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RoundingRover

Europe '80: A conscious attempt to deconstruct the mythology?

31 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Having seen and listened to stuff from the 1980 tour I have things I've noticed, and would love to discuss:
 

The band not only ditched the elaborate costumes and stage shows that had come to dominate their act and image in the 1970s, but also played a tighter, more taut setlist, bereft of gimmicks and effects. Robert had cut his hair (albeit just a bit) as did Jimmy; John cut his hair completely short. All the guys were now wearing jeans and t-shirts rather than the more elaborate costumes of earlier years. Robert was no longer the Golden God displaying his chest for all the adoring female fans. Jimmy no longer wore the dragon shirts or fancy outfits and didn't play with a bow. There was a distinct lack of pretense.

1977, as opposed to 1980:

led-zeppelin-2.jpg

Zep+D+012.jpg

ledzep-80-08-14.jpg

Led-Zeppelin-by-Rob-Verhorst.jpg


My question is, do you think the image and performance change was a conscious attempt by the band to deconstruct some of the mythology that had grown up around "The Mighty Zeppelin" even by that point? Or was it more simply a natural changing with the times and maturity on their parts? Was it an attempt to change their image for a new decade, or was it because their hearts weren't in it enough to care and dress up and put on elaborate shows anymore?

I ask because other bands have purposely tried to downplay their own image (the Let it Be project, for example, was an attempt by The Beatles to show the world the band 'naked' to quote John Lennon - without studio armor; Pearl Jam made No Code as commercially unappealing as possible to shake off the bandwagon fans).

I'm wondering what you guys think the line of thought was for 1980. 

Prior to September, was 1980 the end or just begin?
 

Edited by RoundingRover

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I believe Jimmy cut his hair (slightly) after the first or second gig. Robert had started to cut his hair short back in late 78. Short haircuts was the new trend for the 80s.

I saw the tour as a "Back to Basics". Check out Dave Lewis' book Feather in the Wind which chronicles the tour.  

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Posted (edited)

1980 live is the black sheep for me. I don't always listen to 1969 live stuff either, because the recordings from the latter portion of the year aren't that great, and soundboards and good audience recordings are few. But I do listen to '69 live on the regular. Can't say that about the 1980 live stuff. Just don't care for it. 1979 live stuff is the shit but idk what happened there in 1980. :( I listen to all other years and tours on the regular, if they are above average audience recordings or soundboards, they're playing.

Edited by Dirty Work

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Posted (edited)

I certainly don't think it was because the didn't care. Fashions and people change, old routines become stale and everything needs a little shake up. Whatever your opinion regarding ITTOD it was an attempt to experiment with doing something different.

imagine if you had to go on stage every night wearing the same clothes, playing the same songs and doing the same show? At some point things just become routine and you're going to start going through the motions. The unpredictability and dramatic tension of your shows will gradually lessen and that magic spark will begin to fade. If you're asleep at the wheel your audience will eventually notice and your once legendary live shows will become simply legend.

Edited by babysquid

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It seems they were indeed attempting to kick start a new space and vibe on that tour. The unrestrained excess and indulgent shows of '77 - as great as they could be (and so often were) were over.

This 1980 tour was the first tour that had this new edict, so was not perfect, but was only ever going to improve (unless Jimmy and/or Peter were to NOT reign in their, erm, 'indulgences' shall we say.)

The next tour could have built on the first. Learn the lessons, drop White Summer, balance out the overall tempo of the next tour, maybe add a surprise number like Wearing and Tearing, - something I think would have made it onto their next album, Carouselumbra as a feature piece, maybe segwaying into something else, and would have been nicely building up to another hard rock album.

Jimmy's ability to control himself was key at this point. Plant seemed to have had enough and it was only going to take a straw to break his back so to speak. This probably was no secret and may have worked to keep Jimmy relatively clean and in good form touring, and maybe clear his head a bit - pull back from the edge so to speak (a bit of an overly optimistic view, I know). Otherwise, I can well imagine an announced "break" With Robert exploring on his own while Jimbo either self destructed, or got help.

