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Strider

1973 North American Tour 40th Anniversary

27 posts in this topic

When May rolled around, I thought someone would start a thread for the 1973 North American Tour (the lone Vancouver date keeps it from being called the U.S. tour).

I kept waiting and waiting...but to no avail. Finally I did a search in case I missed it during my times away from the forum. Again nothing...I searched 5 or 6 pages back thru this Live section before I gave up.

Since I consider the 1973 tour to be one of the most important parts of the legacy of Led Zeppelin, and I happen to be listening again to the May 31, 1973 concert and therefore am flashing back to that year, I figure if you want something done, you might as well do it yourself. So here's a thread to reminisce and discuss the landmark 1973 North American tour. If you went to one of the gigs and have a story to tell, post it here. If you have a question or want to talk about your favourite shows, songs, or any aspects of the tour, fire away.

When I think of the live legacy of Led Zeppelin, especially the early years as they were building their concert reputation, I like to break it down like this:

1968- April '69: Brash beginnings. The raw and wild sound. Marked by Jimmy's use of the Dragon Telecaster thru Rickenbacker or WEM amps, this was when the band was introducing itself to the world and testing and pushing its sound and the audience both to see how far they could go. Sometimes, particularly in the case of the young and nervous Robert Plant, they went farther than the audience was willing or prepared to go...witness some of the jeers and laughter Plant would receive when his "blues improvisations" became too comical and ludicrous, even losing the band at times. They also pushed their equipment past the limit, too, blowing amps and fuses. This period of live Led Zeppelin also feautured some of their most overt psychedelic playing, featuring lots of fuzz on Jimmy's guitar.

Summer 1969-Spring 1970: Consolidating their strengths. The Brown Bomber period. Enter Jimmy's Les Paul and enter as well songs from Led Zeppelin II to make for a heavier sound. The "Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown/I Can't Quit You Babe" made for a very forceful opening salvo. Though still a little reliant on the stock blues covers, the addition of "Heartbreaker", "Whole Lotta Love", "Thank You", and eventually "Since I've Been Loving You" went a long way towards adding some variety and colour to the set. During this time they also had established "How Many More Times" as the set closer, with the long oldies medley becoming their trademark.

Summer 1970-Summer 1972: Blowing People's Minds. It is this period that really cemented and spread by word-of-mouth Led Zeppelin's live prowess. With the overwhelming success of Led Zeppelin II having created an ever larger audience ravenous for the band, Led Zeppelin was ready to feed their hunger...and more. Shows would go for two, even three hours. For now they had essentially three albums of material to draw on, so a lot of the old blues retreads(You Shook Me, Killing Floor, I Can't Quit You) could be jettisoned, except for an occasional appearance in a medley. This period is marked by the colossal opening one-two punch of "Immigrant Song"/"Heartbreaker". This period also sees the introduction of the "acoustic set" in the band's repertoire. The medleys in "How Many More Times" and "Whole Lotta Love" became more confident and ever more wild. The band's playing was powerful, white-hot, yet also supple and able to turn on a dime and go in any direction. It is during this time that Led Zeppelin took the most chances with their setlist. They were so confident at this point that they would play songs in concert months before they were released on an album. Most of the rarely played songs in Led Zeppelin's career were played during this time...Friends, Four Sticks, Gallows Pole, Out on the Tiles. You could also call most of these years "The Bad-Ass Bearded Years" when the band all grew beards.

Japan 1972-Europe 1973: Transitioning to Superstardom. Rock and Roll takes over as the set opener. The band streamlines the set, getting rid of the acoustic set for the most part, and Jones adds a mellotron to his arsenal, adding a mystical, prog-rock element to the band's sound. The band gets more visual and adds more stagecraft to the show, thanks to Showco.

All of which leads to the 1973 North American Tour. This is the tour that once and for all established them as rock superstars. No longer would they be overshadowed by the Rolling Stones, as they were in 1972.

One reason for this was Peter Grant finally hiring someone to do PR and he got Danny Goldberg(thanks Walter) and the lovable BP Fallon...aka "Beep". It is BP Fallon who is next to Robert Plant in that photo with the snake taken on the hotel balcony in 1973. With Danny and BP on board, the band finally had someone to make sure the media payed attention and got the information out.

