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Guest WD52

Opening Up-some vague ramblings about set list starters.

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Guest WD52

It's quite interesting looking at how Zep opened shows as it signposts the tone they were setting and also where they were at musically. Obviously not all shows opened exactly the same on the various Tours, so my summaries are of what mostly opened up. 1969/70 shows had a bit of variety but shows generally opened with Good Times/Bad Times, I Can't Quit You and Heartbreaker (or Dazed)-or We're Gonna Groove, I Can't Quit You or Dazed-which suggests Zep saw themselves as primarily a heavy blues based band. Also the three songs have the oddity of slowing the gig down almost at once. 1971 saw a distinct change at the top but a return to blues almost straight after with shows mostly going Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed (or Since I've Been Loving You). Again after the assault of Immigrant Song, it just returns to a slower heavy- blues based run. 1972/3 saw a major shift in tone-shows starting Rock and Roll, Black Dog (or Celebration Song) and Over The Hills and Far Away make the band a very different musical proposition. Much faster and heavier followed by distinct light and shade. It's here I think Zeppelin really changes as a group. Opening up 1975 and 1977 are, to me, strange because of the second song-Sick Again. I assume the band really rated the song, but for me it just sucks all the energy out of the start-going Rock and Roll, Sick Again and Over the Hills (75) and Rock and Roll, Sick Again and Nobody's Fault but Mine (77) just doesn't appeal to me at all (I realise others may strongly disagree). Especially as some shows then went next to In My Time of Dying, which doesn't exactly fire along. I just would like to have heard a punchier song at number two. So personally I have a problem with the early pacing of the 75 and 77 shows. 1979/80 opens up The Train Kept a Rolling, Nobody's Fault But Mine and Black Dog-which should work, but their doesn't seem to be any drive and energy in any of the versions of 'Train' I have heard so the show just gets off to a half paced start. Obviously all the above are simply my opinion, but I would like to hear what others think!

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I don't have much time but I'll give my concise thoughts.

They opened with rock and roll for way too long, it was tired by '75, and often a painful listen due to Rob croaking his way through the song. 

TSRTS was a perfect opener and the segue into The Rover/Sick Again was a serious 1-2 punch. Sometimes I do wish though that the band had played the full version of The Rover. But man, just listen to any half decent aud of an above average '77 show, the opening salvo of TSRTS and Sick Again had the atmosphere at a fever pitch.

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RnR should have been dropped after the 73' tour for a different opening number. Thinking Custard Pie or Wanton Song for 75' but then re-shuffle the set list and either remove SA completely or place it deeper in the set. Put either Celebration Day or OTHAFA for song #2 in 75'.

Pro Tip: Don't start a major tour with your guitarist hamstringed with a broken ring finger.

Pro Tip #2: When your singer loses his voice due to the flu, postpone the tour, or, see pro tip #1.

I find it very, very hard to believe their tour contract from 75' or any year would not have contained a caveat should a band member be injured or sick and the tour need to be postponed. Plus, why start a tour before your new album is released? Some of these management decisions make no sense to me.

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3 hours ago, PeaceFrogYum said:

Some of these management decisions make no sense to me.

Like the man said, cocaine's a helluva drug.

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47 minutes ago, Nutrocker said:

Like the man said, cocaine's a helluva drug.

Tru. Tru.

I like Train Kept A Rollin as an opener throughout most of 68(?)69 and 80. RnR was tired by 75, but Sick Again was such a song of the time, which is why they probably put it in there. It was much more aggressively played in 79, later in the set, IMO. Kinda like Celebration Day when it wasn’t the 2nd song of the set. Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker did get old by ‘72 also, IMO. 

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I think "Train Kept A-Rollin'" was a stupid choice in 1980.  "Hots On For Nowhere" would've been cool, but probably too much of a deep cut.  I like "Sick Again" in the #2 slot actually, and as Walter says, it fit the times lyrically.  Agree that "Custard Pie," "The Wanton Song," or even "Houses Of The Holy" would've been cooler openers than "Rock And Roll" in '75.  I'm not sure I'd agree that "Immigrant Song" > "Heartbreaker" was tired in '72...that was one hell of an opening combo.  "The Song Remains The Same" > "Sick Again" would be tied with that as their best opener IMO. 

