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Remembering the O2 pre concert madness and the lost members, and the email lottery we will never forget


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For those that were here for the O2 reunion, I mean also the time leading up to it and the hope of getting what was called then, that "magic email", telling you that you had won the chance to buy two tickets.  While guys like McCartney and Jagger and starts as such walked in laughing it up.  I never got the letter.  Probably just as well as back then getting a passport quickly was tough.  I have one now but LZ is not going to play in London or anywhere else.  I often think of the craziness leading up to that infamous night.  There were members here never to be heard from again.  One that I will never forget was GOTDASHAKES.    LOL.  Oh man is that guy funny.  From what I remember he was fishing off the 2nd story balcony of some run down hotel overlooking the Thames River.  I wonder if he ever caught anything?  I never heard from him again.  Tried to find him here in vain.  But maybe you that were around, and many are gone, have some story?  I could run off a list of missing in action, many likely due to no chance of a reunion?  But some maybe gone from this life and on to another?  Will probably never know.  Anyway, its a topic of great interest  to me.  I mean the entire thing.  The dreams of getting a ticket, and all of the back and forth about whether they would tour after.  That thread was just too nasty to bring back so I started a new one in memory of that night.  My own timeline entry was 14 years ago.  About a dozen usernames ago. My first was Icantquityoubabe.  Sorry folks, I burned up that one.  So if you have any memories of the weeks leading up or the event itself, please post.

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It was a Joke. (Apparently) millions applied and the place was half full of corporate or celebs. You could have turned up on the night and got in. Few people did. I remember " fans" like Naomi Campbell wandering through. A fan?? OK name all of the albums or the band members themselves you twat. If it was such a lottery how come these people got in?? Oh of course it was "The Gig" of the year. The place to be seen. Pathetic really

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My favorite memory of the weeks leading up to the main event was when a new female member joined here and her first post was that she had won the lottery and was looking to offer the second ticket at face value to anyone here who was interested. During the inevitable posting chaos that followed in response to her offer I chimed in with something sweet to say, something to the effect of "Any drunk anonymous toss pot can make such a claim here". I think she and her newfound forum friend/ticket mate truly delighted in sending me their photos from the gig. I still remember that to this day and laugh hard about it.   

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I have no clue who hooked me up on here, but I was introduced to a gentleman through email that won the lottery. He was very cool and made a deal that if I paid for his plane ticket, he would sell his other ticket at face value. It was an easy yes (paid around $1100 for his ticket and the concert ticket).  One of the best weeks of my life and such an amazing night. I remember all week wondering what the setlist would be. Thanks again to whoever helped me out.

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Not sure if anyone is interested, but I kept a journal of my Led Zep experience at the concert.  I'll start it and if there's any interest, I'll continue to post it. 

 

THE O2 SAGA – THE LED ZEPPELIN ADVENTURE

In The Beginning

For years rumors of Led Zeppelin getting together surfaced from time to time and on the week of September 10th another one came out.  This one was different – lots of details and that an official announcement would come out by the end of the week.  This time it was true! On 12 September 2007, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page announced that the band would get together on 26 November 2007 for a one-off concert as a tribute to the former president of Atlantic records the late Ahmet Ertegun.  Harvey Goldsmith, promoter, announced that tickets would only be issued as part of a ballot system to keep the tickets out of the hands of scalpers and ticket brokers and into the hands of the fans.

His idea was to have a website up where people could register their name, address, e-mail address and phone number.  On September 12th, people could begin registering.  There would be 18,000 tickets available.  Winning names would be notified via e-mail on 1 October 2007.  Winning ballots would be allowed to purchase no more than two tickets at 125 British Pounds ($254.00 US) each.

The Ticket (Part One)

I immediately logged on to the Atlantic Records Ahmet Tribute page only to find it busy.  I tried all morning and even if you got to the first page, the site was timed so it booted you off if you weren’t able to get through within 30 seconds or so.  After three hours of trying, I finally got my name registered!  Then I got the brilliant idea to increase my odds by entering family members and co-workers as well!  I tried the rest of the afternoon and was only able to register one more name.

The next day, I found out that over 20 million people hit that website on 12 September - and it crashed!!!  I tried again and was able to register a few more names (with those people’s permission).  You could mark on the form whether you wanted a reserved seat or general standing ticket.  I marked both, but prayed that I’d get a standing ticket!  Now the waiting begins.

After some thinking, I began to calculate the odds of getting my name drawn – they weren’t good!!  Because of the huge numbers of people trying to log onto the site, they kept the site open for ten days rather than the initial seven.  I figured the number of people entering would decrease a lot after the first day or two, but what would be the odds of getting my name drawn out of 80 million or so entries?  It turns out that over the course of a week and a half that site got over 1 BILLION hits!!  I decided to try other avenues just in case.  I looked at several ticket broker sites.  Some said no tickets available for the show, but there were several that were offering tickets.  One in particular was offering tickets that were even “affordable”!  TheOnlineTicketShop.com was a British ticket broker that was offering tickets in the front 1/3 of the arena for $1200.00 US each!!  That was a lot of money and I called my sister to verify that I wasn’t insane spending that much for a ticket and if the rest of the family would think badly of me “wasting” so much money.  My sister said, “That’s a once in a lifetime deal, I think the family would be disappointed if you DIDN’T go!”  That was all I needed!!  I thought about it over the weekend, and on Monday, 17 September I had our IT guy look at the website to see if he thought it was legit.  I then ordered a single ticket on my credit card.  That afternoon, I got an e-mail from TheOnlineTicketShop.com verifying my order and giving me a confirmation number!  COOL, I could relax!!  I made hotel reservations right away and decided to make flight arrangements as well!  The flight was only $482.00 roundtrip from Des Moines to London!!  SWEET!  After some searching, I found a three star hotel on the West End in London with a kitchenette for only $60.00 a night!!  I booked it for four nights!  I was set!

On 1 October, the ballot e-mails were sent out.  Not only was my name not chosen, but the promoter spelled out the terms and conditions for purchase!

1. Each ballot winner was notified by e-mail and given a pass code number.

2. Using the pass code number, the ballot winner could go to Ticket Master and purchase no more than two tickets.

3. Tickets were not transferable.

4. Tickets would not be mailed out.  Tickets must be picked up in person at the box office on 25 November (the day before the show) or 26 November (the day of the show).

5. At the Box Office the ticket purchaser must present their pass code number, the credit card used to buy the tickets and a state-issued picture ID.  If two tickets were purchased, the “guest” must be present at the same time.  Only one ticket would be given to each person. 

6. If the criteria did not match the information on the registration site, tickets would not be issued to that person!         

I wondered how the ticket broker could get me a ticket with all those restrictions, so I e-mailed them asking them how they would get my ticket to me.  I never received an answer. I tried three more times that week and never got a response.  I decided not to take the chance and called my credit card company to cancel the charge.  I was back to square one.  Only problem was, I already made nonrefundable airline reservations so I’d be going to London with or without a ticket.

