Led Zeppelin concerts
Formed in 1968, English rock group Led Zeppelin quickly became one of the world's top live acts and remained so until their breakup in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham. From September 1968 inclusive to the summer of 1980, they were one of the world's quintessentially renown live music attractions, performing hundreds of concerts around the world.
Initially filling out the remaining dates previously booked for the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin went on to make countless concert tours of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Europe in particular, during the late 1960s and 1970s. They performed over 700 concerts, originally performing in diminutive nightclubs and ballrooms and then, as their reputation accrued, larger auditoriums and arenas as well. By far the greatest number of Led Zeppelin's live concerts were performed in the United States of America, which was organised as the prime goal for their acclaim and accomplishment. In 1969, for instance, all but thirty-three of the band's 139 appearances were performed in the United States, and between the years 1968 and 1971 they effected no fewer than nine treks of North America. 'It felt like a vacuum and we'd arrived to fill it,' guitarist Jimmy Page once recounted to music journalist Cameron Crowe. 'It was like a tornado, and it went rolling across the country.'
From the beginning of the 1970s, the popular and monetary drawing power of Led Zeppelin was such that the band began to undertake major stadium tours which attracted even larger audiences than they had previously. In the course of their 1973 tour of the United States, they performed to 56,800 devotees at Tampa Stadium, Florida, surpassing the previous record set at Shea Stadium in 1965. Comparative full houses were generated on Led Zeppelin's ensuing US tours, and they continued to exceed audience attendance records (on 30 April 1977 they performed to 76,229 ticket holders at the Pontiac Silverdome, Michigan, a world record attendance for a solo indoor attraction). These exceptional statistics established Led Zeppelin, as much as any other band or artist in this decade, to be broadly acknowledged for initiating what has come be known as stadium rock. Observers attribute the band's swift ascent to popularity as much to their immense affinity as a live unit as they do to the quality of their studio material. Led Zeppelin also performed at numerous music festivals during their career, including the Atlanta International and the Texas International Pop Festivals in 1969, the Bath Festival in 1970, the 'Days on the Green' in Oakland, California in 1977, and the Knebworth Music Festival in 1979. Similarly, manager Peter Grant also selectively turned down many festival appearances including Woodstock, on the belief that the band's set would be too short and their identity diluted on large bills.
Led Zeppelin's pre-eminence as a daunting live act is often ascribed to the tight empathy and musical chemistry attained between all four group members, infused with a shared willingness to experiment on-stage, which resulted in dynamic, unpredictable performances.
As explained by Led Zeppelin chroniclers Dave Lewis and Simon Pallett:
|‘||Led Zeppelin live was an extraordinary experience. From the very beginning no two performances were alike. Such was the creative spark between the four that the basic structures of their songs were repeatedly reworked, extended and improvised on, making their studio counterparts almost unrecognisable.||’|
Led Zeppelin have been described as the kind of group that actually rehearsed on stage, experimenting with the reaction of the audiences to new material and letting the pieces mature through the live experience.
|‘||Every show we did was different. You never knew when you went onstage what you might do by the end of it ... Once a song was recorded, and it went into the set, it began to mutate. The whole improvisational aspect, the riffs coming out of the ether ... it was a magical vehicle collectively soaring into the stratosphere. And as more albums came out, the set got longer and longer.||’|
In an interview conducted with Uncut magazine in 2005, Page recounted:
|‘||The beauty of playing in the band was that when we went onstage we never actually know what was going to go on within the framework of the songs. They were constantly changing. New parts would come out on the night. The spontaneity was on the level of ESP, which meant it was always exciting.||’|
Led Zeppelin concerts could exceed than four hours, with expanded, live versions and medleys of their song repertoire often incorporating elements of blues, Stax and Motown-influenced soul music and funk. The quartet also loved American rock and roll, being inspired by the exuberant styles of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Led Zeppelin would additionally perform rockabilly songs originally made famous by Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran. As noted by Cameron Crowe:
|‘||[Led] Zeppelin live was a direct descendant from Elvis' early shows. Raw, direct, a reminder of when rock was young.||’|
Most of the band's shows have been preserved as unauthorised Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings, which continue to be prized by fans and collectors. In addition, footage of Led Zeppelin concerts has been released officially on the band's 1976 concert film The Song Remains the Same, and on the Led Zeppelin DVD (2003).
However, unlike other artists of the era, comparatively little official concert footage exists of Led Zeppelin. This is largely because of the successful efforts of manager Peter Grant to limit the exposure of the band to television appearances, because of the poor sound quality of the medium and in order to encourage fans who wanted to see the band to attend Led Zeppelin concerts.
