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Evenings with Led Zeppelin: The Complete Concert Chronicle 1968-1980 Hardcover – 11 Oct 2018
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About the Author
Dave Lewis first heard the music of Led Zeppelin in 1969 at the age of 13. The effect has been a lasting one. He is the editor and founder of the acclaimed magazine, Tight But Loose, which is currently in its 40th year. He is also the author of a number of books on Led Zeppelin and his work has also appeared in Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Classic Rock. Mike Tremaglio is one of the foremost Led Zeppelin researchers and has chronicled their work over many years in print and on the web. For many years, he wrote popular tour retrospectives for the highly regarded Tight but Loose magazine. He has also contributed to several of co-author Dave Lewiss books and magazine features.
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It is extremely appropriate the band’s tour manager, Richard Cole, has written the forward to this book. He was with Led Zeppelin from the beginning, working as manager Peter Grant’s second in command until nearly the end (he only missed the final 1980 Tour Over Europe). And when Dave Lewis presented him with a copy of the book Richard was extremely pleased to read and be reminded of the record of his essential work with the band from the very start in 1968. The book concludes on pages 568 and 569 with an overview of both Peter Grant and Richard Cole’s vital and fundamental roles in ensuring that the band were not ripped off or attacked/harmed in any way (a distinct possibility in the crazy world of the 1970s).
The book starts by examining how Led Zeppelin came into being, rising from the ashes of the Yardbirds in 1968, and how Jimmy Page gathered around him three of the most talented musicians in the UK (and possibly the world), to create a band that would shortly conquer the world. The final months of the Yardbirds tours in early/mid 1968, as the band started to fall apart are covered. We then get detailed coverage, in words and illustrations, of their very first tour in Scandinavia in September 1968 (billed as the Yardbirds). Incredibly, an extremely talented young photographer, Jorgen Angel, was at the very first concert, and his black & white photos are a wonderful record of that historic moment. Each concert venue has been tracked down and a photo included, along with surviving posters, ticket stubs, and reviews in local newspapers. In fact it is the reviews (especially from the early days of the band), that provide extremely interesting reading. Some journalists understood what the band was trying to achieve, but many did not, and took delight in filing really acerbic and facile reviews, often strongly criticising the musical talents of band members. Full marks to Dave and Mike in publishing these reviews, it would have been very easy and tempting not to do so.
Every tour that Led Zeppelin played on gets a chapter to itself. The research that has gone into this is the keystone on which the book is founded on. I was lucky enough to interview both authors at the official launch in London on the 28th September 2018, and again at the fan gathering that Dave and I organised in London on the 30th September, to mark the band’s 50th anniversary. This has given me a great insight into how vast (and I do mean truly vast) amount of painstaking research and combing through the archives all over North America and Europe has been done, largely by Mike Tremaglio. Every possible means have been employed to track down not only the correct facts, but also often the correct photos of them playing on stage as well, for every venue that they played at. Dave Lewis, working in conjunction with the designer Mick Lowe, has used his own vast knowledge of the band, to blend all this into an incredible work of scholarly research. Chris Charlesworth, the distinguished journalist who saw Led Zeppelin on tour many times, originally commissioned the book and has given his editorial advice.
This book is a monument to painstaking research and (often frustrating) looking for needles in a haystack, seeking out reviews in obscure US college underground newspapers. Chasing down photos, posters and ticket stubs, and verifying concert venues and dates. After each entry where there is an audience or soundboard recording extant, this is given coverage. Set lists whenever possible have been given (based on the recordings), and sometimes using the list of songs played and referred to in press reviews. Coverage is also given to concerts that were scheduled, but subsequently rescheduled or cancelled. And very importantly, corrections have been made to some audience recordings originally thought to have been a particular concert, but subsequent research has shown they are from a different show. The final section covers the reunions, up to the historic O2 Arena concert in December 2007, surely the last time that they will ever all play together. The book ends with a list of every concert played, and scheduled/rearranged/cancelled. The entries are colour coded to highlight whether a recording exists for that concert, and other information.
As I finish this review, I just picked up the book for a casual look through some of the pages. Each entry jumps out with the black & white and colour of the photos and illustrations, many of which I have never seen before. One of the many great joys of this book is looking at a tour, reading the entry and press reviews, and then being inspired to dig out the recording and listen to it. When I first received the book one of the concerts that leapt out to be listened to again (after many years since I first heard it), was the legendary Boston Tea Party show on 26th January 1969. And that is the beauty of this book, it spurs you into seeking out concerts to listen to once again, with renewed interest.
I have referred to the fundamental roles that Peter Grant and Richard Cole played in ensuring that Led Zeppelin were and remain the massive success they became. They quite rightly get credit for this in the book. However at the very end, on page 575 (penultimate page before the photo credits), there is the dedication of this book to the memory of John Bonham. On the left is a photo of the magnificent statue of him erected in his home town of Redditch in 2018, and very poignantly taken on his birthday, the 31st May. On the right is a photo of him, with a big smile on his face. His genius shines through still, 38 years after his passing, and Led Zeppelin would never have achieved the level of success they did without this giant of a drummer, the powerhouse driving them ever onwards and upwards.
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