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Ranking The 1973 North American Shows


Bonzo_fan

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3 hours ago, Bonzo_fan said:

Yup...TSRTS is great, but imagine if the tapes had started rolling 10 day earlier¬†ūüė©¬†Glad to hear you're on a nice Zepp binge after such a long time away! ¬†You started your break when I was born¬†ūü§£

Thanks, man! And yeah, I'm an old fart haha. Or getting there, anyway. ūüėÄ

I'm just grateful we have that killer recording of Providence! 

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17 minutes ago, Paulus said:

I can't believe anyone would choose July 28th or 29th over July 27th.  Even with half the show missing July 27th is a masterpiece.

D&C and STH on the 27th are all-time greats, without question, probably best ever.  But the rest of the show is a bit lackluster, Heartbreaker in particular seems oddly truncated for some reason, usually it's a highlight of the last third of the show.  We unfortunately don't know how the first half of the 27th sounds, but the 28th is a bit of the opposite issue:  everything except D&C and STH are outstanding, the well-known NQ but also OTHAFA, HB, the Ocean, all smoking versions.  Even R&R is above average.  The 29th is probably the best of the three shows from start to finish, although with the possible exception of NQ no individual song is better than previous nights.  However there's the epic version of Thank You, that alone gives the 29th some serious props.  (Don't forget Bonham's epic drum solo to finish WLL.)

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2 hours ago, JohnOsbourne said:

D&C and STH on the 27th are all-time greats, without question, probably best ever.  But the rest of the show is a bit lackluster, Heartbreaker in particular seems oddly truncated for some reason, usually it's a highlight of the last third of the show.  We unfortunately don't know how the first half of the 27th sounds, but the 28th is a bit of the opposite issue:  everything except D&C and STH are outstanding, the well-known NQ but also OTHAFA, HB, the Ocean, all smoking versions.  Even R&R is above average.  The 29th is probably the best of the three shows from start to finish, although with the possible exception of NQ no individual song is better than previous nights.  However there's the epic version of Thank You, that alone gives the 29th some serious props.  (Don't forget Bonham's epic drum solo to finish WLL.)

Agreed. I actually think the 29th Dazed is very close to the 27th...was surprised to arrive at that conclusion, but I did after my anniversary listens this past July.

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Whole Lotta Love from the  27th is miles ahead of the other nights.  Jimmy, by his own admission, didn't sleep the whole time in New York.  After each show they bar hopped all night.  He was burnt out.  It showed after the first night.  Too bad really.  

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19 hours ago, Bonzo_fan said:

Agreed. I actually think the 29th Dazed is very close to the 27th...was surprised to arrive at that conclusion, but I did after my anniversary listens this past July.

STH from the 29th is also fantastic, although not as good as the 27th of course.  HB from the 29th kicks ass, much better than the 27th.

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1 hour ago, Paulus said:

Heartbreaker from July 29th is great but not as polished as the 27th. Jimmy seem to agree because TSRTS features only the 27th.  

Yes, but this never made sense to me.  The 27th seems like it was cut short suddenly, it's probably at least a minute shorter than the typical '73 version, and not particularly frenzied like usual.  Odd choice to me for an official release.  And to be clear:  the 28th HB is the best of the group.

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  • 1 month later...

After listening to the July shows for the past 3 months (with breaks to avoid burnout), I'm gonna take a crack at this. I decided to follow @JohnOsbourne's lead and just rank July. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, mainly because each show from July has a lot to offer. One key consideration I should mention is Plant's voice. The better shape his voice is in, the more likely I ranked the show higher. He's a big part of their sound for me. I don't like hearing croaks and squeals, I don't care how hot the band is. This is a big part of why I have Detroit 7-12 as low as it is (still a great show). I'm sure a year from now this list will be different, but for now here's my ranking: 

1. Providence

2. Pittsburgh

3. Baltimore

- these top 3 are all so close for me that they're interchangeable

4. Milwaukee

5. Boston - this is an incredible show. I actually think Vancouver below is a better performance, but there's such a fascinating dynamic with Boston - the ugly crowd and Zep feeding off each other, especially towards the end. I really think Page and the band took their rowdy energy and channeled it into a shit-kicking, face-melting show. The raucous WLL finale gives the thing a sense of much-needed closure (for the listener anyway, maybe not so much the Boston fans lol) which for me puts it above the abbreviated Vancouver.

