"Being one of the guys was the best moment of my life," Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham, who passed away in 1980, still raves about being one of the guys at the O2 Arena Gig 2007 in London. The challenge to Jason and the "other guys" Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones was immense, because the New Yardbirds, renamed Led Zeppelin fifty years ago, have made a name for themselves in the twelve years of their existence as the most complete and biggest rock band of all time. Their reputation is not only based on their immortal studio classics. As a live band Led Zeppelin reinvented themselves and their songs every concert evening.
A Led Zeppelin concert almost always had a fixed setlist. Nevertheless, as a visitor you never knew what was really coming to you in the two to four hours the band was on stage. Also because stylistically practically everything was possible with her: The band rushed to their liking and mood from blues to world music and folk, psychedelic and progressive sound elements to rock'n'roll and bombastic hard rock. "Only once you've seen Led Zeppelin live can you claim to have been to a real rock concert." The otherwise firm and haunting voice of Ann Wilson trembles a little here. After all, Led Zeppelin is the all-time favorite of the Heart singer.
And Jason Bonham adds an intimate, very personal anecdote that the whole rock world probably envies him for: "During the rehearsals in 2007 I asked the guys if we should also include an acoustic set. They weren't very enthusiastic about it, but then Jimmy suddenly grabbed the acoustic, and when Robert started singing, I thought I was in a movie: They played 'Tangerine' and 'Going To California', more beautiful than I had ever heard before. And I was the only person in the room who didn't play anything. Magical, surreal. I could hardly believe my luck to listen to them."
The Train Kept A-Rollin'
Fifteen concerts in Scandinavia Page still had to complete in September 1968 for contractual reasons. But the Yardbirds had long since disintegrated. So he hired the studio ass John Paul Jones as bassist and keyboarder as well as the until then practically unknown Black Country-boys Robert Plant and John Bonham. The New Yardbirds were done. Their setlist already included a number of songs that would soon make the rock world go crazy: "Dazed And Confused", "How Many More Times", "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", "Communication Breakdown".
Their manager Peter Grant quickly realized that there was "a special chemistry" within the band. Also on the following UK tour in autumn 1968 the gigs still ran under the New Yardbirds label, although the new group had already recorded their debut album at that time; this was released in January 1969. They had also announced long ago that they now wanted to continue as Led Zeppelin. It was not until the North American tour, which started on Christmas Day 1968, that the new name was emblazoned on the concert posters. The setlist, starting with the Tiny Bradshaw number "The Train Kept A-Rollin'", remained almost unchanged from the New Yardbirds gigs. By the way, also at the last Led-Zep-Tour in 1980 the opener was called "The Train Kept A-Rollin'".
You Shook Me
"It was only their sixth concert under the name Led Zeppelin. And we, as the hottest underground band in Hollywood at the time, got the support slot for their first three Los Angeles shows in early January 1969. As a fan of the British Blues Boom bands, I knew Jimmy Page from the Yardbirds and was nervous enough to play in front of them," Alice Cooper recalls his band's shows in the famous Whisky a Go Go. "What I experienced there completely changed my image of the world of rock. Until then I thought: The Beatles make the best rock pop songs, the Stones are the coolest sows and The Who the most explosive live package in this rock world. But what I heard and saw was incredibly intense and magical. They sometimes extended the songs up to twenty minutes and more. And you didn't just go pissing bored, you would have wet yourself rather not to miss what comes to mind next. "On top of that, every night was different