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7 hours ago, PeaceFrogYum said:

RnR should have been dropped after the 73' tour for a different opening number. Thinking Custard Pie or Wanton Song for 75' but then re-shuffle the set list and either remove SA completely or place it deeper in the set. Put either Celebration Day or OTHAFA for song #2 in 75'.

Pro Tip: Don't start a major tour with your guitarist hamstringed with a broken ring finger.

Pro Tip #2: When your singer loses his voice due to the flu, postpone the tour, or, see pro tip #1.

I find it very, very hard to believe their tour contract from 75' or any year would not have contained a caveat should a band member be injured or sick and the tour need to be postponed. Plus, why start a tour before your new album is released? Some of these management decisions make no sense to me.

Yes I have often wondered this re the tour myself.

Same with the lack of professional recordings/filming the band had done of their concerts. PG was a great manager, and without him, maybe we're not on this forum dissecting and discussing a band that has ceased to exist since 1980. One cannot deny the questionable decisions regarding your points made above though.

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Guest WD52

For 1977 I think Achilles (without guitar noise) would have been a great opener-the first few chords in darkness then *bam* full light show and into the song.

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My probably unpopular opinion- Sick Again was never a good song, studio or live. I don't know why they tried to make that song work so much. It just wasn't as catchy as they thought it was. It got by in 75 because it was new, but after that they should've switched it out. 

More to the topic, opening with RnR in 75 was a major mistake. But then again several mistakes were made in 75.

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Rock n Roll just sounded so damn tired in '75. I always skip it when listening to a '75 show.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

My probably unpopular opinion- Sick Again was never a good song, studio or live. I don't know why they tried to make that song work so much. It just wasn't as catchy as they thought it was. It got by in 75 because it was new, but after that they should've switched it out. 

 

Completely disagree. Sick Again is one of my favs in all years they performed it.

Keep in mind, most of this analysis of their live sets is done from hearing poor quality tapes. Being there live in concert is 100% different.

Edited by zeplz71

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They should have had about 15/20 songs that they used in a varied rotation for openers and closers and the acoustic set.  Then had a somewhat structured main body of their set lists.  They could have swapped out those 15/20 songs and at least had different openers and closes and encores from night to night especially for the later tours when the did 2, 3, 4, 6 shows in the same cities.   6 nights of the same set list would get old after a while for the bands and crowds  

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Guest WD52
6 hours ago, zeplz71 said:

Completely disagree. Sick Again is one of my favs in all years they performed it.

Keep in mind, most of this analysis of their live sets is done from hearing poor quality tapes. Being there live in concert is 100% different.

You raise an interesting point-people listening at the gig are likely to be in a heightened emotional state, whereas listening to a gig is a quantifiably different experience. I doubt anyone at a gig to see a band they love is going to apply the same kind of critical listening as someone listening one step removed. But there are enough good sounding bootlegs to make a personal judgement-and for me 'Sick Again' just doesn't work that early in the set. 

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, PeaceFrogYum said:

RnR should have been dropped after the 73' tour for a different opening number. Thinking Custard Pie or Wanton Song for 75' but then re-shuffle the set list and either remove SA completely or place it deeper in the set. Put either Celebration Day or OTHAFA for song #2 in 75'.

Pro Tip: Don't start a major tour with your guitarist hamstringed with a broken ring finger.

Pro Tip #2: When your singer loses his voice due to the flu, postpone the tour, or, see pro tip #1.

I find it very, very hard to believe their tour contract from 75' or any year would not have contained a caveat should a band member be injured or sick and the tour need to be postponed. Plus, why start a tour before your new album is released? Some of these management decisions make no sense to me.

"Physical Graffiti" was originally scheduled to be released in November 1974, with the tour starting January 1975.

Problems with getting the album cover and the die-cut sleeve correct delayed the album's release until February.

Why not reschedule the tour until after February, you ask? I have already explained at length on other threads why rescheduling the 1975 tour would have been a nightmare. One look at that 1975 tour schedule should give you an idea at the logistical logjam they faced just getting the tour scheduled as it was.

Look at the way the Northeast dates are all scattered. The Madison Square Garden and Nassau dates are spread out instead of concurrent. Same with the L.A. dates. They hit Long Beach for two shows then disappear to the Pacific Northwest before coming back to the Forum at the end of the month.

