GIGS: Those I really wished I had been to and … for whatever reason … didn’t. Part #1. Led Zep and The Who

Probably top of the list is Led Zeppelin appearing at UMIST for the princely sum of 7s 6d, or in today's money about 33p. I have to say, with some acute embarrassment, that I didn't go simply because I didn't like the spelling of the name. I thought it pretentious. Turns out that it wasn’t – but that I was. Such is the stupidity of closed minded students of which most surely I was one of that instance.

The first album had already come out and truth be told I wasn't particularly keen on Robert Plant's style of shrieking and 'Communication Breakdown', one of the tracks seemed like an unholy mess to me. Sadly I should have thought it through!

Second on the list was the opportunity to go and see the Who when they recorded 'Live at Leeds'. Leeds was not that far away from Manchester and having only recently come to terms with, at that point, the most explosive live performance I had ever seen, which was the Who at Manchester University, for some idiotic reason I couldn't make the effort to go to Leeds. Possibly there was a practical consideration, in that being perpetually hungry, although far from starving and given that grants were tight it is possible, although it embarrasses me to think about it now that I spent the money for the coach fare on a meat pie and chips. How dreadful to contemplate.

7 thoughts on “GIGS: Those I really wished I had been to and … for whatever reason … didn’t. Part #1. Led Zep and The Who

  1. Howard, oh dear, no thanks for the memory.

    Our social secretary had booked Led Zeppelin for a college gig, and in attempting to drum up interest displayed posters describing them as “the new Cream”. This was before LZ’s first album came out. I thought “pull the other one” and declined what I took to be hype. Doh!

    I am curious about the splendid Who ‘live’ album. The audience is so silent during the actual numbers, which are so cleanly recorded. I have learnt that many so-called live albums include a great deal of studio dubbing, one prime example being Thin Lizzie’s Live and Dangerous, in which allegedly all the band in turn re-recorded sections in the studio to improve them.

    But hey, if the result is a great album who cares how they got there.

    Best wishes


    1. Wow, the same damn thing happened to me at UMIST for the same reason. I was deflected by the hype too!

      Re The Who Live at Leeds, I was at the previous gig on the tour and I’ve written about this elsewhere. The absence of audience noise was, it turns out, in part due to recording problems. Location recording in those days was very primitive and yet … much of the visceral experience was still captured at the Leeds gig and the Hull one on the same tour.

  2. Sorry Howard, can’t let you get away with that! It’s 37.5p if I’m not mistaken.
    I was lucky enough to see Led Zeppelin for approx. the same entry fee. It was just after they made their TV debut on the David Frost programme. They appeared at a college gig in Bromley and they were sensational!
    And the ‘Live at Leeds’ album – printed on the vinyl label was the comment along the lines ‘crackles OK, do not correct’. If the tracks had been re-recorded they would have got rid of these crackles. I expect the audience had simply been bludgeoned into silence by the sheer volume of the band!

    1. Hello Tony. Quite so, indeed 37.5p is correct. I have a copy of the original vinyl bought in Manchester shortly after release. Magnificent. I wondered at the time why it was a truncated part of their extensive set; certainly a double or triple album potentially. In subsequent years this has been rectified.

      Being a bit of a nerd re these thing, I must confess to endlessly comparing the extended versions of My Generation from the digital releases of both the Leeds and Hull gigs. Leeds trumps Hull on this track. In terms of innovation, audacity, visceral grip and an twin P90 Gibson SG without pedals or effects and Hiwatt stacks. For me, unadulterated joy.

      1. Leeds trumps Hull, definitely. ‘Live at Leeds’ is one album where Pete Townshend’s guitar is loud in the mix. On most Who albums I’ve always felt his guitar is too quiet

      1. It was indeed Ravensbourne College. To be standing a few feet away from a band you knew were destined for great things was a wonderful experience.

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