Saturday, March 8, 2008

Day 68: 3/5/1971 Belfast, Ireland

3/5/1971 Belfast, Ireland (master>dat>cdr)
Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I've Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, What is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Rock and Roll, Bring it on Home

The first performance of 1971 after a six month break and the band has a lot of new material to try out. The tape begins with the taper testing his equipment before the show then cuts to Immigrant Song already in progress. Plant's voice cuts through the thunderous wall of sound like a knife. There is a slight dropout at the beginning of Heartbreaker. Bonzo sounds like an army marching to battle. Page's playing is very bluesy during the a cappella solo.

Plant mentions that the band is feeling a bit rusty before introducing Since I've Been Loving You, which receives a loud cheer from the crowd. No one shows any sign of fatigue during the extremely powerful performance. The first appearance of Black Dog is preceded by a few bars of Out on the Tiles. Plant's voice is pure raw power. The heaviest Led Zeppelin song thus far, the effect is devastating. The guitar solo section in Dazed and Confused is a wild cacophony. Plant's shouts of "sweat!" echo out over the crowd. The finale is an explosion of cannon fire and echoed wails.

The first performance of Stairway to Heaven begins quietly, almost hesitant. There are some tape disturbances and dropouts in the middle of the song. The sound quality deteriorates after the guitar solo. What will become the most popular song in rock history is met with polite applause from the crowd. The first appearance of Going to California starts with more tape issues and a brief dropout. Chatter around the taper interrupts the quiet performance. The intro to Moby Dick is missing from the tape, picking up during the blitzkrieg of the drum solo. Bonzo's pounding is a relentless sonic assault. The crowd loves it.

Page makes the theramin wail and squeal wildly during the freakout in Whole Lotta Love. The medley includes John Lee Hooker's Bottle Up and Go, Muddy Waters's Honey Bee, and Walter Davis's I Think You Need a Shot. Plant challenges Page to a duel before the "woman!..." section. He apologizes for taking so long to come to Ireland (where they would one perform one more time, the following night) before Communication Breakdown. The first riotous appearance of Rock and Roll is played lightning-fast. After a long absence, the band returns to the stage after overwhelming demand from the crowd to close the show with Bring it on Home, which features a heavy jam near the end. Welcome to 1971.

The tape is a bit overloaded and noisy, but still highly enjoyable. The raw power and energy of the performance remains intact.


Anonymous said...

I would definitely label this as ''Must Hear''. Not only for the historical significance but also for the unbelievably powerful performance.

Chris said...

Amazing that I'm getting to hear this for the first time now, such is the massive scope of the live Zep cannon.
It is indeed a massively powerful show. I think it deserves a must hear on this despite the sonic imperfections. It's vicious.