As I have said before, Jethro Tull was on a major tour in the winter of 1975 as well...they played five nights at the L.A. Forum. Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Yes, ZZ Top, Rod Stewart & the Faces, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and more had albums and major tours scheduled for 1975. All of these bands were arena-level sized...they needed the Forum, Long Beach Arena, Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Landover Capitol Center, the Philadelphia Spectrum, Chicago Stadium, Boston Garden, Minnesota Met Center,  Indianapolis Market Square Arena, and so on for venues to play. Like Led Zeppelin, the big draws...Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Elton John...all needed multiple dates in major cities to handle the demand for tickets. 

Also remember that many of these venues had basketball and hockey teams to schedule during the winter and spring months. With playoffs, hockey and basketball seasons extended into May. Don't forget, it wasn't just the NBA...the ABA was still around at this time, too.

But just because the basketball and hockey seasons end doesn't mean you get a clear slate. An arena doesn't go dark once their sports teams stop playing. For an arena to survive it has to book events year-round. Political conventions, religious conventions, commercial conventions, roman orgies, indoor track-and-field events, gymnastics, figure skating competitions, every dog and pony show of every stripe and colour.

Now, Pink Floyd already had their 1975 Spring-Summer tour dates locked up. The Rolling Stones had their 1975 Summer dates set. If Led Zeppelin had tried to reschedule their tour it would have been a nightmare and the itinerary would have been a logistical mess, with little chance for the band to achieve momentum.

Their only choice would have been to postpone the tour until later in the year...the fall of 1975. But then, the momentum of having a new album would be gone and they still would have been up against basketball and hockey, as their seasons begin in the fall. 

As for touring before the album was released, Led Zeppelin was doing that since 1970. The 1970 Summer tour started in August while Led Zeppelin Iii, originally scheduled for a July release, didn't come out until October.

1971...same thing. Tour starts in August. Album delayed until November.

1972. They started playing Houses of the Holy songs nearly a year before the album was released.

Edited by Strider

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, WD52 said:

For 1977 I think Achilles (without guitar noise) would have been a great opener-the first few chords in darkness then *bam* full light show and into the song.

I agree that it would have been exhilarating, but Achilles is a very demanding song for all four of them. I think it would have been much more inconsistently/sloppily performed had it been the opener. Opening with TSRTS was ambitious enough, let alone Achilles. Opening with a 10 minute song is also pretty unusual unless you're the Grateful Dead or some jam band that came after them.  Rattling off a couple high energy ones in quick succession right off the bat gives the show a sense of momentum.  Look at NA '73: at the start of the tour, in the first 17-18 minutes, they'd already been through RAR > CD > BD > OTHAFA without coming up for air, and even when they started pausing before OTHAFA, Plant's comments were very brief and kept the train rolling.

Edited by Bonzo_fan

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Guest WD52

I do think the NA '73 Tour had the best balance of opening songs.

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OP mentions they opened up with GT/BT. I thought they never played it live except for snippets and medleys. Am I wrong here?

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31 minutes ago, Wolfman said:

OP mentions they opened up with GT/BT. I thought they never played it live except for snippets and medleys. Am I wrong here?

You are correct. In late 1969 they would sometimes open the concert by playing the opening bars to "Good Times Bad Times" before going into "Communication Breakdown". But the most complete versions of "Good Times Bad Times" came in the "Communication Breakdown" and "Whole Lotta Love" medleys during the 1970 and 1971 tours, where Plant would actually sing the lyrics and chorus.

"Train Kept a Rolling", "Communication Breakdown", and "We're Gonna Groove" were the most common openers during 1969.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Strider said:

"Physical Graffiti" was originally scheduled to be released in November 1974, with the tour starting January 1975.

Problems with getting the album cover and the die-cut sleeve correct delayed the album's release until February.

Why not reschedule the tour until after February, you ask? I have already explained at length on other threads why rescheduling the 1975 tour would have been a nightmare. One look at that 1975 tour schedule should give you an idea at the logistical logjam they faced just getting the tour scheduled as it was.

Look at the way the Northeast dates are all scattered. The Madison Square Garden and Nassau dates are spread out instead of concurrent. Same with the L.A. dates. They hit Long Beach for two shows then disappear to the Pacific Northwest before coming back to the Forum at the end of the month.

