June 10, 1972
Buffalo, NY US
Includes: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I've Been Loving You, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, That's the Way, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed and Confused, What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (medley incl: Let That Boy Boogie, Running Bear), Communication Breakdown
Earlier this day, members of Led Zeppelin, Peter Grant and Richard Cole attend Elvis Presley's afternoon concert at Madison Square Garden.
Press Review: Crowd Doesn’t Hamper Zeppelin’s Good Sounds
The last of the 16,500 Led Zeppelin fans were migrating toward Memorial Auditorium and the bitter chill of that June 10 evening didn’t seem to bother the anxious crowd a bit. It is the night of my birth and I am feeling fine. So fine, in fact, that my lack of press pass and ticket didn’t worry me in the least. This was the first concert I had ever photographed and even though I had no credentials, I figured the promoters to be reasonable men. There were and I was inside the concert in two minutes.
I was escorted to the stage area by a huge offensive tackle disguised as a security guard and within minutes, was shooting away. The Aud was sold out and the stage area was mobbed with spaced out teenyboppers, struggling to reach the flashing purple pants of lead singer Robert Plant. Zeppelin was in the middle of Communication Breakdown and the superb sound system generated the mammoth Zeppelin sound with studio accuracy.
Plant’s vocals were strong and clear as willowy Jimmy Page scooted about, his six string screaming the familiar Zeppelin rhythms. John Paul Jones was distinctly heavy on bass and John Bonham’s pounding drums highlighted one of the tightest concert performances I have ever witnessed. Led Zeppelin is exactly as its name implies; heavy – yet at times, smooth and flowing. While they have been written off by many rock critics as “loud and repetitious”, on this they were very powerful and creative and they had only begun a set that was to last nearly three hours. Even a typically violent, immature element, seemingly present at most major concerts nowadays, couldn’t bring Led Zeppelin down.
Lead vocalist Robert Plant displayed excellent style and a great deal of patience in dealing with the wild Zeppelin crowd. Some idiots were throwing strings of firecrackers down toward the stage area, along with sparkler flares, packs of burning matches and assorted debris. Being in the stage area was comparable to an urban riot; security and ushers were shielding that stage with their bodies, while packs of crazed freaks, often using a comrade as a battering ram, charged the line, crushing toward the stage. Plant broke out of a vocal, paternally scolded, “Stop that, children”, and the conflict halted briefly.
Plant was looking slick in purple embroidered bells and a black top, prancing around and when a second freak leaped on stage and hug-tackled him, Plant kept on singing and pleaded “easy… easy” as the stage security dragged the happy teenybopper off stage. It seemed as though the object of the stage area violence was to get to mess up Robert’s hair or perhaps throw some debris at Jimmy Page.
Zeppelin rested a while as Plant, Page and Jones sat down for a few acoustic numbers.Then they launched into the last hour of the set that really got the crowd going. The crowd went wild as they broke into Whole Lotta Love, clear and booming.
Zeppelin was really hot and even when they switched into an electric version of Running Bear (vintage 1955) no one seemed to mind. Page did one of his violin bow solos, long but listenable and John Bonham’s (introduced as Moby Dick) lengthy drum solo (seemed like ten minutes) couldn’t bring the Zeppelin fans down.
They tried to end the set and or course, all 16,500 fans went wild and stomped and screamed until Zeppelin reappeared with a balloon which they proceeded to kick around like a soccer ball. They jammed, loud and clear to cap a long happy concert and even the firecrackers and stage area street fighting couldn’t ruin the beautiful vibrations created by a mature, polished hard rock group.
I left the concert feeling nice, unaffected by the bitter cold and thoroughly convinced that Led Zeppelin, despite their criticisms and stereotyping the group’s image suffers, played good stage presence.
I may not see them again in a professional capacity and a photographer should be given hazard pay to work in such violence, but I’ll check them out again, because good live hard rock music is a worthy experience for anyone. [RJ Hill / Spectrum/6-1972]