A couple other things played crucial roles in making the 1973 tour a huge success and making it impossible for the press to ignore. One reason is that for at least a couple of years, Led Zeppelin had really underserved their audience. In 1971, their American tour was only a month long with around 20 shows. In 1972, on the heels of Led Zeppelin IV, it was even shorter...17 concerts in only 14 cities. No shows in San Francisco. No shows in Chicago. Only one show(Charlotte) in the South. All this while the Stones were barnstorming across the country for two solid months. All this while Led Zeppelin IV was selling week after week and radio kept playing "Stairway to Heaven" more and more.

When you add in the fact that Led Zeppelin had not played in Atlanta(or anywhere in Georgia) since 1969, and hadn't played Tampa Bay since the Spring of 1970, it's easy to see why those first two dates of the 1973 North American tour set attendance records. There was a pent-up demand for Led Zeppelin in those cities that was ready to explode. Nay, the whole region of the South, which had been sort of neglected by Zeppelin, was primed to the pump by 1973.

That was the second reason the 1973 tour gave Led Zeppelin a higher profile. By scheduling two huge outdoor stadium shows as the opening dates of the tour, followed by their most intensive and thorough swing through the South yet, the press was forced to acknowledge the record-breaking attendance figures right off the bat. With first Atlanta on May 4, then Tampa on May 5, Led Zeppelin knocked the Beatles off their perch...just as they had in 1970 when Led Zeppelin became the first band to beat out the Beatles in the Melody Maker Poll after years of Beatles domination. This linking of Led Zeppelin's name with the Beatles made the casual fan and the press sit up and take notice. It sort of legitimized Led Zeppelin in some people's eyes, since the Beatles were still considered the top of the mountain in pop culture.

Once the news of Tampa's record-breaking crowd got out, it gave an early juice, a buzz to the tour. 1973 would be the first time Led Zeppelin made the cover of Creem and Circus magazines. The rest of the South was bulldozed by the Led Zeppelin tidal wave. Nearly everywhere they went, venue and city records were set, and with the news of each record set, that lit the flame higher and higher as people got the fever and Led Zeppelin became the band to see that summer.

The 1973 tour marks the beginning of what I call the "classic period" of Led Zeppelin. Where Robert started wearing the flowery blouses and baring his chest and Jimmy wore his sequined or brocaded jackets and those black-and-white slip on loafers. The stage clothes got more colourful and cosmic/mystic and the stage effects got more elaborate and colourful to match.

This was the tour that forever secured their legacy and place in the pantheon of Rock Gods. Only the truly blind, deaf and dumb could continue to deny them otherwise.

Well, my "Bonzo's Birthday Party" cd has ended, so I'll withdraw for now. I'll continue to periodically add some more thoughts and reflections about the 1973 tour as the 40th anniversary progresses. But in the meantime, please add any thoughts you have. If there are any other 1973 NA tour vets out there, especially if you're a new member of the Forum, don't hesitate to share your experience.

Edited by Strider

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^ Strider went to Bonzo's Birthday Party 5/31/1973 (I think), Kezar 6/2/1973, and LA 6/3/1973.

But that post was well written, and as you said, by 1973, Zeppelin were just on top of the world.

Edited by ledzepfilm

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Very nice post, Strider! One small error, I believe - Danny Goldberg, not Danny Sugarman, was employed by the band for PR purposes that year.

I LOVE the '73 tour shows! So many of the songs became staples over the years in their set list. Seeing how "No Quarter" first evolved into the centerpiece it became. "Celebration Day" fitting perfectly between RnR/BD, was geneous! The "flow" of the show was great too, well paced - unlike '75 and '77 where the end of the shows became somewhat bogged down by the long solos/songs. Glad we have TSRTS so the visual aspect of the show is documented too!

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I still have never found out why Philadelphia was listed on the tour itinerary (7/19) yet the show never happened. It should have! :tears:

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Excellent post :) do you have to share any expierences from that tour,a show you attended etc.? If you do,please share them :)

As ledzepfilm posted, I was fortunate to attend the May 31, June 2, and June 3(originally scheduled for May 30) shows. But I want to let other people share their thoughts...I don't want to hog this thread. Besides I have already shared my experiences at those shows here and on the timeline.

