Unseen Led Zeppelin footage appears from the band’s record-breaking 1977 set at the Pontiac Silverdome

Led Zeppelin Pontiac Dome 1977
(Image credit: Speedy)

Previously unseen footage of Led Zeppelin performing at Michigan’s Pontiac Silverdome on April 30, 1977, has emerged online. The 23-minute clip captures the band playing to a then-world record 76,200-strong crowd for a single-act show.

Tickets for the show, in support of Zeppelin’s seventh studio album Presence, cost $10.50 and saw the band rifle through the likes of In My Time of Dying, Kasmir and Rock and Roll

After a minute or so of pre-show hype, including a fan appearing to climb the stage rigging with a blow-up doll for, er company, we finally see Jimmy Page and his iconic twin neck Gibson EDS-1275 cut a figure in front of John Bonham’s kit.

Alongside his Gibson Les Paul Standard and an acoustic guitar, Page can also be seen playing his Danelectro 59 DC electric guitar on the DADGAD classic, Kashmir. 

The 8mm film’s restoration, shot within the crowd giving it a real immersive, time capsule feel, was a team effort. It was transferred to digital by the Genesis Museum, who will be known by ‘70s fanatics for their work on the recently released 4K remaster of Genesis's 1973 Shepperton Studios set, with production handled by fellow Genesis fan Ikhnaton.

The film restoration work and syncing to bootleg audio was carried out by two names familiar with Led Zeppelin bootleg collectors, Etienne and LedZepFilm, who are dab hands at these joyously nostalgic restorations.

The live footage appears on a YouTube channel dedicated to archiving the late Jim ‘Speedy’ Kelly, a professional photographer who regularly captured footage of shows in the ‘70s. Alongside Led Zeppelin, he immortalised performances by Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Yes, Queen, Rush and Pink Floyd.

Of the restoration process, LedZepFilm explains: "Usually I take the audio source as gospel and sync the film accordingly. I may adjust the audio if it runs too fast or slow to my ears and then go from there. Some clips may be adjusted differently than others. But of course, as you probably know, the speed can never truly be 100% correct because both sources are analog!" 

Eagle-eyed viewers might spot the presence of camera operators peppering the outskirts of the stage. However, there’s doubt cast on whether that footage, likely shot by cameramen employed by production company Worldstage, was saved beyond its use for the big screen on the night. That makes this crowd-underscored footage even more special.

According to the website Bootledz, which charters the whole 36-date tour, the set kicked off with The Song Remains the Same. The 20-song set then concluded with a staggering final four of Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll and Trampled Under Foot. The tour eventually wrapped up July 24 at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium, home of the baseball team Oakland Athletics. 

Setlist

  1. The Song Remains the Same
  2. The Rover (introduction)
  3. Sick Again
  4. Nobody's Fault but Mine
  5. In My Time of Dying
  6. Since I've Been Loving You
  7. No Quarter
  8. Ten Years Gone
  9. The Battle of Evermore
  10. Going to California
  11. Black Country Woman
  12. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
  13. White Summer / Black Mountain Side
  14. Kashmir
  15. Out On the Tiles (introduction)
  16. Moby Dick
  17. Guitar solo
  18. Achilles Last Stand
  19. Stairway to Heaven
  20. Rock and Roll
  21. Trampled Under Foot

New Led Zeppelin bootlegs continue to surface. Last year, never-before-seen 8mm footage of Led Zeppelin's 1975 show in Maryland appeared online, as did a high-quality bootleg recording of a 1972 set in Kyoto.

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.