Thursday, September 25, 2014

Led Zeppelin - 1977-04-27 - Cleveland

Led Zeppelin
April 27, 1977
Richfield Coliseum
Cleveland, OH


01 The Song Remains the Same
02 Sick Again
03 Nobodys Fault but Mine
04 In My Time of Dying
05 Since Ive Been Loving You
06 No Quarter
07 Ten Years Gone
08 The Battle of Evermore
09 Going to California
10 Black Country Woman
11 Bron Yr Aur Stomp
12 White Summer
13 Black Mountainside
14 Kashmir
15 OVer the Top
16 Guitar Solo
17 Achilles Last Stand
18 Stairway to Heaven
19 Rock and Roll
20 Trampled Underfoot

Review: LED ZEPPELIN – The Coliseum – April 27

It took those over two years to do it, but Led Zeppelin finally reached a Cleveland area stage once again last Wednesday night at the Coliseum. This show in particular, as well as their current tour in general, is nothing less than a re-assertion of their status among the Rolling Stones, Who and any other acknowledged deities of rock. It presents a challenge – as well as a set of standards to equal – to new wave heroes such as Aerosmith, Frampton and Blue Oyster Cult.

Zeppelin’s three-hour set passed with flying colors my personal shorthand estimation of a concert’s quality. It didn’t seem that long. The amount of material played, the musicianship involved, and the internal and external (special effects) manifestations of their music merged into an impressive, at time awe-inspiring, whole. The width of styles, moods and atmosphere, paired with consistent authenticity, crossed one of the widest spectrum of which any current combo seems capable.

Zeppelin’s show,  considerably revamped since their ’75 appearance in the same arena, was in general an effective mix of blues-ended structures such as In My Time of Dying, Nobody’s Fault But Mine and Since I’ve Been Loving You. The maximum amount of instrumental stretching-out however came on No Quarter. Working from both electric and acoustic pianos, John Paul Jones again impressed with his general versatility. Jimmy Page later joined in for what to me was his apogee of an evening’s worth of standout soloing. It was one of the best rock jams I’ve ever witnessed.

About midway through, Zep revived something they haven’t done in concert since the early 70s – an acoustic set. The founders and main perpetrators of the heavy metal music form sat themselves down and ran through delightful versions of Battle of Evermore, Going to California and Black Country Woman, even reviving the rockabilly Bron-Y-Aur Stomp from Led Zeppelin III (with Jones on stand-up bass).

Some more electrically oriented playing led into the visual highlight of the evening; a rotating, smoke-filled laser light cone surrounded Page as he spun out his famed violin bow work, with lasers behind him shooting arrow-straight beams at the ceiling at well-timed intervals. The show wound up with more conventional crowd-pleasers such as Kashmir and the Zeppelin signature song, Stairway to Heaven (with the biggest mirrored ball in rockdom used to wind it up.

John Bonham consistently kicked ass on drums, Robert Plant was 100 percent improved in voice and stage demeanor  since their last time here, and a warm, lucid in-group chemistry projected even across the Coliseum’s vast terrains. A surprisingly sedate and mature crowd did their part to create something I had previously thought was unique to small-hall presentations – a general warmness and intimacy of feeling emanating from the band and its reception by the listeners. It’s an attitude much more difficult to project over 20,000 seats than it is over 3,000. Such was the strength of Led Zeppelin’s performance, an in-person proof of why they still rank as one of the top viewing experiences in rock.

(C. Michalski / Scene April 1977)

This show gets criticized a lot, but it is really a good show, with lots of energy and intensity. The playing is great and the versions of Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, and Ten Years Gone are exceptional, as is No Quarter. A really enthusiastic crowd feeds off of Zeppelin's energy, making for a memorable show. Plant sometimes complaining of monitor problems, especially during the acoustic set.

