so well, and the whole blends to produce as near a perfect combination as I've ever seen. But the nagging sound problem must have spoilt the night for many. The Empire Pool, London's only comparable stadium to Ally Pally, would have been better as last year's Led Zeppelin shows demonstrated. It only underlines the fact that London desperately needs a large 5,000-seater hall. Almost all other major cities in the world have such a building but London - one of the greatest cities of the world is seriously lacking in this department.
We're not lacking in the music though, as Zeppelin showed.  There’s still a few more concerts to go on the tour. Catch them if you can.  [-C. CHARLESWORTH, Melody Maker, Jan. 1973]

Notes: 
UK '72 / '73 Programme

Click here to view the tour programme. (flipbook)

Press Review: ALEXANDRA PALACE in north east London was never built to rock. The shamefully neglected building, which housed the BBC for many years before the TV centre in Shepherds Bush became a reality, sits on top of Muswell Hill like a decaying reminder of the past, and the extravagance that aristocracy demanded in the 19th Century.

It's Ally Pally now. Stripped of the famous pipe organ that once drew crowds into classical recitals, it seems destined to die a lonely death as no new use can be found for what the planners now call a white elephant.

But it breathed again over Christmas. The attendants had a handful on their hands again, and the bars and cafes were humming as twelve thousand Led Zeppelin fans – six thousand a night for two nights  - made a joyous pilgrimage up the winding roads to see Britain's first and foremost heavy rock outfit.

Neither frost and rain outside nor the cold and damp inside seemed to lessen their enthusiasm. It's been a year since Jimmy, Robert, John and Bonzo last crashed through a set in London and nothing would keep them away this time. After all, it might well be another 12 months before Zep are back.

But Ally Pally wasn't built to rock. The atmosphere inside this giant hall seemed cold and forbidding. It  would have been possible to fit twice as many fans inside but fire regulations don't permit that, so there was an abundance of space around the throng who crowded into the centre.

And for those who didn't get into the centre, seeing and hearing Led Zep was a chancy business. If you were very tall you could probably see over the sea of heads, but even then there was a diminishing  sound that flew up into the rafters and  returned as a disjointed series of echoes.

The promoters had done what they could by fixing a series of thin cloths at a fixed height up the centre of the hall, but my guess is that only about half of the fans heard the music as it should have been heard.

A shame, because Led Zeppelin are about as perfect a band as you could hope to hear. Roy Hollingworth said it two weeks ago and I said it a month ago before that: Led Zeppelin are so good at what they do that the countless others whose style is similar are left streets behind.
They played a lot of new numbers and a lot of old numbers and a couple of encores. They played the rock medley to end all rock medleys, swopping and changing numbers in mid-flight so often it was hard to keep up. They commanded respect during the dramatic pieces, and they demanded energy during the rockers.

It never struck me before Ally Pally, but during the rock medley I realised just why they are called Led Zeppelin – Led for heavy, and Zeppelin for flying. They're the heaviest flyers we've got, a fact which provided you were sitting in a good place, must have been very obvious to all at Ally Pally.
There's so much power in this quartet, whether it's the pounding riffs of "Black Dog" or "Whole Lotta Love," the swirling majesty of "Stairway to Heaven" or the deep blues of  Since I've Been Loving You," that you tend to reel back in awe.

Each member of the band does his own particular Job so well, and the whole blends to produce as near a perfect combination as I've ever seen. But the nagging sound problem must have spoilt the night for many. The Empire Pool, London's only comparable stadium to Ally Pally, would have been better as last year's Led Zeppelin shows demonstrated. It only underlines the fact that London desperately needs a large 5,000-seater hall. Almost all other major cities in the world have such a building but London - one of the greatest cities of the world is seriously lacking in this department.
We're not lacking in the music though, as Zeppelin showed.  There’s still a few more concerts to go on the tour. Catch them if you can.  [-C. CHARLESWORTH, Melody Maker, Jan. 1973]

Setlists: 

Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (medley incl. The Crunge, Everybody Needs Someone To Love, Let That Boy Boogie, Let's Have a Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can't Quit You Baby, Going Down Slow), Heartbreaker.

Comments

Philip Canty's picture

God I can remember getting up at the crack of dawn and queing from around 4am outside a record store in the centre of London for the tickets. The concert itself was great and can remember also standing outside the Ally Pally in the snow and freezing cold waiting to get in and get a good place as it was a feree for all sitting/standing gig....memories !!!

colin b's picture

my memory tells me I went to one of these gigs. but sadly not much more than that.
I was 17 (I worked that out from the date) and all I remember was standing in a crowd not being able to see anything, being very short at the time.
it would be great to wax lyrical about the music, the performance and the effect the gig had on me, but sadly I remember nothing - who did I go with, how did we get tickets, what did it all mean?
as I lived in New Barnet at the time, I deduce we got the train, but that's about it.
sad?
probably:)

Argenteum Astrum's picture

This is the final show of 1972 and the audience is so cool and restrained that it is annoying! The show itself is very good though, and the playing is wonderful and aggressive. "Good evening! A merry 23rd of December! Tonight we've got Father Christmas himself with us - John Bonham! Tin Pan Alley's answer to Father Christmas!" Plant joking. He seems to be having slight problems in the beginning but settles down and delivers a good show. There are some great solos from Jimmy, especially in Since I've Been Loving You, where he is just playing pure, inspired blues from the soul. A restless audience stops Stairway To Heaven a minute plus into the song. After Plant's seating instructions, they start the song again: "Listen, I gotta tell you something before you all start shrieking about. First, it is the 23rd December and it is supposed to be the season of goodwill. So, if you all sit down, there's people at the back who prefer to sit, 'cos really it's one of the hardest numbers to do without a monkey house going crazy!" Moby Dick was calling by the member of the audience, which inclinated Plant to answer: "He doesn't do Moby Dick anymore. He's writing a new one. It's called The Titanic." An excellent storming version of Heartbreaker was dedicated by Plant to Roy Harper, group's friend and fellowship musician. A really enjoyable show and one I like as much as the previous night but again the sound problems caused that only a half or so fans could heard Led Zeppelin in their best.

