- 05 Mar 21
The choice to play Belfast at the height of The Troubles was unique for the moment, with Mark Bolan and T-Rex pulling out of their gigs weeks earlier. Northern Irish rock fans were starved of live music, until Led Zeppelin arrived.
Led Zeppelin's signature anthem 'Stairway to Heaven' was unveiled for the first time exactly 50 years ago today at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, kickstarting their low-key tour in Troubles-torn Northern Ireland.
On the cusp of becoming the biggest band in the world, Led Zeppelin's first three albums had broken sales records and pushed them in front of bigger audiences than ever.
Embarking on a short tour to test their new material before heading to the States, their forthcoming major singles would include 'Black Dog', 'Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Stairway to Heaven'.
The concert-goers at the busy Bedford Street venue were impressed when Jimmy Page unveiled a custom-made double-necked guitar with 12 strings atop and six below, before delivering the ambitiously complex 'Stairway to Heaven' for the first time.
Recalling the show years later, bassist John Paul Jones said the song's debut went down without any enthusiasm from the crowd - who were waiting for tracks they recognised.
"They were bored to tears waiting to hear something they knew," he recalled.
Heading back to England following a raucous Dublin show the next day, guitarist Jimmy Page told the Melody Maker: "I enjoyed Ireland and wish we could come back."