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Seattle Center Arena - December 27, 1968

  • These early U.S. dates include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, Pat's Delight, How Many More Times.
srapallo's picture
on September 24, 2007 - 5:51pm
Rate this show: 
Average: 4.4 (68 votes)
December 27, 1968
Seattle
WA
United States
us
Setlist: 

These early U.S. dates include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, Pat's Delight, How Many More Times.

Note: 

Led Zeppelin open for Vanilla Fudge.

Press Review: (by B. Petrulis, Tribune Sun, written Oct. 1971)

December 1968 at the Seattle Center - They played as the warm-up band for Vanilla Fudge before they put out their first album. No one had ever heard of them, and the audience was expecting one of the usual grade of warm-up bands.

Zeppelin was introduced as including one of the old Yardbirds, Jimmy Page. At that time, they were largely a hard blues group, playing songs like I Can't Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, and Your Time is Gonna Come.

Page was, in the Jimi Hendrix tradition, playing his guitar through a wall of amplifiers, jumping around and using all the positions for playing he could think of. He also did something I had never seen before, when he played chords with a violin bow. In the midst of a very loud blues number, Robert Plant's vocal amp went out on him, but he just sang extra loudly and could he heard above about five thousand watts of guitar and bass amplification.

To cope with this problem, Bonham played an astounding drum solo, while the other three worked to get the broken amp back in working order.

---

Press Review : Leading the Led brigade

The band also made musical memories in Seattle. Its second show in America was here at the Arena, two days after Christmas 1968, opening for the now deservedly forgotten Vanilla Fudge. Led Zeppelin was unknown — its debut album had not yet been released in America — and the audience almost completely ignored them. The houselights were not even turned down during their set, because so many people were still finding their seats. People talked over the music.

It's one of the greatest shows I ever saw. The opening song, a cover of the blues classic "Train Kept A Rollin'," hit me so hard that I stood on my chair, waved my arms and yelled and screamed. Somebody behind me said, "Will you please sit down?" I turned and loudly pleaded, "Didn't you hear that? Don't you get it? Shut up and listen!" Everybody around looked at me like I was nuts.

Two months later, after the album had come out, I started my first radio show as a disc jockey at KOL-FM, Seattle's first progressive rock station, by playing the whole album. The phone response was immediate. "Who is that? What album is that?" I was so happy to tell them.

Over my nearly four years as disc jockey/music director/program director at KOL-FM, I played Led Zeppelin on every one of my shows. I like to think I helped make Led Zeppelin one of Seattle's favorite bands — although I know that Steve Slaton, now at KZOK and previously at KISW, has as big a Zep Jones as I do, and has carried that torch for all the 35 years he's been a fixture on Seattle radio.

That 1968 Arena show wasn't the only memorable Led Zeppelin concert here. There was that odd one at the old Greenlake Aqua Theater in 1969, where some fans jumped in the lake (I met the band backstage and invited them to an after-party at my house; they never showed). Equally unforgettable are shows at the Seattle Pop Festival at Gold Creek Park in Woodinville in 1969, where they pulled out all the stops because they preceded The Doors, and before 65,000 fans in 1977 in the Kingdome, where they nearly overcame the sound problems. (Patrick MacDonald-Seattle Times / Feb. 2008)

Notes: 

Led Zeppelin open for Vanilla Fudge.

Press Review: (by B. Petrulis, Tribune Sun, written Oct. 1971)

December 1968 at the Seattle Center - They played as the warm-up band for Vanilla Fudge before they put out their first album. No one had ever heard of them, and the audience was expecting one of the usual grade of warm-up bands.

Zeppelin was introduced as including one of the old Yardbirds, Jimmy Page. At that time, they were largely a hard blues group, playing songs like I Can't Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, and Your Time is Gonna Come.

Page was, in the Jimi Hendrix tradition, playing his guitar through a wall of amplifiers, jumping around and using all the positions for playing he could think of. He also did something I had never seen before, when he played chords with a violin bow. In the midst of a very loud blues number, Robert Plant's vocal amp went out on him, but he just sang extra loudly and could he heard above about five thousand watts of guitar and bass amplification.

To cope with this problem, Bonham played an astounding drum solo, while the other three worked to get the broken amp back in working order.

---

Press Review : Leading the Led brigade

The band also made musical memories in Seattle. Its second show in America was here at the Arena, two days after Christmas 1968, opening for the now deservedly forgotten Vanilla Fudge. Led Zeppelin was unknown — its debut album had not yet been released in America — and the audience almost completely ignored them. The houselights were not even turned down during their set, because so many people were still finding their seats. People talked over the music.