Concert tour chronology
|Led Zeppelin tours|
|First European||7 September||14 September||1968|
|UK dates||4 October||20 December||1968|
|First American||26 December||28 February||1968/69|
|UK dates||1 March||13 March||1969|
|Second European||14 March||17 March||1969|
|UK dates||19 March||17 April||1969|
|Second American||18 April||1 June||1969|
|First UK||13 June||29 June||1969|
|Third American||5 July||31 August||1969|
|Holland, Paris and London||3 October||12 October||1969|
|Fourth American||17 October||8 November||1969|
|Second UK||7 January||17 February||1970|
|Third European||23 February||12 March||1970|
|Fifth American||21 March||19 April||1970|
|Iceland and UK dates||21 June||29 June||1970|
|Germany dates||16 July||19 July||1970|
|Sixth American||5 August||19 September||1970|
|Third UK and Ireland||5 March||1 April||1971|
|European dates||3 May||8 August||1971|
|Seventh American||19 August||17 September||1971|
|First Japanese||23 September||29 September||1971|
|Fourth UK||11 November||21 December||1971|
|Australasian||16 February||29 February||1972|
|European dates||26 May||29 May||1972|
|Eighth American||6 June||28 June||1972|
|Second Japanese||2 October||10 October||1972|
|Montreux dates||28 October||29 October||1972|
|Fifth UK||30 November||30 January||1972/73|
|Fourth European||2 March||2 April||1973|
|Ninth American||4 May||29 July||1973|
|European dates||11 January||12 January||1975|
|Tenth American||18 January||27 March||1975|
|Earls Court dates||17 May||25 May||1975|
|Eleventh American||1 April||26 July||1977|
|Danish dates||23 July||24 July||1979|
|Knebworth Festival||4 August||11 August||1979|
|Fifth European||17 June||7 July||1980|
Since Led Zeppelin's hiatus following the death of drummer John Bonham in September 1980, the three surviving members of the band have reunited on-stage on just a few occasions. On 13 July 1985, the three performed at the Live Aid concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, for a brief set featuring drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins. They reunited again in May 1988, for Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert, with Bonham's son, Jason Bonham, on drums, and then on 12 January 1995, for Led Zeppelin's induction into the United States Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For this latter event, the members played a short set with Aerosmith's vocalist, Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, along with Neil Young and Michael Bell.
The surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at The O2 in London on 10 December 2007, with Bonham again occupying the drum stool. While Robert Plant made his position regarding a subsequent reunion tour known to the Daily Mail stating that he could be in favour of more one-off shows in the foreseeable future: 'It wouldn't be such a bad idea to play together from time to time'.
|Led Zeppelin appearances|
|Live Aid||13 July||1985|
|Atlantic Records 40th||14 May||1988|
|Jason Bonham's wedding reception||28 April||1990|
|Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame||12 January||1995|
|Ahmet Ertegun tribute||10 December||2007|
- Led Zeppelin Database: All Dates. ledzeppelin-database.com. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
- Welch, Chris (2002). Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin. London: Omnibus Press, 37. ISBN 0-7119-9195-2.
- Fyfe, Andy (2003). When the Levee Breaks: The Making of Led Zeppelin IV. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 65. ISBN 1-556-52508-7.
- Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, Revised Edition. London: Omnibus Press, 286. ISBN 1-84449-659-7.
- Welch, Chris (2002). Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin. London: Omnibus Press, 232. ISBN 0-7119-9195-2.
- Lewis, Dave (2003). Led Zeppelin: The 'Tight but Loose' Files: Celebration II. London: Omnibus Press, 42. ISBN 1-84449-056-4.
- Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, Revised. London: Omnibus Press, 7. ISBN 1-84449-659-7.
- Rey, Luis (2007). Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes, Abridged. Toronto: Hot Wacks Press, 136. ISBN 0-9698-0807-0.
- Tolinski, Brad; Greg DiBenedetto (May 1993). "Inside the studio with Jimmy Page". Guitar World 14 (5). ISSN 1063-4231.
- Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Song Remains the Same, reissued version, 2007.
- Williamson, Nigel. 'Forget the Myths', Uncut, May 2005, p. 70.
- Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Complete Studio Recordings, 1993
- Welch, Chris (2002). Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin. London: Omnibus Press, 10. ISBN 0-7119-9195-2.
- Led Zeppelin Dazzles at Joyous London Concert (December 2007). Retrieved on 1 February 2008.
- Reunited Led Zeppelin live up to expectations - now desperate fans call for world tour (December 2007). Retrieved on 8 June 2008.