Jeremy Blank's picture

I was fifteen at the time, had queued for over three hours for the tix with my friends Guy n Kevin, withstood the touts attempting to get us to buy them tix or sell ours, fended off the free loving 'family chix' attempting to get us to go off n join their cult... And then going to the vast open space of Ally Pally with parachutes draped across the ceilings (to keep the sound down!), and hippy types selling flagons of cider from trestle tables, cheesecloth tops, bell bottom jeans, Led Zep scoop necked shirts, joss sticks etc. It was like some wonderful medieval market (on reflection)
people everywhere, many propped against the walls as they waited and god knows what was being consumed.... The gig was one of the first biggies I ever saw and I had listened to Zep for only about six months prior to the gig, but already knew the big songs.... It was one of the most special events I can recall. The sound was awesome within the space, huge stacked amps across each side of the stage. They played for what seemed an extraordinary time with such power and that voice of Robert Plant's. I will never forget this, truly one life affirming experience and one that was firmly set in a time where everything seemed possible, no matter which way 'the wind blew'. That night I was blown away.

Paul Painter's picture

As an eighteen year old having just left school and trying to make my way in the Big Smoke this was a most magical Christmas night. I can't remember the freezing conditions or the sound problems just the amazing experience of seeing live for the first and only time (until the reunion tour of 2009?) the Masters of the Rock Universe. I was mesmerised by the amazing riffs and solos by Jimmy, the thundering beat and rhythm of Bonzo & JP, and the soaring vocals of the Plant man! Oh what a night! Over thirty years on and no other gig has quite measured up!

John's picture

I was 17 at the time and in common with other commentators this was one of my first proper concerts (I don't count Mungo Jerry !) and living in nearby Holloway Road also very convenient ! A great evening from what I can recall almost 40 years after the event. The place itself, then at least as I have never since been back, was not very condusive to rock concerts to say the least but once plant, page, jones and bonham started up there was nothing else to focus on but the power of led zeppelin. Its the only time I ever saw them but glad to say in what was a vintage period. It may be that my memory is playing tricks but I seem to recall that after the concert finished my friends and I hung around outside the palace, we planned to walk home so in spite of the cold just wanted to hand around and talk about what we had just seen, while waiting we heard some noises from inside the hall and there being no security at that point we wondered back in to see the band come back on stage and play a few rock and roll standards just, it seems for their own enjoyment - needless to say we drank off this story for many a pub session so I only hope it was true !! Can anyone confirm ? I'm not sure which day it was we went but I know it was one of these for sure.

Alan Carpenter's picture

In 1972 I worked in London for a company called Projection and Display who rented out projectors, screens etc. We often went with the equipment to help set it up and even stay and show the film or slides or whatever.

We got a request to go to Alexandra Palace with a 16mm projector and a rear projection screen on a Sunday I think it was. We had no idea what for.

When we got there we found Led Zep were appearing.

We were asked to go and set the projector and screen up on stage (at this point there were thousands sitting in the hall waiting for Led Zep to come on).

Anyway we were given the film to play and it was Tom and Jerry. When the film started a huge cheer went up from the audience.

Anyway when the film had finished we took down our equipment and took it to the back of the stage (near John Bonhams drums) and sat by the equipment.

Eventualy the group came on and we were just yards from them (seeing them from the back obviously).

Then they started to play, and BLOODY HELL WAS IT LOUD. It hurt our ears.

We could only stand about 10 minutes of it and we left the stage and went outside and waited till the band finished so we could retrieve our equipment.

No wonder rock stars suffer from hearing problems in later years.

Adrian White's picture

Well it is all a bit of a distant blur now but what a great concert. I seem to remember that they were very late coming on and as a thankyou Peter Grant announced the giving away of free Zepp posters. Can't remember if you had to send off for them but still have mine on the wall of the den! Sadly cut into the 4 picture frames so that I could get them on the wall of my small bedroom at the age of 16. Wish I had not cut them up now. Some guy caught a Bonham drum stick and was brutally robbed of it on the way home to the train station. Sad not everybody who went were nice guys! Followed Zepp forever and went on to see them at Earls Court and Knebworth. Best band in the World - looking forward to O2! So glad I got tickets.

Steve L's picture

I was at one of the Ally Pally gigs too - I remember the big wooden floor bouncing as everyone stamped in time to Bron-y-Aur Stomp! Was it this night that they stopped part way in to Stairway and asked people to sit down so that others could see, than restarted?
i do remember being blown away as a 15 year old at an occasion like that.....

Paul Rayner's picture

Nice write up. I too was there - unfortunately so near the back couldn't really see anything and the sound was so bad it stands to this day as the most disappointing concert I ever attended. However, got to see Page & Plant over 20 years later in Miami and they were excellent - kind of a consolation.

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Comments

Led Zeppelin, Ally Pally 23/12/72 by Paul Rayner (not verified)
Led Zeppelin at Ally Pally by John (not verified)
I was there, on stage by Alan Carpenter (not verified)
Led Zep @ Ally Pally! by Jeremy Blank (not verified)
it's all a blur (sorry wrong band) by colin b (not verified)
Led Zep at the Palace by Paul Painter (not verified)
Ally Pally gig by Philip Canty (not verified)
was it 22nd or 23rd I went to? by Steve L (not verified)
Free Poster - What a night by Adrian White (not verified)