Very nice post, Strider! One small error, I believe - Danny Goldberg, not Danny Sugarman, was employed by the band for PR purposes that year.

I LOVE the '73 tour shows! So many of the songs became staples over the years in their set list. Seeing how "No Quarter" first evolved into the centerpiece it became. "Celebration Day" fitting perfectly between RnR/BD, was geneous! The "flow" of the show was great too, well paced - unlike '75 and '77 where the end of the shows became somewhat bogged down by the long solos/songs. Glad we have TSRTS so the visual aspect of the show is documented too!

Duly noted, Walter! Good catch. I shall be summarily flogged by violin bows.

I agree with your views on the setlist...in fact, that was going to be the focus of my next contribution to this thread.

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When May rolled around, I thought someone would start a thread for the 1973 North American Tour (the lone Vancouver date keeps it from being called the U.S. tour).

I kept waiting and waiting...but to no avail. Finally I did a search in case I missed it during my times away from the forum. Again nothing...I searched 5 or 6 pages back thru this Live section before I gave up.

Since I consider the 1973 tour to be one of the most important parts of the legacy of Led Zeppelin, and I happen to be listening again to the May 31, 1973 concert and therefore am flashing back to that year, I figure if you want something done, you might as well do it yourself. So here's a thread to reminisce and discuss the landmark 1973 North American tour. If you went to one of the gigs and have a story to tell, post it here. If you have a question or want to talk about your favourite shows, songs, or any aspects of the tour, fire away.

When I think of the live legacy of Led Zeppelin, especially the early years as they were building their concert reputation, I like to break it down like this:

1968- April '69: Brash beginnings. The raw and wild sound. Marked by Jimmy's use of the Dragon Telecaster thru Rickenbacker or WEM amps, this was when the band was introducing itself to the world and testing and pushing its sound and the audience both to see how far they could go. Sometimes, particularly in the case of the young and nervous Robert Plant, they went farther than the audience was willing or prepared to go...witness some of the jeers and laughter Plant would receive when his "blues improvisations" became too comical and ludicrous, even losing the band at times. They also pushed their equipment past the limit, too, blowing amps and fuses. This period of live Led Zeppelin also feautured some of their most overt psychedelic playing, featuring lots of fuzz on Jimmy's guitar.

Summer 1969-Spring 1970: Consolidating their strengths. The Brown Bomber period. Enter Jimmy's Les Paul and enter as well songs from Led Zeppelin II to make for a heavier sound. The "Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown/I Can't Quit You Babe" made for a very forceful opening salvo. Though still a little reliant on the stock blues covers, the addition of "Heartbreaker", "Whole Lotta Love", "Thank You", and eventually "Since I've Been Loving You" went a long way towards adding some variety and colour to the set. During this time they also had established "How Many More Times" as the set closer, with the long oldies medley becoming their trademark.

Summer 1970-Summer 1972: Blowing People's Minds. It is this period that really cemented and spread by word-of-mouth Led Zeppelin's live prowess. With the overwhelming success of Led Zeppelin II having created an ever larger audience ravenous for the band, Led Zeppelin was ready to feed their hunger...and more. Shows would go for two, even three hours. For now they had essentially three albums of material to draw on, so a lot of the old blues retreads(You Shook Me, Killing Floor, I Can't Quit You) could be jettisoned, except for an occasional appearance in a medley. This period is marked by the colossal opening one-two punch of "Immigrant Song"/"Heartbreaker". This period also sees the introduction of the "acoustic set" in the band's repertoire. The medleys in "How Many More Times" and "Whole Lotta Love" became more confident and ever more wild. The band's playing was powerful, white-hot, yet also supple and able to turn on a dime and go in any direction. It is during this time that Led Zeppelin took the most chances with their setlist. They were so confident at this point that they would play songs in concert months before they were released on an album. Most of the rarely played songs in Led Zeppelin's career were played during this time...Friends, Four Sticks, Gallows Pole, Out on the Tiles. You could also call most of these years "The Bad-Ass Bearded Years" when the band all grew beards.

