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"Heavy Metal" Thrills Orleans


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"Heavy Metal" Thrills Orleans

THE SAN ANTONIO (TX) LIGHT Sunday, June 12,1977


Knight News Service

NEW ORLEANS — The common and the elegant — it's New Orleans, and it's also Led Zeppelin on tour.

This ethnically exotic city — it has good restaurants and bad strip joints — is probably the perfect place to join the eighth tour-in-progress of Led Zeppelin, the British granddaddy of the heavy metal bands, the group that statistics proclaim the most popular rock act in the United States.

During this particular weekend in New Orleans, the members of Led Zeppelin — lead guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bass-keyboard player John Paul Jones and drummer John (Bonzo) Bonham — were ensconced at the oh-so-tasteful Maison Dupuy on Toulouse Street. It is one of their headquarters hotels, part of a touring pattern that has them staying in a single city for several days and flying in their private Boeing 727 to individual shows.

On Saturday, the Zeppelin entorage (sans Plant, Page and Jones, who have gone to Dallas for a Bad Company concert the day before) begins gathering in the Lautrec lounge in midafternoon, prior to departing for a show in Houston that evening. Drummer Bonzo is ridding himself of the vestiges of a morning-after headache by downing a milk-and-bourbon concoction created by the bartender.

* * *

Bonzo is sporting red socks, which he will wear onstage later that night. He claims they are his only pair. That brings chuckles from Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole and various members of the road crew. They like to do that — make each other laugh — and the jokes and jibes are delivered in a blend of Cockney and rock slang at times almost impenetrable. The boys then pile into four limousines and head for the New Orleans airport. A small knot of Instamatic-toting teenagers waits near the blue-and-white Zeppelin plane (which sports Zeppelin's Icarus logo). Shortly before takeoff, the going-to-the-gig party begins. Stewardesses dressed in jeans and black T-shirts dispense blenders brimming over with strawberry daquiris — one is hard-pressed to make it to Houston sober — and an array of food is spread out on the bar.

* * *

This time out, the fans are hearing a more subtle Zeppelin, whose music is full of technical virtuosity and delicate nuances. Zeppelin's set is 16 songs long with two encores, including such favorites as "The Song Remains the Same" (the title track from the Zeppelin movie), "No Quarter," "Kashmir," and, of course, the classic "Stairway to Heaven."

* * *

Page doesn't do "Dazed and Confused" — he says he isn't anymore — but he does do a

similar, no-name song in which he bows his guitar. In a drama of light and smoke, green

laser lights cage him. With smoke created from dry ice, it's a scene from "2001."

Anyone who wonders if the accident has diminished Plant's powers needn't worry.

Plant has always been one of the most controlled of rock's sensuous lead singers. He

remains so, and his raw blues voice, which at times seems twin to Page's guitar, is in finest form.

After the show, it's a limousine ride back to the plane for a quick getaway to New Orleans.

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