Home > Uncategorized > Chuck Klosterman on latter-day Led Zeppelin

Chuck Klosterman on latter-day Led Zeppelin

Entertaining and insightful, like he usually is:

‘In the Evening’: A second-by-second analysis of Led Zeppelin’s last stand

In August of 1979, Led Zeppelin played two concerts at the Knebworth Festival in Hertfordshire, England, headlining an event rumored to have been seen by some 218,000 people. This rumor is not true; in reality, the first show was seen by a crowd of about 104,000 while the second show (pummeled by day-long rain) had a crowd of fewer than 50,000. These are still massive numbers, certainly, but the difference between what the band’s management claimed and what was authentically happening illustrates the contradictory position Zeppelin was in by ’79: They were both the most popular and most criticized rock band in the world. Reviews for the Knebworth shows were mostly negative (especially for the second night, which even the band admits was subpar). At the time it had become trendy for other musicians to use Zeppelin as the example for everything they hated about the 1970s; Clash bassist Paul Simonon had recently said, “I don’t have to hear Led Zeppelin. Just looking at their album covers1 makes me want to throw up.” What Simonon was (actually) complaining about is what we see during the first 105 seconds of this Knebworth rendition of “In the Evening,” the first track off the widely panned (but 6x-platinum-selling) In Through the Out Door: conscious bloat. For almost two minutes, we get little more than a genius biker hitting the kettle drum while three superrich hippies prepare to be as awesome as they justifiably perceive themselves, lurking and droning beneath the same type of laser Patterson Hood saw at a BOC concert when he was 14.2 As is always the case with YouTube, time and circumstance have changed the meaning of those 105 seconds. But this was what the cool kids hated in 1979, despite the 104,000 Knebworthian kettledrum aficionados losing their hash-riddled minds.

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