6. Vancouver - I really love this show. My new fav OTH solo, incredible SIBLY, a unique and top tier NQ, unbelievable DAC, one of the top STH solos of the year

7. The MSG shows - yep, lumping them all together. we all already know the highlights

8. Seattle - I really like this show and was surprised it didn't rank higher, but that just shows how insanely hot Zep was at this time. Also, the slower tempo holds less of an appeal for me personally - which doesn't mean the show is inferior at all. I have a feeling as time goes on I'll get a deeper appreciation of this one and it will rise in the ranking.

9. St. Paul - love the loose vibe of this one, as mentioned by @Bonzo_fan and @JohnOsbourne. Bonzo is "on one" lol. Absolutely killer SIBLY, DAC and HB/WLL

10.Detroit 7-12

11. Chicago 7-7

12. Detroit 7-13

13. Buffalo

14. Chicago 7-6

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On 3/19/2022 at 5:41 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

D&C and STH on the 27th are all-time greats, without question, probably best ever.  But the rest of the show is a bit lackluster, Heartbreaker in particular seems oddly truncated for some reason, usually it's a highlight of the last third of the show.  We unfortunately don't know how the first half of the 27th sounds, but the 28th is a bit of the opposite issue:  everything except D&C and STH are outstanding, the well-known NQ but also OTHAFA, HB, the Ocean, all smoking versions.  Even R&R is above average.  The 29th is probably the best of the three shows from start to finish, although with the possible exception of NQ no individual song is better than previous nights.  However there's the epic version of Thank You, that alone gives the 29th some serious props.  (Don't forget Bonham's epic drum solo to finish WLL.)

7-29 is the best of the 3, start to finish, absolutely. If a full version of the 27th ever surfaces, that could change my opinion. But the run of RR through SIBLY is the most fun from this night to my ears. @Strider is bang on about CD. It's killer here and maybe best version of the year. Additionally, SRTS from the 29th is one of the best I've ever heard. I love the version from the soundtrack, but the one from the 29th is just smokin! It helps that the version of the boot available has Bonzo and Jonesy way up in the mix. The are killin it!  NQ from this night is fantastic and gives the classic soundtrack version a run for it's money imho. Same with STH. And of course we have a really great performance of TY.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 5/2/2022 at 2:08 PM, 1975NQ said:

7-29 is the best of the 3, start to finish, absolutely. If a full version of the 27th ever surfaces, that could change my opinion. But the run of RR through SIBLY is the most fun from this night to my ears. @Strider is bang on about CD. It's killer here and maybe best version of the year. Additionally, SRTS from the 29th is one of the best I've ever heard. I love the version from the soundtrack, but the one from the 29th is just smokin! It helps that the version of the boot available has Bonzo and Jonesy way up in the mix. The are killin it!  NQ from this night is fantastic and gives the classic soundtrack version a run for it's money imho. Same with STH. And of course we have a really great performance of TY.

I agree the MSG Dazed is one of the best ever as well as Song Remains the Same, that song is one I always go check out to see if the band is ON! If they play that song in unison--tightly, or "on fire" (usually Bonham dictates that in my opinion) it usually means the rest of the concert falls in line! But the La Forum June 3rd concert is for me the best concert of the US tour 1973 bar-none! It's so damn heavy and tight nothing else comes close . . . too bad it has such bad fluctuations throughout, it's such a tease to listen to it knowing it's soooo good!

