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  1. Sometime around 1991 or so, I acquired a VHS tape of the July 17, 1977 Seattle Kingdome concert. It was the fourth Led Zeppelin bootleg videotape I had in my collection...the first three being a comp of 8mm footage of 1975 Chicago and the complete 1969 Danish TV performance; the 1/9/70 Royal Albert Hall; and 8/11/79 Knebworth, purchased in that order. It was dark and murky visually, and the sound wasn't much better...very dry and brittle. It also suffered from the usual wow and flutter tracking problems many bootleg videos had. Later, at the dawn of the 2000s, I upgraded my Seattle Kingdome video when I got Cosmic Energy's "Seattle 1977" DVD. This was better visually and audio-wise, but the performance still left me cold...and it was shocking to hear how badly Plant's voice cracked. Christ, he had sounded so great at the Forum...what the hell happened? I eventually came to the conclusion that the Seattle Kingdome wasn't an essential show, and not one that I would probably watch very often, and so I gave it to a lesbian friend for her birthday...she had a mad crush on Robert Plant. Besides, in a way I still had the 1977 Seattle Kingdome show...in the form of Genuine Masters' "Watch and Listen to This, Eddie" DVD-A, which is DVD-Audio of the June 21, 1977 "Eddie" show with the video of the July 17, 1977 Seattle Kingdome playing on the DVD. The sound obviously doesn't sync up perfectly with the video, but it is one of the best sounding "Eddie" releases ever. Years have gone by now without me giving the Seattle Kingdome another thought. I have seen Godfatherecords "Conquering Kingdome" at the record shows and swaps I haunt for ages, but was never inspired to get it...until recently when Sue Dounim posted how good it sounded. So, at the beginning of this month, I decided to get "Conquering Kingdome" and give the Seattle '77 show another chance. The first thing I noticed was that the sound quality was vastly improved from what I remembered. The balance and presence of the instruments had a depth and warmth sorely lacking from my VHS and DVD versions. The biggest improvement, however, is in Robert's vocals. Yes, there are times when you can hear the strain and cracks, particularly in "Ten Years Gone". But it is fainter and not as jarring to the ear. From what info I have been able to gather, Godfatherecords use the same video soundtrack that others have been using for years; it is not a true Soundboard. Still, it's the best I've ever heard this Seattle show. The Seattle Kingdome show was the first concert of the third leg of the 1977 U.S. Tour...and four years to the day from Led Zeppelin's well-regarded Seattle concert in 1973. It was the second show of the tour to take place in one of those Enormo-domes now dotting the landscape like alien spaceships, the first being the Pontiac Silverdome concert. Like Pontiac, video screens were used to facilitate people in the nosebleed seats to actually see something other than microdots on the stage. The Superdome in New Orleans was to be the third dome venue of the tour, and had it actually transpired, most likely would have set a new attendance record. A record Led Zeppelin had just set with that April's Pontiac Silverdome show. By contrast, Seattle's Kingdome only had 65,000 or so in attendance...not that you can tell by the recording. Like most boots sourced from video or soundboards, the crowd sounds distant and nonexistent for most of the show. The setlist is the standard setlist of the second-half of the '77 tour: OTHAFA taking the place of IMTOD as the fourth song of the set. No "Trampled Under Foot" or "Heartbreaker" to extend the momentum of "Kashmir" or break up the self-indulgence of the drum and guitar solos. But, if the band isn't firing on the high it was during the LA Forum run, it isn't the disaster the old videotape sometimes made it seem. The opening stretch from "The Song Remains the Same" thru "Since I've Been Loving You" ranges from average to above average...it's actually more enjoyable than many other '77 shows. Only Plant's occasional vocal weakness mars it...the band is actually playing heavy and energetically behind Plant, particularly Bonham. Even Jimmy getting lost during OTHAFA's solo isn't THAT bad; it's still a listenable performance...which is more than can be said for the IMTOD of May 26, 77. The highlight of many '77 shows was the stretch from "No Quarter" to "Kashmir". It is here where the Seattle