The soundboard for Led Zeppelin’s April 27th, 1977 show in Cleveland first surfaced on vinyl in the 1980’s on the European release Destroyer (DRGM 505), listed as being from Seattle and packaged in a color jacket with a picture of Page on the cover.  This was copied in the U.S. with the same title and matrix number but comes packaged in a plastic carrying case and the tape has a different mastering which many consider inferior, and releases have the songs out of proper sequence.  The Swingin’ Pig issued the four LP set Destroyer and other vinyl titles released in the late eighties include Sweet Jelly Roll (Rock Solid Records), Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Sad Song) and Hard Way To Heaven (UNI), which is incomplete and includes the Live Aid set.

When CDs first began to be manufactured this was one of the very first tapes to come out.  The Swingin’ Pig copied their vinyl release on Destroyer (TSP-CD-059-2), a 2CD set released in 1990.  Neutral Zone issued The Destroyer (NZCD 89013), containing “Going To California” to “Rock And Roll” and with “Stairway To Heaven” dropped, and Nobody’s Fault But Mine (NZCD 89015) containing the first hour of the show from “The Song Remains The Same” to “The Battle Of Evermore.” Destroyer (Archive) is a 1989 West German production in “perfect soundboard quality” but attributes this show to August 1977.  Coming Back To The Murder Stage (Buccaneer Records BUC 021/2) is a 2CD set erroneously attributing this show to April 28th, and also includes the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary reunion set.

Destroyer (BGS009-2) is a 2CD 1992 Italian release which claims to be re-mastered and replicates the artwork on the earlier Archive release.  Australia issued this tape at least three times beginning in 1993 with Led Zeppelin Live (Apple House Music SL-23 and SL-24), two CDs with the songs out of sequence.  The second disc of the Apple House production was copied on SW 39, and both were issued on the Banana label as Last Stand Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 on (BAN-025-A & B) Destroyer (Silverbird ZLNCD29) with correct date and a bonus track “Hey Joe” from Band Of Joy demo.

The early nineties also saw the release the first of four separate Tarantura releases on The Destroyer 1st Day (Tarantura T6CD-1).  This box set was issued in 1993 containing both the April 27th soundboard and the April 28th audience recordings.  The label issued the soundboard again two years later on The Destroyer Gold (Tarantura TUDCD-004~006).

Destroyer:  Final Edition (Cobra Standard 004) is a 3CD set issued in a cardboard sleeve with same lettering as first TSP vinyl.  The Pot label issued The Original Stereo Destroyer (POT-001/002) on two discs and Antrabata includes this on three discs in The Final Statements, a 9CD box set that also includes the September 4th, 1970 Los Angeles and July 28th, 1973 New York tapes.  The Destroyer (Last Stand Disc LSD-16/17/18) is a three disc set released in 1997 with excellent three disc set with 24-bit re-mastering in excellent quality.

Shout To The Top also released Destroyer (STTP 055/056/057) about this time.  Empress Valley released The Destroyer (EVSD-40/41/42) in 2000 in an LP sized case with the front cover replicating the old Smilin’ Ears vinyl edition of the audience recording from the following night.  This version is, by almost unanimous consensus, the best sounding and most complete version of the tape.  Several years later Tarantura issued two separate six-disc box sets simultaneously with both Cleveland shows.  The Destroyers (TCD-10-1~3) and The Destroyer (Flesh/Trade Mark Of Quality TMQ 20021 1-3) are two different remastering jobs and are singled out to be among the very worst titles released by Tarantura.

In 2004 Empress Valley released the tape again in The Supreme Destroyers (EVSD-276/277/278).  This is a 9CD box set released with two separate covers that contains also the audience recordings from the April 28tg Cleveland show and the May 30th Largo, Maryland show.  This show also appears on the DVDR-A title Destroyer (Genuine Masters GM-27.04.1977-DVD-A-18) which is superb.

Destroyer on the SODD label is the latest release and a rare non-Rolling Stones title.  The sound quality compares favorably with Empress Valley’s first release which is considered to be the best version of them all.  The familiar cuts are still present with the tape beginning at the first verse of “The Song Remains The Same.”  Also there are two faint digital faults on disc one that can be found at 4:22 in “Sick Again” and at 18:11 in “No Quarter.”

