Today in 1969, Led Zeppelin played two sets at The Rock Pile in Toronto to 1,200 fans, where they were billed as “Led Zeppelin, featuring Jimmy Page.” Now-renowned music journalist Ritchie Yorke* was the emcee.
Review (by Yorke):
Above all else and there were highlights aplenty; it was Page’s night. He arrived in Toronto without a record on the market, but with a reputation that long-ago preceded him.
Several critics, myself included, had suggested Led Zeppelin just might be the next so-called super-group, the likes of Cream and Hendrix. Advance airplay and reviews of the debut Led Zeppelin album brought over 1,200 people to the Rock Pile. They expected a lot, and few were disappointed. Considering the group was only formed a few months back, it’s remarkably tight and together.
Led Zeppelin is not Cream, nor will it fill the spot left behind by Cream. Nobody will. But the Zeppelin outfit has a thing going of its own and there’s little doubt that thing is going to be very successful.
Page came off as the finest group guitarist to emerge since Clapton. Already, he is way above Jeff Beck, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. His spotlighted work, including riffs with the violin bow, was executed expertly, without pomp or pretension.
Singer Plant is from the English blues school – hard, angry, defiant, gutsy. He could well develop into tone of the big name group singers of the year.
*Amongst the many publications Yorke contributed to, he was the Canadian Editor of Rolling Stone (1969–70), Canadian Editor of Billboard (1970–80), and was the Senior Music Writer for the Brisbane Sunday Mail for 20 years (1987–2007). He has written biographies on Led Zeppelin and Van Morrison, and he regularly contributed to, or was syndicated in, Billboard, the Boston Globe, Chicago Daily News, Detroit Free Press, Hit Parader, Houston Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Free Press, Rolling Stone, Washington Post and Zoo World.
In late 1969, Yorke assisted John Lennon with the coordination and execution of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s War Is Over! peace campaign, as well as helping to plan the Montreal bed-in where Lennon’s peace anthem “Give Peace a Chance” as written and recorded.