Kingdome show hits a groove; the band is relaxed and plays marvelously. Unlike some of the antic NQs of L.A., the Seattle Kingdome NQ is more in keeping with the mood of the song, and Jimmy gets in some nice phrasing in the solo, while Jones and Bonzo keep it jazzy. I think it is one of the better NQs of the tour. Having seen the video, I can even picture John Paul Jones encouraging the audience to applaud during his piano solo. "Ten Years Gone" is another flawless performance musically...especially Jimmy's guitar solo; he nails it! Yes, Robert's voice isn't as strong as in L.A., but the combination of the band's great performance and Godfatherecords improvement of the tape makes Robert's vocal mishaps barely noticeable. From TYG to "Kashmir", all of disc 2 is a treat to listen to...even the mishap with Jimmy's guitar during "Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp", where the boys have to vamp while Jimmy waits for Raymond to give him a new acoustic guitar. Here is where you visualize Jimmy shaking his fist at poor Raymond from Scotland who tends to tune Jimmy's guitar in Scottish. Meanwhile, Jones and Bonzo are improvising while Plant scats a bit and sings some song vaguely reminiscent of "When the Saints Go Marching In". Jimmy finally gets his guitar and they finish "Stomp" up nicely. Plant then jokes about being able to play the hotel bar afterwards. Actually, despite Plant's subpar voice, he seems to be in good spirits and has some nice Plantations during the show. Even the de riguer fireworks don't darken his mood noticeably and he reprimands the offenders gently. The entire acoustic set is a good one, and the acoustic guitars and mandolins come in clear on Godfatherecords release. Jones' vocals on BOE aren't even that off-putting. Even "White Summer-Black Mountain Side" is impressive as Jimmy keeps the length managable. This leads to a very good "Kashmir". If only they could have kept the energy going with another song like "Trampled" or something. But no...it's on to disc 3 and it is here where the show reverts to an average '77 performance. Unlike the short(15 minutes +/-) and energetic drum solos Bonham did in L.A., in Seattle, Bonzo unfortunately reverted to the boring Landover-type marathons of 25 minutes or more. I guess for historical purposes it is important to note that this would be the last "Moby Dick" Bonham would perform in concert. So there is that to think about while you're listening....and while it is long, it is not as slow and boring as the Landover, Maryland ones. Jimmy's guitar solo follows and it is actually one of the better ones. Like WS-BMS, he keeps it shorter than usual...partly because he has trouble with the effects at one point. "Achilles Last Stand" and "Stairway to Heaven" conclude the main set in serviceable fashion...not bad, but not great, especially compared to the run of amazing "ALS" and "Stairway"s in L.A. Just merely okay. The encore is the usual "WLL/Rock and Roll" combo...actually "Rock and Roll" is quite good for '77. I just wish that the band could have recognized the special uniqueness of the Dome shows and added a second encore of "Trampled" or "Communication Breakdown" or something. Three and a half hours from the start of "The Song Remains the Same", the Seattle Kingdome show ends. So where to rank the 7/17/77 Seattle Kingdome among the other 1977 shows? Obviously I rank the LA Forum shows up at the top. A couple of the New York shows and Pontiac and Birmingham, AL are in the upper echelon, too. The Godfatherecords "Conquering Kingdome" has amazing sound quality, the best I've ever heard the Seattle Kingdome show sound, which may play a part in how I judge the performance quality. For comparisons sake, I listened to a couple '77 Soundboards that are popular: the 4/27/77 Cleveland "Maximum Destroyer" from EVSD; and 5/28/77 Landover "Powhatan Confederacy" from EVSD. Sound quality-wise, Seattle tops the other two. As for performance, Seattle is on par with, and at times surpasses the Cleveland and Landover ones. So while 1977 Seattle can't be ranked up with Los Angeles, it is not as bad as I had consigned it in my memory. It is a slightly above-average 1977 show, with some moments of brilliance...somewhere between the Houston and Cleveland shows and definitely better than the 5/26 and 5/28 Landover dates. Rating Godfatherecords "Conquering Kingdome": Performance - 3.75 out of 5/ Sound quality - 4 out of 5.
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