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Reappraising 1980/07/07 - Berlin


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This show and much of the 1980 tour help me appreciate the sheer amount John Bonham brought to the Zeppelin party. I say this because it is only when you hear John Bonham 'off' that you really begin to appreciate how crucial he was to the success of their sound. Take Nobody's Fault and Kashmir from the Berlin show as examples, Bonzo is often doing little more than just tapping-out the beat. Without the energy, funk, swing, groove, inventive playfulness, command and sheer hammer he would usually contribute, these numbers almost completely fail to lift. The effect is that Zeppelin, even when playing masterpieces like Kashmir, sound decidedly flat and ordinary, almost like just another one of the 100s of so-so 2nd tier rock bands out there.

Even if other members were off, as long as Bonzo was on then the show would at least hold together, and very often kick-ass to boot. But, what the '80 tour often illustrates (IMHO) is that when Bonzo was off then the Zeppelin formula didn't really work. A bad night from Robert or Jimmy could be carried by the others. Most of the '75 and '77 shows are still very listenable despite either Robert or Jimmy often being off. But a bad night from Bonzo could not be compensated for or carried by the others. This is, I think, is the main reason why John Bonham could not be replaced.

Edited by renounce
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Great review of a decent show. I always thought the STH solo in this show was a disaster, going back and listening to it again, it's not a disaster of earthquake proportions, maybe just a large flood. But to each their own!

I agree what someone said about Trampled in this show,WOW

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I actually really wish there was some sort of video for the Stairway Solo in this show. I just really want to see what Page is doing, in terms of body language, what Robert is doing during it etc.

Are there any members on this site who was at this gig? I have some questions I want to ask about Page during the show.

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In fairness to JP, it just sounds like he decides to noodle around for a bit, instead of the very tight solo usually played. All the writeups on the Tour Over Europe say it was a much more relaxed undertaking, so he may have taken that relaxation into account and decided to just tinker for a bit.

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I think the general consensus is that Page plays well below par for most of the evening's songs - likely the worst without a known drug reaction (such as Chicago '77). Even at Tempe in '77 he plays a fantastic STH solo, which coincidentally is not much shorter than Berlin's version.

The best method of gauging his playing this night is to compare it to earlier '80 shows. There are hints of struggle in NFBM and BD - the first major issue of the night is the outro solo in ITE where Page would normally play a nice fluent string solo while slowly working the wah-wah pedal. His picking on this in Berlin is quite labored - compare it to Vienna's version.

Later in TUF, while the solo is definitely epic in some ways, his attempts at fluency again are stifled by deliberate and labored picking. At the onset of the SIBLY solo he doesn't even attempt the quick burst or two of notes, instead opting for a somber bluesy start.

I believe ALS was skipped this evening because of Page, while in Vienna it was due to Bonham's fatigue and poor eating habits (not bananas by the way, that was a cover up for the real etiology of days of excessive drinking combined with poor diet). Page tells the audience they are changing the program since its the last one of the tour, but since when did Zeppelin ever eliminate songs during important finales (i.e. Forum '77, Earls' Court 1975/05/25, NYC '73, etc.) He couldn't pull a confident version off due to his speed issues.

WS/BMS has been discussed ad nauseam in the past.

STH shows Page trying hard - the band wants to celebrate and enjoy the evening, after all they had been through a lot in the few years prior and wanted to bask in the glow of playing together as a working band again. But it ultimately lacks real excitement and he struggles for an energetic bridge to the final verses.

Lastly I believe Let That Boy Boogie was not played in light of Page's inability to pull off the required solo runs. Further Jones takes control of WLL from the onset and really makes Berlin's unique version what it was.

I've a number of photographs in an old Japanese picture book that show a good bit of snot gleaming off of Page's upper lip. He also had lost several teeth by this point which are clearly reflected in the images - you may notice the lack of smiles from Page with his teeth showing in the '79 - '82 period. He sniffs a good bit during the BD intro as well as his explanation of the WS/BMS delay.

You want pure conjecture - Page layed into the alcohol heavily that day due to a lack of necessary "supplies", thus his cold symptoms. Page himself failed to appear at the aftershow / tour party at the hotel, and Steven A. Jones in an interview by Dave Lewis states that Page was unhappy with the performance, although frustratingly so Lewis did not push Mr. Jones for clarification.

It was basically an off night - his playing in Rotterdam, Vienna, a number of gigs in 80' was quite good. Pity his worst showing was the last one.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not sure I agree with this description. The only and I mean only thing that makes this version of TU an absolute dazzler is Page's wild playing. Bonham is mostly playing the timekeeper during this tune. He's the least interesting aspect of this rendition. Excellent drum rolls? No more excellent than plenty of other renditions. What makes TU exciting is Page. PERIOD.

The next tune is a gem. "Trampled Underfoot" . 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.

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  • 1 month later...

I've yet to listen to the full show so I've been waiting to comment my thoughts until I do. But I have a question about Berlin 1980 and figured this was a good place to ask. I seen Led Zeppelin Official shared the 'Tour Over Europe 1980' poster on Facebook today and what caught my attention was 'Berlin July 7th & 8th'.... Did the show on 8th get canceled or something?

I would share the poster, but I can't attach files on my iPad, but it's on Facebook if anyone wants to see it (red poster with a man wearing a black shirt with all the dates listed).

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I've yet to listen to the full show so I've been waiting to comment my thoughts until I do. But I have a question about Berlin 1980 and figured this was a good place to ask. I seen Led Zeppelin Official shared the 'Tour Over Europe 1980' poster on Facebook today and what caught my attention was 'Berlin July 7th & 8th'.... Did the show on 8th get canceled or something?

