15 Apr 2 hours of splattering rock by Led Zeppelin
[Wed, Arp. 15, 1970]
OTTAWA – Not since the glorious, glamorous, heyday of the Beatles had there been anything like it.
An opening night audience of 19,000 people in Vancouver, surpassing the Beatles’ house record by more than 2,000. In Los Angeles, more than 20,000 fans, and a cheque for $71,000, topping Cream’s one-night record fee of $70,000 at Madison Square Garden.
In Montreal the night before last, a crowd of almost 18,000 – smashing the house record. And then last night, amidst exams and Ottawa’s traditionally small turnouts on weekdays about 8,000 crammed into the civic centre.
Who was causing all the fuss? Who else but Led Zeppelin, steamrollling its way across North America on its fifth tour in 18 months. This jaunt will earn the group in excess of $1.2 million for 26 concerts.
Toronto missed out this tour, and it was our loss. But to be fair, Toronto has seen the Zepp three times previously, while Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa missed out.
The Ottawa gig was not the best the group has ever done, but they were at considerable psychological disadvantage in playing a massive stark concrete arena such as the civic centre. It may be the ideal spot for a hockey game, but it was too artistically cold for a musical event such as this.
Billed as an evening with Led Zeppelin, the concert was just that. There were no supporting acts, no intermission. Just two solid hours of smashing, splattering rock music. The sound ripped out of six massive speakers, infiltrating anything which stood, sat or lay in its way.
The repertoire was almost all well-know, which added to the impact. Culled from both the Led Zeppelin albums, it was delivered with style because of the sheer waves of volume with finesse.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with volume in rock. Contrary to what most critics claim, volume is used in rock not to cover up lack of expertise but to add sting to the message.
In this area, there has never been a more potent group than Led Zeppelin. Perhaps this is why no other group since the Beatles, or before for that matter, has been able to generate the sort of excitement and energy which Led Zeppelin is offering right now.
Backstage, after the show, it resembled the winners’ dressing room after a Grey Cup final. There were TV cameras and radio microphones, autograph hunters thrusting forth posters and hot dog wrappers, and businessmen tossing in business cards.
Amidst the chaos, I managed to learn from Jimmy Page that a third Led Zeppelin album to be called Zeppelin III, will be released in July.
“It will have more variety than the other two albums,” Page said, “and there’ll be more emphasis on acoustic guitar.”
Robert Plant cut in, through the clatter, “and there’ll be some nice vocal harmony things.”
Then the group got into the limousines and headed back to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where they are occupying the same suite used by John and Yoko.