These sound like speed bumps, not very loud and don’t eliminate any music.  For the pickiest of collectors this is an issue, but for those who are more forgiving it won’t be.  With that said many do hope that the SODD people will fix these errors and make the correction available as Scorpio has done with their Ultimate Studio Sessions box set.  If that were to occur, then this release would be the definitive version of this often pressed show which is a solid concert despite some criticisms.  That this is a soundboard recording betrays many of the mistakes that are made on stage particularly by Page.  In the first hour of the show in particular he misses some cues and plays some bum notes.

What this concert really needs is a good audience recording to hear how the music was being received in the venue since the echo oftentimes covers them up.  Plant is in good voice and the rhythm section is solid as usual.  This night is right by the end of the first of three legs of their massive 1977 U.S. tour and would be followed by another night in Cleveland and the massive, record setting concert in Pontiac (whose clear audience recording was released only once by TDOLZ which runs way too slow).

SODD package this in a basic fatboy plastic jewel case.  The label usually issue bonus discs with their Rolling Stones titles, but there is no such bonus discs with this one.  Destroyer utilizes the font and graphic design first used by TSP in the eighties with a Madison Square Garden shot on the front cover.  The overall design is basic but effective and this version comes so very close to being definitive that we all hope the label will fix the errors.

The famed Destroyer tape begins during the first verse of The Song Remains the Same. Plant's voice starts off a bit rough and Page's fingers are constantly getting stuck in the strings. Things pick up during Sick Again. Plant seduces the crowd with his aggressive snarl as Page slashes and shreds through the bone-crushing rhythm. An unbelievably heavy performance, one of the best thus far. As the song ends, Plant tells the crowd "it's very nice to be back... in more ways than one." The band hammers through a devastating Nobody's Fault But Mine. Plant exclaims "go Jimmy, go!" as Page begins the guitar solo.

Since I've Been Loving You is excellent. As the song ends, Plant announces "Jimmy Page on guitar there... the doctor was played by Larry Badgely (the band's doctor) and management was arranged by Peter Grant." The ominous introduction to Jones's piano solo during No Quarter is fantastic. Unfortunately, a cut in the tape soon after leaves us at the end of the upbeat interlude. Page delivers an erratically epic guitar solo, punctuated by Bonzo's violent outbursts. Ten Years Gone features some fantastic soloing from Page. Before The Battle of Evermore, Plant tells the crowd "this song reflects, I s'pose more than anythin' else, an evening in England some seven hundred years ago... just about the time that me and Bonzo got married." Going to California is beautiful. As the song ends, Plant tells the crowd "this is startin' to feel good, man."

Plant introduces Bonzo as "one of the few gentlemen in Cleveland who manages to wash my hair with 7 Up, the man who... childhood friend, sweet baby, always been the lover boy of the band" before Over the Top. The drum solo features the extensive use of a spaced-out phasing effect as Bonzo hammers at his tympani. The song's finale is punctuated by a series of lightning-fast machine gun snare blasts. Page's fingers are a bit sticky during the first guitar solo in Achilles Last Stand. Plant dedicates Stairway to Heaven to "the sort of atmosphere that I think we've actually achieved between us all." Page disappears at the end of the guitar solo, leaving the rest of the band to fill the void for the remainder of the song.

As the band exits the stage, a cut in the tape leaves us near the end of the first verse of Rock and Roll. Page's guitar cuts out briefly at the beginning of the solo. Plant announces "well, now it's been a long time... I guess we should do a bit of stompin'" before the band closes the show with a heavy, plodding Trampled Underfoot. Bonzo gets into a disco rhythm for a few bars following the initial verses. Page shreds wildly through the guitar solo. A strong performance for the band's first night in Cleveland. Must hear.

The tape is an excellent soundboard recording.


Zen Archer said...

Zen Archer said...