ListenToThis Posted March 15, 2013 Share Posted March 15, 2013 Inspired by the similar Kingdome '77 thread... For as long as I can remember this show has been given a drubbing. No doubt the result of the infamous dry soundboards of Over Europe, any missed notes or cues are blantly obvious when listened from the boards. Luis Rey wasn't too keen on it, with the exception of the encores, and many fans who haven't listened to or given the time of day to the final tour were / are quick to believe what others say about the last show with Bonzo. This is unfortunate, and inaccurate in what is of course just my opinion... It is important to point out that Berlin is blessed with the best audience recording of the tour, bright, clear, sharp and upfront, similar to the Copenhagen recordings from the year before. It is arguably imperative that the true fan seek out the audience source and give it the time it deserves. I have enjoyed the recording many times over the years, most recently in the past few days, and felt compelled to offer my thoughts, which may excite oneself or alternatively cause eyes to roll back into the head. To each his own... The recording begins with about 90 seconds of audience anticipation prior to the squeal of Jimmy's wah-wah intro to Train Kept A Rollin'. As powerful as ever, Bonham starts off in fine form hammering on the bass drum and throwing in creative fills and cues. Robert's voice is slow to warm up however, and as is typical for these shows his voice is low in the mix on this song. Somewhat strange. A strong final blow and the tune closes in three minutes. Tight, but tight. No sign of fatigue, yet. I will quickly point out that Jonesy, as everyone always says correctly, is once again perfectly consistent and on point, thus I will comment on him minimally. Plant, after warming up, is also in good form, especially on Rock n' Roll, which he belts with gusto and sounds a hell of a lot better five years on from the '75 openings. Jimmy and Bonham are the inconsistencies that will bear mention throughout. Nobody's Fault But Mine follows. In a sign of humility, Robert no longer holds the notes for multiple seconds, choosing to be more restrained. Bonham continues to play well, but starts to show the conservative approach he will take in his drumming for the duration of the show. Page plays a good but not great solo, and things come to a satisfying conclusion. A strong performance by both Bonham and Page can be found earlier in the trek in Cologne. Page comes to the mike once again and repeats the line "its nice to see you, and its nice to be seen I can tell you that". This statement has confused some, but its not that coy. He is glad to be seen by an audience, up on the stage in front of people. The song is typically bombastic, played confidently but somewhat through the motions, although an extended outro solo, compared to earlier gigs, is appreciated. Bonham also puts effort into the final drum rolls, prominently displaying his maturing finesse and refinement that was in great display on In Through the Out Door. Plant acknowledges the patrons and "In The Evening", played at a slower and more pleasing pace, is greater favorably. Surprisingly when you think about it, he mentions the band "managed to get an album out 18 months, two years ago" - which is true if you look at when it was recorded, way back in the fall of '78. A strong outro solo from Jimmy and rhythm section telepathy brings a smile. Many have questioned the early insertion of "Rain Song" - seemingly sucking the energy out of the room. As the shows before, and in spite of a fan shouting for "Rock N' Roll", the crowd gives one of its most enthusastic greetings for "Rain". Page plays it well, and his fingers seem to be connected to his brain for at least this tune. "Hot Dog" is great fun for the band, and Plant enjoys singing it. A fan playfully mocks the hillbilly music, but its short and tight so no groans from the house. Not once did Plant introduce "All My Love" on the tour, and to my knowledge only once did he ever say anything between the end of "Hot Dog" and the start of "Love", a simple and low-key "thank you" was uttered at an earlier show. Jonesy pulls off the keyboard solo well, which wasn't always the cause. In fact the studio version has a few bum keyboard notes, if you listen closely. The song is very well received by the crowd. Jimmy's noodling is again subpar, and contrary to some explanations that he didn't care or disliked playing the song, I think he simply could not hunker down and concentrate on tight picking of the strings. Towards the end however, around the 5:20 mark, Bonham Plant and Page (using power chords) all kick in with perfect timing lending the song a superior emotional quality. The first highlight and stand out of the show. The next tune is a gem. "Trampled Underfoot" had become one of two tunes featuring prominent improvisation during Over Europe, and this holds very true for Berlin. A dynamic opening leads into an excellent and funky keyboard solo from Jonesy, and Plant, which he didn't often do, throws out some screams early on in the jam. Out comes Page who, with distortion on and having the ability to shred vs. pick, absolutely shines in an excellent, exciting, long, imaginative, cascading romp. This is indeed the longest version of the tune, beating out 1975/03/27 by a few ticks, and actually has a more daring and impressive guitar workout than the L.A. show. Bonham also, for the first time in the show, plays with abandon. In between an aggressive backbeat, he throws in complex and signature fills frequently, in response to the strong playing of his mates. Plant's return shout brings them back to the fold, and the second solo is also strong from Messars Bonzo and Pagey. While not quite as thrilling as Destroyer's outro, this version features heavy pummeling from Bonham, which some excellent drum rolls, before a