Japan 1972-Europe 1973: Transitioning to Superstardom. Rock and Roll takes over as the set opener. The band streamlines the set, getting rid of the acoustic set for the most part, and Jones adds a mellotron to his arsenal, adding a mystical, prog-rock element to the band's sound. The band gets more visual and adds more stagecraft to the show, thanks to Showco.

All of which leads to the 1973 North American Tour. This is the tour that once and for all established them as rock superstars. No longer would they be overshadowed by the Rolling Stones, as they were in 1972.

One reason for this was Peter Grant finally hiring someone to do PR and he got Danny Goldberg(thanks Walter) and the lovable BP Fallon...aka "Beep". It is BP Fallon who is next to Robert Plant in that photo with the snake taken on the hotel balcony in 1973. With Danny and BP on board, the band finally had someone to make sure the media payed attention and got the information out.

A couple other things played crucial roles in making the 1973 tour a huge success and making it impossible for the press to ignore. One reason is that for at least a couple of years, Led Zeppelin had really underserved their audience. In 1971, their American tour was only a month long with around 20 shows. In 1972, on the heels of Led Zeppelin IV, it was even shorter...17 concerts in only 14 cities. No shows in San Francisco. No shows in Chicago. Only one show(Charlotte) in the South. All this while the Stones were barnstorming across the country for two solid months. All this while Led Zeppelin IV was selling week after week and radio kept playing "Stairway to Heaven" more and more.

When you add in the fact that Led Zeppelin had not played in Atlanta(or anywhere in Georgia) since 1969, and hadn't played Tampa Bay since the Spring of 1970, it's easy to see why those first two dates of the 1973 North American tour set attendance records. There was a pent-up demand for Led Zeppelin in those cities that was ready to explode. Nay, the whole region of the South, which had been sort of neglected by Zeppelin, was primed to the pump by 1973.

That was the second reason the 1973 tour gave Led Zeppelin a higher profile. By scheduling two huge outdoor stadium shows as the opening dates of the tour, followed by their most intensive and thorough swing through the South yet, the press was forced to acknowledge the record-breaking attendance figures right off the bat. With first Atlanta on May 4, then Tampa on May 5, Led Zeppelin knocked the Beatles off their perch...just as they had in 1970 when Led Zeppelin became the first band to beat out the Beatles in the Melody Maker Poll after years of Beatles domination. This linking of Led Zeppelin's name with the Beatles made the casual fan and the press sit up and take notice. It sort of legitimized Led Zeppelin in some people's eyes, since the Beatles were still considered the top of the mountain in pop culture.

Once the news of Tampa's record-breaking crowd got out, it gave an early juice, a buzz to the tour. 1973 would be the first time Led Zeppelin made the cover of Creem and Circus magazines. The rest of the South was bulldozed by the Led Zeppelin tidal wave. Nearly everywhere they went, venue and city records were set, and with the news of each record set, that lit the flame higher and higher as people got the fever and Led Zeppelin became the band to see that summer.

The 1973 tour marks the beginning of what I call the "classic period" of Led Zeppelin. Where Robert started wearing the flowery blouses and baring his chest and Jimmy wore his sequined or brocaded jackets and those black-and-white slip on loafers. The stage clothes got more colourful and cosmic/mystic and the stage effects got more elaborate and colourful to match.

This was the tour that forever secured their legacy and place in the pantheon of Rock Gods. Only the truly blind, deaf and dumb could continue to deny them otherwise.

Well, my "Bonzo's Birthday Party" cd has ended, so I'll withdraw for now. I'll continue to periodically add some more thoughts and reflections about the 1973 tour as the 40th anniversary progresses. But in the meantime, please add any thoughts you have. If there are any other 1973 NA tour vets out there, especially if you're a new member of the Forum, don't hesitate to share your experience.

Really? Can you please give some examples? People have been laughed out for ages for no solid reason! I myself would just like to exclude myself from believing, until we know it wasn't from cocain! ;)

Edited by Matjaz1

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Really? Can you please give some examples? People have been laughed out for ages for no solid reason! I myself would just like to exclude myself from believing, until we know it wasn't from cocain! ;)

Off the top of my head, I can think of several shows from 1969...the Whisky, a couple of the San Francisco Fillmores, the Rockpile in Toronto, the Newport Jazz festival, the Lyceum Ballroom in London...where the audience isn't sure what to make of Plant's histrionics. It would usually happen during "How Many More Times" as the band would wait for Plant to get through stretching out the segue-way from "I've got you in the sights of my..." and back into the main HMMT riff to end the song. Plant would sometimes get so caught up in huffing and puffing and throwing in weird extrapolations like "sugar and spice and everything nice", that the band themselves would never be quite sure when to come back in and the song would lurch to a halt and the band's re-entry would turn into a trainwreck. And you can hear nervous and sometimes impatient giggles and titters from the audience during these moments.

