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SinceIveBeenLovingU

Madison Square Garden Reunion 1988

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Back in 1988, I was working as a news reporter for a rock radio network and got the assignment of a lifetime: to broadcast live from the 40th Anniversary concert for Atlantic Records. This all-day event took place at New York's Madison Square Garden and featured an amazing lineup of artists from Atlantic's (then) 40 year history.

Zep fans remember it, of course, as the first time Page, Plant and Jones had played together since Live Aid -- with the addition of Jason Bonham on drums. Robert Plant also performed a solo set with his band earlier in the evening, then returned to play with Zep. The band was originally scheduled to go on at midnight, but didn't wind up taking the stage until almost 1:30 a.m., as I recall.

I recently found my original stage production booklet for the concert -- these were distributed to crew and media only so we could keep up with the schedule of artists. Just scanned it and thought ya'll might find it interesting.

All of the songs to be played were known in advance and listed here -- however, you'll notice their set had to be cut short. Pretty sure this was due to the concert running too late. Most likely NYC wanted that hall empty by 2 a.m.!!!

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Hmm wonder why I Can't Quit You was crossed.

All of the songs to be played were known in advance and listed here -- however, you'll notice their set had to be cut short. Pretty sure this was due to the concert running too late. Most likely NYC wanted that hall empty by 2 a.m.!!!

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I was very stoked for this show as probably a zillion others people. What a joy it was seeing them back on stage. And they "appeared" a bit more organized as a four piece unit compared to the "disorder" I watched at Live Aid (Jimmy walking and falling into various objects, Plant looking as if hes not quite sure were to stand some of the time, two different drummers pounding away out of synch, ect ect). It was hastly put together and it showed.

But as for the music at Atlantic reunion 1988 :slapface: I actually felt Jimmy sounded worse (if possible) than he did at Live Aid. He looked better physically, at least he didnt look like he was going to fall through the floor at any moment. But his playing came across as flat to me.

Actually I thought Plant looked far more in control striking his Percy pose and actually sang pretty decent as well. But his lyrical flub on Stairway was truly cringe worthy (I think I actually heard a collective gasp and even a few boos from the audience, but I could be wrong)

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Thanks for sharing. I think Jimmy's playing was due to audio problems, from the HBO mix (who broadcasted this) and not something that was his fault. Although, he wasn't at his best.

I'm sure that set schedule is something Steve will put in his archives for sure.

Edited by SuperDave

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I do remember Rolling Stone mentioning they did a smokin' version of "I Can't Quit You Baby" the day before the show at soundcheck. But, they did not say it was supposed to be part of their set at the show itself.

Too bad THAT hasn't surfaced!

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A show to be forgotten. Awefull sound with no bass or keyboards heard and Jimmy was SO NERVOUS especially during the middle section of Heartbreaker. Jimmy had a child that year and would be touring off a solo lp. You would think that the nerves would have passed by 1988 especially with all the events in his life that year.

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Thanks for sharing the production sheet. I had read somewhere that they rehearsed I Can't Quit You.

I was there too, and in spite of the mistakes I thought it was better than the Live-Aid performance and the excitement of seeing them in person again outweighed the flaws for me.

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Thanks for sharing the production sheet. I had read somewhere that they rehearsed I Can't Quit You.

I was there too, and in spite of the mistakes I thought it was better than the Live-Aid performance and the excitement of seeing them in person again outweighed the flaws for me.

Did you ever see what was televised? The sound at the show MUST have been better than what was on HBO that night!

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Did you ever see what was televised? The sound at the show MUST have been better than what was on HBO that night!

I was there and I have it on dvd. Yes it was much better being there. Plus the fact that for someone like myself who didn't get to see Zep in their day, it was a pretty magical experience and I didn't notice the mistakes until I watched it on tape.

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Glad ya'll enjoyed the production sheet. Pleased to share it with you!

They had rehearsed "I Can't Quit You" and fully intended to play it. However, to be blunt, it really was the band's own fault that the song had to be tossed...because they couldn't get started on time. (There were reasons for this delay which I personally witnessed backstage, but won't tell tales out of school.) Thus, what should have been a 40 minute set turned out to be only half an hour.

Anyone who was there remembers the intolerably long wait (more than an hour) waiting for Zep to take the stage.After a long day of teasing the crowd with hints that Zeppelin MIGHT play together again, people were starting to wonder if it was a hoax, or if the reunion had fallen through at the last minute. These rumors were circulating in the arena. Some fans had traveled across the country and from overseas just for Zeppelin. These folks had spent a fortune in travel costs to be there -- and tickets to the concert itself cost several hundred bucks. Not happy campers! I feared that if the band didn't play, a freaking riot was going to break out in the Garden. At times it felt like chairs could start flying at any moment. Could've turned ugly, that's for sure.

The natives were getting restless and chanting "LED ZEP! LED ZEP!," and "We want Zeppelin!", at times completely drowning out host Robert Townsend and booing Ahmet Ertegun when he was trying to introduce the band.

