Led Zeppelin - Knebworth 1979

Zep rock out at Knebworth

4th August 1979

It had seemed as though Led Zeppelin had abandoned the UK in favour of America. Being quite young it seemed years since they had appeared here. In reality it was only 4 years since the previous shows but at that age (i.e. too young to have been to Earls Court in 1975) it seemed like an eternity.

That precious ticket Six tickets at £7.50 each

I remember the tickets were being sold through Virgin Records outlets and we got up early to go and queue for them. Our friend Debra had driven us there in her car even though she had an exam that morning (and wasn't even going to go to Knebworth). When the doors opened the crowd rushed the shop and Debra's glasses were trampled under foot!

When we got hold of the zep tickets we realised that when we went to the gig we would at best get only half the ticket back (or at worse non at all. So on our way back we went into one of those photo booths and had our pictures taken with that precious ticket (sad eh?)

Me aged 17 with ticket A00213

We travelled down to Knebworth in the back of a van that two friends had hired. Once we arrived on site we put up some tents and went for a wander around the site. Within 10 minutes we had managed to find everyone we knew from Sunderland. I remember the mood was very aggressive and there was no way that anyone was going to go to bed.

Some of the 100,000 plus crowd At some point during the night the perimeter fences went and hundreds of people rushed through. I then remember being outside of the arena for quite a while before at some point in the early hours the turnstiles were opened and we were in. We dashed down the hill towards the stage and grabbed ourselves some space near a tree. I remember one of the first things I did was check to see what sort of picture my camera would give me and it wasn't too bad.

I'm sure we must have either had our sleeping bags or survival bags with us because we settled down for what was left of the night.

The next morning we had up put up with some truly dire support acts. First up were Fairport Convention, even though I love this band and had seen them on their Farewell tour a few months previously they were out of place here and lost on that huge stage. Then there was Chas and Dave - gertcha!.

Fairport Rabbit, Rabbit

Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen - Hmmm! Southside Johnny and the Ashbury Dukes, friends of Bruce Springsteens but no friends of mine! Finally Todd Rundgren, the highpoint of the set being when they all swapped instruments on the stage. Lets face it whoever supported they were never going to be of interest to anyone waiting for Zeppelin

Commander Cody Southside Johnny Todd Rundgren

And we waited boy did we wait, rumour has it the band were waiting for it to get dark so that they could use all their lights and lasers. By this point we had been sitting on that patch of ground for the best part of 18 hours and we were getting impatient.

>Then suddenly they were there....

Then suddenly there they were, playing the Song remains the same and all the waiting was worth it. We were a way back from the stage but the large video screen at the back of the stage made sure we didn't miss any this. Highlights of the set were obviously Stairway to heaven (even though my friend Neil fell asleep on my foot during it) and when at one point Robert Plant gave Newcastle (and the City Hall) a mention which gave us great pleasure.

Since I've been lovin you Been dazed and confused It's been a long time...

Robert Plant was wearing a black spotty shirt, Jimmy Page white trousers and a blue shirt and JPJ was all in white, Bonham all in black. Jimmy Page did his violin bow stuff but not all of Dazed and Confused (a disappointment) surrounded by a laser cone. They played for nearly 3 hours and finished late or early in the morning.

As the show finished so late, the coaches that a local radio station in Newcastle had organised left without their passengers who had waited for the end of the show. We ourselves retired to our tents and van exhausted but happy. We had seen the greatest rock band of all time. As we tried to get to sleep I remember that someone in a nearby tent was playing a recording of the show and as it got further into the set the batteries on the tape machine started to go. Looking back one of the saddest things about this event was that Robert Plant has rubbished the band's performance in the press. I think this is quite sad because it was the only time many of us got to see the band and to us it was fantastic. Set list - scribbled in the darkness

Set list - scribbled in the darkness

Final thing - As it's 20 years since the show it also means that it's 20 years since I met my wife, who I met the week before the show. We met at a Rock disco in Sunderland called the Mayfair. Spinning the records that night was non other than Chris Cowie (producer of ToTP). Valerie, my wife, wasn't at Knebworth because her dad wouldn't let her go. She and her friend spent the night listening to Led Zep and crying a lot.

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All photographs İKevin Shewan