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On 9/29/2021 at 5:26 AM, Stryder1978 said:

Not sure if anyone is interested, but I kept a journal of my Led Zep experience at the concert.  I'll start it and if there's any interest, I'll continue to post it. 

 

THE O2 SAGA – THE LED ZEPPELIN ADVENTURE

In The Beginning

For years rumors of Led Zeppelin getting together surfaced from time to time and on the week of September 10th another one came out.  This one was different – lots of details and that an official announcement would come out by the end of the week.  This time it was true! On 12 September 2007, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page announced that the band would get together on 26 November 2007 for a one-off concert as a tribute to the former president of Atlantic records the late Ahmet Ertegun.  Harvey Goldsmith, promoter, announced that tickets would only be issued as part of a ballot system to keep the tickets out of the hands of scalpers and ticket brokers and into the hands of the fans.

His idea was to have a website up where people could register their name, address, e-mail address and phone number.  On September 12th, people could begin registering.  There would be 18,000 tickets available.  Winning names would be notified via e-mail on 1 October 2007.  Winning ballots would be allowed to purchase no more than two tickets at 125 British Pounds ($254.00 US) each.

The Ticket (Part One)

I immediately logged on to the Atlantic Records Ahmet Tribute page only to find it busy.  I tried all morning and even if you got to the first page, the site was timed so it booted you off if you weren’t able to get through within 30 seconds or so.  After three hours of trying, I finally got my name registered!  Then I got the brilliant idea to increase my odds by entering family members and co-workers as well!  I tried the rest of the afternoon and was only able to register one more name.

The next day, I found out that over 20 million people hit that website on 12 September - and it crashed!!!  I tried again and was able to register a few more names (with those people’s permission).  You could mark on the form whether you wanted a reserved seat or general standing ticket.  I marked both, but prayed that I’d get a standing ticket!  Now the waiting begins.

After some thinking, I began to calculate the odds of getting my name drawn – they weren’t good!!  Because of the huge numbers of people trying to log onto the site, they kept the site open for ten days rather than the initial seven.  I figured the number of people entering would decrease a lot after the first day or two, but what would be the odds of getting my name drawn out of 80 million or so entries?  It turns out that over the course of a week and a half that site got over 1 BILLION hits!!  I decided to try other avenues just in case.  I looked at several ticket broker sites.  Some said no tickets available for the show, but there were several that were offering tickets.  One in particular was offering tickets that were even “affordable”!  TheOnlineTicketShop.com was a British ticket broker that was offering tickets in the front 1/3 of the arena for $1200.00 US each!!  That was a lot of money and I called my sister to verify that I wasn’t insane spending that much for a ticket and if the rest of the family would think badly of me “wasting” so much money.  My sister said, “That’s a once in a lifetime deal, I think the family would be disappointed if you DIDN’T go!”  That was all I needed!!  I thought about it over the weekend, and on Monday, 17 September I had our IT guy look at the website to see if he thought it was legit.  I then ordered a single ticket on my credit card.  That afternoon, I got an e-mail from TheOnlineTicketShop.com verifying my order and giving me a confirmation number!  COOL, I could relax!!  I made hotel reservations right away and decided to make flight arrangements as well!  The flight was only $482.00 roundtrip from Des Moines to London!!  SWEET!  After some searching, I found a three star hotel on the West End in London with a kitchenette for only $60.00 a night!!  I booked it for four nights!  I was set!

On 1 October, the ballot e-mails were sent out.  Not only was my name not chosen, but the promoter spelled out the terms and conditions for purchase!

1. Each ballot winner was notified by e-mail and given a pass code number.

2. Using the pass code number, the ballot winner could go to Ticket Master and purchase no more than two tickets.

3. Tickets were not transferable.

4. Tickets would not be mailed out.  Tickets must be picked up in person at the box office on 25 November (the day before the show) or 26 November (the day of the show).

5. At the Box Office the ticket purchaser must present their pass code number, the credit card used to buy the tickets and a state-issued picture ID.  If two tickets were purchased, the “guest” must be present at the same time.  Only one ticket would be given to each person. 

6. If the criteria did not match the information on the registration site, tickets would not be issued to that person!         

I wondered how the ticket broker could get me a ticket with all those restrictions, so I e-mailed them asking them how they would get my ticket to me.  I never received an answer. I tried three more times that week and never got a response.  I decided not to take the chance and called my credit card company to cancel the charge.  I was back to square one.  Only problem was, I already made nonrefundable airline reservations so I’d be going to London with or without a ticket.

I’m interested for sure. I would love to hear your story about that night and leading up to it. I tried like crazy, my wife also tried knowing what a massive event this was in my life as well as her life with me. I wasn’t as lucky, or maybe didn’t have the right resources, or maybe I wasn’t as resourceful as I could or should have been. But the first part of your story sounds awesome. Please continue. 
 

Thanks for sharing by the way. 

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Thanks Plant77.....here we go....

The Ticket (Part Two)

It was 3 October, all winning pass code holders were notified and I wasn’t one of them.  I saw on EBay that people were selling the pass codes they had won for hundreds of dollars and thought about purchasing one.  Tickets on eBay were going for thousands.  I had already been scammed once and with the restrictions in the terms and conditions, I was afraid that my criteria for the ticket wouldn’t match the registration info and I’d be out more money and still have no ticket!  I decided that I would try other avenues.  I found several radio and record company websites that had contests to win tickets – I entered them all!!  I even wrote Barry Fey (Denver's premier concert promoter -who I didn't know personally) to see if he had any tickets or pull to get them.   I checked Craig’s List and eBay London.  The tickets for sale on Craigs List being sold by people in the States started at $1000.00 and went up from there.  I contacted several sellers and found that they were taking the highest bid.  I told them I wasn’t interested when the bids got to $2,000 – and all of them went over that!  I also found the British version of Craig’s List called “The Gum Tree”.  I saw several ads on there from people in Great Britain selling tickets and thought I’d have a better chance there.  I contacted one guy whose bid started at $300 (almost face value!) for a companion standing ticket!!!  I offered him $400.00.  The next day he e-mailed me to say the offer was up to $750.00 – was I still interested?  I said yes and offered $900.00.  This went on for three days until I finally received an e-mail from the seller saying, “Look, I’m tired of reading and writing bids all day.  One bloke offered me $1800.00, but he seems a bit dodgy and doesn’t have any reservations made for flights or hotel.  If you can come up with $1600.00, the ticket is yours!”  Well that was a hundred more than I planned to make my highest offer, but at least a thousand less than any ticket offered in the States, so I accepted.  I checked around the office to get ideas on how to broker this without getting scammed (again).  The seller (Tad W******) e-mailed me his idea.  He said he had a Paypal account and thought if I would transfer half of it to the account, we could meet up in London, to pay the other half.  Paypal charges can be challenged and I could also challenge it from my credit card company as well – two safety precautions from getting scammed!  In addition, Tad gave me his name and phone number.  We also agreed to meet at my hotel the day before the show and go to the box office together – him to pick up the ticket in his name and me to pick up his extra ticket as his companion. That sounds gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that……… ), but that’s the term the promoter used to describe the second ticket.  Anyway, Tad sent me a copy of his pass code and the official receipt from Ticket Master as additional insurance.  I had no problem sending the $800.00 to his Pay Pal account.  Whew, I could relax again! 