But yeah, in short, changing times and maturity. They were not the same band as they were in '77. This is how they wanted to tour going forward. Lay a new platform and build on it into a new decade. Onward with new things.

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18 minutes ago, babysquid said:

I certainly don't think it was because the didn't care. Fashions and people change, old routines become stale and everything needs a little shake up. Whatever your opinion regarding ITTOD it was an attempt to experiment with doing something different.

imagine if you had to go on stage every night wearing the same clothes, playing the same songs and doing the same show? At some point things just become routine and you're going to start going through the motions. The unpredictability and dramatic tension of your shows will gradually lessen and that magic spark will begin to fade. If you're asleep at the wheel your audience will eventually notice and your once legendary live shows will become simply legend.

I don't think it was a case of being tired of what they were wearing between '73 and '77 or of trying to "deconstruct the mythology" that had grown around them, but I do think it was a case of both a new decade/new attitude - hence the 'cut the waffle' ethos on the Over Europe tour - but also I think the band took criticism of their Knebworth shows personally, and that directly influenced their appearance thereafter... wanting to get back to basics, stay relevant, and quit the whole 'godhead' stuff (as Mick Wall so memorably put it)... times they were a-changing and even the mighty Zeppelin were acknowledging that on the '80 tour.  Personally, I don't think they would have lasted much longer past the planned North American tour(s) anyway, but we'll never know for sure, and the Over Europe tour was at least a valiant effort to keep things fresh and move forward into a new decade.

I also think it's ironic that just as Zeppelin were moving away  from the 'godhead' stuff, rock music was heading in the opposite direction for that ensuing decade...

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14 minutes ago, rm2551 said:

It seems they were indeed attempting to kick start a new space and vibe on that tour. The unrestrained excess and indulgent shows of '77 - as great as they could be (and so often were) were over.

This 1980 tour was the first tour that had this new edict, so was not perfect, but was only ever going to improve (unless Jimmy and/or Peter were to NOT reign in their, erm, 'indulgences' shall we say.)

The next tour could have built on the first. Learn the lessons, drop White Summer, balance out the overall tempo of the next tour, maybe add a surprise number like Wearing and Tearing, - something I think would have made it onto their next album, Carouselumbra as a feature piece, maybe segwaying into something else, and would have been nicely building up to another hard rock album.

Jimmy's ability to control himself was key at this point. Plant seemed to have had enough and it was only going to take a straw to break his back so to speak. This probably was no secret and may have worked to keep Jimmy relatively clean and in good form touring, and maybe clear his head a bit - pull back from the edge so to speak (a bit of an overly optimistic view, I know). Otherwise, I can well imagine an announced "break" With Robert exploring on his own while Jimbo either self destructed, or got help.

But yeah, in short, changing times and maturity. They were not the same band as they were in '77. This is how they wanted to tour going forward. Lay a new platform and build on it into a new decade. Onward with new things.

THIS.

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6 hours ago, The Old Hermit said:

THIS.

Agreed. Apart from the way he spelled Segue (Segway). :-)

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11 hours ago, babysquid said:

 

imagine if you had to go on stage every night wearing the same clothes, playing the same songs and doing the same show? At some point things just become routine and you're going to start going through the motions. The unpredictability and dramatic tension of your shows will gradually lessen and that magic spark will begin to fade. 

Well, one need look no further than AC/DC as this has been their lotus operandi since Back in Black. However, the fans seem to like it and keep buying Back in Black vol 14 or whatever.

I am glad Zep decided to change and for exactly the reasons you pointed out. Too bad the band could not have ended on a positive note after the 81' tour with Bonzo still alive.

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14 hours ago, The Dark Lord said:

Agreed. Apart from the way he spelled Segue (Segway). :-)

lol....

Ta.

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Not sure if the new approach worked. Zep was born to jam, I believe way too much jamming was removed. Although Jimmy and Bonzo may not have been up to it anyway. The clothes change was cool, but that couldn't hide Jimmy 

and Bonzo's lack of stamina or erosion of skills. But hey, If some fans dig the 80' live Zep , that's fine

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Posted (edited)

Page and Plant went to see the Damned and some other punk bands in the late 70s.

