27th March 1988
For much of the Eighties there was a coterie of us at work who all shared the same musical tastes. Many of the previously blogged gigs had us all attending together, sometimes with partners sometimes not. But within our midst there lay an alien: C, an unreconstructed metal-fan who would lightly mock our jingle-jangle music, whilst earnestly studying that week’s Kerrang magazine.
I occasionally attempted to show him the errors of his ways by loaning him Joy Division, The Fall or Velvet Underground albums, but he appeared infuriatingly resistant to their charms, and just responded by pressing upon me his Twisted Sister LPs.
Nevertheless we clearly had sufficient common ground for us both to attend this Robert Plant concert, me probably retaining just enough vestigial DNA from my teenage obsession with Led Zeppelin to be enticed along. C for his part, barely knew the Zep catalogue, and probably viewed Robert Plant’s previous combo as just the warm-up act for the singer’s solo career. So thus it was whilst I attended the gig in the hope of hearing a few Zeppelin tunes, C fervently hoped to be hearing most, if not all, of the Plant’s current album release, Now and Zen.
The opening half-hour or so of the concert was all unfamiliar to me, and I had just begun to think Percy was going to ignore his previous back catalogue, when the band moved into an odd droning intro which sounded vaguely familiar. Plant then yeeowled “In The Eeeeeeeeeeevening” to general acclaim and the band crashed into the song from Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door album. It was a pretty impressive rendition, even if guitarist Doug Boyle did not manage to come close to recreating the van-full-of-heavy-furniture-being-tipped-over sound on Jimmy Page’s original guitar solo.
I have discovered since that Trampled Underfoot was regularly played on this tour, but I cannot recall if we got it on this Edinburgh stop. Tagged onto the end of a new song called Tall Cool One was Custard Pie, or at least a portion of it. This opener on the Physical Graffiti album, I always felt was a bit of a throwaway track and, I blush as I write this, I only found out what the lyric was actually all about around five years ago or so. I am such an innocent soul.
Plant’s hit from 1983, the single-entendre Big Log put in an appearance towards the end, whilst another Zeppelin track Misty Mountain Hop either closed the main set or was played as the first encore. For the final encore we were invited to welcome a special guest onto the stage, and I am sure more than a few of us hoped this may be the aforementioned Mr Page, or maybe just John-Paul Jones, but instead we got The Cult vocalist Ian Astbury. <boo!>
With his big shades peering through a curtain of long straight black hair he resembled a cross between Julie Felix and Jackie Stallone – his voice sounding more like the latter. Plant and Astbury rattled through a version of The Doors’ Break on Through, Astbury’s voice seeming little more than a harsh croak alongside Plant’s powerful tenor. Perhaps the guest had a sore throat that evening.
I haven’t seen Robert Plant in concert since, but like the rest of the planet am content to wait until 2018 and the Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary World Tour.
Setlist – this was from the Birmingham gig on the same UK tour.
Helen Of Troy
Little By Little
In The Evening
In The Mood
Tall Cool One/Custard Pie
Misty Mountain Hop
Break On Through