More Problems

On 1 November 2007, I checked Harvey Goldsmith’s site to see if there were any updates.  Mr. Goldsmith stated earlier that any unsold tickets would be put back in the lottery and another drawing would be done until all tickets were sold.  That afternoon, his website stated that Jimmy Page had an accident and broke his finger.  The 26 November concert would be postponed until 10 December!!!!  I immediately wrote Tad and informed him (hoping he could still make the show).  I then contacted Northwest Airlines to re-book my flight - an extra $340.00 had to be paid for a more expensive ticket and a re-booking fee.  I contacted the hotel in London and made new reservations – an extra $100.00 since the hotel rate was more expensive in December.

Turns out that Jimmy Page fell while in his garden and fractured the pinky finger on his left hand.  His doctor stated that Jimmy should be able to perform in two weeks, thus the rescheduled date.

Not only was it now MORE expensive for me, but I had to take additional days off work since the original date would have been over Thanksgiving vacation!  I had planned to drive to Des Moines, spend Thanksgiving with the family, drop off my dog and leave from there to London over the weekend to catch the Monday concert.  With the new concert date and the fact that the family decided that Dad’s house cremation would take place on 11 November meant that I had three trips to make in less than a month from Colorado to Iowa (WAY too many hours driving on the road for me!).  I decided to go back home on the weekend of 10/11 November, stay home with my dog Maggie for Thanksgiving and drive to Iowa on 5 December to drop off Maggie and go to London.   Only two road trips. 

Fortunately, Tad was able to reschedule as well and our arrangements for meeting in London were the same – just two weeks later!

 

5 December 2007 (Wednesday)

Up at 0400 hours, got ready for work.  Walked in to work – temp is about 41 degrees – I didn’t even wear a coat!  Got e-mail and phone transferred over for while I was gone and had a co-worker drive me to Avis for the rental car at 0800 hours.  I signed up for a compact, but they gave me an HHR!!  Drove home and started loading up the car.  Left the house at 0930 hours.  Sunny, partly cloudy skies – gorgeous!  As soon as we got into western Nebraska, I hit a batch of low clouds that looked like fog and the temperature started to plummet!  It went from 40 down to 17 in no time!  Very windy too!  It stayed cloudy the rest of the trip.  Heard on the radio about the mass shootings at the Westroads Mall in Omaha!  Traffic wasn’t bad and there wasn’t much construction either!  Got to my sister's home in West Des Moines at 1930 hours.  Des Moines is covered in a layer of ice and it is very cold.  My sister came out to greet me and mentioned getting her mail.  While carrying my dog Maggie, I told my sister I’d grab her mail since I was out there anyway.  I slipped on the ice and fell  - landing on my back while holding up Maggie – idiot!!!  I wasn’t about to fall on Maggie though – no way!  Unpacked the car and fed Maggie.  I went to McD’s and got 5 sandwiches!  Watched Bball with my sister and her husband.  We all went to bed about 2100 hours.

6 December 2007 (Thursday)

Got up at 0630 hours.  Fed Maggie while my brother-in-law and sister left for work.  It was windy and cold again – I didn’t take Maggie for a walk.  Repacked stuff.  My sister came home at 1100 hours – just as it started snowing.  She took me to McD’s for lunch!  Ate, got my stuff to the car and left for the airport at 1320 hours.  I realized on the way that I forgot to pack one of my credit cards – Idiot, Part Deux!!!  Snowing really hard and streets are getting bad.  Went through e-ticket and checked one bag.  Got through security and all by 1415 hours!!  Saw that some flights were being cancelled – mine was still “on time”.  I was supposed to fly out at 1605 hours.  At 1540 hours they announced our flight was “delayed” I called my sister and said it didn’t look good  - I also had her read off one of my credit cards to me just in case.  I went to another desk to see if I could get on a different Minneapolis flight – notta!  Went back to the other gate and it said my flight was cancelled and the airport was closed.  There was a line a mile long of people trying to change flights...I went to a different terminal and gate and got in front pretty quickly.  I called to change my flight to tomorrow and was told I had to go to the ticket counter to retrieve my bag.  Went down there and waited in line – their display board showed my flight was delayed 2 hours!  Went back through security and to the gates – cancelled there!  Went BACK down to the ticket counter – cancelled there too!  Called my sister at 1715 hours – my brother-in-law will pick me up!  Waited downstairs and my brother-in-law drove me back to their house.  I was a bit disappointed, but at least I didn’t HAVE to leave today!  Anticipating bad weather, I scheduled my trip with a few extra days BEFORE the concert in case something (like this!) happened!  At my sister's, I jumped on line to tell my London Hotel I would be 24 hours late – I doubt they will cancel my bill though!  Helped shovel some snow then we watched “I Robot” till 2200 hours and went to bed!  Maggie was VERY happy to see me, but I began to wonder if I would ever get to London to see this once-in-a-lifetime concert!  It seemed the Music Godz were against me! 

 

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Skip 7 December 2007 (Friday)...it's just me enjoying a long, LATE flight to London.

8 December 2007 (Saturday)

 

Landed in London at Gatwick at 0850 hours.   Went through Immigration line that took a while but no one was at the Customs desk so sailed through!!  Found the area for the trains and bought a ticket.  Bought the wrong one – I bought the Gatwick Express for 17 GBP when I could have gotten the Southern Rail for 9 GBP!!  Too late now!  Train left at 0940 hours and sat next to “Ozzy” – a guy that talked with such a thick accented mumble that the only words I could discern were “Picadilly, Gatwick and ok”.  Got to Victoria Station at 1020 hours and walked outside.  Found a money exchange and changed $800 US for about 380 GBP!!!  Exchange rate is horrible!  Light rain falling, but about 43 degrees!  I started walking to my hotel.  Rough time at first finding the main street from Victoria, then missed the turning street.  Followed my maps and did the two miles slowly but didn’t get lost!  Ended up following a girl in boots and wearing a sweater as a miniskirt!  Gotta love London fashion.  Streets end for no apparent reason and curve and change names at the drop of a hat!  Also, sometimes the name of the street is posted at intersections – sometimes not!  Found my last turn and found my hotel – Exhibition Court 4 – at 1150 hours!  I checked in – I was being charged for last night since I was too late in trying to cancel.  The guy was nice and called the maid to let me into the room, although the key wouldn’t be activated until 1300 hours. The room was just as described on the internet – cramped with orange shag carpet and the need for a little paint.  But it was cheap, had a kitchenette and I only wanted to shower and sleep there. I unpacked everything, then went to the underground to look at tickets.  Bought an Oyster card (3 GBP) and put 20 GBP on it.  A normal one way fair on the tube is 3 GBP ($6.50 US).  I hit a pub for some fish and chips and a beer, then went to the area near the O2 for some pictures.  Walked along the Thames and then took the tube back to Victoria Station.  Legs and feet were killing me by this point, so I people watched at the station.  I’m trying to stay awake as late as possible to get on the new time schedule.  Walked over to Westminster Cathedral for mass at 1800 hours.  It was a high Mass with lots of singing (a guest choir was there).  The song leader just flung his arms around like a conductor with no apparent rhythm or reason.  The homily was only 2 minutes long!  After mass, I walked back to the hotel, got lost once, but finally found the way.  Got to the hotel at 2030 hours – I should sleep well tonight!  Made 2 packs of Pasta sides and ate 2 rolls with it.  Went to sleep at 2215 hours – a long day, but they are only going to get longer!!

