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The Psycho Strut! Led Zeppelin: Live in Chicago 4/7/77


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Part 2 in a continuum of Led Zeppelin concerts I witnessed in Chicago 1977. Onto the second night at the Chicago Stadium. It's Thursday, April 7th and the reviews are in from the opening night's show. The consensus was that the show was shaky and erratic, marred by equipment problems.  Though I had enjoyed it, I was hoping the Thursday show would be tighter.

  This evening's seats are first balcony, first row in the band's left side profile.  My sight line was from the lip of Bonzo's drum riser to the front edge of the stage. I would have these exact seats for Saturday's show. On with the show. I got to the Stadium a little earlier to soak it all in. The bizarre green flooring that covered the stage; Watching the lighting guys climbing up their rigs to man the spotlights; Jimmy's minimal pedal set-up with his wah wah and echoplex being double- checked by Ray Thomas. I thought it was great when I saw some roadie stocking an enormous cooler with vast quantities of Heineken beer. Of course it was set up five feet left of Bonzo's kit! Some more roadies scurry about and then the stage clears.

 As the lights are extinguished the surge in anticipation is phenomenal. You're leaving normal consciousness and entering the world of Zeppelin. That's fine with me. My vantage point allows me to see the band leave the backstage area and prepare to mount the stage. Jimmy's in white satin again and is led by flashlight to his stage mark. He's handed his Gibson double neck and hits a chord to commence the show. The Song Remains the Same once again kicks it off. A sole spotlight streaking across the Stadium to isolate Page as Bonzo and Jonesy slam the accents in tandem. Bonham is a fucking animal as he beats the shit out of his kit! In his blue sneakers and the tuxedoed get-up. Robert's wearing a brown blouse with tight jeans and you can see the light changes reflecting in Robert's hair. JPJ dressed cleanly in white. The energy is up as a animated Page attacks the solo with a vengeance and leads into a thick and heavy sounding The Rover. The slowier and funkier Sick Again follows. Jimmy moves and dances as one with his guitar. Swizzle stick thin he couldn't have weighed more than 130 lbs.

 Nobody's Fault But Mine is admirable and Robert concludes the song with a  Arabesque hand flourish. In My Time Of Dying is not played tonight. Since I've Been Loving You has Page, with a dangler hanging from his mouth, blasting out the blues power. Robert sounds incredible as he weaves his story. Moody organ enhances it all. Great band dynamics!

 Dry ice is pumped from the stage to signal No Quarter. JPJ alone in emerald light as he picks out the theme. Jimmy and Bonzo are bruising as they drive the riff. Robert's is displaying more controlled power vocally. Jonesy stands to switch to piano and plays a beautiful segment...what a musician! The improv section reveals Page is coming at it from another angle. Totally dissimilar in construction with the movie soundtrack version. Ten Years Gone does sound pristine and was superior to the prior night's version, with Page's echoplexed  b-bender solo much more coherent.  The sound problems that plagued opening night seem to have been ironed out. That's a good thing because the acoustic set then followed . Immaculate and dynamic, these series of songs really came across great! Battle of Evermore rang out and watching the band seated in a row jamming was priceless. This is a spellbinding rendition that has everyone cheering! A relaxed Going to California has Jonesy showing his mandolin chops. Black Country Woman/ Bron yr aur Stomp concluded the acoustic interlude powerfully. I was looking down atop Page, as he sat, immersed in guitar bliss.

  I was able to see more of the technical side because of my seats. The switching of guitars that took place; Page and Bonham conferring with Ray Thomas and Mick Hinton; How many beers they were drinking; Peter Grant watching the show by Page's side fills.

 White Summer/ Black Mt. Side kept Jimmy seated, bathed in gold light. It was a stellar version. Tuneful and emotive , Page was on target with Bonzo adding tabla drum feel. The Page/ Bonham interaction is revealing tonight. Their musical connection is so strong! Kashmir peels the paint as the crowd jumps to their feet pulled into the vortex of sound. It's loud but not distorted and they nail every break with conviction. Page is all over the place throwing himself about in time to the rhythm. Robert is such a commanding figure as his voice trails off into infinity. The magic of the band is really apparent here. Over the Top is concise tonight and I marvel at John Bonham's sound and ability, he was absorbed in his work and the fans loved it! I had a great angle of his drum kit motoring out to the front of the stage, amid explosions and lighting effects.

  Jimmy's Noise Symphony was next up and brought out The Psycho Strut. Perhaps something was ingested during their drum solo hiatus, but Page came back out fucking possessed! Jimmy duckwalked, got down on his knees, pointing at the crowd as a plectrum hung from his lip, He was controlling sound with his physical motion. Theramin tones that cut through you led into the violin bow section. A technician was manipulating lasers from behind Pagey's Marshalls, beaming them upward on an angle. The laser pyramid descended from above and the combination of dry ice, orange and emerald light was eerie! The bow climax sounded mint with Bonzo entering the fray wailing on his tympani. What a cauldron of sound! Achilles Last Stand is more composed tonight, but you can tell they're still finding their way on this one. Page missing a few pedal switches because his dancing had carried him to the other side of the stage!

  Before Stairway To Heaven, Robert corrects himself in regards to something he said the night before - " Sorry! I had a time lapse. We last toured here in 1975!" Jimmy plays the plaintive opening notes and the spell is cast. Everyone gelled on this one. Robert improvising the line" Does anyone remember forests?" Jimmy swings the doubleneck into an upright position to start the fanfare. Bonham's splashing symbols and then a sweet and soulful Page guitar solo. Jimmy somewhat stationary, executing fast Spanish flurries. Robert brings the song to it's conclusion and then a mammoth reaction. The band come to the front, acknowledging the crowd. Jimmy is dripping wet as he leaves the stage.

  When their 5 minute breather concludes, Zeppelin reappear for one more. It's Rock and Roll. A stock version which pleased all. This ended the Thursday evening show. A very compact and tight show . What I'll call Tightly Tight!

  Wait until what happens at the Saturday show. What a difference two days will make! Until then.........

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