Pilot of the Storm Posted May 24, 2009 Share Posted May 24, 2009 So, here is my O2 story. My story begins during the mad scramble for tickets through the infamous ballot. Not fully appreciating the full ‘rules’ at the time of the application, I email everyone in my address book asking them all to apply on-line on my behalf and state that if they were to win, I’d be round like a shot to buy the tickets off them. It seems funny looking back now, but had some of the people who I asked to apply actually won, then I probably would have been their ‘guest’ as they would have ended up having to go as the winner. That would have made for some very interesting pairings. I cannot for the life of me imagine having to take my 70yr old mother with me to a rock concert!! However one such person I emailed was a friend of mine called Terry. Terry and I go back a long way, for back in 1979 I had two tickets for the Knebworth Aug 11th show. I had been the week previous for the Aug 4th gig with a different friend, but he couldn’t do the following week. I ended up taking Terry. I was 17 and he was 15. Then in 1998 I saw Page & Plant three times in the space of 4 days (Manchester and two consecutive nights at Wembley Arena for those interested). I had scored tickets via TBL, and I again offered Terry the chance to accompany me to two of these shows, which he duly accepted. So, needless to say, I wasn’t one of the ‘chosen ones’ after the first ballot for the O2. I never heard from anyone else that I had asked to apply either (a sigh of relief in some cases). Same again after the second ballot and by this time I had come to accept that I would not be going to the O2. It looked as if I’d be sharing a pedalo on the Thames with Ninelives come the evening of Dec 10th and this is the closest that I would get (that’s an ‘in’ joke for those not in the know btw). Not even realising there was a third ballot to take place (as a result of the JP little pinkie accident and subsequent rescheduling I guess), I found myself in Belgium of all places at the very time of the draw. During this short business trip abroad I had my private mobile phone switched off. I arrived back in Hull on the overnight ferry very early (7am) on Thursday 22nd November and this is when I switched my mobile phone back on. Well my phone went crazy!! I had numerous text messages/voicemails from loads of different people all stating just one thing...”RING TERRY. RING TERRY”...and then, one of the very last voicemails is from Terry himself. “Where the hell are you? Been ringing you constantly for the last 24 hours. Turn your phone on. I’ve won tickets to the O2. WE’RE OFF TO SEE ZEPPELIN!!” In total disbelief and shaking like a nervous wreck, I fumble with my phone frantically trying to ring Terry. I get through, but Terry is on his way to work and he’s in a poor signal reception area. He realises it’s me and tells me to calm down. He manages to tell me that he received a winning email, the tickets are secured and that he will be taking me as his guest...’for a change’. And that was it. I was going and I just could not contain my joy for the rest of the day. I had the widest grin on my face for about a week after this news. Everyone who knew me was so pleased for me. They all know my passion for Zeppelin, but it’s something only you guys reading this will ever truly understand...and boy, was I ever glad that I decided to take Terry to Knebworth all those years ago! I guess what goes around, comes around. Circumstances dictated that Terry and I would have to drive there and back on the day of the concert. I had watched the media reporting and those reporting on LZ.com about the huge queue’s at the O2 on the Sunday for tickets and wristbands, and so it was with still a certain amount of disbelief that we set off at 0545hrs on Monday 10th December 2007, Terry armed with the necessary documentation and me with Aqua’s mobile telephone number! (as Aqua has stated, she sent me a last minute PM just before she set off stating that she had my mobile number...she never actually had it, but luckily she’d sent me hers). We arrived at the O2 at 1030am. I had pre-booked car parking at the O2 car park, and after the short walk to the main concourse area, we wondered just how big the queue for wristband and tickets was going to be. We were expecting a very long wait, but to our utter amazement there was nobody there...and I mean nobody! We merely walked straight to the ticket window, showed the necessary documents and were gleefully in possession of tickets and wristbands by 1045hrs. This is the point that I rang Aqua. “This is Pilot” I begin, feeling slightly nervous and getting some odd looks from Terry who has no idea of my forum activities. So we agree to meet at 2pm at Canary Wharf tube station. Before we leave the O2, we go to have a look at those already stood (or should I say ‘laid out’) in-line. We watch someone about 4th in-line being