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JonF

Knebworth or Earl's Court? Which is the better concert

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I purchased the Led Zeppelin DVD as soon as it came out around 2005. I feel the 1979 Knebworth show is even better than the Earl's Court show. What really surprises me, is that I have read the Cole, and the Stephen Davies biographies, and heard what the reviewers have said about the two Knebworth shows, and how they sounded like dinosaurs, and such, but in my view Zeppelin's Knebworth performance on the DVD is awesome! I was wondering what others on the LZ forum think?

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Personally, I think the 1975 Earls Court performances are among the best - by any band - in rock history.

The Knebworth Festival performances are solid but there's just no comparison to the Earls Court shows. 

Earls Court 1975 wins by a mile!

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Tricky one, they are two quite different sets of shows. Both were huge events, especially here in the UK. They played better musically at Earls Court, especially Jimmy. But on the other hand, Robert is stronger at Knebworth... he's a bit squeaky on the last two Earls Court nights, which are the source for the DVD material. I also prefer the 1979 set list. So, if I could only have attended one... I'd have gone to Knebworth.

Both sets of shows would benefit from a fuller official release, which I doubt we'll see any time soon. The seond and third EC shows especially are neglected because we don't have professional recordings of them, but it's likely they exist, at least in part. Knebworth on the DVD does sound far better than the bootlegs; it's all from 4th August, but I suspect that a pro job would make much of the 11th August show sound far better too.

By the way, I wouldn't place any store by anything written by Stephen Davis. His books are riddled with errors, and his opinions aren't obviously informed by verifiable fact either. Listen to the music and make up your own mind!

 

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Robert was happily surprised by what Jimmy had done to the Knebworth sound and footage for the DVD - because, in his own words, 'that was a crap gig'!

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3 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

Personally, I think the 1975 Earls Court performances are among the best - by any band - in rock history.

The Knebworth Festival performances are solid but there's just no comparison to the Earls Court shows. 

Earls Court 1975 wins by a mile!

This.  It isn't even close; Earl's Court was the sound of an extraordinary band at their very peak, Knebworth is the sound of that same band four years later after devastating personal tragedy and rampant substance abuse had ravaged them, they were still great, and the first Knebworth show is immeasurably better than the second one, but they were a band whose peak had passed by that point, and unbeknownst to them, the end was nigh.  And after the horrific events of July 1977, when the band reemerged two years later, the swagger and bravado had gone, as had the long, improvisational onstage jams, 1977 didn't only very nearly kill the band outright, it crushed something inside that never grew back... they were never the same band again.

1 hour ago, Brigante said:

Robert was happily surprised by what Jimmy had done to the Knebworth sound and footage for the DVD - because, in his own words, 'that was a crap gig'!

Yeah, it's called studio tinkering, the raw boots of 4/8/79 don't sound so polished... and I'm not talking sound quality either.  Robert Plant is often his own worst critic, 4/8/79 wasn't too bad, a solid show overall ('Kashmir' was one for the ages though... WOW!), the second one was... uh, not as good.

Screw DVD  (and it's only-six Earl's Court numbers), I'm still  holding out for an official Earl's Court live album sometime in the future... hell, I'll not even mind if Kevin Shirley is back behind the mixing desk :D... those shows are simply too fantastic and too iconic to simply lie in the archives.

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Personally while the Earls Court shows may be better, they can sound a little weak at times. This is because the soundboard recording that is available is so lacking in depth or bottom end. Jimmy's guitar (which had a very bass-lite tone to begin with in 1975) is way ahead in the mix, and it makes the band sound tired I think. The songs from EC that are placed on the dvd sound much better simply because of the superior mix.

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Earls Court!  The band had so much swagger and confidence.  Jimmy was really playing well, too.

the first Knebworth is a good show, lots of highs, a few clunkers, but overall very good.

the 2nd Knebworth is in my book, an unmitigated disaster.  Jimmy was completely lost and unglued and barely able to play. Quite possibly his worst performance ever.

