Eagle County resident scores ticket to Zeppelin show in U.K.
Vail CO, Colorado
It was about five weeks ago that I got the phone call from a good buddy of mine, Jim, from New York. Yes, I was the chosen one. I was headed to see the best rock and roll band of all time in London, England. The show would be a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic records who produced much of Led Zeppelin’s music. Of the 20 million people who entered the lottery of only 16,000 tickets; my friend Jim had won the chance to buy two. Thoughts of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and the new guy, Jason Bonham, taking the stage before me began to consume my every waking thought.
We arrived in England early Sunday morning and, in anticipation of the show, boarded the tube to head to the arena and pick up our tickets. The concert required that all ticket holders arrive early either on Sunday or Monday before the concert to show printed receipts, and ID’s to obtain wristbands and tickets.
The subway was empty, as it should be on a Sunday morning; however, while working on the second of two duty-free bottles of Jameson we brought onto the plane, we met some other Americans. Four well-dressed women, all from Connecticut and NYC, were also headed to the show. The four women took a liking to our rowdiness and probably more so to our rendition of “Good Times Bad Times.” They explained that they received their tickets as more of a business transaction rather than by entering the lottery. It turns out one woman was a lawyer for John Bonham’s estate. We couldn’t believe our ears. As we poured some Jameson into their coffees and then into our mouths, the flirting began. Was there a chance we might be invited to the after party???
We departed the tube and headed to the venue. As we walked out and up the stairs you could see the top of the O2 arena. Huge steel spikes protruded into the sky on the top of the dome. It was great; Smiling and laughing we walked excitedly to the front doors mouthing the strong guitar segments of “Good Times Bad Times.” We stood in line meeting people from all over the world waiting. Conversations ranging from where you were from, to what you wanted to hear were echoing off the huge atrium. Finally we were up. We showed all the necessary documents and left shouting and smiling showing off our wristbands and getting pats on the back just as we had patted the backs of the people before us.
After checking in and passing out for a few hours we spent Sunday night with Jim’s friend who was in Scotland for business, and my college friend Al, who lives in London. We ended up at Club End in the West Side thumping and flailing to the wee hours and closing down the club. Then we headed back to the hotel to catch up with our old friends drinking yet more Jameson ’til 11 in the morning and killing off the second bottle.
A massive crowd spread out all around the entrance of the dome, which was more like a mall with a concert hall. Restaurants and bars filled the inside, which was also crammed full of eager Zep heads. We wandered, sipping Stella, anticipating what could be and definitely was the best show we’ve ever seen.
After walking in line we entered the tunnel, which opened up to the interior of the 1,600-seat 02 arena. We stood for a few minutes eyeing the inside ” all the lights and excited people. Pink and her husband walked right in front of us, ushered by a body guard, they headed back stage. Skin tight jeans, Zeppelin and Floyd t-shirts were scattered among suits, ties and nice dresses with a few pockets of hippies here and there. We made our way up through the crowd were we stood next to the sound board waiting.
Finally, after weeks and weeks of waiting, the lights went out. The opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” made the hair on my arms stand straight up and tingle. Then, as the lights came, so did Plants unmistakable voice, “In the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man.” Louder than ever, and full of energy, these rock legends still had it in them. The energy of the crowd erupted with screams and bugged out eyes. Rocketing through “Good Times Bad Times” and not skipping a beat they exploded into “Ramble On.” Plant couldn’t have missed a note if he tried while Page thoroughly enjoyed himself, killing it on the guitar. The audience was nothing but smiles, nodding heads and voices screaming along with Plant as they went right into “Ramble On.”
The band then blasted into a bluesy “Black Dog” and then into “In My Time of Dying,” which before starting, Plant spoke for the first time saying “Good evening” to the shell-shocked crowd.
“For Your Life” followed, and Plant told the crowd it was the first time the band had ever played the song in public. The band then went into “Trampled under Foot” and Plant gave a brief history, telling the crowd this was their attempt to sound like Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues.”
By this point Page shed his trench coat and black vest and was wearing black slacks and a white silk shirt, which matched his long white mane. Jason wore a cut-off black t-shirt, which showed off his tats and massive shoulders; Jon Paul Jones kept it super mellow on the bass and keys, wearing jeans and a black button-down shirt with silver sparkling studs; Plant wore casual jeans and a black, long-sleeved shirt.
The band ripped into “Nobodys Fault But Mine,” with great vocals coming from Plant. If this guy is in his 60s you sure can’t tell. Then an amazing “No Quarter” where the stage lights dimmed until there were about 10 feet above the bands heads. The affects of the 02 arena were sick throughout and, at this point, very dark with a mystic green haze all around. Since “I’ve Been Loving You” was slow and super bluesy, the rock legends then started a 10 minute classic playing a raw “Dazed and Confused” with Page stepping up with the bow in tote. With every stroke he would raise the bow in the air, and pause for a moment.
From the first notes of “Stairway to Heaven” everyone went wild, then slowed and almost fell into a trance listening to Plant flow easily with Pages axe guitar. Next came “The Song Remains the Same,” and then they took it down a notch with “Misty Mountain Top.”
Plant opened the next tune by saying “We have people here from 50 countries. This is 51!” He turned and went into a unbelievable “Kashmir” with the special effects making you feel like you were on 10 hits of acid. The band walked off the stage and everyone stood, eager to see if they’d come back. Of course they did and didn’t surprise anyone by playing the rock classic “Whole Lotta Love.” The band took another bow and walked off but the audience didn’t budge. We wanted more and got it when they returned to play “Rock and Roll,” which got the audience jumping, singing, and playing air guitar like we were the rock stars.
The band took a final bow and walked off stage with LED ZEPPELIN in black and white on the enormous screen behind them. Everyone was smiling and wrapping their arms around one and other, laughing. Some people were dazed and confused by what just went down. Then the screen turned to a picture of Ahmet Ertegun and a quote ” “It is a great life, this life of music.”
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