interviewed by the media explaining that he is the first ‘Brit’ in the queue and that everyone in front of him are American!!! Terry and I head off ‘up West’ for a few hours. I enter Virgin/Zavvi in Piccadilly Circus to the sounds of tracks taken from ‘Mothership’. These are good times to be a Zeppelin fan. Just before 2pm we find ourselves at Canary Wharf looking for Celia, Aqua and Paul. Now I don’t know how this came about, but I had a clear view of what Celia and Aqua looked like, but was unsure about Paul...strange that . Anyway, from the top of the escalators I see Celia and not before long it’s all introductions, handshakes and hugs!! The next problem is locating Aqua somewhere in the labyrinth of shops in Canary Wharf...just how many ‘Boots’ chemists can there be in such a relative short space??? Eventually we find her and all is well (another round of introduction and hugs!). It’s great to actually meet people from the forums, and I only wish I’d have been able to meet Chicken, Leddy and Knebby as well. This short meeting with Paul, his ticket buddy Vince, Celia and Helen becomes one of the highlights of the day for me. After a far too short meeting, including the photo shoot posted previously, we make the short journey to the O2. We all emerge from the tube station and walk out onto the concourse area outside the O2. It’s busy with people steadily making their way to the Arena and there is a real buzz in the air. We all stop and take photos of anything that moves with Zeppelin’s name in neon lights...huge drums, Zeppelin blimp and in my case a couple of ‘rock chicks’ just outside the entrance to the Dome itself. This is the last time that I see Aqua and Celia and I can sense that they are keen to get into the standing area to secure a good spot. With a final ‘goodbye’ hug, they’re gone. As we have seating tickets we’re in no particular hurry and I find myself still composed and just soaking up the atmosphere of it all. Terry and I spend about an hour stood in the queue for merchandise, but we are also stood with Paul (ledded1) and Vince so the time passes quick enough as I delve into Paul’s concert experiences and stand there with my mouth wide open when he lists his Zeppelin collectables!! Finally my time in the merch queue arrives and I purchase a tee shirt and a hard backed programme. The mugs have sold out, much to my disappointment and I’m kicking myself I didn’t buy one this morning when we collected our tickets (I later order a couple online however). By the time we’ve finished in the merchandise queue, the turnstiles are open for our section in the seating area. We pass through the so called security checks, which only consist of looking in all bags. If you’re not carrying a bag then you just pass straight through!! Terry and I say our goodbye’s to Paul and Vince at this point (no hugs) and we make our way into the arena to see how good our seats are. We find that we are high up...make that very high up. This is my first visit to the arena and the upper seating area is fairly steep. We are sat directly opposite the stage, and slightly to the left of centre when looking at the stage itself. To be honest, this is the least of my worries. Just being there is mind-blowingly incredible and I feel so lucky and privileged. Harvey Goldsmith comes onto the stage to make a few announcements about the running order and to plug the DVD about Ahmet’s life that accompanies the official programme. I wonder if there’s going to be some form of reaction towards him about the ticket ballot fiasco, but his appearance passes off without incident. The support acts begin. I thoroughly enjoy the Keith Emmerson/Chris Squire version of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ as well as Maggie Bell and Paul Rodgers. Bill Wyman, Paolo Nutini etc are OK. Foreigner is pure ‘cheese’ and they do nothing for me. After Foreigner leave the stage everything looks ready. Jimmy’s symbol makes a welcome return to the amp and just after 9pm the house lights go down. The show begins with the Tampa news clip as featured as an extra on the new re-mastered TSRTS DVD. Watching this film clip makes me wonder just how many people here tonight actually know about the news reel clip and have seen it before. As soon as the news clip finishes we immediately get a taste of what to expect from a certain Mr Bonham for the rest of the evening... DUH ,DUH blasts out as they launch into GTBT. MY GOD, THEY’RE ON STAGE. I have to pinch myself to ensure that I’m not dreaming and I see Terry look over in my direction. I’m sure my face was a dead giveaway and I sense that Terry is also quietly pleased with himself for managing to get us to the event of the decade. Next up its straight into ‘Ramble On’, played out in a similar arrangement to the Page Plant 95 tour. Terry complains that the sound is not quite what it should be and Pagey’s guitar is lost in the mix. I initially disagree, but after a short