 

9 December 2007 (Sunday)

Today is the day I'm supposed to meet up with Tad and get my ticket!  Up at 0820 hours – wow, that’s the latest I’ve EVER slept in!  The sleep of the dead!  Showered and rushed down to breakfast.  The room is a little run down, but I’m happy with it.  There was no soap in the dispensers, the window doesn’t close completely and the walls could use some paint touch-up, but what the hell!  Breakfast was cornflakes, juice, slices of ham, bread and jam.  I left the hotel at 0930 hours for Virgin Records.  It was partly sunny when I got up – but now it’s overcast again.  I got halfway there when it started sprinkling.  Since I had my camera (and no case) I decided to hoof it back to the hotel.  I still got caught in a hard rain!  I should have heeded the words “Never walk in London in December without an umbrella!”  There was nothing to watch on the TV in my room – five channels playing the same crap that I don’t watch in the States (Hanna Montana, CSI, etc.) The sun poked out again at about 1115 hours.  I went over to the Cornish Bakery by the underground station and got a beef pasty for 3.50 GBP.  It was like a beef pot pie.  Back to the room and listened to Zep tunes while waiting for Tad.  At 1345 hours, nerves got the better of me and I went outside to wait for him.  Saw several people walk by – none were him.  At about 1410, I saw a guy look up and down the street from the corner and dig a piece of paper out of his back pocket.  He started walking up the street and I knew it was him!  I smiled and yelled “Tad?”  He smiled back!  What a relief – I could easily have been scammed out of the ticket!  I went down the steps, shook his hand and said “Boy, am I glad to see you!”  We went to the room and I gave him the remainder of the money for the ticket in cash and also gave him a CSU hoody as a gift.  We went to Earls Court Underground and Tad said he hadn’t eaten and wanted to grab a sandwich – we went to Subway!  He ate it on the train on the way to the O2.  Got to the O2 and saw that the lines were divided up according to your last name…A/B was one line, C/D was another, etc.  We chatted while in line. He’s a real nice guy and reminds me of a young Michael Palin.  He lives in Dublin and works at a bank.  He’s married with two kids and his brother who lives in London, just didn’t want to go to the concert (you are kidding me!).  We got inline at 1520 hours and it seemed to move slowly at first.  I didn’t see anybody leaving the ticket office very excited. Saw that the wrist bands were blue or red.  Although the line snaked to the door, everything was under the canvas.  We also saw that they were selling merchandise already in another line!  After a while, we could hear noise coming from the arena and you could see flashing lights – the rehearsals!!  You couldn’t even make out a song – so the security people didn’t lie when they said it was soundproof!  Finally it was our turn at 1720 hours.  There were three people at the table – and they used a paper file not a computer.  Tad gave the guy his pass code, credit card and ID.  Then the guy asked for mine!  I gave him my passport and he wrote out on the form all our stuff.  We had to sign the form then a second guy put on our wristbands – standing get blue ones.  Then they gave us our tickets.  I asked if we had to come into the venue together the next day and the guy said “No, once you have the wrist and ticket, you can each come when you like!”  Also, I asked about my camera.  One security guy looked at it and said “I think its ok, Jim is this ok to bring in?”  Another security guy came over and asked “Is it a 35mm?”  I said “Yes” and he said “Harvey, is this camera ok?”  Harvey looked like the boss and he asked “Is it a 35 mm?”  I said “yes” and he said “No problem!”.  I was ecstatic!!  I turned to the lines of people waiting and yelled out an “Immigrant Song” scream as I held my ticket and wrist band high!  At first there was stunned silence and I thought I screwed up (the British are SO reserved!), but then a bunch of people clapped, laughed and cheered!  Tad smiled and I turned red. 

We went to a booth that was selling programs.  The paper ones were 15 GBP ($35 US) while the hardcover ones that looked like a H.S. yearbook were only 20 GBP!   I got the hard back one and then went in line for other stuff.  Tad was going back to his brother’s house so we parted ways.  He said he was going to show up “about 2:00 or so!”  I told him I’d be here much earlier!  Talked to some American kids who still couldn’t figure out the tube schedule!  The things for sale were coffee mugs (15 GBP), T-shirt (40 GBP) and a poster (60 GBP – limited to 1200 prints).  I got two T-shirts and went outside to take some O2 photos.  It was already dark, but I took a couple shots.  Got back on the tube and headed back to the hotel to change.  Got to the hotel at 1900 hours. I had signed up for a party at Canary Wharf that was to go from 1900 to 2300 hours and e-mailed but never got a response back in time for a party running from 2100-0100 hours at Southwark.  Sharon (the host) said no drop-ins, but since I e-mailed, hopefully I’ll get in.  I changed into dressier clothes and went back to the tube.  Took the tube to Tower Bridge and walked, I found the Thames and then found Southwark Street.   It began to look a little seedy and I was beginning to wonder if I was on the right street.   I saw some people milling about in front of a dark corner building and I saw the sign that said “Southwark Rooms”!!  Started chatting with folks and then Sharon showed up!  I introduced myself and she said I was welcome!  Went into the pub and I sat on one of the couches and chatted with a guy from Toronto who was already camped out at the O2 to get in.  Small nerdy guy that reminded me of the Paul Shaffer character in “Spinal Tap” (“Go ahead, kick this butt!”).  A guy came over and asked if I had paid, I hadn’t so I forked over 27 GBP.  He came back and handed me a name pouch with coupons in it – really nice!  Next a guy from Long Island and his pregnant wife sat down and chatted.  They initially had standing tickets but switched to seated tickets due to his wife’s condition.  I was confused at first and then they explained that they marked out spots in line with people and they were all taking turns holding their spots!  They said if I showed up tomorrow morning, I would be about No. 50 in line!  Some people had been camping out there for two days.  Then a blonde chick from California sat down with us and chatted.  The Zep videos started in the other room and it was getting crowded.  The blond chick was asking me questions and put her hand on my leg (she was married) so I excused myself and went into the video room!  They showed a DVD with rare clips (John Bonham drumming on JPJ’s upright electric bass, etc.) then showed the entire 1975 Earls Court concert.   I had a seat on the couch right up front!  Awesome DVD - professionally shot and the boys were on fire!!  People would cheer at the end of each song, sing along to the songs and when they played “Stairway” everyone dug out a lighter!  It was fun!  I got a couple rum and cokes from the bar – included in the tab. 

