August 26, 1971
Houston, TX US
Setlists during this tour include: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I've Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Celebration Day, That's the Way, Going to California, What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (medley), Communication Breakdown, Organ solo / Thank You
This show originally scheduled for the Hofheinz Pavillion (8/25) was switched to the Sam Houston Coliseum.
Press Review: Zeppelin Goes Soaring
Twenty-four and a half hours late, Led Zeppelin touched down in Houston – and then took off again.
For 120 sometimes blistering, often surprisingly circumspect minutes, the phenomenal British rockers more than compensated for postponing their scheduled Wednesday night concert in the Coliseum until Thursday evening by, as singer Robert Plant put it, “doing it twice as good”.
The Zeppelin has matured fortunately - if unexpectedly - to a point where unabated volume fails to satisfy their own musical instincts. To be sure, Plant still screeches and yowls a little too much. He even confessed early in the show that the excuse officially offered earlier for the concert's delay - that equipment was stranded in Oregon - was a "mess of rubbish."
"Me little throat got tired," he 'rasped.
But the Zeppelin nowadays paces its performances - and upcoming albums – with slow, pulsing lyrical ballads not only ideally suited to lead guitarist Jimmy Page's hollow log blues concept and jazz-oriented phrasing, but providing as well a respite for Plant's vocalist howls. And it's high time. Jefferson Airplane belter Grace Slick has undergone larynx surgery at least twice, and the late Janis Joplin whom Plant once emulated - got around the problem primarily by ignoring it.
At one paint, Plant, Page on acoustic guitar and rhythm guitarist John Paul Jones switching to amplified mandolin actually sat down and just played and sang pretty.
"Going to California," from an as yet unreleased album, extended the trio set, then it was back to seat-of-the-pants high flying rock.
As always, though, it was Jimmy Page's stupendously pyrotechnical guitar that got the Zeppelin off the ground. And from his eerie plagal cadence (essentially the hymnal "A-men" chord progression) to his blinding flashes of free improvisation, Page seemed to have been listening to tapes of '40s-vintage radio shows.
Showcased on a basic traditional blues, Page launched a five-minute exploration of his near-lethal instrument as perilous and wondrous as any venture into space.
Alternately bowing, slapping and picking his amplified strings with both hands, producing staggered combinations of overtone clusters, esoteric sound effects; beating the strings and fretting glissando melodies over his own percussive blasts, fretting high on the neck in widely fluctuating cycles of fifths, sevenths and modal licks and meticulously controlled five-string arpeggios - even at stages echoing the timbre of a human voice -Page literally created a short symphony for amplified strings and performed the entire work alone.
Even John Bonham's refreshingly inventive percussion solo was somewhat eclipsed by Page's heavy presence. Mercifully - and all thanks to those so hip - Zeppelin always appears alone, sparing fans from obscure, even at times musically invisible - though not audible warm-up bands.
Considering the near-capacity house, the omission in this case was doubly pleasing. If Zeppelin had taken the crowd much higher, some of us would have been gasping for breath. [J. Scarborough / Chronicle]