Average: 4.8 (17 votes)

April 25, 1969

San Francisco, CA US



includes: Train Kept a Rollin', You Shook Me, Communication Breakdown, As Long As I Have You (incl. Fresh Garbage).

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Submit your personal review of a particular show you attended, updates, corrections, etc., which will be considered for addition to the official online archive.You may also contact the webmaster at: webmaster@ledzeppelin.com

Audience tape of Winterland 4.25.69

There are a handfull of recordings of Led Zeppelin that I have relentlessly pursued in my quest to hear it in the absolute best quality. This is one of them. As short as the recording is, it presents the band in peak power, a hint of what may be the best show of all the early concerts in an era when the band routinely devastated in every appearance.

The show begins with the announcement (from Bill Graham?), "This is... Led Zeppelin!", and proceeds with a killler "Train Kept-a-Rollin' " requiring no warmup time at all, just Zeppelin firing on all cylinders and taking no prisoners. As Great as the whole band is, the star just might be John Paul Jones, who's improvistional bass lines show terrific improvisational genius in every corner. This opener just kills from start to finish, and in the fury of the moment Plant somehow forgets to ever mention the title in the chorus, instead frantically shouting "Sweet Baby's", with utimate enthusiasm.

This is followed by "You Shook Me" from later in the show, and it just slays. Jimmy and Robert always shine on this in these early shows, but this is just sublime. Robert's power is hard to believe, keeping up with anything Jimmy can throw at him. Page uses a echplex during these San Francisco shows, giving the guitar a spacey, psychedelic atmosphere not found in any other recording from the era, and it works perfectly with his slide playing here. His playing is so far beyond what he did with the Yardbirds, it's hard to believe it's only a matter of months since they disbanded.

"Communication Breakdown" is for my money the best live version to be found anywhere, a raging hurricane of power from a band who defined power. Jimmy's improvised intro is once again enhanced by John Paul Jones's kinetic lines creeping way up the neck of his bass. When the band enters the main riff, Plant comes out screaming in perfect early fashion. Jimmy's solo is frantic from start to finish, surely shaking this pre-Woodstock audience into disbelief, until the band crashes into the finale.

"As Long As I Have You" is incomplete, but shows a strong first half. After the tape cuts off, it segues directly into the last chord and farewell from Plant. I'm convinced that more of the concert was taped but not circulated, as nobody could capture only three and a half songs from different parts of the show, including Plant's complete spoken introduction of each song without getting more and editing it down. We can only hope more of this monumental show surfaces someday.

Nobody can match Led Zeppelin during this time in their career. Their improvisational powers are at a peak when they stretched the material from their first album without time limitations. After this tour, they played a number of summer festival shows where they were limited to an hour's length between many other acts. After that, they kept a professional set designed for maximum impact. But in these early sets, they flew by the collecive seats of their pants producing shows of incredible imagination and stamina. The best!