*moving this review into the 1975 thread*
Nitpicking Page 2/6/1975 Montreal
Considering I was so critical of Page's playing on 3/21, I only consider it fair to analyze his playing on a 75 show that I've previously thought was great, Montreal 2/6/75, just to see if I was correct in saying he did have some performances where he played like his old self or if he was truly subpar altogether in 75. Of course this is a B-grade audience recording, so it's a little hard to judge the sound accurately, but I think I can still hear a bum note nevertheless.
Rock And Roll- Very reminiscent of the version from TSRTS soundtrack. No problem with the solo at all as he flies right through it.
Sick Again- A tight start. The first solo- A fluid stringent of pull-offs with no strained notes, rare for this song. Second solo- Nimble fingers here as he slides right through with no flubs. So far so good.
OTHAFA- Absolutely perfect intro, again a rarity for this song. The solo- Page either breaks a string at the beginning or realizes he needs to swap guitars for some reason, but the first part is absent. Then he comes in at 3:02. He does his usual first run on the lower register, then moves up an octave at 3:12. 3:45-4:06 is some good phrasing. 4:14-4:23 is the type of speed and articulation that Page had in 73 that he seemed to lose as the 75 tour went on. Makes me realize that his injured finger didn't really hamper his playing, but rather the medications he took for pain. 4:40-5:05 is another good variation of phrasing. You'll notice he's not straining to do high speed triplet pulloffs and repetitive bends like he does later on for this song. It's as if his finger may be hurting, but his mind is still where it needs to be. A slight flub at 6:42.
IMTOD- Great start, Plant is warmed up and sounding good. 3:27, Page drops his pick or something, but jumps back in. Solo 1- Not a great one, it's a little lackluster and doesn't flow well. Solo 2- A little more pep this time, but still not great. 7:22-7:32, he's hitting a little off key with the slide, but not too bad. 7:52, another bum note with the slide. Maybe he's out of tune? 8:48, yep, his guitar is out of tune as is apparent when he strums the open chord. 9:43, he notices the guitar is out of tune and stops the chord short to keep it from ringing out. All in all, one of the worst IMTOD's I've heard. Maybe not his fault though.
TSRTS- The twelve string is coming through very twangy, so it's hard to judge from the start. 1:40 and on, they seem to be dragging a little, like they don't wanna be playing this. Solo 1- They pick up some and Page gets a good solid solo down. 3:13, damn Rob, what happened? Voice took a dive. 3:56, the tapers panning actually accents this a little lol. Solo 2- Page is playing fine, but it still sounds very uninspired. Plant sounding like shit at the end.
The Rain Song- Plant's voice evens out a little. That damn out of tune mellotron. Page is flowing along nicely, but this is one of those numbers he rarely missed a note on. 4:45, Jones' foot hits the wrong note lol. 5:45, I've never really noticed how "Hendrix" his playing is on this part. Those chorded hammer-ons sound very Little Wing-ish.
Kashmir- This is one version where the guitar mix outweighs the keys- perfect for nitpicking Pagey. It sounds a little thin, but still creates the mood nicely. 3:35, those arabic guitar bits sound amazing and should have been on the studio version. 7:15 and on, he's playing those ascending riffs perfectly but the leads are very erratic. 8:08, whatever that was, was fantastic. Not bad at all.
No Quarter- Nitpicking Jones, he's creating a very nice mood with the keys. Jones is killing it with this groove. 7:12, the crowd joins in with perfect timing. Page comes in with elegance. 8:54-9:15 reminds me of Gilmour's solo on "Another Brick In The Wall" for some reason. Page's soloing is solid here, but certainly not 73 level. Outro solo- Page comes alive and shows some vigor. The phrasing and articulation is ok, but not above par for 75.
Trampled Underfoot- Normal start. The solo- This was the new song that was really supposed to be a showcase for Page during the solo, but for most versions I've heard it sounds like he's just trying to cram as much improvised material as he can into the solo section. Here, he plays a good solo, but it sounds just exactly like that. There's no structure or buildup, just note cramming.
Moby Dick- Yep, sounds like Moby Dick.
Dazed And Confused- A very inspired start and the band sounds fresh. Reminds me a little of the Europe 73 versions. First solo section- Not bad, articulation is a little off but not much. San Francisco- Sounds pretty good with Page being very rhythmic with the wah pedal. Plant's voice is good again. Bow section- 8:15, I swear someone says "God hates fiddle." Some people might dismiss Page's bow playing as gimmick, but listening closely will reveal that he truly used this technique in a very artistsic manner, and this version is very haunting and ethereal. Bonham comes in and completes the otherworldy experience. 13:33- the second half, let's see where this goes. It's obvious this audience recording doesn't match up to something like TSRTS soundtrack, so I've gotta listen with that in mind. 16:14, No missed or strained notes so far, but nothing mind blowing either. 8:20, some decent fluidity. 19:22-19:32, again nice fluidity. 19:53, Mars-Bringer Of War section- disaster. I don't think Page was ready. He jumps back on track afterwards, but not sounding great. 21:16, Page jumps into the ending bar, but Jones and Bonzo don't follow til the next bar.
Stairway To Heaven- Perfection through the beginning. All members are sounding great. The solo- Page starts off great, good flow and articulation. 8:13, there's some kind of accidental off notes that come through. 8:36-9:20, man, he's ripping this solo apart. One of the best I've heard. Phrasing and fluidity are there with no strained or forced notes. Absolutely beautiful. Plant's voice is rough again at the climax, but he pushes through.
Whole Lotta Love (Partial)- Very rushed intro, as was common through 75.
Black Dog- They're sounding lively for the end of the show. 1:00, a nimble fill that doesn't quite end right. Solo- 3:50-3:56, a little bit of turkey gobbling, but not bad. Those big bends aren't great, but not bad either. 4:28, he jumps into the Heartbreaker part. He keeps a steady flow through to the end. 5:26, some excellent articulation and speed to end it. Not a bad Black Dog solo at all for 75 (God knows he had some bummers).
Heartbreaker- The solo- Starts off strong, although twangy. 2:37, sticky fingers on the ascending pull-offs. Afterwards it's the usual series of motifs he uses for this solo, but a little uninspired sounding. 5:08, finally comes alive with a flurry of notes. I'd say the show ends on a mediocre level.
My final assessment of Page for this show? I had previously thought this was the best Page of 75. I'm not so sure now after listening in detail. He definitely gets on a high level on certain parts, mainly the beginning, but drops back down in areas as well. He doesn't strain on Sick Again. OTHAFA has good articulation and phrasing. The Stairway solo is great. Does he have the overall musicality and ability of pre-75? I couldn't say he did, but he did great with an injured finger. And a fifth of Jack. I'd certainly rate his playing way above 3/21.