Just to be clear, I am not referring to the times when Plant intended there to be laughter from the crowd...as when he would ad lib "see a girl walking down the street...she looks so good she looks good enough to eat".

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^ Strider went to Bonzo's Birthday Party 5/31/1973 (I think), Kezar 6/2/1973, and LA 6/3/1973.

But that post was well written, and as you said, by 1973, Zeppelin were just on top of the world.

REALLY? now that's some experience :P

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As ledzepfilm posted, I was fortunate to attend the May 31, June 2, and June 3(originally scheduled for May 30) shows. But I want to let other people share their thoughts...I don't want to hog this thread. Besides I have already shared my experiences at those shows here and on the timeline.

Duly noted, Walter! Good catch. I shall be summarily flogged by violin bows.

I agree with your views on the setlist...in fact, that was going to be the focus of my next contribution to this thread.

Oh,then I will check some of the posts you have uploaded :)

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Off the top of my head, I can think of several shows from 1969...the Whisky, a couple of the San Francisco Fillmores, the Rockpile in Toronto, the Newport Jazz festival, the Lyceum Ballroom in London...where the audience isn't sure what to make of Plant's histrionics. It would usually happen during "How Many More Times" as the band would wait for Plant to get through stretching out the segue-way from "I've got you in the sights of my..." and back into the main HMMT riff to end the song. Plant would sometimes get so caught up in huffing and puffing and throwing in weird extrapolations like "sugar and spice and everything nice", that the band themselves would never be quite sure when to come back in and the song would lurch to a halt and the band's re-entry would turn into a trainwreck. And you can hear nervous and sometimes impatient giggles and titters from the audience during these moments.

Just to be clear, I am not referring to the times when Plant intended there to be laughter from the crowd...as when he would ad lib "see a girl walking down the street...she looks so good she looks good enough to eat".

Thanks, I'm going to check that out! He has got that sugar and spice moment on the official DVD on the Danish tv! Its' actually very cool!

And a few laughs during serious songs are always good and I'm certain it was far more from amazement and shock, then Plant being ridiculed, his voice was just so incredible, that it could take people into such extremes, it could perhaps make them laugh at serious moments!

Afterall even in the TSRTS movie you can see that girl laughing during SIBLY and it's a very serious song and she is obviously a fan!

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Afterall even in the TSRTS movie you can see that girl laughing during SIBLY and it's a very serious song and she is obviously a fan!

I think she was smiling because he made eye contact just as she was reaching orgasm.

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omg, just write a book on Zep already. I'll be the first in line to buy it. About the tour, my favouite shows are

1973/05/13
1973/05/19
1973/05/28
1973/05/31
1973/06/02
1973/06/03
1973/07/15
1973/07/17
1973/07/24
All of NYC '73.
1973/07/17 is my go-to show for this tour.

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I think the girl you may be referring to is Maureen Plant. She is wearing a hoodie.

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omg, just write a book on Zep already. I'll be the first in line to buy it. About the tour, my favouite shows are

1973/05/13

1973/05/19

1973/05/28

1973/05/31

1973/06/02

1973/06/03

1973/07/15

1973/07/17

1973/07/24

All of NYC '73.

1973/07/17 is my go-to show for this tour.

That's a great list...pretty much identical to mine. The only show i would add would be 7/20/73 Boston Garden. The Seattle V 1/2 vinyl bootleg is one of my most treasured Led Zeppelin possessions.

Regarding your opening remarks, who are those directed towards?

Edited by Strider

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That's a great list...pretty much identical to mine. The only show i would add would be 7/20/73 Boston Garden. The Seattle V 1/2 vinyl bootleg is one of my most treasured Led Zeppelin possessions.

