11:44 AM GMT 21/05/2013
August 11, 1979. The date of the second of two shows played at Knebworth by Led Zeppelin in the UK during consecutive weekends. It would be the last time the four-piece of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham played together on a British stage, the drummer's tragic death in September 1980 precipitating the end of the band.
According to the critics, Zep's Knebworth shows failed to hit the high notes of previous performances, Plant himself later casting aspersions on the two gigs. Nevertheless, record crowds of between 210,000 (reportedly on August 4) and 180,000 (on August 11) watched Zeppelin headline what were two of the biggest shows in the band's career. In contrast to Knebworth, the band's performance at London's O2 Arena in December 2007 in front of 18,000 lucky ticket holders was a relatively intimate affair.
"How does the O2 compare to Knebworth? Basically, one was 33 years before the other!" laughs Page reflecting on both shows. "Seriously though, I think when you watch the O2 you see that there's also a maturity in everybody's performance. Obviously, there's a serious musical thread between the past and the O2, but you can see that we've really got ourselves ready and we're playing well. It's very different from Knebworth."
"There is another obvious difference and that's the fact that Knebworth is with John Bonham and the O2 is with [his son] Jason," he continues. "Again, it's an obvious thing to say, but it really does change the performance because they're different drummers."
Page is also at pains to point out that both shows were also played under markedly contrasting circumstances.
"The intent of those shows was completely different," states Jimmy. "At Knebworth we played a lengthy set but we also wanted to showcase material from In Through The Out Door which had just come out. At the O2 we didn't have that element, so it was really a case of showcasing the band's history in the best way we could."
"At the time certain people criticized Knebworth, but I think the shows were actually pretty good. Certainly the Led Zeppelin DVD [from 2003 and featuring material from the August 1979 shows] suggests that those shows were better than we remembered them at the time and our performances are good. Knebworth was what it was but, if I'm honest, the O2 felt completely different. The focus at the O2 is really, really clear. When you watch it back [on the Celebration Day DVD, released November 19] you can't doubt that."
Photo: Getty Images
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 3:13 PM GMT 30/10/2012