I could smell food, so I got up and grabbed some of the chicken strips and chicken on a stick!  The veggies were cold, but still good.  Finally I checked my watch and saw that it was 2330 hours – the last tube runs at midnight!  I thanked Sharon and asked about the DVD – you had to fill out an address card and it would be mailed to you!  I ran to the station and had to wait 8 minutes FOR THE LAST TRAIN (Jubilee West).  Went to Westminster and got off for the next leg – 3 minutes till the last train there!  Took the District Line back to Earl’s Court – WHEW! 

Walking back the hotel in leather pants, boots and a long black wool military coat, I was pretty tired and kind of slouching/shuffling along.  I saw a couple guys standing on a street corner about 100 meters ahead.  As I kept walking, they crossed the street to my sidewalk and just stood there. I checked my surroundings – no one else around, they had moved away from the street light and I couldn’t see anything I could use for defense like a branch or board.  When I was about 5 meters away, they stepped away from the wall and blocked the sidewalk.  One stuck out a small knife and said, “All right, give us the wallet now.”  I looked at the knife, raised myself up to full height and laughed at them.  Hell, I had been to Zaire and faced AK-47’s and at another point, a guy with a machete!  My guide and I faced a band of spear-toting Dayak hunters in Kalimantan.  Plus, I was almost a foot taller than either of them with my boots on.  After I was done laughing I slid both hands into my coat pockets and said, “Boys, I’m an American.  Where I come from we use guns not pocket knives.”  I walked right in between them and kept walking.  I kept listening to see if they were going to jump me from behind, but I didn’t hear anything but distant mumbling from them!  As I was about to turn the corner to my hotel, I looked back and they were gone!

I got to the room with some new found adrenaline.  I changed and packed almost everything I wasn’t going to use.  Went to bed at 0110 hours.

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On 9/29/2021 at 9:26 PM, Stryder1978 said:

I wondered how the ticket broker could get me a ticket with all those restrictions, so I e-mailed them asking them how they would get my ticket to me.  I never received an answer. I tried three more times that week and never got a response.  I decided not to take the chance and called my credit card company to cancel the charge. 

Oh, no. Tell me you didn't do that. Goldsmith was bluffing all along.

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On 10/9/2021 at 12:54 AM, SteveAJones said:

Oh, no. Tell me you didn't do that. Goldsmith was bluffing all along.

Yea, I cancelled the order on my credit card.  I tried to contact the ticket broker that whole week - e-mail and phone calls  - and never heard back from them.  I found out later from my credit card company that the company was a sham!  And yes, I was paranoid about all the restrictions they put on getting your tickets, but as I found out later, a LOT of people bought just the pass codes from people on E-bay and had no problems getting the tickets.

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10 December 2007

Monday – THE CONCERT!

 

Up at 0545 hours – I was too excited to sleep!  Kept waking up off/on all night!  I showered – ready to go at 0700 hours.  I went to the Earls Court Station to add money to my train card, but checked the balance and I thought I had enough on it for two more days.  Went back to the hotel for 0730 breakfast.  Had two helpings of cornflakes and a ham sandwich (packed another sandwich for later).  I went back to the Earl’s Court station in blue jeans, tennis shoes, my black Zeppelin sweatshirt and my black rainproof shell.  Caught the District Line to Westminster, then switched to the Jubilee Line to the O2 at North Greenwich.  The O2 seemed empty.  I saw several security people milling about so I asked them if I could cue up – one asked another – ok, but go through metal detector first!  Just like the airport, took off all metal (including coins).  I asked another security guard for the cue for standing tickets.  He said the line is forming at Section F past the skating rink.  It was 0815 hours.  Went past a lot of foo foo shops, most weren’t open, then the King Tut exhibit and the skating rink.  Security checked my band and ticket and let me through.  The line was cued up against a construction wall and they had metal fences to keep people in line.  Got to the line – only about 40 people ahead of me!!  I met Paul and his girlfriend from Toronto then Chris from the Zep party showed up behind me!!!  Some long haired dude from New York was next – waiting for his girlfriend to show up.  Next was a family of four from Tennessee (Mom was a tiny blonde we all nicknamed “Dolly” for her passion for Celine and Dolly Parton – and her accent).  The time waiting went pretty quick until 1000 hours – we all started getting sore and running out of things to talk about.  Chris was the guy I spent the most time with – he was British, but moved to Chicago.  The people in our line could come and go and security would let them back if we said it was ok.  It was great – just like a 70’s concert!  The people were also great.  The first batch of 12 who had camped there for two days were one group.  The next were the cardboard children (so named because they were all napping on pieces of cardboard they'd brought with them) and then our group.  People shared stories, bought donuts and food and shared them around.  The Nashville guy even offered to buy us lunch!  I went to pee twice – I looked at the line for merchandise, but it was too long!  I ate my sandwich and a bag of pop tarts but refrained from drinking any more liquids to avoid having to “go” later.  Butt started getting really sore, but my back was fine.  I asked a security guard about my camera and he said it was fine.  Saw LOTS of TV cameras filming the people up front, then they swung past us.  One of the Scottish guys in our group called home and they said we were on the BBC news!  Saw some people with cardboard signs asking for tickets – some with a person’s family name on it, and the person carrying the sign did not look happy!  I had the feeling they got stiffed for their ticket.  One kid in the second group was from Germany and he would get out of line to go see if he could buy a ticket – HE DIDN”T HAVE ONE!  How he got by security to this point I have no idea!  The second group got lots of photos taken of them as they were lying in sleeping bags and pillows on cardboard sheets and looked like homeless folk!  Film crews continued to interview the front people, and we started asking security people about the plan to let us in.  Supposedly, at 1600 hours, we would be cued up in bunches of 50 into one of four gates.  The first 50 (including moi!) would be let in followed by the next 50, etc.  At 1800, they would open the first gate and we would walk (don’t run!) to the arena floor.  All the TV crews and newspaper people asked the stupidest questions (“What makes this band so special?”, “Is it worth all this trouble?”, etc).  One kid in the second group was from Brazil and brought a horrible acoustic guitar.  Paul tried to play it – even after tuning it, it was bad.  He did a little “Stairway” and Communication”- everyone loved it.  Then some kid behind us walked over and grabbed it saying “I know all the Zeppelin songs, I’ll show you how it’s done”. Arrogant, but if he’s good, what the heck.  He tried to tune it for a long time, people lost interest.  Then he explained that he played left handed, so he tried to play it upside down!  More people lost interest.  Finally, he told Paul to play it and HE would show him how.  Forget it!  He skulked away back in line – served him right!  There was one loud kid in Group 2 that would yell out at the top of each hour “6 hours till Zeppelin”.  Security meanwhile, did a great job of keeping the line and answering our questions.  It really started getting cold.  The O2 is like a mall under a tent – it’s really open in places and so it gets cold – especially when you are sitting on asphalt for 10 plus hours!  The venue has Starbucks, Nandos restaurant, the Indigo Club and other ritzy shops. 

