I was one of 25,000 people who saw Led Zeppelin at the Sydney Showground in Sydney, Australia, February of 1972. I was in middle school and I rode the train from the suburbs with my friend Andrew. It was a weekend, and the show was in the early afternoon. The stage was up close to one end of the stadium with a large expanse of grass behind. At the far end was a big tunnel leading down into the building somewhere. The crowd was excited, and a big cheer rang out as four white limousines emerged from the tunnel and drove across the field to the stage. We were up in bleachers about 25 yards from the stage and we had a good view of Jimmy Page, who we idolized. Jimmy was playing a Gibson Les Paul, it might have been the famous ‘cherry burst’ but I was a kid, I don’t remember. John Paul Jones was playing a Fender bass. You may recall the ‘runic symbols’ from the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV. Each band member had their symbol displayed on their amps or monitors, John Bonham’s was displayed on the head of his kick-drum.
This was my first rock concert, so you can imagine my young mind exploding when the band opened with ‘Immigrant Song’. It’s one thing to hear Robert Plant sing that intro on the record, another thing entirely to see him do it. It’s been a long time but I remember they played a good mix of their strongest tunes. ‘Black Dog’ had been getting a lot of play on the radio (2SM), and they played that. They broke out the the doubleneck guitar for ‘Stairway to Heaven’, then did an acoustic segment including ‘Friends’ and ‘Going To California’. John Paul Jones played mandolin and keyboards. I remember a very long version of ‘When The Levee Breaks’. During the extended jam of that song, Jimmy Page did tricks with a violin bow. I am guessing he used an echoplex tape delay (it was nineteen seventy-frikkin-two). He would hit the guitar with the bow and then point at one of the big stacks of speakers around the arena. Some alert sound technician was able to quickly direct the echo to that particular stack, giving the illusion that Jimmy could send the sound where he wanted. Looking back, it seemed kinda overdone but fun nonetheless. The set built back up to the long drum solo in ‘Moby Dick’, this also went on forever, the crowd cheered when some guy did backflips on the grass behind the stage during the solo. The show finished with ‘Whole Lotta Love’. I don’t remember if there was an encore. Then the band got back in their white limousines and disappeared down the tunnel on the far side of the stadium.