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58 minutes ago, Tainted cheese said:

I agree the MSG Dazed is one of the best ever as well as Song Remains the Same, that song is one I always go check out to see if the band is ON! If they play that song in unison--tightly, or "on fire" (usually Bonham dictates that in my opinion) it usually means the rest of the concert falls in line! But the La Forum June 3rd concert is for me the best concert of the US tour 1973 bar-none! It's so damn heavy and tight nothing else comes close . . . too bad it has such bad fluctuations throughout, it's such a tease to listen to it knowing it's soooo good!

That's a great metric - gauging by SRTS, I like it! Funny you should mention that about Bonzo, I was just thinking the same thing earlier today. I was listening to SRTS from Providence, and he was really driving that thing! Maybe it was my imagination, but Pagey was sounding a tiny bit tired towards the middle section,, but with Bonzo driving that tempo he really pushed through and delivered. Obviously, Providence is one of his best nights of the tour so he def found his second wind lol. Or maybe never lost it in the first place. 

I'm with you on LA 6/3 - it's one of my favorite shows. I do think Page is playing at a. higher level in July, but it clearly was a special night, Plant sounds amazing, and the crowd is just insane. I would love for a sb of that one to surface. It's absolutely one of the best nights of the whole tour. I'm not sure where I'd place it vs the top tier July shows, but it would be way up there for sure. 

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Providence is another favorite of mine. I made a mistake with SRTS on that one, though. We only have 1-2 min of it from that night. The version I've been listening to lately edited in a version from another night to fill in the blanks, and I didn't catch it till today lol. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/3/2020 at 10:40 AM, JohnOsbourne said:

Nice list.  Generally in agreement w/the individual songs you mention, but I'd change the overall order of shows.  The second leg is my favorite tour ever, so I'm going to cheat and only go into detail for July:

1.  7-12 Detroit.  All-time great show, with an especially strong finish.
 

 

Still on my 73 kick 5 months later, focusing on July shows. Been listening to Detroit 7-12 quite a bit lately and thought I'd ask you about it since it's your favorite show for the tour. What puts it at number one for you? Any highlights? I love the atmosphere. I think it was a great crowd that night which inspired the entire band, and as per usual in July Jimmy is on another level. Highlights for me are RS, DAC and STH. Robert sounds a bit rough on STH, but it has that "it" quality for me, and I love the solo. Page sounds fantastic on NQ, but Bonham is being way too aggressive during the solo which throws it off for me. Page and JPJ roll with it, though lol. And of course WLL is a fun version with "Going Down" thrown in.

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On 6/23/2022 at 11:09 PM, 1975NQ said:

Still on my 73 kick 5 months later, focusing on July shows. Been listening to Detroit 7-12 quite a bit lately and thought I'd ask you about it since it's your favorite show for the tour. What puts it at number one for you? Any highlights? I love the atmosphere. I think it was a great crowd that night which inspired the entire band, and as per usual in July Jimmy is on another level. Highlights for me are RS, DAC and STH. Robert sounds a bit rough on STH, but it has that "it" quality for me, and I love the solo. Page sounds fantastic on NQ, but Bonham is being way too aggressive during the solo which throws it off for me. Page and JPJ roll with it, though lol. And of course WLL is a fun version with "Going Down" thrown in.

It's the last third of the show, I think Dazed, Stairway, Heartbreaker, and WLL (with Going Down and other ad libs you don't hear a lot) are all fantastic, some of the best versions of the tour to me.  To be honest, I kind of think the next night (the 13th, a great audience tape surfaced about two months after I posted the list you reference) is even better, at least the first two thirds of the show.  RnR, Celebration Day, SIBLY, TSRTS/RS and , NQ and are all great (NQ unfortunately has a cut in the middle when the taper switched cassettes, I guess).  Dazed from the 13th is out of this world, probably better than the previous night.  (Stairway through WLL are all great, but not as good as the 12th).  Plus this audience show now has a complete version of Dancing Days (the only version from the NA tour, there'd been a soundboard fragment for a long time).  Definitely check out the 13th, the two Detroit shows are to me the greatest stretch from the great month of July '73.  