It's one of the greatest shows I ever saw. The opening song, a cover of the blues classic "Train Kept A Rollin'," hit me so hard that I stood on my chair, waved my arms and yelled and screamed. Somebody behind me said, "Will you please sit down?" I turned and loudly pleaded, "Didn't you hear that? Don't you get it? Shut up and listen!" Everybody around looked at me like I was nuts.

Two months later, after the album had come out, I started my first radio show as a disc jockey at KOL-FM, Seattle's first progressive rock station, by playing the whole album. The phone response was immediate. "Who is that? What album is that?" I was so happy to tell them.

Over my nearly four years as disc jockey/music director/program director at KOL-FM, I played Led Zeppelin on every one of my shows. I like to think I helped make Led Zeppelin one of Seattle's favorite bands — although I know that Steve Slaton, now at KZOK and previously at KISW, has as big a Zep Jones as I do, and has carried that torch for all the 35 years he's been a fixture on Seattle radio.

That 1968 Arena show wasn't the only memorable Led Zeppelin concert here. There was that odd one at the old Greenlake Aqua Theater in 1969, where some fans jumped in the lake (I met the band backstage and invited them to an after-party at my house; they never showed). Equally unforgettable are shows at the Seattle Pop Festival at Gold Creek Park in Woodinville in 1969, where they pulled out all the stops because they preceded The Doors, and before 65,000 fans in 1977 in the Kingdome, where they nearly overcame the sound problems. (Patrick MacDonald-Seattle Times / Feb. 2008)

Setlists: 

These early U.S. dates include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, Pat's Delight, How Many More Times.

Comments

Mike M's picture

Led Zeppelin took the stage and nobody knew who they were. Robert Plant had an all black outfit on and skin tight leather pants. Once they started it was shocking. The power of the band, Jimmy’s guitar, Bonham and Jones, it was amazing. I still have vivid memories of that show. The audience was not prepared for the show that Zeppelin gave that night. It remains as one of the best concerts I have ever attended.

Jeff Hammers's picture

My girlfriend insisted we see Vanilla Fudge and Led Zepplin did blow the roof off as the opening act. Zep played several more times in Seattle that year including opening for Three Dog Night in the Greenlake Amplitheater and three different times at The Seattle Pop Festival....once when they filled in for the Doors when Morrison was to f___ed up to go on stage.

Trisha Nerney's picture

I don't want to sound disrespectful, but after the unbilled opening act, Led Zeppelin came onstage and blew me and everyone else away...there was nothing left to say but "Vanilla who?"
The Fudge were flawless and fabulous as always, but after this new sound..Led Zeppelin, I think the crowd was just blind sided. I think my mouth was hanging open. I was only 13 at the time and my poor Dad took me to this loud, wild concert..bless his heart. The stage, as I remember it, was stripped down. No dry ice, no excessive equipment, just the band, and their instruments and their immense talent. It was awe inspiring.

Zeppelin came out, they were pure sex, pure rock and roll, pure passion and so very edgy for that time. Long wild flowing hair, tight leather pants, playing guitar with a bow...unreal.

I will never forget it.

Panama Steve's picture

I too was at the concert and was blown away by the band. I recall that they were billed as "Led Zeppelin (formerly The Yardbirds)". At one point, the other band members left the stage and Jimmy Paige sat down in a chair. He had his foot on a block in the manner of classical players and performed a beautiful classical piece. Later, I recall him playing the guitar with what looked like a big bow. We were just blown away by these guys whom we'd never heard of. I didn't realize it was only their second performance in the US.

The Vanilla Fudge was playing because they had blown everyone away in a previous concert that included Hendrix (very blah performance the only time I ever saw him) and the Soft Machine (also very good), if memory serves.

Dan Mullene's picture

I was there to see Vanilla Fudge, a favorite of mine. I had great seats, just a few rows from the front. Led Zeppelin came out.. and blew me away! We had never seen anything like them, and for me, there will never be another band that took American Blues, mixed them with good ol' rock and roll, and created a new kind of music in the way that Zep did then and from then on.

My thought was that the guys in Vanilla Fudge -- if they were paying attention -- just fell prey to that common trap of booking an opening band who stole the show from them. They had heard the future of rock, and it wasn't them!

