|Vintage Concert Bill: Led Zeppelin - The Civic Centre Arena, St. Paul, MN - 13th April 1977|
|Written by Bill Lindsey|
|Sunday, 20 January 2013 04:00|
This is an ongoing monthly blog about all the classic shows I attended back in the days when the old gods walked the earth. So why not start my presentations with one of the greatest and most influential bands ever? The mighty Led Zeppelin!!
Back in 1977 I was in the 10th grade. My buddy Marty was a Led Zep fanatic and when they announced two shows on back to back days in April of that year he took his paper route money and snatched up two tickets, one for himself and one for your humble narrator.
It was the best eight bucks I ever owed a guy, I'm here to tell you!
We jumped on a bus after school and headed downtown St. Paul to The Civic Center Arena. As we approached the venue you could tell there was a festival, big event type of vibe already in swing because the place was swarming with teenagers, many desperate to buy tickets for the sold out event from scalpers or waiting around to "pop a door" which meant get someone from inside to push a door open and then to rush inside in large numbers scattering inside to a free admittance.
Marty and I were on the lower level when the guards started to raise the gates to let people into the show. The gates raised up like a garage door. There was such a crush into the gates by all the people pushing from behind that the guards stopped raising the gate and told everyone to move back. So Marty and I dropped to our hands and knees and crawled between people's legs and through the small opening between the floor and the gate. The ticket takers took our tickets and allowed us inside. We were some of the first kids inside and had our pick of were to sit/stand. It was general admission and I remember the stage being SO high that front center would block our view of Bonham so we sat on John Paul Jones' side of the stage right at stage level.
There was no warm up/support band for this show. When the lights went out the auditorium went off! The opening chords for 'The Song Remains The Same' came slamming out of the PA and it was on full throttle. The lights flashed on to reveal Jimmy Page in his white silk dragon suit, Plant in his trademark open chested shirt, jeans and snakeskin boots, Bonzo beating the hell out of his kit, sporting a silk screen tuxedo t-shirt and finally John Paul Jones holding down the fort on bass and keyboards.
Yes, we were so close that we could make out all the details of their stage clothes and instruments.
Highlights from a show COMPLETELY made up of high points for me were 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', 'Achilles Last Stand', 'No Quarter', with the dry ice creeping low around the bands' knees.
They played an acoustic set in the middle of the show which was cool and predated "unplugged" by decades. 'Battle Of Evermore' was a highlight, as was 'Going To California'.
The last song in the regular set was 'Stairway To Heaven' and I remember them playing it so close to the record version and really enjoying it! It was probably one of the biggest radio staples of the '70s and it was performed very classy and regal. 'Rock and Roll' and 'Black Dog' were the encores.
I would never get to see Zep again after Bonham's untimely death.
Thanks for getting me that ticket Marty!
I'll never forget it!