After noon, LOTS of people started showing up, so security said we had to move forward.  The line now stretched as far around the bend as we could see.  We ended up sitting on Group 2’s cardboard – nice!  I started getting sore – and bored!  “Dolly” would leave for hours at a stretch to warm up in a shop – and her husband joined her after a while leaving the two boys to watch their spots!  As I was walking back from a pee, I saw the tribute band that security said would be playing near us.  I spotted them because the short guitarist was wearing dragon pants under his coat.  They were called “Boot Led Zeppelin”.  The lead singer was a tall skinny guy that looked more like Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister than Robert Plant.  The only one that looked like the original was the John Bonham look-a-like.  The guitarist and singer were not amplified, only the bass was.  The lead singer was good, but with no mike, really had to push it to be heard.  They did about 45 minutes of hits, so it was pretty cool!  That killed a bunch of time and now we started getting a little edgy.  The line was packed now – lots of pushing.  Some members of our gang took a chance to go for one last bathroom break.  The TV crews were still filming us and so I dug out my American flag and started waving it.  The people around me started chanting “USA, USA” – it was hilarious!  I put the flag down and the camera crew said “Hey can you wave that flag again?”  So we did it one more time. They said we’d move to the single cues at 1600 hours, but they didn’t move us until 1700 hours. 

 

They counted off the first 50 people and moved us to the first gate.  The second group of 50 was put in the gate next to ours, etc. until the four single file gates were filled.  We waited a little while and saw people being let in on the second balcony.  Some people in our line got upset, but we told them they were either V.I.P.s or reserved upper seats (at least we hoped!)  One security guy came along and checked our wrist band and ticket, a second security guy came along and scanned our ticket and a third security guy came along and tore off the ticket stub.  It was more waiting until 1810 hours when they opened our line.  LOTS of security - they checked stub and band again then two more security people patted us down.  Both security guys looked at my camera and then said it was ok.  Walked VERY fast (they said if we ran we would be escorted out), and every 20 feet there was a security person saying “Walk, walk”.  I saw that the barricade in front of John Paul Jones was still empty – everyone was in front of Page/Plant.  I decided to go there too and was in the second row just right of center stage.  I picked an area behind two small guys from Canada and put my hand between them and grabbed the barricade.  As more people came in and started pushing, I managed to get in sideways and then squeezed to get up front against the barricade!  Cool!  Saw the front people from the Zep party the night before on the barricade to my right.  Behind me was the Tennessee family.  I took off my coat and wrapped it around my waist.  I could easily have snuck a video camera in since the pat down wasn’t very thorough.  I kept turning around to look at the seated areas.  The upper tier was full, but the lower tier was mostly empty – and the show was to start in about 45 minutes!  Everyone around me was shocked when they saw my camera, but I told them at least 5 security people said it was ok.  I saw Scarlett Page show up with her camera equipment between the barricade and the stage (Scarlett Page is Jimmy Page’s daughter and is a professional photographer).  Someone pointed out Brian May and Marilyn Manson in the middle seats to our right.  Man, if they are in the seated section, who are in the VIP boxes?  At 1900 hours Harvey Goldsmith (the promoter that came up with the ticket allotment idea), came on stage and introduced the show.  I was expecting to hear boos, but I didn’t hear any.  It was funny when Harvey said, “We know why you are here, but the REAL reason we are here is to honor Ahmet Ertagun”.  He introduced a 15 minute video clip that showed Ahmet with all the artists he had signed for Atlantic Records.  Every time they showed Jimmy or Robert on the screen, everyone started yelling and clapping.  There was a 5 minute pause after the video and the lights went out at 1910 hours.  An orchestra came out from stage right and started to set up.  The crowd was like “What the heck?”  Then from stage left, out came Chris Squire (bass player for Yes), Simon Kirke (drummer for Bad Company), Alan White (the drummer for Yes) and Keith Emerson (the keyboard player for ELP).  Alan White went to a pair of kettle drums and Simon Kirke got behind a drum kit.  Chris Squire said “Good Evening” and then the brass section of the orchestra started Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” (which ELP did a version of back in the day).  You might not know the song by name, but it is the instrumental that they use to start the Olympics).  It was a brilliant way to start the show.  Nobody in line was keen on any of the supporting acts, but when that song started every one’s mouths dropped open!  It was an incredible version – they even snuck some snippets of “Kashmir” in it (much to the delight of the crowd) and a little bit of “Roundabout”.  After the song, the four “stars” went to center stage and took a bow.  Alan White even threw the kettle drum sticks to the crowd.  Great start to the evening. 

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After most of the orchestra cleared the stage, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings entered.  There were four guitarists on stage with him and a set of three “Doo Wop” girls on the stage left.  They started playing and from the side of the stage came a portly guy in a red zoot suit and felt hat with a long feather in it.  It was a singer named Mike Sanchez.  He sang the Ray Charles classic “I Got a Woman” and commanded the stage with his presence.  The band stayed on stage and next was Paolo Nutini, a Scottish lad barely 18 who was the last artist Ahmet signed to Atlantic records.  He went up to the mike and kinda said “Wow, this is incredible” and sounded like a dork.  But when he opened his mouth and started singing the classic Ray Charles hit “Mess Around” (actually written by Ahmet) he got our attention.  Incredible strong growly blues voice that was perfect for those R&B numbers.  He did a second song as well, “Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot me Down)” made famous by Cher in the early 70’s.

 

The BWRK stayed on stage and provided the accompaniment for Maggie Bell (a soulful blues singer) who did a flawless version of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”.  One of BWRK guitarists was none other than Albert Lee who stepped up to the mike and sang “Baby That’s Rock and Roll”.  It was more a rocker and the crowd loved it.  Finally, one of the “Doo Wop” girls stepped forward.  It was Beverley Skeete who did an awesome version of “Show Me” (“show me a good woman who’s got a good man!”)

 

The orchestra brass left the stage and from stage right came Paul Rogers (former lead singer in Free and Bad Company and fresh off a stint as singer for Queen).  He paid homage to his first band Free with “All Right Now”.  It was note for note perfection especially the guitar solo and the crowd went nuts and everyone was singing along.  The entire stage emptied except for Paul and then a roadie came out and handed him a unique custom acoustic guitar which Paul used to accompany himself for the Bad Company hit “Seagull”.

