Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 135: 1/22/1973 Southampton, England

1/22/1973 Southampton, England (multitrack recording)
Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, Dancing Days, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker, Thank You, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown

The tape begins with a brief soundcheck before Rock and Roll crashes into motion. Plant bids the crowd "good evening" after Over the Hills and Far Away, adding "we're gonna have a good one tonight." Black Dog is utterly devastating. Page blazes through the guitar solo. Since I've Been Loving You is a bit shaky at times, but Page still manages to pull off some beautiful, bluesy passages. Plant introduces Dancing Days as "a song about school days and little boys who never grow up." As the song ends, someone in the crowd shouts "Whole Lotta Love!" to which Plant immediately responds "wrong!"

The Song Remains the Same is somewhat sloppy, Page's fingers get stuck in the strings quite a bit. The Rain Song is beautiful. Page plays a bit of Tarantella Napoletana as Plant jokes with the crowd before dedicating Dazed and Confused to the manager of the Gaumont Theatre, the venue at which the band had played the night before. The lead-in to the bow solo features an excellent frantic jam with Page soloing wildly as Bonzo and Jones hold down the funky rhythm. The band continues to experiment with the structure of the San Francisco interlude. Page shreds through the first guitar solo. His call and response with Plant is preceded by a great mellow, ethereal interlude. The Mars, the Bringer of War section is devastatingly heavy.

Page's fingers get a bit sticky during the guitar solo in Stairway to Heaven. As the song ends, Bonzo can be heard shouting "wunderbar!" As shouted requests pour in from the crowd, Plant introduces Whole Lotta Love as "something that might entice the nine-tenths male audience in this hall tonight to get up and be very groovy" before dedicating the song to Alan Whitehead, a gentleman whose name was found to be scrawled on the walls of the hall's bathroom. Bonzo thrashes wildly at anything within reach during a frenzied Everybody Needs Somebody to Love section. The riotous medley includes Boogie Chillen', an excellent rendition of Elvis Presley's (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, an amazingly heavy rendition of Let's Have a Party, I Can't Quit You Baby, which features a fantastic blues improvisation, and Goin' Down Slow after a cut in the tape. Definitely a major highlight of the show.

Amidst a flurry of requests from the crowd (someone can be heard shouting for Beck's Bolero), Plant dedicates Heartbreaker to the band's publicist BP Fallon. Jones's bass cuts out within the first few bars, returning after the first verse, only to drop off once again soon after. Page's fingers get stuck in the strings during the a cappella solo. Bonzo provides a quaint bit of rhythmic accompaniment during The 59th Street Bridge Song interlude. Jones returns with a vengeance during the guitar solo section. Thank You is preceded by a sweeping orchestral Mellotron solo from Jones. Page's guitar solo is somewhat subdued, but Bonzo and Jones more than make up for it with their accompaniment.

The biggest surprise of the night is the first full performance of How Many More Times since 9/19/1970, which Plant introduces as "one of our early tunes... god knows if we can remember it." The band is a bit rusty after not playing the song in over two years, but they make up for a lack of precision with power and enthusiasm. Plant sings the entire "when I was a young man, I couldn't resist..." interlude for the first time since 1/12/1969 as Page leads the band in an excellent stop-start jam on a heavy riff. The band skips the "Rosie" section, instead going directly into The Hunter. However, Plant urges Page to backtrack during the "got you in the sights..." section, resulting in some confusion and a repeat of The Hunter. After Plant fails to hit the final "gun!", Page jumps directly into Communication Breakdown. He absolutely shreds through the guitar solo. Plant exclaims "I wonder what James Brown said!" as the band gets into a brief funky breakdown. An explosive conclusion to a somewhat uneven performance. As the band leaves the stage, Plant says "and it's a thoroughly knackered goodnight."

The tape is an absolutely amazing mixdown of the multitrack masters. Simply outstanding.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Boy was I lucky to have found this in my local CD place. I'd have put this as a must-hear. I thought this was a fantastic performance with a few surprises (I laughed when the 59th Street Bridge Song appeared) and a lot of fun. You could really tell the band was having FUN here, you know?

Anonymous said...

This show is quite excellent. Black Dog is perfect. Dazed And Confused is stunningly precise. Surprising and fun encores. Most of all, though, Thank You is simply outstanding. So perfectly played!

Anonymous said...

Do yourself a favor...find and download the "Any Port In A Storm" version of this. It is hands down simply the best show from the '73 UK and Europe pre-U.S. legs of the tour. Everyone raves about the shows from Germany. Performance-wise, those shows my be great, but the crude audience recordings are bloody awful. This show is Plant's best at this time; the other SBD's from the '73 UK his flu voice is barely listenable. This soundboard could easily have been commercially released.

Allan said...

A must-hear, and no mistake. Incredible quality of sound, and IMHO a great performance. In the top 10 boots for sure.

Anonymous said...

I can feel very smug in saying that I was actually there and it was even better in person. Such a small venue and I was a foot or two from the stage. Probably the best musical evening of my life. I subsequently saw them another four times and although more polished this was the most raw and energetic performance... Happy days.