Earls Court Arena
May 24, 1975
He Must Be Dazed And Confused
Led Zeppelin at Earls Court - May 24, 1975
Led Zeppelin's fourth concert at Earl's Court back in 1975 can't be described in any other way than sheer brilliance. For three hours and thirty-three minutes, they pounded a thirsty British audience who'd been starving for their return to England with a salvo of cuts from their double album 'Physical Graffiti' interspersed with their catalog of hits. Introduced by Nicky Hopkins with "your mother wouldn't like it", it was evident right from the start of the show that the band were going to captivate their mostly youthful audience despite the fact that the cameras were rolling.
The band settled into a tight groove from the opening track 'Rock And Roll' and they never let up. Lead singer Robert Plant, with his Indian arrowhead necklace, belted out all the songs with ease with just a few hints during the show of his recovered flu from the U S Tour that ended just two months prior. Alongside Plant was Jimmy Page, dressed in a black dragon suit that made him appear at times as if he was literally on fire on either of his sides and musically, that was definitely apparent as well. With his bell-bottom cuffs engulfing his entire shoe legnth whenever he bent his legs, he fingered off a blazing guitar solo during 'Over The Hills And Far Away' all the while coming dangerously close to getting hit in the face by his own necklace. This iconic image had every male kid in 1975 wanting to get a pair of the widest bell-bottoms possible!
The Zeppelin Earl's Court marathon was full of drama and pent-up tension. Page extended his arm horizontally across the audience from left to right after he fired off the first slide guitar note verse to 'In My Time Of Dying' and he's backed up by the best rhythm section in rock that can best be described as a well-oiled machine. In fact the rhythm section was so hot I expected bass player John Paul Jones to loose one of his onions that dangled from his shoulders who's purpose is perhaps to
ward off vampires. Blood sucking vampires? No. Perhaps the press? Maybe.
As the crowd was still trying to recuperate after the first four tracks, Plant settled into a playful mood with both his band and the audience, making the comment "Well, alright Johnny Bonham!" Plant introduced the next song 'The Song Remains The Same' by commenting "if you give it, you get it back" and the adrenaline rush then flew right off the scale. The audience had been giving and so got it right back! The barrage of electrifying double-necked chords and notes peeled off by guitarist Jimmy Page throughout the song were enough to leave any of their nearest competitors decimated. This song has enough power and energy to move mountains with it's relentless sound waves and again Page has the backing band to help hammer it all home. This version is thunderous due to the ambience of the hall and Bonham's wrists.
But Zeppelin also have the ability that few other band's possess to slow it all down a bit without boring their audience (or pissing them off) while at the same time still make it exciting as in the next track 'The Rain Song'. Plant's voice echoes both naturally due to the hall's ambience and with special vocal fx. Bonham adds his signature touch by smashing his Paiste gong and Robert Plant licks his finger and forges on with the next verse of lyrics. Plant purposely stutters "Just...just...just a little rain" now and then to emphasize certain words in the song lyrics for maximum effect. This is why
a Led Zeppelin concert becomes an event. Dynamics. Light and shade. From a whisper to hell-fire.
The powerful 'Kashmir' was next after a Bonham "2...3...4" count in, with it's far east trappings that ensnare the listener throughout the song's length with it's hypnotic, addictive beat. Plant again stutters with "bbbbbbb....baby! Star Delight!" before he unleashes an echoed "Where I'll be!" It's worthy of note to mention the tight interplay between Page and Bonham before Plant set's about moving the track near completion with "Sure as the dust that blows high in June.....when moving through Kashmir". Although the song moved along a tad slow, it still was breathtaking as hour one finished. Plant jokes with the audience that "If you take the A449 past Droitwich and take the third turnoff on the right, it's just up the road a little with a white fence."
To kick off hour number two was the ever solid John Paul Jones who is featured on 'No Quarter'. You easily get a sense for how good he really is when the dry ice machine get's a little carried away and Mr. Jones is unable to see his piano yet still somehow manages to come away without playing a single sour note. Things only get better when he stands up and switches to another piano which ushers in a wonderful jam exchange between him, Page and Bonham which ends with the crowd going nuts. As Plant starts the final brooding verse, he stomps three times on the stage with his right foot for added drama and then belts out "They choose the path where no one dares.....oh, what misery without quarter." Plant again belts out a 'natural' repetitive echoed "Give it to me" with the entire sentence sung real fast about ten times as Page waves his arm laterally along the crowd on the last played chord. Fantastic! Talk about drama!
