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Led Zeppelin - Knebworth Festival 1979

On August 5 and 11, 1979, Led Zeppelin played their final British shows at the "Knebworth Festival".


These shows stand as a milestone in rock history, marking "Led Zeppelin's" triumphant return to the stage after a two-year hiatus since the death of Robert Plant's son during the band's 1977 North American tour, and four years away from British soil.


Held at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, England, the festival comprised two monumental concerts on August 4 and August 11, headlined by "Led Zeppelin", the concerts were supported by performances from various artists, including "The New Barbarians" with Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards, Todd Rundgren and "Utopia", Southside Johnny, and others.


"Led Zeppelin's" appearance at the festival was a much-anticipated event due to their extended absence and their decision to forego a major tour, instead opting for this grand showcase.


Leading up to the festival, "Led Zeppelin" engaged in rigorous rehearsals, choosing to return to the stage with a bang. The sheer scale of the event was awe-inspiring. A record-breaking 570 toilet seats, 750 feet of urinals, and an immense 100,000-watt sound system, a 600,000-watt light show, a swirling smoke that engulfed them and a pyramid laser.


The anticipation for the show was immense. Already five days before the first of two shows, people started to surround the area. In the evening before the first show, there were around 30,000 people massing around the entrance to the festival grounds. After the fence had been breached for the third time, the organizers opened the doors allowing the fans to run towards the stage, staying there for 18 hours before the first show even started. In the end, between 110,000 and 150,000 fans were present at the first show.


For many fans, the Knebworth Festival held a special place as their first encounter with "Led Zeppelin's" live presence. The band's performance, while displaying moments of brilliance, sometimes also showcased a sluggish and rusty return to the stage.


The setlist was a blend of classic hits and newer material from their forthcoming album, "In Through The Out Door", released only 4 days after the second show.

The shows started with "The Song Remains The Same" and ended with "Stairway to Heaven", capturing memorable moments such as the light and swirling smoke engulfed the band during "Achilles’ Last Stand", and the pyramid laser encasing Jimmy Page during "In The Evening". The shows had lasted three hours, when the final encores were "Heartbreaker" on the first show and "Communication Breakdown" on the second.


"Led Zeppelin's" performance, captured by the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and live video projections, resonated with the audience, despite receiving mixed reviews from critics.


The legacy of the 1979 Knebworth Festival endures as "Led Zeppelin's" last major live performances in the UK before John Bonham's death. The event's scale, the band's undeniable presence, and the mix of nostalgia and uncertainty make these concerts a crucial chapter in "Led Zeppelin's' storied history.


Here are the band's set lists:


1. "The Song Remains the Same"

2. "Celebration Day"

3."Out on the Tiles" (intro) / "Black Dog"

4."Nobody's Fault but Mine"

5. "Over the Hills and Far Away"

6. "Misty Mountain Hop"

7. "Since I've Been Loving You" / "Tea for One" (solo)

8. "No Quarter"

9. "Ten Years Gone"

10. "Hot Dog"

11. "The Rain Song"

12. "White Summer" / "Black Mountain Side"

13. "Kashmir"

14. "Trampled Under Foot"

15. "Sick Again"

16. "Achilles Last Stand"

17. Jimmy Page solo

18. "In the Evening"

19. "Stairway to Heaven"


Encores:

20. "Rock and Roll"

21. "Whole Lotta Love"

22. "Heartbreaker" (on 4 August only)

22. "Communication Breakdown" (on 11 August only)


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