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SteveAJones

NEWSFLASHBACK: Houston Chronicle May 20th 1986

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HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Date: TUE 05/20/86

Section: 1

Page: 14

Edition: 1 STAR

Firm proves a flashback to late '60s

By MARTY RACINE

Staff

Same as it ever was. They're barely two albums old, but the Firm's concert

Monday night in The Summit was a flashback to the late '60s and early

'70s: grinding British power blues, plenty of soloing and dry ice, the

smell of hemp in the air, a rough-hewn, jeans-and-T-shirt crowd cranked

and stoked the way their older brothers used to get before the days of

MADD and the more sophisticated, polite '80s.

Heavy, man, for a relatively small crowd of some 8,000.

Whether this atmosphere represents any musical growth for the Firm's main

partners, former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers and especially former

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, is a dim proposition.

Their music sure hit home to the downed-out guy standing and staggering to

my right who shadow-boxed to most of the numbers before falling inevitably

into me. At least he didn't smash into the poor toddler next to daddy and

directly in front, covering his ears and enjoying one of his first

cultural experiences.

The Firm - also drummer Chris Slade and bassist Tony Franklin - are a

talent-balanced, democratic quartet, but clearly their draw rests on the

reputation of Page, a monster of British blues-rock guitar when Led

Zeppelin ruled the kingdom of bombast.

Years removed from playing it straight, when he and his British

contemporaries first learned American blues, Page Monday night went over

the top, careening into solos that twisted and shifted and constantly

changed against the rumbling bass and drum lines.

Otherwise, Paul Rodgers still has the spookiest vocals in rock, and if you

can settle down to his groove there are moments when he seems to be taking

the blues idiom - the British blues idiom - into new formations. The slow,

tough songs off of their debut album and their latest, "Mean Business",

creak and groan under some heavy riffing.

Texas' own son and current Houston resident Mason Ruffner opened with a

blistering set of roadhouse blues that wound up to a fiery ending with

Ruffner and second guitarist Chris Clifton chopping down power runs.

Ruffner had been invited by Page to open this leg of the tour, and his

spirited set was in sharp contrast to the Firm's.

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HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Date: TUE 05/20/86

Section: 1

Page: 14

Edition: 1 STAR

Firm proves a flashback to late '60s

By MARTY RACINE

Staff

Same as it ever was. They're barely two albums old, but the Firm's concert

Monday night in The Summit was a flashback to the late '60s and early

'70s: grinding British power blues, plenty of soloing and dry ice, the

smell of hemp in the air, a rough-hewn, jeans-and-T-shirt crowd cranked

and stoked the way their older brothers used to get before the days of

MADD and the more sophisticated, polite '80s.

Heavy, man, for a relatively small crowd of some 8,000.

Whether this atmosphere represents any musical growth for the Firm's main

partners, former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers and especially former

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, is a dim proposition.

Their music sure hit home to the downed-out guy standing and staggering to

my right who shadow-boxed to most of the numbers before falling inevitably

into me. At least he didn't smash into the poor toddler next to daddy and

directly in front, covering his ears and enjoying one of his first

cultural experiences.

The Firm - also drummer Chris Slade and bassist Tony Franklin - are a

talent-balanced, democratic quartet, but clearly their draw rests on the

reputation of Page, a monster of British blues-rock guitar when Led

Zeppelin ruled the kingdom of bombast.

Years removed from playing it straight, when he and his British

contemporaries first learned American blues, Page Monday night went over

the top, careening into solos that twisted and shifted and constantly

changed against the rumbling bass and drum lines.

Otherwise, Paul Rodgers still has the spookiest vocals in rock, and if you

can settle down to his groove there are moments when he seems to be taking

the blues idiom - the British blues idiom - into new formations. The slow,

tough songs off of their debut album and their latest, "Mean Business",

creak and groan under some heavy riffing.

Texas' own son and current Houston resident Mason Ruffner opened with a

blistering set of roadhouse blues that wound up to a fiery ending with

Ruffner and second guitarist Chris Clifton chopping down power runs.

Ruffner had been invited by Page to open this leg of the tour, and his

spirited set was in sharp contrast to the Firm's.

Mason Ruffner, WTF happened to that guy. I saw him open for Jimmy in 88 i think.

Brendan Byrne Arena.

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Mason Ruffner, WTF happened to that guy. I saw him open for Jimmy in 88 i think.

Brendan Byrne Arena.

You may have seen him April 6th, 1986. Mason had been chosen by Jimmy

to open all the dates of that second leg of the tour and you may not have

known it at the time but it was his first show as Jimmy's opening act.

The two go back to March 1985. Page and bassist Tony Franklin were in New Orleans and they caught his act at the Abysynthe House on Bourbon Street. Mason invited

Jimmy up to jam. He declined but gave him tickets to The Firm's concert instead.

Ultimately, Jimmy went back two nights in a row and did jam with him onstage.