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2 hours ago, JohnOsbourne said:

It's the last third of the show, I think Dazed, Stairway, Heartbreaker, and WLL (with Going Down and other ad libs you don't hear a lot) are all fantastic, some of the best versions of the tour to me.  To be honest, I kind of think the next night (the 13th, a great audience tape surfaced about two months after I posted the list you reference) is even better, at least the first two thirds of the show.  RnR, Celebration Day, SIBLY, TSRTS/RS and , NQ and are all great (NQ unfortunately has a cut in the middle when the taper switched cassettes, I guess).  Dazed from the 13th is out of this world, probably better than the previous night.  (Stairway through WLL are all great, but not as good as the 12th).  Plus this audience show now has a complete version of Dancing Days (the only version from the NA tour, there'd been a soundboard fragment for a long time).  Definitely check out the 13th, the two Detroit shows are to me the greatest stretch from the great month of July '73.  

Interesting .. I like the 12th better! Apples and oranges, I suppose. I've only heard the 13th all the way through maybe twice so I should give it another listen. I remember liking SIBLY the most from that night but being kind of "meh" on the rest of it. I'll give it another spin this weekend and pay close attention to Dazed. 

I've been on this hunt for a while now to find the perfect DAC from July 73 and realized recently .. there isn't one lol. There are a lot of fantastic versions that are all a bit unique in and of themselves which is a good thing. I love the variety, if that makes any sense.

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On 8/3/2020 at 1:40 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

11.  7-9 St Paul.  Another overlooked night.  Not the greatest by any means, but it's got some very nice, loose playing.

This show starts a bit sluggish but heats up soon thereafter, and finishes very strong. It's amazing how much they improved from the beginning to the end. This was one of my first bootlegs. I haven't listened to it in a long time, but I do remember it had a great SIBLY, with excellent atmosphere and audience ambience. I forget which version I have. Maybe Blues Quaaludes, but not sure.

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Great thread!

I defer to others for the fine distinctions among all 28 shows. I would only make two more broad-brush claims, which are just IMHO of course:

  1. Any 1973 U.S. list has to include June 3 in the top 3 IMHO. This show is just fantastic - the energy is off the charts and I find it just gets my heart racing every time. A soundboard of this show is one of my top grails.
  2. I can't speak to the specific quality of each individual MSG show, but I will say that I find the mash-up that ended up on The Song Remains the Same soundtrack to be first-rate, and the more I listen to it, the more I am convinced that the MSG performances are better than their reputation.

Again, this is just my $.02, and I appreciate the list and all the comments!

 

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On 8/3/2020 at 1:40 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

I'm probably in the minority here, but I think the LA-SF shows are a bit overrated. 

I agree with you. I've always been in the minority on this. To me, these shows suffer from some sloppy Page playing, maybe due to his infamously injury finger.

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On 10/24/2020 at 5:27 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

The soundboard for the last third doesn't do it justice, it doesn't capture the energy level.  Could easily make it to the top 5.

I used to hate soundboards because they were always so dry and the tone was terrible, not to mention they highlight the mistakes, especially Jimmy's, but nowadays people are remastering the soundboards so they sound great! My favorite is when they overlay an audience source over the soundboard and mix it just right, the result being excellent audio but with the slight ambience of the audience recording. Without the ambience the shows lose a lot of magic imo.

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On 6/25/2022 at 5:59 AM, JohnOsbourne said:

It's the last third of the show, I think Dazed, Stairway, Heartbreaker, and WLL (with Going Down and other ad libs you don't hear a lot) are all fantastic, some of the best versions of the tour to me.  To be honest, I kind of think the next night (the 13th, a great audience tape surfaced about two months after I posted the list you reference) is even better, at least the first two thirds of the show.  RnR, Celebration Day, SIBLY, TSRTS/RS and , NQ and are all great (NQ unfortunately has a cut in the middle when the taper switched cassettes, I guess).  Dazed from the 13th is out of this world, probably better than the previous night.  (Stairway through WLL are all great, but not as good as the 12th).  Plus this audience show now has a complete version of Dancing Days (the only version from the NA tour, there'd been a soundboard fragment for a long time).  Definitely check out the 13th, the two Detroit shows are to me the greatest stretch from the great month of July '73.  