crashing end. Tied for the best song of the show, and one of the best performances of the tune ever. Any soundboard from '80 displays the diminished chops of Page, and with the exception of Brussels, "Since I've Been Loving You" is never convincing on the tour. The audience version does improve the sound of the piano however, making the absence of the organ less upsetting. Jimmy seemingly recognizes his poor efforts from earlier shows, and does not aggressively play, even during the solo. The song closes with minimal flare, and absent is Bonzo's pleasing outro featured during the '77 tour. For the second time in Europe the band does not play "Achilles Last Stand". Many theories exist. Here's mine: 1) Bonham was tired and felt he could not play it, 2) Jimmy opined he could not play it well, 3) the gig, similar to Vienna where it was also not played, featured longer versions of other tunes and thus they wanted to skip a tune. Number 3 is unlikely, as Mr. Thomas from Scotland was not prepared for immediately going to "White Summer" instead of "Achilles". It is very unfortunate however that this glaring hole, and potentially depressing conclusion, can be drawn from their final show. "White Summer"....is not good. Quickly realizing his guitar is not tuned well, he hands it back to Mr. Thomas and offers a meek explanation of "changing things up since this is the last show of the tour". The audience, despite only a two minute wait or so, loudly voices their disapproval. They would not be placated. Jimmy, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, plays "Summer" for about 12 minutes, at one point repeatedly playing a sloppy power chord progression that someone playing for two months could pull off. Finally he goes into "Black Mountain Side", playing another three minutes of wandering and incoherent notes. The audience, bluntly, is pissed. The whistles become overwelming, and its hard to listen to. Reminiscent of 1977/06/27, but even worse. Finally Kashmir, hitting the listener's ears hard, brings relief. Nearly missing his cue, Jonesy manages to avoid throwing the offers off track during the mid-section transition. Plant is excited, loudly shouting "Good God oh Lord All Mighty" to the masses. He sounds as strong and confident as ever singing his favorite Zeppelin piece. Bonham's fills at the end were good, but not great, from night to night. Perhaps his best performances of the outro in '80 were in Cologne and Frankfurt, and Berlin, until the very end, features relative constraint. On the last two fills however he brings to court. The first is as powerful, elongated, and complex as he ever played. The second features a very unique and complex drum roll fill that decelerates as it progressives, and falls back into time with the overall beat perfectly. Excellent. For the very last time, Plant calls "John Bonham on drums". Its worth listening to the show just for that one line, you know.... To my ears Plant sings "Stairway" with care. We do know he found the song tedious by this point, but he's a professional and is not going to dial it in, for the audience or his bandmates. The song is the longest version ever once again, with a very lengthy but inconsistent guitar solo. He seemingly gets bouts of inspiration, then tools around till more inspiration arrives. Bonham, as Mr. Rey indicated, plays at too relaxed a pace, and makes little effort to mix things up, only throwing in one or two changeups over the course of an eight minute journey. Plant's voice is strong at the end. A length break brings the band back onstage. Things get good here. A very compact and exciting "Rock N' Roll" comes to the fore, with strong playing from both Bonzo and Jimmy. The guitar solo, with its echoing effects, is especially unique and hypnotic. Bonham also plays the drum outro with flare, showing he still has it when he wants it. The crown jewel of the show, and perhaps the tour, is the last song "Whole Lotta Love". The most unique of versions, the chaos section stretches for 15 minutes, with call and response from Plant, theremin wails and screechs and wah-wah echoes and effects, and the most delicious of distorted funky bass from Mr. Jones. Jones in fact is strongly at the fore, and plays the bass like one would a lead guitar, interspacing rhythm and lead. Bonham plays a more than appropriate backbeat, and engages in telepathic interplay with Jonesy, all the whilst throwing in fills and mixing things up. Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Industrial rock. No Boogie solo. Maybe Plant thought Page wasn't up to it. Who knows. The lack of the medley takes nothing away from the song, and only shows Zeppelin's willingness to change and adapt to the times. Page does sing aggressively during the chorus, and the wah-way outro is recalled one last time. "Thank you...and goodnight".... It is a good gig. Not a bad gig, not a great gig. The band is clearly having fun. Page is not at his best and we know why. Bonham, said to have gotten off heroin, was deeper in the throes of alcoholism and depression than ever before. He needed to be at home, and he needed to get clean. This was not the plan however... It is said Page was not pleased with the show, which I have read, but the source of this info has never been revealed to my knowledge. I don't know if it was a direct quote or overhead by a third party. He should have been pleased with the show, but perhaps not with his performance. The concert on the whole features ups and downs, like many shows that came before. Its highs however, "Trampled Underfoot" and "Whole Lotta Love", are extremely impressive, and further the styles are unique to this performance. If you want to hear this show seek out the audience recording, and take comfort in the fact that Zeppelin still had it, to the very end... Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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