Friday, February 3, 2012

No. 853 – The Wanton Song

Performer: Led Zeppelin
Songwriters: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Original Release: Physical Graffiti
Year: 1975
Definitive Version: None

When Page & Plant reunited to tour in the spring of 1995, there was no question Debbie and I would go. Led Zeppelin hadn’t toured the United States since 1977, and this seemed as close to a reunion as we’d ever have even though Jones famously wasn’t invited to take part.

Debbie went to visit a friend in California for vacation the day that tickets went on sale in February, but that worked out, actually, because her flight was at 6 a.m., and tickets went on sale at 8 that same day. In other words, I had to get up early anyway, so I dropped off Debbie at Port Columbus and proceeded immediately to the nearest Ticketbastard outlet at Meijer.

When I got there, I was the only one on the scene. This was surprising, because tickets for R.E.M. would be going on sale one hour later (and for which I was also going to try to get tickets). The surprising part was Page & Plant were going to play in Cleveland, whereas R.E.M. was in Columbus. I figured the line for R.E.M. would be out the door already. Nope. I was first in line—for both. Excellent!

So I waited and waited … and waited. Eventually more people showed up. First a couple, then another dude. Just before tickets went on sale, seven of us were in line, which meant no lottery. I was going to get good seats for Page & Plant.

And I was feeling even better when the employee who handled orders showed up early and asked, “Want me to put you all in now?” Ahead of time, so as soon as the clock struck 8, we’d have our tickets? Hell yeah!

Well, you can imagine my surprise when my tickets came out, and I was in the upper bowl of Gund Arena (now named something else). What the hell? I thought we were getting in under the gun. How could it be that the scalpers got all the good seats already?

And my disappointment soon became double. By the time R.E.M. tickets were about to go on sale, 30 people milled about, so they held a lottery. In other words, my waiting was for naught. At least I got to draw the first wristband number out of the hat—and was put in the middle of the frackin’ line behind a bunch of punk kids who had shown up 5 minutes before I drew the lottery number. I ended up with lawn seats, but at least I got in.

Page & Plant were scheduled to play at the end of March, and the reason why I got such bad seats was revealed after we filed in: Everyone I was in the ticket line with was in our row. The Meijer employee put us in early, not as separate orders, but as a single seven-person order. Well, no wonder we were up in the boonies! How many rows down low would be able to seat seven people at once? The friendly Meijer employee blew it.

But then the lights went down, and on stage were Jimmy Page and Robert Plant—not facsimiles thereof but the genuine articles—and they opened with this song. Only it wasn’t in the Page & Plant stripped-down folky fashion of their Unledded MTV special but in full Led Zeppelin roar. It WAS Led Zeppelin!!

And where we sat no longer mattered.

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