As I have said before, Jethro Tull was on a major tour in the winter of 1975 as well...they played five nights at the L.A. Forum. Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Yes, ZZ Top, Rod Stewart & the Faces, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and more had albums and major tours scheduled for 1975. All of these bands were arena-level sized...they needed the Forum, Long Beach Arena, Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Landover Capitol Center, the Philadelphia Spectrum, Chicago Stadium, Boston Garden, Minnesota Met Center,  Indianapolis Market Square Arena, and so on for venues to play. Like Led Zeppelin, the big draws...Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Elton John...all needed multiple dates in major cities to handle the demand for tickets. 

Also remember that many of these venues had basketball and hockey teams to schedule during the winter and spring months. With playoffs, hockey and basketball seasons extended into May. Don't forget, it wasn't just the NBA...the ABA was still around at this time, too.

But just because the basketball and hockey seasons end doesn't mean you get a clear slate. An arena doesn't go dark once their sports teams stop playing. For an arena to survive it has to book events year-round. Political conventions, religious conventions, commercial conventions, roman orgies, indoor track-and-field events, gymnastics, figure skating competitions, every dog and pony show of every stripe and colour.

Now, Pink Floyd already had their 1975 Spring-Summer tour dates locked up. The Rolling Stones had their 1975 Summer dates set. If Led Zeppelin had tried to reschedule their tour it would have been a nightmare and the itinerary would have been a logistical mess, with little chance for the band to achieve momentum.

Their only choice would have been to postpone the tour until later in the year...the fall of 1975. But then, the momentum of having a new album would be gone and they still would have been up against basketball and hockey, as their seasons begin in the fall. 

As for touring before the album was released, Led Zeppelin was doing that since 1970. The 1970 Summer tour started in August while Led Zeppelin Iii, originally scheduled for a July release, didn't come out until October.

1971...same thing. Tour starts in August. Album delayed until November.

1972. They started playing Houses of the Holy songs nearly a year before the album was released.

This one we will have to disagree on as #1 priority is to look after the health of the band. It does not matter how difficult it is to reschedule a tour, if your guitar player breaks a finger, you reschedule the tour. If your singer cannot sing, you reschedule the tour. That is unless you want to ruin your singers already ruined voice and possibly permanently damage your guitarists fretting hand.

Pardon me if I am wrong but with the exception of LZ I cannot think of another band or even performer who ever played a tour under such conditions. The long term potential damage for what is in affect a business is just too profound a risk IMO.

Edited by PeaceFrogYum

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5 hours ago, PeaceFrogYum said:

This one we will have to disagree on as #1 priority is to look after the health of the band. It does not matter how difficult it is to reschedule a tour, if your guitar player breaks a finger, you reschedule the tour. If your singer cannot sing, you reschedule the tour. That is unless you want to ruin your singers already ruined voice and possibly permanently damage your guitarists fretting hand.

Pardon me if I am wrong but with the exception of LZ I cannot think of another band or even performer who ever played a tour under such conditions. The long term potential damage for what is in affect a business is just too profound a risk IMO.

Now, now, now. Just because I gave you the rationale does not mean I agree with Peter Grant's decision. But it is kind of a moot point at this point, 45 years after the fact. Peter Grant put them on the road, health be damned, and they soldiered on the best they could.

Who's to say what would have happened if they had waited until 1976 or Robert's voice healed completely before touring? They were tax exiles so maybe Robert Plant has his Greek car crash earlier in the year? Or maybe it never happens.

But if I had been Peter Grant I would have exercised more caution and not put Plant under the strain so soon. "Physical Graffiti" was going to sell a ton, tour or no tour, so the band would have had income coming in that year even without a tour. But Grant ran the band like a bunch of pirates. There was little thought of future concerns or long-term business models. Rock and roll at that time was a wild ride with the last man standing the winner. it was not a commodity to be traded on Wall Street and worrrying about your future growth. 

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Any love for the shows they opened with We're Gonna Groove? I LOVE watching Bonzo on the drums during the RAH show. They only opened with this a handful of times and am glad we have what we do. 

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On 8/19/2020 at 5:10 PM, PeaceFrogYum said:

RnR should have been dropped after the 73' tour for a different opening number. Thinking Custard Pie or Wanton Song......

I like this 👆guy 

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