Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham join Roy Harper on stage at his Valentine's Day concert. The London show, held at the Rainbow Theatre also features Keith Moon on drums and Ronnie Lane on bass guitar. The unique line-up was introduced by Plant, while Bonham strummed an acoustic guitar with the band.
The live jam was captured on Roy Harper's album, Flashes From the Archives of Oblivion, with Jimmy Page playing guitar for half of the live tracks.
Press Review: So there we all were last Thursday at The Rainbow, five-and-a-half months (and about four hundred studio-hours) later for a concert to launch Harper's resurrection album called "Valentine" (the concert was called "Roy Harper's Valentine Day Massacre").
Everything was on its best behaviour. .The sound system, Harper's guitar-strings, David Bedford's 18-piece Orchestra. No embarassing dancers like at the Albert Hall back in December, just a smoothly-run first half that any stout Mancunian Son could be -well proud of. And his houseful of dutiful fans were as good as can be.
And when the audience returned to their seats from an interval chasing hot- dogs and beer, they found this cosy domestic scene had been magically built on stage: flowered , wallpaper, standard lamps, a three-piece suite and some friends watching TV.
On came Roy Harper again, Jeans and pully exchanged for a black velvet safari suit, and began to sing his delightful hymn to domestic bliss, "Acapulco Gold". Whether the number which dropped from his lips at the end of the song was genuine or not, there were no complaints when he passed it to an eager member of the audience.
Then, after his little jailbait teaser "Forbidden Fruit", about thirteen-year-old Lewis Carroll fantasies and the "flames of magic thirst" (see Thrills) he was presenting his theories about the behaviour of spermatozoa when some uncouth, unhip unbeliever, called out “where’s Pagey”
He distributed a withering look and declined to answer the oaf. But the interruption was enough to send Harper crashing into "Highway Blues" wrenching the chorus out of his throat with heartfelt rage. This then left him rather hoarse for "South Africa", which wouldn't really have mattered except that he was singing the line "I am young and strong" in a thin croak.
Then his quiet little "At Home" was interrupted again by a ring at the doorbell and a cheery cry of "Avon calling!"
And there, wearing a broad beam and a Chinese jacket decorated with hummingbirds - just a subtle touch of glitter at the throat and wrist - was a perfectly genuine friendly Superstar. Jimmy Page took a seat and joined in for "The Same Old Rock". And Harper's voice recovered. And I am pleased to be able to state that the Bliss Count was definitely on the up.
A second Avon rep in a Butlin's Red Coat, bearing a distinct resemblance to Keith Moon, appeared to herald the demolition of the set. The parlour wall was whisked up into the flies; the roadies, like so many bailiffs, carted off the three-piece, and Harper (a nice Anarchist touch this) dropped the TV set casually into the orchestra pit. Ronnie Lane wandered on, looking for somewhere to plug in his bass, his hair rumpled as if he had just rolled out of bed, and with about a week's growth of beard on his fubsy features – otherwise looking sharp and dapper in a gun-metal shot-silk suit.
A curtain rose; a massive platform was wheeled forward with a monster white drumkit and several stacks of amps twinkling and ready.
Harper's son Nicky, a groover of six, took possession of a mike and started swapping "knock-knock" jokes with Keith Moon, who soon realized the futility of trying to better a funky six-year-old and sought consolation by flailing into his kit like an extremely angry spastic whirlwind. "Male Chauvanist Pig Blues" was the piece, and it really was quite a charge, I can tell you, when they all got it on - though I was beginning to wish my ear wasn't about four feet from the left-hand speakers.
No matter. Harper was well into his second or third voice, and kept going like a good 'un while a desperate roadie came , out to repair his guitar-strap with silver adhesive tape. Jimmy Page stood there with his low-slung Les Paul and Hummingbird jacket looking every inch a gentle killer axeman.
They all finished at the same time and in the same key, and to tell the truth, sounding like a band that had been together a great deal longer than that afternoon. Ronnie Lane was laughing with (what could have been) relief.
"Too Many Movies", a slow blues by Harper out of Saint James' Infirmary allowed the trio of seasoned rock-and• roll warriors the chance to show how laid-back they could be.
But there was no way of preventing John ("Bonzo") Bonham from doing anything he was determined to do. And what he clearly felt like doing during the third piece ("Home") was cavorting around the stage, with Harper's acoustic guitar, in a red coat, porkpie hat and black tights. In his face shone the fanatic glaze of a man determined that everybody is going to have Bonzo's good time come what may. No-one seemed inclined to stop him so it didn't really matter did it? I suppose he's what you call a heavy friend.
Anyway, Bonzo- came into his own in the award ceremony which followed (after Robert Plant, resplendent in leopard skin lurex had come on to express his appreciation.) I remember trying to tot up on my fingers the quantity of albums which Zeppelin, Who and Faces, had sold. The millions had run out of fingers when Bonzo presented five gold –albums to Keith Moon, and distributed Roy's (clean round the bend) Harpic Awards to all in sight.
It was aII a little Moon-mad; I suppose ... After the- heavy decibels and heavy friends had departed, Harper came back and, standing liked a spaced-out Pagliacci in the spot clutching the air, he sang the unaccompanied "So ManyTimes", said goodnight, changed his mind and gave the stamping multitude "One-Man Rock-and-Roll Band".
Whatever I think (or write), Harper remains a master studio craftsman at fashioning what he calls “Labyrinth jobs” out of his own superb songs. Thank you Mr. Harper, for inviting me to your superstar party. [Austin John Marshall, NME 2/23/74]