Friday, November 20, 2009

Electric Magic

On this day in 1971, Led Zeppelin played the first of two shows at Wembley Empire Pool in London, with two opening acts and an array of circus-type attractions. There were trapeze artists, trampoline experts, saucer jugglers, and even costumed dancing pigs.

The pair of Electric Magic shows, held on a Saturday and Sunday, were unlike anything ever attempted before in the world of rock music, and it turned out to be highly successful in terms of ticket sales.

But in execution, there was at least one gaffe, when one pair of dancing swine refused to perform. Their trainer was quoted in the press as saying, "They were good in rehearsal!"

Led Zeppelin played two hours and 40 minutes each night. And counting all the other acts on the bill, each show lasted a total of five hours in all.

Shortly after the gigs, Robert Plant remembered them this way:
"We did two nights. The first night, we had nerves, and we were hopping up and down, saying, 'Let's get on,' because it was really cold there. It's an ice rink! An ice skater's paradise. And they hadn't put the heaters on until a half an hour before [laughs]. Nine and a half thousand people freezing, and we were freezing. But it was good. It was really good 'cause once we got started, everybody was up, you know, everywhere. On the second night, they left the heating on all night long, so everybody was in a different -- a different mood again. It went really, really well."

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