So a year goes by and Jimmy needs opening act's for the '86 tour. Jason Bonham's

band Virginia Wolf got the nod for the first leg and Mason Ruffner opened the

second leg.

Despite Mason's talents and connection to Jimmy Page, there just wasn't much

of a market for blues singers in 1986 (think Boy George, Michael Jackson, etc).

You could probably go online to see what, if anything, he's recorded since then.

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Rock City Angels were the opening act for the 1988 Jimmy Page Outrider tour..

Show I saw Mason opened for sure. He was a half ass decent guitar player. Honestly I dont remember the year so I will take your word for it. I do remember seeing Robert before Jimmy the same year I believe, and it was at the same venue. SRV opened for Robert, way to loud.

BTW, A chubby, cheer-leading Jason was playing drums for Jimmy when I saw him. Jimmy's band was not good at all. But Jimmy was fantastic IMO.

Edited by MrZoSo

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Show I saw Mason opened for sure. He was a half ass decent guitar player. Honestly I dont remember the year so I will take your word for it. I do remember seeing Robert before Jimmy the same year I believe, and it was at the same venue. SRV opened for Robert, way to loud.

BTW, A chubby, cheer-leading Jason was playing drums for Jimmy when I saw him. Jimmy's band was not good at all. But Jimmy was fantastic IMO.

Apologies! Mason ALSO opened the second leg of the '88 tour.

Your Page gig was 10/26/88, while your Plant gig was 5/18/88.

You'd think I'd realize this the first time; I have 10/26/88 on dvd-r!

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Huge difference in the two shows. Robert had a bigger crowd. People were sitting in the top row of the arena. For Jimmy the top was empty. The crowd at Roberts show was disturbing for me as a fan. They only stood and cheered loudly when he played Zeppelin songs. For some reason at the time I resented that. Was odd for me to see Robert playing Zeppelin songs without Jimmy. From my stand point it took a very long time for me to except seeing him without being angry actually. Jimmys show was very emotional. When the lights came on, the entire audience rushed forward to see him. Like a human ocean. I have never seen that before. Seems the security at the BB Arena hadn't either. They were slugging people with knight sticks. Lucky for me I was on the floor but just off to the left so not in the center where all the action was. I can recall Jimmy talking to the crowd and asking for calm. He also asked the audience to sing along with STH. At the time he adapted a Django Reinhardt type of riff for the stairway solo that sent my heart soaring at the time. Both shows were special for me.

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Apologies! Mason ALSO opened the second leg of the '88 tour.

Your Page gig was 10/26/88, while your Plant gig was 5/18/88.

You'd think I'd realize this the first time; I have 10/26/88 on dvd-r!

Lol, ok..No biggie...I had the ticket stubs put away somewhere. I recently moved and still unpacking. I have been neglecting my vinyl collection. It sits in containers starring at me, as if they know I am guilty of not finding them a proper home yet.

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Huge difference in the two shows. Robert had a bigger crowd. People were sitting in the top row of the arena. For Jimmy the top was empty. The crowd at Roberts show was disturbing for me as a fan. They only stood and cheered loudly when he played Zeppelin songs. For some reason at the time I resented that. Was odd for me to see Robert playing Zeppelin songs without Jimmy. From my stand point it took a very long time for me to except seeing him without being angry actually. Jimmys show was very emotional. When the lights came on, the entire audience rushed forward to see him. Like a human ocean. I have never seen that before. Seems the security at the BB Arena hadn't either. They were slugging people with knight sticks. Lucky for me I was on the floor but just off to the left so not in the center where all the action was. I can recall Jimmy talking to the crowd and asking for calm. He also asked the audience to sing along with STH. At the time he adapted a Django Reinhardt type of riff for the stairway solo that sent my heart soaring at the time. Both shows were special for me.

That Robert gig was only four days after their Zep reunion in NYC, so the cries of

"Where's Jimmy?!" must have been deafening!

At the next Page gig after yours in Nassau on 10/28/88 a female fan got onstage and blind-sided Jimmy with a bear-hug. It actually shook him up quite a bit.

Edited by SteveAJones

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That Robert gig was only four days after their Zep reunion in NYC, so the cries of

"Where's Jimmy?!" must have been deafening!

At one of the New York (if memory serves correct) gigs a female fan got onstage and

blind-sided Jimmy with a bear-hug. It actually shook him up quite a bit.

I've seen that. Buffalo? I think it's on youtube, or it was. He gave her a hug and kept on playing.

He did seem frightened at first.

Honestly I do not remember Roberts concert being that close to the reunion for Atlantic. That night, I cried. I put a glass bottle right through the TV set after heartbreaker. It was televised live on HBO. I was horrified at the performance.

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That Robert gig was only four days after their Zep reunion in NYC, so the cries of

"Where's Jimmy?!" must have been deafening!

At the next Page gig after yours in Nassau on 10/28/88 a female fan got onstage and blind-sided Jimmy with a bear-hug. It actually shook him up quite a bit.

