On February 16th, 1972, Led Zeppelin kicked off their first tour of Australia and New Zealand. It would be the only time the legendary British rockers would ever tour here.
By the time the group reached Australian shores 50 years ago, they had built up quite the loyal following. Their first four albums all made the top three on the Australian charts, with Led Zeppelin II and III even making it to the top spot; in a country that highly valued hard rock at the time, their success wasn’t all that surprising.
The tour started on February 16th at the Subiaco Oval in Perth (it closed in 2017). Such was the appetite to catch a glimpse of Robert Plant and co., around 4,000 eager fans stood outside the Oval without tickets, begging for entry. After 500 fans desperately attempted to traverse locked gates, police intervened.
That was the first night of a six-date run in Perth but it wasn’t all plain sailing in WA: police raided the Scarborough Hotel where the band members were staying, searching their bags and belongings but nothing incriminating was found. “They came into our rooms and started abusing us – they were very rude,” was how Jimmy Page put it.
Their performance at Adelaide’s Memorial Drive on February 18th saw the unveiling of the largest PA system ever seen in Australia at that time. It was a valiant attempt to produce the loudest rock show ever heard back then (they certainly had the right band to try it).
Melbourne was next up, with a “chilled” afternoon show at Kooyong Tennis Courts to around 15,000 fans on February 20th. Despite a heavy rainstorm intervening, the group returned to the stage to finish their set.
Huge shows in Auckland and Sydney followed on February 24th and 27th, before Led Zeppelin concluded their whirlwind tour of Australasia at Brisbane Festival Hall on February 29th.
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Even 50 years later some footage – albeit grainy – remains from the concert at Sydney, while in 2008 ABC ran a retrospective report on the tour, featuring uncovered photographs and interviews with fans who were lucky enough to be there (see below).