I would share the poster, but I can't attach files on my iPad, but it's on Facebook if anyone wants to see it (red poster with a man wearing a black shirt with all the dates listed).

11742948_921390154600090_596205425828878

According to Dave Lewis, "The date was later pulled for reasons unknown." dunno.gif

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low ticket sales, I heard

Which of course sounds absolutely fuckin' crazy when ya think on it- it's Led Zeppelin, fer chrissakes!- but general consensus indeed makes low sales the reason why the second Berlin gig was cancelled. And, if I remember from Dave's 1980 tour book a couple of the other venues on the tour (I can't remember which) were actually downsized from larger halls again due to lackluster ticket sales.

Imagine that happening in the States: "Sorry guys, we can't sell out three nights at the L.A. Forum- try the Greek Theatre, maybe..."

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No disrespect meant but you guys were spoilt in the states. There were more gigs in LA post 1973 than in the UK.

This was the first European tour since 1973 and things had moved on musically. So whilst poor ticket sales would be unbelievable in the states I am not surprised to hear that as a reason in Europe.

I think that a UK tour would easily have sold out especially if it was a tour and not a London residency.

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By 1980, punk and new wave had completely transformed the European music scene and in many quarters, bands like Zeppelin were seen as lumbering dinosaurs, relics of a bygone era, and that is probably the reason for some lacklustre ticket sales on the Tour Over Europe jaunt, they weren't looked on as this mythic thing of legend they are now, although ironically, the slightly smaller venues probably was to Robert Plant's liking anyway, as he wanted to 'connect' with the audience again after the superdomes of '77 and the sheer enormity of Knebworth.

The North American tour, on the other hand, likely would have sold like gangbusters, America wasn't touched with the punk/new wave emergence and hard rock was still king, so Zeppelin would have been as popular as ever and all the dates would have been instant sell-outs probably. The trouble is, with Jimmy's and Bonzo's spiralling addictions, I'm certain it would have been the last tour, one of those men would not have returned home alive, pure conjecture I know, but would you bet on either lasting much longer in the state they were in by 1980? It's very telling that when Richard Cole was informed that one of the band had died, the first thing he thought was "oh, poor Pagey"... 'nuff said.

I would have loved for the North American tour to have went ahead - to hear 'Carouselambra' live if nothing else! - but (to put it frankly), considering Bonzo's deteriorating physical and emotional health, it may not have been the wisest of moves with hindsight, even the likes of Dave Lewis has questioned the wisdom of it, knowing what they knew at the time about Bonzo and the personal problems he was experiencing prior to his demise... different days indeed.

Edited by The Old Hermit
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Not sure I agree with this description. The only and I mean only thing that makes this version of TU an absolute dazzler is Page's wild playing. Bonham is mostly playing the timekeeper during this tune. He's the least interesting aspect of this rendition. Excellent drum rolls? No more excellent than plenty of other renditions. What makes TU exciting is Page. PERIOD.

You need to listen again. Listen to the way Bonham plays with the time via his use of high-hat and subtly amps up the tempo towards the end of the solo. There are other ways to be interesting besides doing drum rolls and Bonham displays them in the Berlin TUF.

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You need to listen again. Listen to the way Bonham plays with the time via his use of high-hat and subtly amps up the tempo towards the end of the solo. There are other ways to be interesting besides doing drum rolls and Bonham displays them in the Berlin TUF.

No shit, man- the tempo has sped up considerably following Page's solo in the Berlin "Trampled"...equally funny is how they try to slow it back down once the verse is over :lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...

You need to listen again. Listen to the way Bonham plays with the time via his use of high-hat and subtly amps up the tempo towards the end of the solo. There are other ways to be interesting besides doing drum rolls and Bonham displays them in the Berlin TUF.

While Bonham may play with the tempo, I don't see why that's a compelling reason to find this rendition of TU a joy to listen to. It's Page's all out, wild guitar playing that makes this tune exciting to listen to. Page does everything possible. He's wiped out by the end of it. Just listent to SIBLY right afterwards. In a word, PATHETIC. It's the most forgettable rendition the band ever performed. Page completely ran out of gas after playing TU. Sorry, but my description of TU stands. It's not Bonham that makes this tune exciting to listen to. He's integral to the pace of the tune but it's Page's wild playing that just drives it.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I think the European economy at the time had something to do with ticket sales also.   The price of Gold more than doubled in 1980 and Unemployment in Europe reached levels during this time that were not seen since the Great Depression.

Edited by TheGreatOne
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I think we all agree, that song should have been dumped from the set list in 73 or 75.  No business being in there any later than that.

this show still gives me chills, when you realize the final notes of the show, are the final notes of LZ.

White Summer / Black Mountain Side was dropped from the set list as early as about June 1970! Then brought back from 1977-1980, which seemed to serve only as a intro for Kashmir. The song should never got over the length of Kashmir though. It should have rarely got over the 5 minute mark! The build up is always very exciting to listen to though, but I HATE how on a lot of bootlegs Kashmir is significantly quieter than White Summer.

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Just read this entire thread. Man, what an interesting read. Thanks you all!!! I have only got the Heineken  (Tarantura) boot of the 80 tour, and TU is just blazing! I couldn't believe how fast and furious it was, but not what I think is a "mess" at all. I'd say just powerhouse. Page is just out there and on fire IMO.

I can only compare it to Earls Court which until I got into boots (very recently) was for a while my favourite thing to listen to and watch on youtube - and the 77 slower version, which is in its own right brilliant as well.

 

So whats the best TU of 1980? And best all round show for that matter?

BTW - I am scared to listen to WS/BMS as it seems it is universally agreed - "a wreck". Think I'll listen to the good stuff I have yet to go through.

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