Madison Square Garden
New York City, NY
01. Rock And Roll
02. Sick Again
03. Over The Hills And Far Away
04. In My Time Of Dying
05. The Song Remains The Same
06. The Rain Song
08. No Quarter
09. Trampled Underfoot
10. Moby Dick
11. Dazed And Confused
12. Stairway To Heaven
13. Whole Lotta Love
14. Black Dog
15. Communication Breakdown
Led Zep Shows Why They’re One of the Great Ones
It’s been a long time since we rock and rolled, bellowed Robert Plant as Led Zeppelin stepped on stage at Madison Square Garden last night, for the first of six shows (three at the Garden, three at Nassau Coliseum), over the next two weeks. It’s actually been a year and a half since Led Zep’s last appearance. In the meantime, their cult has become so enormous that this is the longest and largest stand and rock group has ever done locally.
What’s up for grabs is the title of world’s greatest rock and roll band. There are only two other serious challengers, Rolling Stones and the Who. The Who have not made a major album in three years. In the last five years, the Stones have made four great ones, but only three of their six releases have sold 1,000,000 copies or more. Led Zeppelin have only made five albums – with a sixth shortly to be released – and all of them have sold more than a million copies. One of them, their fourth, sold over 2,000,000. The Stones may have the rep, but Led Zep have the numbers. (D. Marsh, NY Newsday Feb. 75)
The first tour show in New York and the first 1975 performance of Dazed And Confused, not played live since July 29th, 1973 at the same venue. This show is the first one from North America 1975 at which Dazed And Confused was performed. Page sounds great at this show, playing with confidence - albeit some caution here and there - considering his finger injury was only a few weeks previous; Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song each reveal speed of his healing. Songs are generally shorter or abbreviated compared to what they would be in the next month or so, though (Dazed And Confused has only 20 minutes, No Quarter only 14 and Whole Lotta Love barely 1 minute flat). And as the tapers are heard to remark about Robert Plant this is one of those 1975 shows where his vocal sound really doesn't rise above mediocre. If one can tune out Plant's rasp this is a really enjoyable concert, plenty of atmosphere.
The tape begins with a lot of whooping and hollering from the tapers before someone onstage announces "the American return of Led Zeppelin." One of the tapers can be heard saying "fuck the sodas man, light up the jay" as Rock and Roll crashes into motion. The first verse is met with shouts of "louder!" and "his voice sounds like shit!" as they struggle to find their matches. Page's fingers get a bit sticky during the guitar solo at the end of Sick Again. As the song ends, Plant asks the crowd "what ever happened to nice warm weather? it's so cold!" adding "nevermind, I think we can overcome that tonight."
Over the Hills and Far Away is devastatingly heavy. Page shreds wildly through an erratic guitar solo. Plant's voice is still rough, but slowly improving. One of the tapers can be heard saying "double neck guitar, man... that's a fine-lookin' piece of machinery" as Plant is introducing The Song Remains the Same. Page blazes through the guitar solos as Bonzo hammers at his drums with incredible intensity. Plant's injured voice lends a beautifully mournful tone to a fantastic performance of The Rain Song.
Following Kashmir, Plant tells the crowd "that was a little piece called Kashmir" joking "it costs about twenty dollars a kilo." No Quarter is introduced as "a nice wintery number." Plant describes Trampled Underfoot as having "vague sexual connotations, in that it's linked with an automobile" adding "it's an old pink truck." Before Moby Dick, Bonzo is introduced as "the man that made Led Zeppelin a myth... or a farce." One of the tapers can be heard saying "Bonham's really freakin' out, man" during the marathon drum solo.
How Many More Times has been dropped from the setlist to make way for the return of Dazed and Confused, which makes its first appearance since 7/29/1973, eighteen months earlier on this very stage. Page isn't quite up to speed yet, his fingers get stuck in the strings during the lead-in to the bow solo. The band seems a bit lost toward the end of the San Francisco interlude. Plant repeatedly moans "her face is cracked from smilin'" as Page begins the bow solo. Things get a bit disjointed during the abbreviated guitar solo/workout section, no one seems to remember the arrangement. The return to the main riff is a disaster. An uneven first attempt.
Page blazes through the guitar solo during Stairway to Heaven. Black Dog is excellent, Page's fingers race across the fretboard during the guitar solo. The show-closing Communication Breakdown is preceded by an impromptu funky jam, including lyrics from I Wish You Would. As the band leaves the stage, Plant tells the crowd "we'd lke to give you a big round of applause, you've been grand." Overall, a strong performance with a few weak spots.
The tape is clear and well-balanced. However, the tapers' running commentary can be a bit distracting at times.