Jimmy Page premiered one of the best-selling albums of the 70s. The hair, the mythology, the reality of it all.
The scene that the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist showed was a montage of photos from the band’s performance at Massey Hall in 1976, a sold-out gig that featured – for the first time in the UK – live performances of four older numbers from their back catalogue: Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Taurus and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. All of this was captured on Zeppelin: The Live Reunion (released in 1978) to big success.
Whether you liked the music or the images in this clip will depend a great deal on your taste in live shows. In the US the cover image made it into the National Museum of American History in Washington DC. “A typical picture doesn’t do the coverage justice,” David Linde, who curated the Zeppelin exhibition at Los Angeles’ The Getty Center, told Rolling Stone at the time.
The Pohlad-Tilson version is a bold initiative. It is unusual to feature such a broad selection of images in a restoration, and the inclusion of production shots and photos never before seen in public – such as these familiar pictures of the band on its “suitcases” tour – helps to tell the story of the band better.
There is something positive about discovering for the first time those old photos and listening to the band’s music: the generosity of players and of the fans. And then there is the use of the photos to get the facts right. Andrew Graham-Dixon’s comprehensive and clearly-thought-out booklet places everything in a historical context and (more importantly) sends an insightful message of importance.
The fact is that this is a great restoration of an iconic venue. But instead of highlighting the practical details, why not look to reinvigorate a venue that can work well for music at its best?