July 7, 1980 - Led Zeppelin Play Their Last Show
July 7 marks the 35th anniversary of the last Led Zeppelin gig with all four original members. The show took place at Eissporthalle in Berlin, and was the last of fourteen gigs during a European tour in support of the band’s latest album In Through The Out Door, which was released in August the previous year. The show opened with “Train Kept A Rollin’” - a song that had been in Zeppelin’s repertoire ever since their first show less than twelve years earlier. If the opening song sounded a bit stiff, the band really hit their stride with the second number - “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Jimmy Page in particular delivered a blistering solo.
Although there are no videos available from the Zeppelin’s last gig, it’s worth noting that visually the band was trying to adapt to the times. While not jumping on the disco bandwagon like the Rolling Stones, and Kiss, the four members of Led Zeppelin had definitely altered their stage outfits in an attempt to fit in better with the New Wave crowd. Gone were the blue jeans, replaced by slacks, and even the occasional tie, and the band had trimmed back their big manes of hair, if ever so slightly. But these are all cosmetics, and normal for any band wanting to stay current. What is important is the music - and that still rocked every bit as hard as it had during the height of the band’s popularity in the middle of the previous decade. If you want to see what Led Zeppelin looked like in the latter stages of their career, check out videos from their gig at the Knebworth Festival on August 11, 1979, which was fortunately filmed for posterity.
Sonically, there was an added presence of keyboards, and synthesizers. Especially in new songs like “In The Evening,” and “All My Love,” but also in classics like “The Rain Song,” and even “Kashmir.” It was Zeppelin’s way of updating their sound, and also the result from much of the material on In Through The Out Door being initially conceived by Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. In my opinion it’s fun to hear these live versions of the songs. Perhaps they give a glimpse as to what would have been if the band had continued on.
Just two and a half months after the concert in Berlin, drummer John Bonham was found dead in his bed on September 25. It has been reported that Bonham, who was struggling with a severe alcohol addiction, had downed the equivalent 40 shots of vodka during a twenty-four hour period prior to his death. Led Zeppelin had already booked a US tour at the time of Bonham’s passing, but in December 1980 the band announced that they were calling it quits rather than finding a replacement for Bonham. Since their final gig in 1980, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin have only reunited a handful of times, most recently in December 2007, which resulted in the live CD, and DVD Celebration Day.
“This is the last concert, so we intend to have a better time now than perhaps we have had before,” said Plant in the banter between “The Rain Song,” and “Hot Dog” during the gig in Berlin. Although he was only talking about the end of the tour, not knowing it was the band’s last show as a foursome, in hindsight it’s quite a statement.
Here’s the setlist of Led Zeppelin’s final concert:
01. Train Kept a Rollin’
02. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
03. Black Dog
04. In The Evening
05. The Rain Song
06. Hot Dog
07. All My Love
08. Trampled Underfoot
09. Since I've Been Loving You
10. White Summer / Black Mountainside
12. Stairway to Heaven
13. Rock and Roll
14. Whole Lotta Love
Check out this audio stream of Led Zeppelin’s final performance below: