Author Richard Houghton is writing a back on Led Zeppelin’s live performances, here he recalls their Preston gigs
The 1971 show at the Public Hall was part of Led Zeppelin’s third UK tour of the 1970s. The band had played at the Empire Pool in London (now Wembley Arena) prior to the Preston show.
When they arrived in Preston, the road crew reportedly paid local schoolboys £1 each to help unload speakers and other gear from the van and assist them in setting up the band’s stage equipment at the Public Hall.
One gig-goer from the Public Hall show also recalls the floor collapsing slightly mid-set and people disappearing beneath the stage. Fortunately no-one was hurt and, after a brief interlude, the band resumed playing.
The setlist for the Public Hall show included such Zep classics as Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Rock and Roll, Dazed and Confused and the John Bonham drum solo showcase, Moby Dick.
From the stage, lead singer Robert Plant apparently told the audience that he had heard the Public Hall was going to be pulled down and could he have all the flags which hung from the walls when it was. Plant was struggling with a cold that night but it didn’t affect his performance.
By the time of their return to Preston in 1973, Zeppelin were arguably the biggest live band in the world. The show was originally scheduled for January 3, 1973 but was postponed when Robert Plant was struck down with flu and eventually took place ion January 30. The Post’s review of the Guild Hall show reported: “A dozen amplifiers with 4,500 watts power belted out their music. The Guild Hall’s own public address system is only 60 watts. Add to that 2,000 stamping and tapping feet and you have a noise that made the concert uncomfortable, and even painful when the music reached a certain pitch.
“Rock music has to be loud – even very loud. But there’s a limit to the noise some people can take.
“At the recent Gary Glitter concert even the group complained their music was too loud. After the David Bowie concert, some people suffered slight deafness – even up to 24 hours afterwards.
“Even with the excess power handicap, John Paul Jones (bass/organ), John Bonham (drums), Robert Plant (vocals) and Jimmy Page, delighted their fans with songs from their albums including ‘Black Dog’, ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, and ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
“Even at the end of a two-month tour which has taken them from Brighton to Edinburgh, they managed to keep up their enthusiasm to the end of the second encore.”
Robert Plant forgot the words to Stairway to Heaven, now possibly the most well known song in rock, albeit it was still relatively new back in 1973.
One fan had sent the band a 30ft long letter containing all of their song titles and singer Robert Plant came back on for the encore trailing the letter over his head.
The band were apparently banned from ever returning to the Guild Hall because they screwed their PA to the polished wood of the stage, upsetting the Guild Hall’s management.
l Richard Houghton is writing a book of fans memories of Led Zeppelin’s gigs. If you were at the Preston shows you can contact Richard by email firstname.lastname@example.org