Hmmz, I was thinking Syracuse or Buffalo. Didn't think of Nassau.

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I've seen that. Buffalo? I think it's on youtube, or it was. He gave her a hug and kept on playing. He did seem frightened at first.

Honestly I do not remember Roberts concert being that close to the reunion for Atlantic. That night, I cried. I put a glass bottle right through the TV set after heartbreaker. It was televised live on HBO. I was horrified at the performance.

That makes two stage tackles then, because I just confirmed the other was in Nassau.

I was told many years ago the encores were not played because of it, but it could be

a case of the taper hoarding that portion of the show.

I actually listened to the '88 reunion of FM simulcast headphones as I was working that

night. I thought it rocked; performance was a little rusty. I did not get a copy of the HBO telecast until the following weekend. When I put the video on it was like listening to another concert. Terrible, terrible audio feed.

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Hmmz, I was thinking Syracuse or Buffalo. Didn't think of Nassau.

Well, I'll add it to my to do list: confirm the night of the bear hug. LOL. So far as I know the Nassau video in circulation does not contain an encore. Now Syracuse, and I don't know for sure if Jimmy would agree, but Syracuse is probably the hottest night of the tour (with Detroit a close second -- he still had the flu!)

Edited by SteveAJones

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That makes two stage tackles then, because I just confirmed the other was in Nassau.

I was told many years ago the encores were not played because of it, but it could be

a case of the taper hoarding that portion of the show.

I actually listened to the '88 reunion of FM simulcast headphones as I was working that

night. I thought it rocked; performance was a little rusty. I did not get a copy of the HBO telecast until the following weekend. When I put the video on it was like listening to another concert. Terrible, terrible audio feed.

I was told the same thing by those who attended. They said the TV audio was nothing like the show they heard inside the garden. Yet when you watch it, it's a freaking nightmare to behold.

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I was told the same thing by those who attended. They said the TV audio was nothing like the show they heard inside the garden. Yet when you watch it, it's a freaking nightmare to behold.

I think the only highlight is when Jimmy goes into the solo for Heartbreaker and John

Paul Jones is watching him out of the corner of his eye to see if he's gonna make it.

Jimmy starts running up and down the neck and John Paul Jones allows himself to

smile in relief. I think if they could have continued playing into the night it would

have gotten better. As it was, it was like ok, you've been standing around for the

last eight hours, then whoosh onstage for 20 mins and then -- CUT. Roll credits.

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I think the only highlight is when Jimmy goes into the solo for Heartbreaker and John

Paul Jones is watching him out of the corner of his eye to see if he's gonna make it.

Jimmy starts running up and down the neck and John Paul Jones allows himself to

smile in relief. I think if they could have continued playing into the night it would

have gotten better. As it was, it was like ok, you've been standing around for the

last eight hours, then whoosh onstage for 20 mins and then -- CUT. Roll credits.

I had visions of glory. Days of old, just like now when we talk about the upcoming show. I am not comparing it ok, just saying that I knew what was coming that night, and my heart was broken.

This show, as Robert has stated, is needed to make up for the crap ones. Jimmy is going to make good this time around. I feel it in my soul.

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Jimmy is going to make good this time around. I feel it in my soul.

He does seem to be at one with the universe lately, although he has already taken

two short vacations to get away from the craziness. But yes, he's going to do this.

Jimmy WANNA rock, Jimmy WANNA roll.

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He does seem to be at one with the universe lately, although he has already taken

two short vacations to get away from the craziness. But yes, he's going to do this.

Jimmy WANNA rock, Jimmy WANNA roll.

I went to see Page/Plant in Philly in 96 I think, I came out the concert with tears of joy streaming down my face. For me that was redemption. To see Jimmy rip through TSRTS and Heartbreaker just like he did with Zeppelin was life changing. I know they didn't look the same, but both of them could still bring it. I went to every damn Page/Plant show I could, including the MGM grand in LV. It renewed my faith, and even further gives me reason to believe that this show, will be a huge success.

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That Robert gig was only four days after their Zep reunion in NYC, so the cries of

"Where's Jimmy?!" must have been deafening!

At the next Page gig after yours in Nassau on 10/28/88 a female fan got onstage and blind-sided Jimmy with a bear-hug. It actually shook him up quite a bit.

My husband & I were there at that show but strangely I don't remember that (we did have crappy seats though). Now I do remember seeing The Firm at MSG in April '85 & a girl got up on stage & gave him a hug before security took her away.

Re Mason Ruffner- he did open the Page show in '88 & my husband (not really a Zep fan) told me he liked Ruffner's set much better than Page's & he went out & bought his album "Gypsy Blood" & played it endlessly- it was good but I got tired of it real fast!

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I saw The Firm 3 times. Wonderful shows...

Don't leave us in suspense! Which shows did you attend, what are your thoughts

concerning those performances, if you don't mind?

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