 

 

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Knebby on DVD works because it was edited in a concise way... The raw complete footage available is a much harder to digest. IMHO Earls Court rules because of the musical highpoints. One can easily compile a superb 3 CD album from the five  EC multi's....Knebworth is only a (very nice ) single disc 

 

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The Old Hermit hit the nail on the head, EC hands down for the reasons stated.

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Because we have video and not just audio - the visual aspect plays a part in why I'd check
the box next to Earl's Court.

Musically the stuff with Knebworth on the DVD isn't horrific by any means - however I find
watching it bittersweet, more bitter than sweet. Like somebody said: A certain element
appeared missing that had been there previously.  When you look at the footage from '79 -
it looked liked the band had aged so much more than 2 years.  Maybe it's the fact I know
Plant's son had passed and also Jimmy was swimming in herion very badly at that point.
The signs were there in '77, but come 79 it had taken a toll on him physically. It was a sign
of how rough it was going to be into the early 80's. I guess the Knebworth gigs are a bit of a
reminder that the end was closing in on the band.  Le sigh....

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It's a lot closer than people are making it out to be, and I also believe that Knebworth is stronger.

Yes, the band was more consistent at Earls Court, but I don't think any of the shows were exceptional.  Worse, I don't think any specific performances were exceptional (closest would probably be Stairway to Heaven on 25th or Kashmir on the 24th.)  These shows were by-the-numbers, and were outshone even by other shows in 75.  Vancouver, Seattle and New York all come to mind as runs that were better than Earls Court that year.

Although there were some poor performances at Knebworth on the 11th, the 4th was a stronger show than anything seen at Earls Court in 75.  Here were exceptional performances!  Kashmir, Achille's Last Stand and Sick Again could be argued to be the best performances of any of those songs they ever did.  I've also seen people mention No Quarter and Since I've Been Loving You as "best ever" renditions.

Earls Court didn't have low points like Knebworth, but it didn't meet any of the high points either. 

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For some reason the EC footage leaves me feeling cold. I've always enjoyed watching the Knebworth footage more. For all its failings I find it more entertaining. Probably down to the multiple camera angles and sense of occasion. 

In terms of just audio, I think that Seattle and other shows on the US tour are much better than EC. Especially Bonzo, who is unusually restrained in the EC shows.

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EC, hands down.  Better playing, set list, and vibe.  They were a band still at EC, at Knebworth onward they didn't seem that way to me.  The humor, camaraderie, and magick were gone.  Knebworth, and most shows going forward, felt like a reunion show to me.  

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Earls Court for me as well.From the videos and audio we have Knebworth seemed to have its inspired moments especially the first night.

Id like to hear someones opinion who was actually at Earls Court and Knebworth.Attending these string of shows Im sure gives a much different 

perspective and brings Knebworth much closer to Earls Court.

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Although personally I think the Earls Court shows are overrated (there are definitely much better shows from the West Coast US tour in March, and the mid-Feb shows from the first leg are also better), I agree with others here, this isn't even remotely close.  Earls Court are the last really good Zeppelin shows, and Knebworh was the band's dying breath. 

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45 minutes ago, JohnOsbourne said:

Earls Court are the last really good Zeppelin shows, and Knebworh was the band's dying breath. 

Someone hasn't heard Copenhagen 79.

I can understand where people are coming from when they say that the band lost some essential creative element later on in touring, but if you're making that argument you must admit the "breaking point" was the end of the 73 tour, certainly no later than that. 

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1 hour ago, ArmsofAtlas1977 said:

Someone hasn't heard Copenhagen 79.

I can understand where people are coming from when they say that the band lost some essential creative element later on in touring, but if you're making that argument you must admit the "breaking point" was the end of the 73 tour, certainly no later than that. 