Bob's picture

I was there too. Still blown away. Never saw anything like it. Came up from Portland to see the Fudge, but that was the end of them. That, and the 1969 Fleetwood Mac in Seattle (Peter Green, Danny Kerwin, Jeremy Spencer) were the best of all.

Mark C's picture

I remember that I left the concert saying that the opening group was better than the group we went to see! I agree with Mike M, we really weren't prepared for that show, and I still consider it one of the best that I have attended as well! This group had a positive impact in my life, and my kids as well.

NameJeff H.'s picture

I was smitten by a 15 year old (Coleen W.) at the time who liked the Vanilla Fudge or I would not have been there. Yes, a very, VERY powerful performance! When Jimmy P. started playing with a violin bow was the first hint of who the fire unknown band was.
I'll always remember that show. We didn't stay thru the Fudge's set not did many others....they were so badly upstaged it was unbelievable.
Robert Plant announced, following their encore to "be sure to watch for our upcoming album on Atlantic Records. I, and I'm sure a lot of others hounded the record stores until the release some time thereafter.
I also caught them in The Greenlake Amplitheater with 3 dog night and at Seattle Pop the following summer. Seattle loved Led Zeplun.....we couldn't get enough of them.

Jeff's picture

I took Collen Wilson to this concert as she liked Vanilla Fudge and I liked Coleen Wilson. No one ever heard of Led Zepplin bit they were a deffinite knock out. The last thing Robert Plant said as they made their exit was "watch for our new album coming out on Atco records". The Fudge sucked (of course) and we didn't stay. Coleen went away but I watched for the album......bought it when it came out at the same time as buying Jeff Beck Truth. Saw Zepplin at the greenlake Aquatheater and the Seattle Pop Festival too.... They were regulars in town for a while.

Marc Sterling's picture

The show was billed as Vanilla Fudge and Seattle band "The Floating Bridge" and some guys who used to be in the Yard Birds. I was 19. So we watched the floating bridge who were supposed to be good. They stood there and did nothing but play lazily. Then the warm up act, these guys from the Yard Birds. The curtain opens, Plant has his back to the audience, the band kicks in, Plant screams up to a high note, truns around and flys forward as Led Zeppelin goes full tilt. I just about crapped. It was so bad ass and rocking, like nothing I ever heard or seen ever. Their album had not been released. They just wailed through songs. Page starts playing with a bow, Plant doing his high cries and looking like a rock star before there was such a thing. It was just an assault of the senses and the groove and beat was beyond anything ever heard. Damn did the Floating Bridge seem beyond lame. When the set was over and Vanilla Fudge came on it was no contest. The Fudge had created this massive sound with "Set Me Free, Why Don't You Babe" and Carmin on his huge drum kit and it suddenly seemed so over and safe. Quite a let down. It's said that when Zeppelin played no one listened... but they were nuts not to see that. A week or so later the album came out and the world of rock changed. Beyond amazing to see their first tour, a couple of guys from the Yardbirds in some band. Just crazy wild,  change your world good and it still is amazing... what a treat!

bill white's picture

I recall we were new to drugs and the acid kicked in half-way thru Zep's incredible bluesy throbbin mountain.We didn't want them to stop so when poop pop Dogs came on we boo-ed em off and zep came back out .It all changed that afternoon.All who were there knew rock was going to be a whole lot more fun.

Jane Dunn's picture

Today, 7/3/2014, I took delivery of "Led Zeppelin, The Complete Studio Recordings," the five-CD boxed set. I waited 46 years for this, always remembering in the back of my mind their Seattle concert with Vanilla Fudge that I attended on Dec. 27, 1968, with my sister. It snowed that day and we drove to the Seattle Center from Tacoma. I do remember the lights were on as Led Zeppelin started to play. It was one of the most magnetic experiences of my life. I could not believe what I heard. I came to see Vanilla Fudge play "Season of the Witch" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On," and left with my ears pinned back and my head split open by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. It was a hurricane.

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Comments

Unreal performance! by Marc Sterling (not verified)
Vanilla Fudge/Led Zeppelin Concert, 12/27/68 by Jane Dunn (not verified)
aqua by bill white (not verified)
Zeppelin concert at Seattle on December 27, 1968 by Panama Steve (not verified)
Led Zeplun and Vanilla Fudge by NameJeff H. (not verified)
Zeppelin/vanilla fudge Dec1968 by Bob (not verified)
Zepplin/Fudge by Jeff (not verified)
Zepplin in seattle by Jeff Hammers (not verified)
Led Zeppelin with Vanilla Fudge by Mike M (not verified)