Contrary to some beliefs, Led Zeppelin very much disliked the unrest, violence and vandalism that accompanied many of their concerts (some authors and reviewers would have you believe the band actually tried to incite it). Jimmy Page said in 1975, “One has to be aware of the energies you are going for. The kids come to get as far out with the music as possible; it’s our job to see that they have a good time and no trouble. You have to be careful with large audiences… it’s rather like driving a load of nitroglycerine”.
As an example, he described fan abuse he witnessed at their Feb 8, 1975 concert in Philadelphia: “The other night we played in the Spectrum in Philadelphia, which really is… a black hole of a concert hall. The security there is the most… ugly of anywhere in the States. During Stairway, I saw this incident happen and I was almost physically sick. In fact, if I hadn’t been playing the guitar I was playing, it would have been over somebody’s head. It was a double-neck, which is irreplaceable, really, unless you wait another nine months for them to make another one at Gibson’s.”
“What had happened, somebody came to the front of the stage to take a picture or something, and – obviously – somebody said, ‘Be off with you.’ And he wouldn’t go. And then one security chap went over the barrier, and then another, and then another, and then another and they all piled on top of him… you could see the fists coming out, on this one solitary person. And they dragged him by his hair and were kicking him. It was just sickening.”
At that point, an obviously angry Robert Plant stopped singing about a bustle in your hedgerow and began shouting at the security staff to stop beating the crap out of the poor stoned kid. The kids up front were screaming at the security too. Jimmy stopped the show and walked around, his guitar hanging, visibly upset. Robert went to the lip of the stage and bopped one of the security staff on the head with the base of his microphone stand. The security staff turned around and started glaring at Robert, who was trying to restore the calm that had prevailed until then. “Can we advocate that people stay in their seats?” he pleaded. “It’s not very pleasant to see situations like this, right under your nose … so … can we all keep cool?”
Then the band restarted Stairway. The encore was short, and the band was out of the hall and into the limos before the amps stopped buzzing. Zeppelin never performed in Philadelphia again.