Thursday, May 1, 2014

Early Led Zeppelin live

Imagine this:

You're a kid, a big music fan, and you've heard there's a band putting on a show for a television program and you can go watch. Maybe you've heard of the band, maybe you haven't—their debut album was only released about two months earlier, and this is the first time they'll ever be on TV—but what the hell, right? Might as well go. Nothing else do to, and the price is right.

So you all just file in, as the cameras are already rolling, and sit down in front of the band, that are themselves just sorta milling around, watching you watching them.

And then. This happens.

The guitarist hits a chord and then starts semi-casually strumming, soon joined by a bassist who's casually bringing it, and a drummer who keeps time on his hi-hat before coming in full. The singer's very first syllable, "hey," is in a low register, nothing impressive, before swooping upwards a few octaves for the following word—"girl," of course.

The band's good. They're really good. They're loud and they're tight. But they're just warming up.

Come the solo and suddenly you're watching a guy that just may be, on this night, the second greatest rock and roll guitarist in the world.

The band goes to an expected, and unexpectedly funky, half-time, before bringing the tempo back up to bring it all home.

Seconds later, the bassist starts a slinky bassline, to which the guitarist adds some strange, spooky harmonics and bends, and the singer begins moaning his lyrics. Then the drummer decides he's going to prove that, great as the guitarist is—and he is—he's not even the greatest master of his instrument in the band, and starts unleashing fills the likes of which you've heard before, for the fairly simple reason that no drummer in rock and roll has every played quite like this before, combining the right foot with both hands unlike anyone else ever, as speeds it's impossible to believe.

Just imagine if you knew the bassist might be better than both of them.

...what in the hell? A violin bow? Who are these guys?

They come out of it all and the drummer seems to be trying to beat his drums through the studio floor and the singer's lost any trepidation he might have had, howling like a banshee and the entire band's locked into each other and you're just staggered.

And the show's only a little over a third of a way through.

You watch this and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it's absolutely no surprise they went on to become the biggest band in the world for 10 years.

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