Well, I listened to the 13th again ... twice lol. The entire show sounds much better than I remember from previous listens, particularly CD, SIBLY, NQ, SRTS/RS and DAC - basically all the songs you mention above. The solo for OTHAFA is killer as well. It's so weird how taking time off from a show and going back to it can help you hear it with fresh ears. I think previously I wrote the 13th off due to Plant's issues and Page being so low in the mix with a lot of the recording. But giving it another chance over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is. "No Quarter" and Dazed in particular are just knockout versions. They're both very unique and don't sound quite like any other version from July. God Bless Led Zep in July 73 lol. It really was an embarrassment of riches. I like how during that fadeout in the recording of the NQ solo it comes back .. and all of sudden Jimmy's guitar is up front in the mix. Wish the whole solo was as clear. Thanks for drawing my attention to this one. I'd have to agree it has an edge over the 12th.

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27 minutes ago, tmtomh said:

Great thread!

I defer to others for the fine distinctions among all 28 shows. I would only make two more broad-brush claims, which are just IMHO of course:

  1. Any 1973 U.S. list has to include June 3 in the top 3 IMHO. This show is just fantastic - the energy is off the charts and I find it just gets my heart racing every time. A soundboard of this show is one of my top grails.
  2. I can't speak to the specific quality of each individual MSG show, but I will say that I find the mash-up that ended up on The Song Remains the Same soundtrack to be first-rate, and the more I listen to it, the more I am convinced that the MSG performances are better than their reputation.

Again, this is just my $.02, and I appreciate the list and all the comments!

 

Totally agree on both points. I kind of wrote off the soundtrack for many years, and since my 73 US tour deep dive (regular part of my listening for 6 months now), I have a newfound appreciation for it. I got the 2018 remaster a few months back, and it's been in the car getting regular play ever since. SIBLY, NQ, SRTS/RS, DAC, STH, Ocean .. all time great versions of all those songs! 

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1 hour ago, 1975NQ said:

Well, I listened to the 13th again ... twice lol. The entire show sounds much better than I remember from previous listens, particularly CD, SIBLY, NQ, SRTS/RS and DAC - basically all the songs you mention above. The solo for OTHAFA is killer as well. It's so weird how taking time off from a show and going back to it can help you hear it with fresh ears. I think previously I wrote the 13th off due to Plant's issues and Page being so low in the mix with a lot of the recording. But giving it another chance over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is. "No Quarter" and Dazed in particular are just knockout versions. They're both very unique and don't sound quite like any other version from July. God Bless Led Zep in July 73 lol. It really was an embarrassment of riches. I like how during that fadeout in the recording of the NQ solo it comes back .. and all of sudden Jimmy's guitar is up front in the mix. Wish the whole solo was as clear. Thanks for drawing my attention to this one. I'd have to agree it has an edge over the 12th.

Oh yeah, they could do no wrong in July '73.  All we need now is the first half of the 27th.  

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5 hours ago, Christopher Lees said:

I agree with you. I've always been in the minority on this. To me, these shows suffer from some sloppy Page playing, maybe due to his infamously injury finger.

That's probably a big part of it, yeah, and the San Diego show (before he hurt his finger) is the best of the West Coast shows, IMO (unfortunate that no version of D&C exists).  Still, he played a lot better in LA and SF in '73 than in '75 with an injured finger.  (STH and CB in SF are great.)  There's just something about those shows that never lived up to their epic reputation, to me.  I feel like there were other shows from May that had more highlights.  

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