Up next was the wonderful 'Tangerine' as Jimmy Page played the song on the upper twelve string electric guitar and this gets a huge round of applause from the audience and they more than readily will enjoy the acoustic set which was brought back from the past but wasn't played on the 1975 U S Tour which is what makes these Earls Court shows even more intimate. The wonderful 'Going To California' was next with the multi-talented John Paul Jones on mandolin and any Zep fan can see why the band always ran to Jonesy when they couldn't quite work out how they were going to polish off a track and he's more than reliable. The joyful 'That's The Way' was next with as Plant worded it 'stage chairs supplied by habitat'. The acoustic set comes to a close with 'Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp' after Plant introduced it with "the blues as in 'clichés, toupees and three plays'. John Bonham clearly wants to sing on the track and Plant quips with "Can we have some blues from Bonzo?" Plant tells of the song's story about his blue eyed dog who 'keeps his mouth shut'. When the acoustic set is over, Plant slips out the joke "Are ya' alright, Wally?"
It's at this point in the show that one really learns just how captivating and sensational Led Zeppelin are when they unleash the next song 'Trampled Under Foot'. Guitarist Page keeps bending his left knee in order to press down on the wah wah pedal while Plant preens across the front of the camera, all the while with stage bathed in kaleidoscopic twirling lights in six different colors. It's a far-out spaced-out colorful journey. So good that you don't even want the song to ever stop! Plant fires off another natural echoed "Give it to me....give it to me.....give it to me....yeah!" followed by several senetences of 'Gallows Pole' lyrics and it fits in well with the songs driving beat. The crowd goes bonkers and are overcome with emotion when it's finished. And Zeppelin have by now surely pummeled their audience all of hour number two! No let-up.
Then it was time for the 'master of the skins' to demonstrate his proficiency at the drum stool. John Bonham pounded out another great 'Moby Dick' performance. The drum solo contains about five parts and gets rolling with snare drum and floor toms all played with sticks. But then Bonham alternates with his left hand by hitting different floor/rack toms all the while complicating the beats by stopping and then starting up the snare drum. He then cleverly places his left-hand stick on the snare drum at a 45 degree angle and then taps on it with his right-hand stick all the way down the legnth of that stick while keeping pressure on the snare head before a sudden outburst of floor toms! The next part of the solo involves knurling up his left thumb and pressing down on the top of the snare drum followed by bare-handed strikes of the rack toms and gong! For the next part of his solo, Bonham plays two tympani's with sticks and a phaser effect is added while he presses on their foot pedals. He even taps on the tympani rims and their side mounting brackets. I even caught him playing 'Whole Lotta Love' with the drums and finally Page joins him on stage as he unleashes a flurry of strikes while criss-crossing his arms! As the band wait for him to finish with a last drum strike, he stands up and twirls his sticks at them and brings the drum track to a close! What a climactic ending!
The crowd, already 'dazed' by Bonham's drum solo then find themselves at Jimmy Page's mercy in what will become a 31 minute guitar extravaganza in 'Dazed And Confused'. This half-hour plus opus has everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. It includes plectrum scrapes, wah wah, hammer-ons, pull-offs, power chords, violin bow, echo, crypton lasers, dry ice, lightening-fast high-pitched in-your-face guitar notes and enough dance moves that will seal the deal for all-time as to who the best rock guitarist in rock is. This nice spacey version includes many exploratory excursions causing Plant to comment afterwards about all it's plots and time signatures and a very eerie and lively 'Woodstock' insertion highlighted by Plant's "We are star dust. We got to get ourselves back to the Garden" (Of Eden or Madison Square perhaps!). There is nothing else in rock that compares to it whether it's the '72, '73 or '75 live versions and even all previous versions from the late 60's and early 70's. There will be one more showing next show before it is retired. Zep were looking toward the future.