Sorry to say this, but I was honestly embarrassed by some of the Zeppelin fans behaviour; as if they had forgotten that Grandpa Ertegun was the reason their favorite band was reuniting that night. The majority showed him no respect; these idiots didn't even know who he was...they just wanted that old man in a suit to get off the stage, already. :slapface:

Needless to say such an environment did not set a happy or joyous tone for Zeppelin. No wonder they were bloody nervous when they took the stage. They were also quite pissed about how the audience treated Ahmet. And they were tired -- Robert had an especially long day. He'd already sung a full set with his own band and talked his voice out schmoozing backstage for several hours. Also, several cocktails had been knocked back during the hour-plus wait to go on.

From the downbeat, the set was a disaster. Someone farked up and forgot to re-tune Jimmy's Danelectro, which had been sitting under the lights and heat for an hour. If you're familiar with those old Dan's, you know they go out of tune if you just look at them the wrong way. So when Jimmy hit the first note of "Kashmir," it was dreadfully out of tune and remained so the entire song. Painful. (Shakes head) What a humiliating way to make an entrance, right? His pants may as well have fallen down around his ankles.

The live sound engineer also had his share of issues; the monitors either were not loud enough or feeding back the entire time, causing Robert considerable discomfort. And yes, the TV mix for HBO was atrocious, too. Don't know what that bonehead was thinking. Jimmy later hinted that he thought someone on the sound crew deliberately sabotaged Zeppelin's mix.

Make of that what you will!!!

Edited by SinceIveBeenLovingU

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For those of you who've never seen it, here is Jason Bonham's home video of the rehearsals for MSG `88.

Jimmy's sounding tighter here than at the gig, ironically.

Ladies will enjoy the double rear-view camera angle. Heh. Bun-Cam!!:D

Edited by SinceIveBeenLovingU

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By the way, did anyone else here happen to attend Les Paul's gig at Fat Tuesday's two nights later on May 16th? Now, THAT was where the REAL fun was!!!!:)

Had the pleasure of seeing Les play several times at Fat Tuesday's -- would stop in anytime I was in NYC. That particular night I lucked into a seat front and center so I could see Les' fingers up close (small club -- first table was only about 5 feet from the stage) -- what a treat!

After the show, Les was cool enough to hang out drinking with us until the bar finally threw everyone out at 4am!!! He got pretty tight -- okay, we all got drunk as fiends, actually -- but he was a fun fellow to drink with. Told great stories and kept everyone in stitches!

I've never asked for many autographs, but I did ask for his that night. (You can tell by his unsteady hand that Les was a bit tipsy, lol) Here it is -- still one of my most prized treasures, a reminder of a very special evening some 23 years ago. Now that Les is gone, I cherish the memory even more.:rolleyes:

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Edited by SinceIveBeenLovingU

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You can't blame Jimmy's playing solely on the sound mix and nervousness, he was completely hammered.

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You can't blame Jimmy's playing solely on the sound mix and nervousness, he was completely hammered.

Agreed, there was a delay in them getting onstage, and apparently Jimmy spent that time downing Gin & Tonics, not good.

I think looking back at Jimmy's career, it has been alcohol more than anything else that affected his playing.

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I just remember when I finally got to see Page/Plant live down here in Tampa (98) thinking to myself "Why do these guys sound so much better now than they did 10 years ago lol.

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Indeed, Page overdid it on the hard stuff that night and it showed in his performance. I think he was duly horrified when he saw/heard the playback. To his credit, he cut back on drinking before the gigs after that...and on the Outrider tour, he stuck to just a beer or two before/during the show. Don't think he ever wanted to have a repeat of MSG `88, and he made damned sure it didn't happen again.

Actually, MSG `88 was the LAST time I ever saw him totally blitzed onstage. He's kept it under control ever since, and his playing is sharper and more focused now as a result. Hats off to Jimmy.B)

"Curiously enough, it was the first Led Zeppelin show ever played sober."

-- Jimmy Page, not really joking about the O2 concert.

Edited by SinceIveBeenLovingU

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The 1995 Page/Plant tour was sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft, which included plenty of cold brews for the boys backstage of course.

Whenever I saw them along the road that year (attended 7 shows on the 95 tour), Jimmy would typically have a beer or two before the show, but that was it. (How much he drinks after the show is irrelevant and nobody's business.) I will say that he was drinking in moderation every time I bumped into him, which was rather often.

These days he wisely prefers to play sober or perhaps lightly buzzed, but the days of wine & roses are long over.

Edited by SinceIveBeenLovingU

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Did you ever see what was televised? The sound at the show MUST have been better than what was on HBO that night!

I never saw the televised version. I do remember Robert messing up some of the lyrics, but I thought the sound was good.

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Agreed, there was a delay in them getting onstage, and apparently Jimmy spent that time downing Gin & Tonics, not good.

I think looking back at Jimmy's career, it has been alcohol more than anything else that affected his playing.

I can agree with that. As an amatuer guitar player for over 27 years I can't play for shit if I drink too much. The fingers just will not do what the mind requests. Now a LITTLE bit of booze, maybe a drink or two actually improves my playing by loosening me up, anything more than two and I am a trainwreck.

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