 

Leaving the stage to incredible applause, another band came out.  Foreigner (whose sole remaining original member is guitarist Mick Jones) came out and started the keyboard intro to “I Wanna Know What Love Is”).  Everybody in line before the show was bad mouthing Foreigner and it didn’t help their cause to come out with this song after Paul Roger’s rockers.  The lead singer kept shouting to the crowd to sing along, but the crowd really didn’t get into it, even when a choir of children came out to sing the final chorus.

 

The supporting acts finished at 2045 hours, that gave the road crew 15 minutes to clear the stage for the main act (which was already set up behind the front equipment of the support acts).  I didn’t think they’d be ready, but at 2103 hours, the auditorium lights went out and the screams began.

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The screen behind the stage lit up to show a news broadcast from 1973 when Led Zeppelin broke the Beatles attendance record for a single act in Tampa.  It lasted about a minute and a half and when the newscaster introduced each band member, the crowd went nuts – especially for the..”and drummer John Bonham.”  I could see the band members enter onto the stage while this played.  At the end of the broadcast, a timing beat on the cymbals was heard followed by the blast of a power chord from Jimmy Page timed with incredibly bright light flashes that accented each guitar chord.  They opened with “Good Times Bad Times” (perfect, since this was the first song off their first album).  “In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man.  Now I’ve reached that age, I tried to do all those things I can.”  How appropriate is that?  I looked briefly at the crowd and like myself, everyone was dumbstruck…this couldn’t be real.  I think that accounted for the lower than expected crowd noise – people were just awestruck after so many trials and tribulations that it was actually happening. 

Page was wearing a dark grey suit – complete with tails and a vest, over a white dress shirt – and he wore shades.  He looked every inch the proper English gentleman.  Robert Plant wore an oversized black dress shirt tucked into a pair of medium blue shiny (leather?) dress slacks.  As if emphasizing his background role, John Paul wore a black sparkle shirt over blue jeans.  Jason was hidden behind the drum kit, but was wearing a black short sleeve T shirt with sparkles and jeans.

There were a few feedback issues during the song – Plant is known to really crank up his monitors – but there were a couple sound problems during the supporting acts as well.  The O2 is noted for being a nasty place for acoustics.  The band seemed a little nervous, but gave it all they had and Page’s riffs were incredible.  The entire band huddled around the drum kit to make sure they would end the song on cue.  Robert and Jimmy smiled and nodded at each other in a “Hey, this is working” sort of way.  

At the end of the opener they dove right into “Ramble On” easily recognized by the opening acoustic riff (played on electric this time).  The crowd sang every chorus  - most of the times with fists raised high in the air.

They didn’t stop.  As Robert wailed “Hey, hey Mama said the way you move…” the crowd went nuts as they hammered out “Black Dog”.  They played it similar to the album version with the exception of the chorus response, which was gladly picked up by the crowd instead.  I was close enough to the stage to see when Jimmy was just slightly out of synch with Jason’s drum beat he grimaced and shook his head as if to say “You’ve been playing this song for 30 years, you should know it by now!”    

After this song, the band actually stopped long enough for Robert to exclaim “Good evening!” with a purposeful grin on his face.  The cheering was unbelievably loud!  Robert kept the “plantations” (the term used to describe his comments to the audience between songs) to a minimum the whole show.  The band was very relaxed by this time and the feedback problem seemed to have been cleared up.

Page had gone off to the side of the stage and switched from his No.1 1959 Gibson Les Paul to a blonde Gibson ES350 and started the guitar slide intro to “In My Time of Dying” - a rarely played song off the “Physical Graffiti” album.  Hearing Plant wail “If my wings should fail me Lord, then meet me with another pair” was surreal only to later hear him cry “Oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus.”  A spiritual song indeed!

Jimmy again changed guitars.  This time he chose a Gibson Black Beauty Les Paul.  Next was supposed to be the surprise song of the evening, but Jimmy spilled the beans in an earlier interview.  In my opinion, the best song off the “Presence” album was next in line.   “For Your Life” was never played live on stage by Led Zeppelin and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.  Easily one of the highlights of the evening, the tune was much lower in pitch and suited Plant’s voice perfectly. The power chords were again accented by bright flashes of white light and Jimmy (who had stripped of his coat by now) performed a rather lengthy psychedelic solo to boot.  The back screen displayed white lines throughout the song – ummm, because that is what the song is about.

 

At this point a little drama occurred for me.  But first, some background….

 

Leading up to the concert, I would check every available web page to get as much info as I could about the show.  I had read three different notices from the arena on whether cameras were going to be allowed into the show.  With cell phones and the micro cameras people have now, I figured that it would be impossible NOT to get a camera in.  After reading everything from “No cameras or photography allowed” to “As long as the camera is not a professional camera and the pictures are for private use only”, I decided to invest in the modern age and buy a digital camera.  I looked at those micro cameras, and the best I could find was a Sony that still didn’t have all the features I wanted.  So I decided to splurge and buy the new Sony A700 Digital SLR that is compatible with the lenses I already have.  I just got this camera the week before the concert and read the instruction manual on the plane on the way over.  I figured I’d bring the camera to the auditorium and ask if it was ok to bring it in.  If they said no, it would be no big deal, I’ve never been to a concert yet that actually allowed you to bring them in, so I’d just leave the camera in the hotel room the day of the show!  If they said it was ok, I’d bring it in and keep my fingers crossed.  If I could get a decent shot of each band member and a group shot, I’d be more than happy!  After all, professional photographers say that the most difficult gig they do is trying to photograph musicians on stage.  Between the movement and the alternating darkness and bright flashing lights, it is the lucky photographer that gets any decent shots!

As I noted earlier, I had asked the day before the show, the day of the show and even during the frisk before going into the arena if it was ok to bring in my camera and all said it was fine.  I had the camera hanging over my neck on its strap – not hidden in a pocket or anything.  I only brought the camera body with an attached 35-70 mm lens. 