The show ends with the melodramatic 'Stairway To Heaven' and this has got to be the best live version of the song ever recorded. For me the jury's still out on that one as I have yet to finish listening to every live show there is but it will probably top them all! The guitar solo is Jimmy Page at his brilliant outstanding best and it leaves one asking why this show still sits in the vaults. After three hours of no bullshit opening acts, Led Zeppelin slayed their audience and now, at the three hour plus mark, they close out this marathon with their most beloved track. The fans scream and stomp for over seven minutes before the band return to the stage for two encores. The heavy-hitting 'Whole Lotta Love' kicks off the first encore with it's James Brown 'Sex Machine' middle medley and a very striking Plant/Page theramin battle leaving all wondering whether Plant or Page won the battle. The show closes out with 'Black Dog' which was filled with energy both in the rhythm section and Page's soloing. Wow! If you're like me and can't stand watching a boring movie and only watch academy award winners or nominators, then you go ahead and apply the same with music and music videos. Who wants to waste their time watching a boring act? Then you're best directed to watch a show like this. If your co-worker or neighbor says to you "You need to get out of the 70's man", simply respond "For what? Poodle rock"? This is why Zep fans never get enough. Outstanding! Tops! (review by Kenneth Winovich)
Earls Court Arena
May 25, 1975
Zeppelin Express Physical Rocket
The final Earl's Court show, the final 1975 show, and the last ever performance of Dazed And Confused. The initial string of numbers are high powered and aggressive! No Quarter is a really great jam and the acoustic section is pretty good. Moby Dick and Dazed are rather boring however, which is sad and rather unfitting as it is the last ever performance of the latter. Stairway To Heaven was dedicated to Plant's daughter: "Carmen - this song's to a little girl who sits probably wondering what it all about ... so, where is the bridge? Well, Carmen, were's your chance to find out where the bridge is ... and if you know, please let me know after the show." The solo is wonderful and the encores contain a tortured Theremin solo from Jimmy before the extra songs are played for the last night's sake.
The band's fifth and final night at Earls Court begins with Alan 'Fluff' Freeman announcing "we are here tonight because you and I have great taste" before Rock and Roll crashes into motion. Page blazes through the second guitar solo in Sick Again. As the song ends, Plant announces "good evening and welcome to the last concert in England for a considerable time." Page shreds frantically through an excellent guitar solo during Over the Hills and Far Away. In My Time of Dying is introduced as "an old work chant." Page solos wildly as Bonzo and Jones pummel the crowd. An incredibly powerful performance, one of the best thus far.
Bonzo is on fire during The Song Remains the Same, thrashing at his drums with wild abandon as Page's fingers race across the fretboard. The Rain Song is absolutely fantastic, one of the best in recent memory. Jones's somber piano solo during No Quarter features hints of Concierto de Aranjuez. The instrumental section is an epic journey. The band receives a thunderous ovation as the piece comes to a close. The climax is reached during the blistering outro. An outstanding performance. Page plays a bit of Tea For One as Plant introduces Tangerine. Going to California is delicately beautiful. Jones's mandolin work is fantastic. Plant makes a few references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, asking the crowd "what is a shrubbery amongst friends?" before an excellent That's the Way.
The band gets into a bit of Robert Johnson's If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day before Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. Plant gives the crowd a brief history of Johnson's life before introducing Trampled Underfoot. Page shreds erratically through an aggressive guitar solo. Bonzo is introduced as "our blood brother" before a particularly thunderous Moby Dick. Plant says a few kind words about Peter Grant before introducing Dazed and Confused as "the essence of the early Zeppelin." The San Francisco interlude is hauntingly mournful. Plant's ghostly howls echo through the arena. Page's fingers are like razor blades as he slashes and shreds through the frantic guitar solo/workout section. Plant can be heard exclaiming "amen!" off-mic during the call and response section. Page solos wildly during the outro jam. A somewhat uneven final performance of the band's signature song.
Plant dedicates Stairway to Heaven to his daughter Carmen, saying "this is a song to a little girl who sits there, probably wondering what it's all about." Page delivers an excellent guitar solo despite breaking a string near the end. Plant sings the final line in complete silence. As the band returns to the stage, Plant says "is this our swan song, I wonder?" Page hints at Ozone Baby following an excellent funky jam during Whole Lotta Love. Plant unleashes a series of blood-curdling screeches during the violent theramin freakout. Page's fingers get a bit sticky during the extended guitar solo in Black Dog. As the song ends, Plant announces "good citizens of Great Britain, it's been five glorious days... thank you very much for bein' a great audience, and if you see Denis Healey, tell him we've gone."
Plant exclaims "this is somethin' we never do!" as the band returns to the stage once again, joking "any requests?" Page blazes through the fast guitar solo during Heartbreaker. Plant pushes his voice to the limit during the final verse. The band closes the show with an explosive Communication Breakdown. Plant does his best Jamaican accent during a fantastic funky breakdown. As the band leaves the stage for the final time, he announces "thank you very much for showin' us that England is still alive and well." A fantastic finale to 1975. Must hear.