Led Zeppelin History – Feb 16

Today in 1972 Zeppelin kicked off a 6-date Australian tour (including one date in Aukland, New Zealand) at the 80,000-seat Subiaco Oval stadium in Perth, Western Australia. This was Zeppelin’s only Australian tour during their 12-year career. But even down under, their shows were sometimes not without incident (see review below).

Setlists during this tour varied, but included Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, That’s the Way, Tangerine, Dazed and Confused, What Is and What Should Never Be, and a Whole Lotta Love medley.

Heavy Rock – With Discipline, by John Bryant
The West Australian | February 17, 1972
Perth has probably never seen a concert quite like it. Certainly, a Perth attraction has never been so “heavy”. That Led Zeppelin rock group’s only concert at Subiaco Oval last night at the beginning of an Australian Tour was unique. The pelting rhythm and distinctive brackets of the group – consisting of electric guitarist Jimmy Page, organist John Paul Jones, drummer John Bonham and lead vocalist Robert Plant – were different from any rock group that has appeared in Perth. And the 80,000 people who went enjoyed every minute of the two-and-a-half hour performance. Some were so keen to see the most popular English heavy rock group to ever appear live in Perth that they did not mind climbing fences to get in. Police and officials were kept busy preventing and removing people entering the stadium.

About 4,000 people who were unable to gain entrance to the concert milled outside the main gates of the Oval, and about 500 youths rammed the locked gates, threw rocks and bottles into the Oval and lit fires. Police reinforcements were rushed to the Oval soon after the concert began and at one stage there were more than 20 police vehicles outside the ground. Several people were arrested.

While the battle raged, thousands of gate-crashers came though and over fences around the ground. Youths with wire cutters left a trail of gaping holes in the fence. As police battled to control the riot the stage was left unprotected and more than 1,000 fans mobbed the musicians. As the group drew towards the end of its last song, people began to dance on the stage. The group kept playing and the crowd swamped them. Lead singer Robert Plant had his shirt torn from his back as he tried to run from the stage.

The next morning four drug special police raided the group at a Scarborough hotel where they were staying. Police woke the musicians and searched their baggage and belongings. No drugs were found. Jimmy Page said he and the rest of the group were furious. They thought the raid was retribution for the concert trouble. He said the group had not seen the outside riot, but had only read a report in this morning’s newspaper. Page criticized the police for leaving the group unprotected and allowing the stage to be mobbed at the end of the concert. “I’d like to know if today’s raid was some sort of a rebuff for last night”, he said. “We had nothing to do with any of what happened and then this morning, at some unearthly hour we were pulled out of bed and treated in a totally derogatory manner”. He said the group had not gotten to bed until early this morning and then were dragged out of bed by police about 8:30 am.

“They came into our rooms and started abusing us – they were very rude”, he said. He said he was “sick do death of authorities asserting arbitrary power”. He had experienced riots before and “it was always the police who provoked the crowd”. He said: “I thought we could get away from this sort of thing out here. I’m just dumbfounded by it all. We just didn’t expect anything like this to happen in Australia”.

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