March 19, 1971
includes: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I've Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (medley), Communication Breakdown.
"Back to the clubs" tour
Press Review: Whole Lotta Zeppelin
We caught up with Zeppelin in Manchester. After a scramble through the London rush hour, a dash up the motorway and a long, picturesque drive across the Pennine gap, Roger, our photographer, kindly thought to tell me we were getting a bit low on petrol. I had visions of missing Zeppelin altogether while we tried to hitch the rest of the way on a long distance lorry. But it, was a false alarm and early evening saw us pulling up outside the university where long queues were already forming in the drizzle and dark.
There were two gorillas on guard at the main door, bent on keeping as many fun -loving fans out of the hall as they could, regardless of tickets. Finally we got through and, went backstage to the dressing room, where Robert was sitting strumming his guitar and Jimmy was tuning his, while Bonzo sat with a roadie next to the biggest pile of sandwiches and chocolate bars I've ever seen.
The atmosphere was very quiet and relaxed because they were well into the tour and things were going fine and, for Led Zeppelin, going on stage is a trip anyway. Jimmy kept getting up and moving round the room and obviously felt disinclined to talk because before a performance he's already getting privately into his sounds, but Robert was his usual friendly self and talked softly as he strummed: It turned out that we weren’t the only ones who had trouble getting in.
“I think they were a bit overzealous in protecting us from too many of our public, so much so that when I arrived and said who I was they replied 'who ?’ and I had to stand around and explain while all those kids the other side of the glass grinned."
He pulled a face to express his feelings, and then went on to talk about his farmhouse and the improvements carried out there recently.
"Most of the work is finished now and it just needs painting. I’ve been buying lots of furniture to fill the place up, a lot from a place at the bottom of Kings Road where they keep Moroccan influenced, exotic designs . Also I've bought a horse and lots more chickens and I’m really into the farming bit."
He was pleased with the tour. "It' s been going really well and we’ve been trying out a lot of new things. We've had some surprise reactions. Sometimes an audience starts out screaming for old numbers and we give them new ones and then they're screaming for more of those. I especially liked Ireland - it's the first time we've played there. I like the people, they've still got some spirit left in them, and I might well buy a house there."
Now it was quite late and John Paul arrived, escorted by a look-out posted to make sure he by-passed the security fiends.
Shortly afterwards Peter Grant, their 20-stone, ex -wrestling, gentle giant of a manager, arrived.
There was Newcastle Brown ale all round and cold tea with honey in it while they changed ready to go on stage - Robert from a starry grey-blue T-shirt to a cream silk blouse and embroidered waistcoat over his bell-bottom denims.
They trailed slowly onto stage and burst into the wailing beginnings of Immigrant Song, and on audience, jam-packed so no one could even sway from their place, was instant attention.
Their performance included all the old standards like Whole Lotta Love, which opened the second half, Dazed and Confused with Jimmy playing his guitar with a bow, Since I’ve Been Loving You, and Ramble On, as well as numbers from the next album - probably called Led Zeppelin IV - like Black Dog, and some oldies from other people like Tobacco Row and on incredible version of Mess of the Blues.
Bonzo did one of his spectacular fifteen-minute drum solos and Robert roamed the stage like a beautiful, earthy lion and vied with Jimmy, looking very young in his red pullover, for the audience's attention.
But always they played brilliantly as a group, closely complementing each other to produce the best of the music they create so supremely well. The audience started off badly, with a stupid shouting element, but at the end they united in clamouring for the group to return on stage.
Back in the dressing-room everyone was happy and looking forward to the date in Birmingham the next night. Once they start performing they just want to keep on all night and can't wait to get out in front of the next audience.
My last memory of the evening was Robert sprawled on a chair eating honey off a bright yellow plastic spoon. It was quite something to remember as evenings go - a whole lotta Zeppelin. [by G. Mells, March 1971, Fabulous208]