A Bonham Blast on Led Zeppelin’s Sick Again at Kneborth 1979

John Bonham

Photo:By Dina Regine [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Led Zeppelin performed at the Knebworth Festival in England during the month of August in the year 1979. The two performance took place at the Knebworth House, located in Hertfordshire, England. The band was performing as part of a festival that also featured acts such as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Todd Rundgren and Utopia, The Marshall Tucker Band, Commander Cody and Fairport Convention. Also appearing in one of the two shows was Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood with their Rolling Stones offshoot band The New Barbarians.

Led Zeppelin had not performed for nearby two years before the Knebworth shows due to the passing of Robert Plant’s young son. The band rehearsed vehemently for the shows and performed both nights at the festival. There were many reviews of the show that criticized Led Zeppelin’s performance. Listening to the tapes and watching the videos only proves that those critics had no idea what they were talking about.

One of our favorite songs from Led Zeppelin set at Knebworth, was the band’s performance of “Sick Again,” which had been released on the Physical Graffiti album. While the entire band still sounded great, it was the performances of Robert Plant and John Bonham that really stood out. Robert Plant’ vocal on “Sick Again,” had a dark soulful resonance that easily trumped the original recording. Robert Plant’s pitch was perfect throughout the performance of “Sick Again.”  It seemed as if Robert Plant had found salvation from the recent pain he had traumatically suffered through the euphoria of performance and stage.

The importance of John Bonham to the sound and soul of Led Zeppelin becomes clearly apparent from the second his foot hits that legendary kick drum. So many critics and fans always focused on Page’s performances. It incredible that those critics were blind and deaf to hear what was happening between Bonham and John Paul Jones. John Bonham played a rock groove like a dancing freight train. The power behind the man’s kick drum catapulted the snare and hit hat to ignite that magical energy between Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Bonham’s fills blasted through the arena with a force that no rock drummer has ever been able to imitate. The performance of “Sick Again,” so clearly defined the aura of Led Zeppelin that had only grown stronger over time. This was not a rusty performance, it was a soulful performance that should be cherished forever.

Written by Brian Kachejian

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