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  1. Southampton 73- Why it's the best Zep bootleg So many people criticize this show because; 1- Plant wasn't in top shape. 2. Neither Page or Bonham matched the intensity of the European dates of 73. Plant was barely above medium shape, which I think added a sense of vulnerability to his vocals. He sang the songs differently, with almost a melancholy approach. He doesn't squeak and strain much (like in other shows) because he knows his limits. By the time he warms up around Dazed And Confused, he sounds pretty decent. Bonham and Page not matching the showoff performance of Vienna or Hamburg isn't necessarily a negative. Those performances, although impressive, were a bit on the extreme side. Any musician can go all out during a live performance, but it's the professional who knows how to stay in the pocket and not stray. Bonham's playing on the Hamburg show is almost overkill. Adding a fill every measure turns a song into a circus act. With that said, this performance isn't far off from the European shows. Page doesn't nail every lead 100%, but that adds to the realism of a band simply playing a show without realizing they're being recorded. And when he plays good, he's as good as he's ever been. Now, with those critiques aside, you have to give credit to one thing- sound quality. Holy shit does this recording sound good. Not good, simply amazing for a bootleg soundboard recording from 1973. No soundboard or audience recording from any other Zep show sounds this good, I don't care how many people tout Royal Albert Hall 1970 or Listen To This Eddie. This was a small venue and it really comes through that way. It's exactly like you're sitting in the fourth or fifth row, fifteen feet away from the band. No cheesy effects like the 77 shows, no lethargic playing like the 75 shows, no overprocessed EQ like the How The West Was Won album, no crap editing like the The Song Remains The Same album. This is up close and personal with a full setlist. How many people would say "How awesome it would be to see Zeppelin in their prime in a small club"? Well, this is it. How could you complain? I think people refuse to appreciate the candidness of this show. I like to imagine this show was professionally recorded like the Madison Square Garden shows, showing the opposite side of their live performance- the biggest band in the world playing a small stage, which is what the band always wanted to do anyway. It's the perfect "Moment in time" performance for this band. Performance vs setlist vs sound quality, this is bar none the best in my opinion.
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