PLANT AT KNEBWORTH 1990: REWIND THE RADIO TAPE

You know what it’s like. You see a reissue or a magazine profile or a landmark album anniversary or a musician’s death or something and you end up triggered into a back-catalogue sinkhole. It’s part of the music-fan game. We love it.

As you might expect, a bit of this happened after picking up the Robert Plant Knebworth 1990 EP on Record Store Day last week. I dug out the TDK D90 radio taping of the gig and played it before the EP.

Robert Plant Knebworth tape

Haven’t pressed clunk-click on that one in decades. Beyond the 4 EP tracks (Hurting Kind, Liar’s Dance, Tall Cool One and Wearing and Tearing), what else would be on there?

Not much, I reckoned. Another couple of tracks, maybe.

How wrong.

By the time Rock and Roll played out at the end, I’d noted eight tracks in the setlist. Immigrant Song works way better than you might have thought, while Hurting Kind and Tie Dye on the Highway are solid enough, kinda what you’d expect from Plant ’90. He was rocking his hardest album solo album to date, but vocally not quite home. That would be Fate of Nations and everything solo that followed it.

Jimmy Page joins for Misty Mountain Hop. Ha. Not quite all over the shop, but taut it ain’t. Wearing and Tearing though, that’s a different beast. Forceful and ragged, it snaps you to attention.

Here’s the track listing from the tape. Can you see what’s missing?

Hurting Kind (Got My Eyes On You)
Immigrant Song
Tie Dye on the Highway
Going to California
Tall Cool One
Misty Mountain Hop (with Jimmy Page)
Wearing and Tearing (with Jimmy Page)
Rock and Roll (with Jimmy Page)

Yep. NO LIAR’S DANCE.

So, now I know – finally – what it was that bugged me back at the time. It was having that song cut from the radio airing that I’d conscientiously and fanatically made the effort to tape (nerd is as nerd does). And when you’ve seen or heard the Knebworth version, you’ll know exactly why it bugged the shit out of ma much younger self. It’s a performance and a half, definitely the track of the set. Doug Boyle hits that acoustic so hard.

But now, with the new RSD EP, we’ve got the audio version so I guess that’s some sort of closure after 31 years. It turns out that the taping was a Radio 1 replay of the gig – Tommy Vance said so, right after Rock and Roll. It also turns out that Plant played Nirvana that day, so that’s another one to go find.

And if you haven’t seen it, here’s Liar’s Dance in all its windblown brilliance. Boyle on fire and in command throughout. What a player.

While we’re here: RIP Phil Johnstone, co-writer and keyboard player through Now and Zen, Manic Nirvana and Fate of Nations. Crucial albums all, and his part in them was huge.