They weren't stupid and knew the times had changed.

My gut feeling is that Plant was driving the new approach to the music (not sure about the on-stage fashions ;-) )

Was quite possibly one of his stipulations when he agreed to come back in '78.

It's clear Plant felt Zep had become self-indulgent and wanted to return to just playing a song without all the extended solos and stuff.

I've always been fascinated with the Tour of Europe, so I enjoyed and can highly recommend Lewis' Feather in the Wind.

It's a lot better than the Knebworth book which has far too many fan recollections (after one of two who cares that John from Bognor Regis pissed on his tent).

Feather in the Wind has loads of cool interviews with techs, stage hands and analysis of the gigs on the tour.

 

Edited by Boleskinner

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I just wish it wasn't out of print and the used copies not some dang expensive!

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I was going to buy it at the time, left it & am now regretting it.

Does anyone know if there's any chance of him doing a reprint?

On topic, I think punk/New Wave had a big effect on things at the time, especially the fashions & this massively reflected in the downsizing on Zeppelin's part. In a way I'm kind of glad they didn't really make it into the 80s, it was such a horrible decade for music & I don't think they belonged there, with the terrible sounding production & introduction of MTV.

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30 minutes ago, Mook said:

I was going to buy it at the time, left it & am now regretting it.

Does anyone know if there's any chance of him doing a reprint?

On topic, I think punk/New Wave had a big effect on things at the time, especially the fashions & this massively reflected in the downsizing on Zeppelin's part. In a way I'm kind of glad they didn't really make it into the 80s, it was such a horrible decade for music & I don't think they belonged there, with the terrible sounding production & introduction of MTV.

I totally agree with you Mook. The 80's was by far the worst decade in the history of popular music and the over indulgence of 70's rock music sat very uncomfortable in the mix.

Yes tried it with Tormato and even more 80's sound with 90125 - I didn't really get it as I saw Yes in 1977 and really enjoyed them. 

As for Zeppelin in the 80's, you can see the direction Plant, especially,wanted to go. ITTOD is a good pointer of the sound. It was all over of course even before the Death of Bonzo. Page wanted to do a more hard rock album next and it didn't fit with Plant.

You can easily hear the sound Plant wanted with his solo projects with Robbie Blunt. I saw his first 2 solo shows at Manchester and didn't rate them at all. Worst of all was "Shaken and Stirred". My God what an awful album that is. I saw that tour in Birmingham and the only highlight was Richie Heywoods drumming

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Dave Lewis' book on the 80 tour is still available sometimes. I saw one for £35 (if I remember rightly) at a record fair. amazon always put a ridiculously high figure f they done have one in stock. maybe ebay?

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Plant himself has said that the  "Shaken and Stirred" tour was an absolute disaster. The music didn't work live. As an album, Robert has admitted that it was the final nail in the coffin regarding his past with LZ. He deliberately wanted to make an album that was so unlike LZ that it would kill off anyone who was going to see him or listen to him because of his past with LZ. He was really frightened of the nostalgia trip.

I still love the first two albums and listen to them regularly. Live....it was just too much new material for me. But he obviously found himself with Now And Zen and then with recording one of the greatest solo albums that any artist from a big name band has ever recorded in Manic Nirvana. I saw him on the Manic Nirvana tour which was the second tour where he incorporated LZ songs into the set, and he was just awesome. Better than the second half of the 70's with the chronic flu voice.

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People change and so do bands. i have always said they looked and acted cool throughout the different eras. So any change did not make them better or worse. Just perfect in every dept.