Regarding your opening remarks, who are those directed towards?

yours, who else? They way you write is so vivid, yet filled to the brim with facts. You'd do a helluva much better job than Mick Wall did.

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yours, who else? They way you write is so vivid, yet filled to the brim with facts. You'd do a helluva much better job than Mick Wall did.

A houseplant dying of thirst could do a better job than Mick Wall...I'd definitely read Strider's book, he saw all the good shows (and not just Zeppelin)

IMO Seattle 17/7/73 was the peak of a tour which definitely had its shaky moments...I reckon the '73 NA Tour was the first one where the inconsistincies in the performances really stood out, and would only get worse from there...

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I think the girl you may be referring to is Maureen Plant. She is wearing a hoodie.

Whoa...hold on a second. I don't think I have ever seen it posited before that the girl who smiles and laughs during "Since I've Been Loving You" in "The Song Remains the Same" movie was Maureen Plant!

I didn't think any of the wives were with them on the 1973 tour? It doesn't look like her to me and if it was her, who is that bloke she is with and that stoned-out-of-her-goard chick?

yours, who else? They way you write is so vivid, yet filled to the brim with facts. You'd do a helluva much better job than Mick Wall did.

:blush: That's very kind of you (and Nutrocker) to say but I'm afraid I'm too lazy to write a book.

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Whoa...hold on a second. I don't think I have ever seen it posited before that the girl who smiles and laughs during "Since I've Been Loving You" in "The Song Remains the Same" movie was Maureen Plant!

I didn't think any of the wives were with them on the 1973 tour? It doesn't look like her to me and if it was her, who is that bloke she is with and that stoned-out-of-her-goard chick?

There is a thread about her over at RO. SteveAJones and others have said that it is not Maureen Plant.

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I stand corrected. I read it was her. Thanks for clearing that up.

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I think the girl you may be referring to is Maureen Plant. She is wearing a hoodie.

She is NOT Maureen Plant, nor her sister.

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SAJ: In my previous post I stated that I stand corrected. I was misinformed about this.

Thanks

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Can we talk more about 1973? Another great thread that just kind of died. I want more!! Especially from Strider, you were going to address the setlists!

I'll get it going, having now listened extensively to multiple '73, '75', and '77 NA shows - which would be my 3 favorite LZ tours for many reasons I won't get into here - I have to admit that it's between '73 and '75 for me when it comes to setlists. In '77 the noise solo (which I love, btw) and ALS close things on something of a dark note (I know, then we still get Stairway and a 5 minute WLL/R&R encore but they never quite manage to shift the mood set by the preceding 20 or more minutes, especially since Stairway itself is kind of a melancholic ditty).

Meanwhile, in '75 the show's conclusion is (typically) a funky WLL/Crunge workout followed by BD. Preceded by an epic D&C and Stairway. A much better (more fun) finish than in '77, at least in my opinion.

In '73 Dazed sits father back, followed by Stairway, and then by MD. So MD kind of marks the beginning of the final third, versus in '75 Dazed performing that role. Then, the finish is super fun, Hearbreaker and a segue to WLL+medley. And the encores which of course included The Ocean. So I don't know. I feel like '73 is maybe a touch better finish than '75 but not by much, since I love Dazed and can't get enough of it, especially when it's played like they did in March of '75.

Anyway, '77 is kind of the big loser here (still love the tour), just because the final section of the show ends up feeling very dark and not too much fun. Thoughts?

Edited by Phoenix1982

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The Ocean was a great encore song.  Personally I wish Thank You was played more often.  That song live was just spectacular and different each time.  I also like the blast out of the gate of 3 songs in a row prior to "Good Evening".

 

 

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I will say in terms of Zeppelin's three HUGE tours of the US that the 1973 tour is easily the most consistent on a technical level. Robert's voice aside, the rest of the band often is on fire. I definitely prefer it to 1975 (the first half of that tour is awful with the occasional moment of brilliance, imo. And Moby Dick followed by a 40 minute plus Dazed? Ugh!) I do think it's unfortunate that they eliminated the acoustic set on this tour, as I think that makes their shows "flow" better. That's why I prefer 1977 to this tour (even though 1977 is much more inconsistent, I like the epic feel more. And I'll take a 30 minute No Quarter any time over a 30-45 minute long D&C).

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