Yes, I've heard the Copenhagen shows, I'm not impressed.  And I've always believed, Zep peaked in '73, but there were still sufficiently many good (sometimes great) performances in '75 to qualify as part of their golden era.  After that, not much really.  It wasn't just reduced creativity, either ('75 shows had problems in this regard), it was far too much poor playing (esp. by Page).  Not sure what point you're making?

 

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"Which is better, Earls Court or Knebworth?"

IMO, neither. As others have pointed out, they played better shows in 1975 than any of the Earls Court gigs, and either of the Copenhagen warm up shows (particularly the second night) wipe the fuckin' floor with either of the Knebworth shows.

I mean, don't get me wrong- if Page deigned to release an Earls Court or Knebworth performance in their entirety, and not merely the 'teasers' we got on the 2003 DVD, it'd be great, but I think a large part of the accolades those shows get is because they happen to be some of the few where pro shot/multitrack footage exists. In a perfect world we'd have pro-shot footage of, say, the March 21 '75 Seattle show and the July 24 '79 Copenhagen show.

Edited by Nutrocker

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It's horses for courses. Earls Court was a triumph for a band who had not toured the UK in 2 years. Knebworth was a further 4 years down the line and was slated by the press (naturally) but not from the fans who attended. The band had changed dramatically in those years

The last 2 nights at EC are terrific if not a bit overlong but what would you expect? We didn't have large arenas here at the time so naturally 5 nights at the largest indoor venue in the Capital was going to be big. I feel they pulled it off - but don't judge them on the sound that comes from the audio or DVD bootlegs. I am not keen on the sound that these have. If you really want to hear what the sound was like, check out the audience recording from the No Quarter ( Red Devil) boot. It is fantastic - especially the "woodstock" segment for Dazed. It is eerily good and very powerful

Earls Court was an inside big show - it was the first time the band had used the full Showco set up here and it blew everyone away. The Physical Graffiti stuff was new to most ears and they played with pride to the home crowd

Knebworth on the other hand was their first appearance for 4 years and a lot of new music had appeared in that time - the Punk and new wave movement was a complete change, especially in the UK, as was Zeppelin's sound. No wonder the band felt nervous. But too be fair loads of punters turned up at Knebworth for the first show, me included, and I still rate the show as a highlight of my life music wise. I bet no one who was in that field came away thinking "not that great"

The set list at EC would never had worked at Knebworth anyway. 35 minutes of Dazed? err no.

Take the shows for what they are and the timeline in which they were played. 4 years is a long time in music. 

 

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1 hour ago, chillumpuffer said:

It's horses for courses. Earls Court was a triumph for a band who had not toured the UK in 2 years. Knebworth was a further 4 years down the line and was slated by the press (naturally) but not from the fans who attended. The band had changed dramatically in those years

The last 2 nights at EC are terrific if not a bit overlong but what would you expect? We didn't have large arenas here at the time so naturally 5 nights at the largest indoor venue in the Capital was going to be big. I feel they pulled it off - but don't judge them on the sound that comes from the audio or DVD bootlegs. I am not keen on the sound that these have. If you really want to hear what the sound was like, check out the audience recording from the No Quarter ( Red Devil) boot. It is fantastic - especially the "woodstock" segment for Dazed. It is eerily good and very powerful

Earls Court was an inside big show - it was the first time the band had used the full Showco set up here and it blew everyone away. The Physical Graffiti stuff was new to most ears and they played with pride to the home crowd

Knebworth on the other hand was their first appearance for 4 years and a lot of new music had appeared in that time - the Punk and new wave movement was a complete change, especially in the UK, as was Zeppelin's sound. No wonder the band felt nervous. But too be fair loads of punters turned up at Knebworth for the first show, me included, and I still rate the show as a highlight of my life music wise. I bet no one who was in that field came away thinking "not that great"

The set list at EC would never had worked at Knebworth anyway. 35 minutes of Dazed? err no.

Take the shows for what they are and the timeline in which they were played. 4 years is a long time in music. 

 

Good points.Good post!:)

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