while find myself conceding that point. Thankfully by the next song (Black Dog) things appear to have been sorted. I’m personally not over keen on the way Robert sings this particular version of Black Dog, but this is only a very minor gripe in an otherwise ‘kick ass’ performance. It’s during Black Dog that I notice that two young guys have returned to their seats adjacent to me...they had obviously gone to the bar after Foreigner cleared off stage and they have missed the first two and a half songs of the mighty Zeppelin!!! Can you believe that!!! What a waste of a pair of tickets. ‘In My Time of Dying’ is just superb, and in particular I’m very pleased to hear the ‘Honey Bee’ refrain. Again I find myself wondering what percentage of people here tonight even recognises that little titbit. ‘For Your Life’ is pure brilliance and magnificently played. A real treat. Poor Terry’s Zeppelin knowledge is brought into question at this point and I have to put him straight! It’s great to see the three ‘seniors’ constantly looking at Jason as if in a needlessly-over-concerned-parent sort of a way. I also like the fact that they never move that far apart for much of the concert and remain in a constant area centred around Jason’s drum kit. By now they are well and truly cooking on gas. Trampled Under Foot is played to its usual funkiness. Nobody’s Fault But Mine...just fantastic. No Quarter...much trimmed and complete with dry ice. Jonesy, it has to be said, epitomises pure concentration throughout the entire evening. Luckily we have the large back drop TV screen to give us, up in the lap of the Gods, this insight. Since I’ve Been Loving You. Jimmy gives us a great vintage solo. Dazed and Cofused, as Robert informs us ‘just has to be there’. I love this shortened version, but notice the first real mistake of the evening as they appear to get lost when trying to bring it all back together after Jimmy’s solo. Terry and I particularly enjoy the green laser pyramid section as we are suddenly transported back some 28 years to Knebworth. Just awesome! A real shock for me next as Jimmy begins the first few chords of ‘Stairway’. I for one never saw this one coming, but I’m so pleased it is here tonight. It’s reception is some what muted and I guess that people are either in total amazement at its inclusion or that they are in floods of tears. Me...I’m still holding it all together at this point. Really enjoying the whole experience. Still pinching myself from time to time, but happy as a pig in shit nonetheless. Roberts “Hey Ahmet! We did it!” cry at the end of Stairway is a touching moment and, as I make a mental note, a sure fire bootleg title in the forthcoming weeks. Next up is one of my all time favourite live songs. I just love TSRTS. Tonight’s version is not the best I’ve ever heard as it lacks a little ‘punch’ but boy, I’m so pleased its here. This is probably the one song that I was really hoping that they were going to perform. A no-nonsense Misty Mountain Hop follows TSRTS and Jason’s mini solo effort on vocals with ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’. Robert then talks about the 50 nations that are represented here tonight and then goes to explain that this is the 51st nation. KASHMIR!. This really brings the house down. The whole arena is going wild and the effort the band put into this performance just blows me away. Robert especially pulls out all of the stops on this one. Awesome, awesome, awesome. It’s hard to describe the emotions you are feeling at this moment in time...something that I never thought I would feel again. I feel so lucky to have seen Zeppelin live at both Knebworth events, but to be part of this here tonight is really something else. Even though Kashmir is the highlight of the evening, I’m still holding it all together. With that, they’re off...but not for long. After a deafening ovation they return to give us Whole Lotta Love...complete with Theramin, although I suspect something is not quite right with this piece of equipment. Amazingly, after WLL, people start to leave the arena. Unbelievable!!. They return to give us a stonking version of Rock and Roll with the whole place on its feet. Then it’s all over. Jason clambers down from the drum kit and then bows down in worship fashion to Robert, Jonesy and Jimmy. This is where I lose it and the tears just flow down my cheeks. I’m so happy and yet sad at the same time as I spare a moment to the memory of Bonzo. Jason did his dad proud tonight as he nailed his performance and I’m sure Bonzo was watching from afar with a huge grin on his face, supping a pint of mild in utmost approval. It’s a long long drive home after the concert and I’m very tired and yet euphoric at the same time and I eventually hit the sack about 5am...having been up for the last 24 hours...but what a 24 hours!!!!!!! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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