On this day in rock history, the mighty Led Zeppelin was in Australia for their first and only tour of that country. Zeppelin’s 1972 Australasian Tour was their only appearance in Australia and New Zealand – a tour from February 16 to February 29, 1972. Jimmy Page had previously toured Australia with The Yardbirds in 1967, but Zeppelin would never return to Australia.
On February 18, 1972, Zeppelin rescheduled a show at the Memorial Drive, Adelaide, to the following night after heavy rain left the stage and equipment unsafe. The band brought to the shows the largest PA system ever seen in Australia at that time and promised the loudest rock show ever heard in the country. The original plan was for Zep to start the tour with a night in Singapore on February 14, but local officials refused their entry because of laws that banned men from wearing long hair. Dang.
Zeppelin received generally good media coverage during the Australian tour, and black-and-white footage of the Sydney concert on February 27 was shown to a national audience by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Some of this footage eventually made its way onto the Led Zeppelin DVD released in 2003.
All the concerts on the tour except one were performed at open-air venues, though the Melbourne performance was cut short due to the weather. The shows are available on bootleg CDs out there somewhere.
A typical set list for the Zeppelin shows looked like this (with some variations):
“Out on the Tiles” (intro) / “Black Dog”
“Since I’ve Been Loving You”
“Stairway to Heaven”
“Going to California”
“That’s the Way”
“Dazed and Confused”
“What Is and What Should Never Be”
“Rock and Roll”
“Whole Lotta Love”
Led Zeppelin had built a loyal following in Australia by the time they appeared there. Their first four albums had all made the top three on the Australian charts, and the second and third albums even earned the top spot.
Most of Zeppelin’s time in Australia went smoothly, but there were a few tumultuous incidents. During their first night in Perth, police raided their hotel room and searched their belongings but, perhaps surprisingly, found nothing incriminating. Jimmy Page later commented the cops were “very rude.”
During the first show on February 16, the appetite for Zeppelin was so ravenous that about 4,000 fans waited outside the stadium without tickets and begged for entry. Around 500 fans tried to break through the locked gates to bust in before the police intervened. The official attendance at the show was 27,000, but police officers said the crowd was at least 30,000. Considering the stadium had a maximum capacity of 25,000, it was considered “dangerously overcrowded.”
The Sun-Herald later reported, “Even though there were no seats left at mid-day and no standing room by 1.30pm., people were still coming through the gates at 2.30pm. The overcrowding that existed before the fences were stormed must never be allowed to occur again because next time, someone could be killed in the crush. Once capacity is reached, the gates should be closed.”
Though Zeppelin would never tour Australia again, the people there sure did prove they loved Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and company!
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