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Posted (edited)

If Bonzo had made it through that September night I would have wanted a long break from
Led Zeppelin.  I think the '80s would have possibly lessened the incredible influence and
legacy the band gifted us with.  Those 12 years mean so much more for my listening pleasure
than having something watered down because it continued on and on and on for over 50
years.  *cough* Stones *cough*  I see Stones fans on the board hurling shit at me at as they
read that.  Sorry no hard feelings.  I do like their music as well,  but I like Zep's music so much
more.  
:peace:

There are musicians both older and younger than Zeppelin who were around in the '80s and
survived the MTV music video era,  but remember this was a time when it wasn't enough to
simply take footage of a performer playing live, dress the the sound up all nice and classify it
an official MTV video. Nope, they would want Zep or a bunch of actors acting out some mini
story for the duration of a song.  Something completely tacky and cornball cheesy.  Think of '80s
Robert in Sea Of Love.  So ridiculously foolish.  
:blink:

I can't forget about the dress either.  If Europe '80 tour was a sign of the times...oh boy.  
Nothing fashionably iconic.  That's not Led Zeppelin's  dress,  but in the '80s it definitely would
have been.   Now before anybody flings farty rotten eggs  or tomatoes at me... I don't have a
problem with jeans and a t-shirt.  I like those 
:yesnod:.  I'm looking at it from past images of  Led
Zeppelin
in the late '60 '70s and all the crazy amazing stage clothes they wore.  Comparing
that with the '80s conservative neutral stuff just does not jump out at me.      

Lastly the '80s in music does not represent the greatest music to me either.  There was such a
large focus on music videos that you could take low quality shit,  dress it up with a cool music
video and "sell"  it as good stuff to the listener.   The teenage demographic of the '80s were
ruled by MTV back then.  The 5 minute video was selling the music back then.  Today MTV
music videos have died off.  People today would rather take the song and link it up with
some iconic images of the musicians,  put the lyrics up,   or simply put the musicians logo or
album cover in a still shot.  The Led Zeppelin  channel with the remastered albums on
YouTube show LZ album covers,   actual footage or still photos of the band.   They don't have
the 4 of them acting out some silly story.  From '68 - '80  Zeppelin didn't need to do that to
sell their music.  The '80s decade and what came to be acceptable in the music industry would
have risked that that I think.

......blah blah blah:blahblah:

Edited by KellyGirl

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This was a very tight band in many respects so I believe that they all agreed, subconsciously or whatever, to forego the 70's attire, not Plant demanding it. I think the only thing Plant demanded was the tours be short and that just so he could test the waters of being onstage again, correct if I'm wrong.

I also don't believe, again correct me if I'm wrong, that ITTOD was any kind of Plant move, be it a change in sound or a new direction to or away from anything. To me the 2 major factors of how ITTOD came about was 1.) Jimmy not showing up and 2.) That new keyboard Jone's got. They sat around waiting with nothing to do so they started writing and whatever Jone's came up with on that keyboard. I don't believe there was any plan to make that album a certain way, it just happened.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Boleskinner said:

It's a lot better than the Knebworth book which has far too many fan recollections (after one of two who cares that John from Bognor Regis pissed on his tent).

^ That is freaking hilarious! 

 

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Posted (edited)

The most disappointing thing about the 1980's is that there were actually some very good bands that had potential to develop into something good if they had a Peter Grant like manager, but MTV and record labels absolutely destroyed their careers. They encouraged the bands to spend way more time on their videos and developing their image than focusing on their tunes and touring in the way that the 70's bands did it. I am never one to say that this generation or that generation's music sucks. I think that's pretentious. It's just that the record labels and business people have certain periods where they stuff crap down our throats and destroy anything that might have some potential. There are also bands and artists who refuse to buy into the B.S., and by doing so, get left behind. It's sad.

Edited by ThreeSticks

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11 hours ago, KellyGirl said:

Nope, they would want Zep or a bunch of actors acting out some mini story for the duration of a song.

Ever watch The Song Remains The Same  ;)...?

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9 hours ago, The Old Hermit said:

Ever watch The Song Remains The Same  ;)...?

Yup! Many times!  :lol: I just meant that songs like Dazed and Confused  or, The Rain  Song  didn't
need those 'fantasy'  scenes to sell them to the listener.   I can listen to those songs  without
needing to see Robert on a horse,  or Jimmy all hermity hermit on the mountain top.  The 80s I
think would have had Zeppelin doing that kind of nonsense plus worse.  Page would have been
climbing that hill top in his Knebworth tan pants and blue button down. 

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