When the concert started with the supporting acts, I was taking pictures – one or two of each of the opening acts, and a lot more when Zeppelin hit the stage.  I was messing with the aperture and ISO settings to compensate for the lighting.  During their fifth number (“For Your Life”), I raised my camera to take a shot and in the view finder saw a large security guy rush at me from stage right.  He was followed by three younger security people.  I put the camera down and he screamed “Where’s your press pass?” After several “Whats” from me (remember, he was speaking in a British accent and the Zeppelin boys were cranking out 120 decibels at the time.)  When I told him I didn’t have one, he said “You’re out of here!”  At that time I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see yet another security guard behind me pulling me away from the stage!  I yanked my shoulder back and told the head security guy “I checked with five of your security people and they all said it was ok!”  He said “I don’t care about other security people, that is an illegal camera!”  By this time I had lost my spot on the barricade when the security guard behind me pulled my shoulder.  The guy from the Tennessee family was next to me and jumped to my defense!  He said “I saw him ask your security people, he didn’t sneak it in, they said it was ok!”  That seemed to rattle the head security guy so he said “Then give me the camera!”  I told him I would NOT give him the camera.  Two reasons, One I wasn’t sure I’d get it back and two, if he had the camera he could take the compact flash card or delete the pictures I had already taken.  I told him, “I just won’t take anymore pictures.   You have a security guard right in front of me.  If he see’s me take another picture, I will leave AND give you the camera.”  He wouldn’t buy that and finally said    ”Give me the battery for the rest of the show and I’ll give it back when it’s over!”  I thought that was better than getting kicked out, or giving him the camera so I tried to get the battery out, but since it was a new camera, I couldn’t find the eject button.  I told him, “Here, I’ll give you the lens, but I want it back after the show!”  He said ok, and I took the lens off the camera and gave it to him.  I wasn’t too upset since I didn’t want to watch the entire show through a little view finder and I thought I had gotten at least a few decent shots.    

 

We now return you to our Led Zeppelin concert review already in progress…..

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11 hours ago, Stryder1978 said:

 raised my camera to take a shot and in the view finder saw a large security guy rush at me from stage right.  He was followed by three younger security people.  I put the camera down and he screamed “Where’s your press pass?”

What a dipshit he was. That venue was a sea of cameras and cellphones.

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The next song was introduced by Robert as a tune giving tribute to the great bluesman, Robert Johnson for his 1936 tune “Terraplane Blues”.  He said “Our version is called “Trampled Underfoot”.  I was so glad they played this song from “Physical Graffiti –it starts with John Paul on keyboards and is another song that is well within Roberts vocal range.  Jimmy went back to his sunburst Gibson Les Paul for this and the next song.  

Next up was more “Plantations” regarding paying respect to the Staple Singers and the Blind Boys from Alabama when he introduced the song “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”.  I’ve always loved that song as it starts with Page and Plant singing and playing in unison as the drum beat slowly builds.  I looked to stage left and John Paul Jones was playing a massive instrument!  It was a TEN STRING bass!!  I had never seen one before!  Even better, besides Jimmy’s guitar solo, Robert dug a harmonica out of his pants pocket and played a mean solo that sounded just like the studio version.  I was hoping he’d toss it out to the crowd, but he put it back in his pocket (to be used for a later song?) before grabbing the mike stand.  Incredible!!

After a quiet interlude the stage was flooded with fog from the dry ice machines and the organ intro began.  “No Quarter” is one of their standards for live shows and it prominently features John Paul and his keyboards.  A brilliant keyboard solo (not nearly as long as the one in the film “The Song Remains the Same”) followed by Page soloing as well!

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” was the next song played and they nailed it.  They played in standard tuning and its one of their more popular blues numbers, Robert was still able to hit the high notes toward the end.

The next song was introduced by Plant as “One of those standards that everyone expects us to play”.  “Dazed and Confused” was indeed one of those songs.  Another intro by John Paul – this time on the bass (surprisingly, just a 4 string).  The guitar solo (played on a Giffen Les Paul copy) featured Page’s famous violin bow while being surrounded by a green laser light pyramid!!  The song pretty much followed the studio version – due to the time constraints on the band (Jimmy said he can’t do 3 hour shows anymore) and on the venue (the O2 has a noise variance that does not allow performances after 2300 hours).  Back in the day, this song could go anywhere from 12 to over 45 minutes in length!  During this song, Jimmy really started the drooling.  There was a pretty serious timing problem between Jimmy and Jason when going from the guitar solo back to the standard verse.  It took them about 10 seconds of jamming before they found the groove again. Not surprising since Led Zeppelin was famous for its impromptu jams.

After that song ended the stage was dark, but I could see Page switching to his Gibson EDS 1275 Doubleneck guitar.  That could mean only one of two songs was next.  No introduction was necessary as the all too familiar picking of “Stairway to Heaven” began.  There was a lot of debate as to whether the band would play this song.  On the one hand it was the one song that even non-Led Zeppelin fans know and at least enjoyed back in the day.  Considered one of the greatest songs ever written, it is also described as the most often requested song on FM radio, and it seemed a sure bet that they’d play it.  On the other hand, for some strange reason there’s been a backlash against this song for the last decade or so.  Plant proclaimed that he wouldn’t play “Stairway” on his solo or Page/ Plant tours because he hated the lyrics and he associated it too much with his past life as Zeppelin’s front man.  Guitar shops have signs proclaiming” No playing “Stairway!!” “in their stores.  It’s never made much sense to me as I’ve only heard that song on the radio about a half dozen times in the last ten years!!

OOPS..getting editorial…..

The song was actually dropped down a step and the absence of that familiar tone of the Am it was originally played in was easy to notice.  And true to history, everyone with a  lighter dug it out, flicked it on and swayed to the tune – except instead of cigarette lighters, these were cell phones!  Somehow it seemed more appropriate than cliché.  I watched Plant – he seemed a bit nervous at first.  As the song went on, he got more comfortable with it and even smiled after a while.  Of course after the verse “And the forest will echo with laughter”, everyone expected to hear his “Plantation” “Does anyone remember laughter?” that he said in the film and has become a trademark with the song.  Not this time, but the crowd said it for him, which caused him to laugh a little!  It was brilliant.  The song only got better.  Live shows in the past has had Jimmy stay on the twelve string neck of the guitar rather than diving into the first note of the solo because the solo is played on the six string neck.  Jimmy would strum a few lines on the twelve string neck to give himself time to switch to the six string, but I always felt the song was lacking some punch from that first note that you hear in the studio recording.  On the studio version that first note of the guitar solo hits you like a cattle prod to the gnads.  By delaying it, the solo loses something.  Anyway, not this time!!  Jimmy switched necks right on cue and did a shortened solo almost note for note like the studio version.  My dream come true!  I’ve never heard him play it live like that before…EVER!!!  The large screen behind them was showing some psychedelic image and then during the solo they flashed a double image of Jimmy’s guitar ala the 70’s just like in the film “The Song Remains the Same”.  Hilarious!  Robert’s voice cracked a bit on the high notes toward the end of the song – most notably on “There walks the LADY we all know”.  Of course, everyone sang along with Robert the ending verse “And she’s buy eye ing, a Stair air way……… to Heavennnnnnnn”.  After the song was over, Robert looked up to the ceiling and said “Hey Ahmet, we did it!”  Obviously, he felt a lot of pressure doing this song, but it came off great!     

While Jimmy had the double neck strapped to his shoulder, he started the riff intro to “The Song Remains the Same”. The drool started flowing again!  Not from just me, but from Jimmy as well!  The song itself seemed to be a spitting image of the version from the film.  Well done! 

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