Average: 4.9 (25 votes)

June 3, 1973

Inglewood, CA US

The Forum

Setlist:

Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, (Bring It On Home intro) Black Dog, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Let That Boy Boogie, I'm Going Down, I'm a Man, The Hunter), The Ocean, Communication Breakdown, Organ solo ~ Thank You.

Notes:

(Rescheduled from May 30, 1973)

News report: LED ZEPPELIN TEARS UP LOS ANGELES

It didn't get much attention, because the group paid for everything, but Led Zeppelin was in rare destructive form when they were here recently for some concerts.  Things got off to a bad start when lead guitarist Jimmy Page sprained a finger when he lurched against a fence at San Diego Airport. That apparently threw the boys into a grand funk. Not too long after the group got settled in a ninth floor suite at the Continental Hyatt House, a table came sailing out their window. Explanation for the mis-Led table was, the boys were irritated at being told not to toss liquor glasses into an open Lincoln convertible parked on the street below.

Then it was off to a theater to attend a party for Jo Jo Gunne. There members of the group were accused of smashing up the rest rooms and defacing paintings in the lobby. Back to their hotel they went to spread a four-foot cake around the swimming pool. It happened to be Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's 25th birthday. When George Harrison and wife Patti dropped by to help celebrate. Bonham threw both of them, fully clothed, into the swimming pool. (Newswire, June 1973)

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Led Zeppelin @ LA Forum 6-3-73

he third and final part of my 1973 Led Zeppelin concert experiences...

The Third and Final Part of my 1973 Led Zeppelin Concert Memories.

Led Zeppelin @ LA Forum 6-3-73 The "Three Days After" concert.

Okay...time for the finish. As I dedicated the earlier parts of my Zeppelin triptych to Evster and the memory of John Bonham, this one I dedicate to everyone here who keeps the memory of Led Zeppelin alive. And since there are quite a lot of new members here lately, many of whom are too young to have seen Led Zeppelin, my hope is that this will give you young ones a small idea of what it was like to see a Led Zeppelin concert.

Let's get on the time machine...

Sunday June 3, 1973

I'm flying home from San Francisco to Orange County...a little wobbly after my Kezar Stadium trip, but feeling better the more fluids I drink and the closer I realize I am getting to the appointed hour of my third Led Zeppelin concert in four days.

This Led Zeppelin concert is a little different, however. Not only is this the last show of the first leg of the 1973 US tour, but the last LA show...and who knew when the next tour would be, so this would have to get me through whatever dry spell awaited. Most important of all...I was taking my girlfriend to the show; not only her first Led Zeppelin concert, but her first concert period. That I wanted her to enjoy it was an understatement.

My girlfriend's name was Trudy. She was slightly older than me...11 going on 12...while I wouldn't turn 11 until the next month in July. We met when we were on the same community rec swim team the summer of 72. She also liked baseball and played on the girl's softball team until it became too painful for her(this was before the days of high-tech sports bras). A tomboy, she was like Tatum O'Neal with boobs. Our first date was to an Angel game to see Nolan Ryan pitch.

*Quick digression: baseball games make wonderful first dates. It's not as crowded or noisy as football, basketball, hockey or auto races. And the leisurely pace allows for plenty of conversation time to get to know each other. And if you're lucky to get picked for the "Kiss-Cam", that gives you an excuse for a quick kiss.

Back to Trudy...she was great, except when I met her, her musical tastes ran to America, Bread, Carole King and Seals & Crofts...the hardest band she liked was Three Dog Night. So it was a long process to get her to like Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Stones, Alice Cooper and my other faves. Some she never took to(Frank Zappa, Velvet Underground, Alice Cooper), but after a few months she finally got hooked into Zeppelin, especially after I played her Led Zeppelin III. Of course, it was mainly the softer stuff she liked...Stairway to Heaven, What Is and What Could Never Be, That's the Way. Thank You was her favourite LZ song. And when Houses of the Holy came out, she immediately fell in love with Rain Song. But little by little she came to appreciate the hard rocking songs as well.

All this was on my mind as I rested on the plane-ride home. You see, before I saw Led Zeppelin for the first time in 1972, I had NO IDEA what to expect from a Led Zeppelin concert. I had all four studio albums released at that time, but had yet to acquire any bootlegs. So yes, the effect was fairly shattering when finally seeing my first Zeppelin concert, June 25, 1972. By the time of the 1973 shows though, I had bought two Led Zeppelin bootleg double-albums: Live on Blueberry Hill, the September 4, 1970 Forum show; and Going to California, the Sept. 14 1971 Berkeley show, mislabeled as being at the Forum.

Those two boots, plus the memories of the 1972 shows, instilled in me the idea that the acoustic set was a regular part of a Led Zeppelin concert, and I raved to Trudy about the acoustic set...how they did Going to California and That's the Way, two of her faves. But now I had seen 2 of the 73 concerts, and neither one featured an acoustic set, not even one acoustic song...there didn't appear to be an acoustic guitar in the building. They had played Rain Song, so I knew Trudy would love that, but after building it up in her head, I was worried she would be disappointed if she didn't get an acoustic set. Perhaps, they were saving it for this last concert of the first leg...a special treat for LA. That was one fortunate outcome of Jimmy Page's finger injury: not only was Trudy now able to see the concert, but by moving the concert to June 3, my last Zeppelin memory of 1973 would be crystal clear, unlike the hazy one I had of the Kezar Stadium debauchery.

Shortly after 5pm, the plane descended into Orange County airspace, glistening swimming pools dotting the landscape, the brown smog bank of the Inland Empire off in the distance. There they were, my BB and Trudy, my sun-dappled girl, waiting for me as arranged. To save time, I gave him Trudy's address so he could pick her up before meeting me at the airport. Then we could just drive straight up the 405 to the LA Forum. So, after a brief wait for my luggage, there the three of us were in my BB's blue 1969 Chevy Malibu, him driving, and Trudy and I in the backseat. Making the long slog north on the 405, joining thousands of others making the drive from San Diego back to Los Angeles, I filled Trudy and the BB in on my San Francisco trip, not exactly revealing EVERYTHING. Trudy wasn't a party-stoner girl, and I didn't want her to get the wrong idea about me. The BB and I answered questions she had about the concert; she was excited when I told her that it was pretty certain that they would play Rain Song. But I also said that they hadn't played Thank You, and she looked bummed about that...but hey, I said, you never know what they'll play for sure. Maybe tonight they'll play it.

A quick pit stop for gas and a bite to eat at Tijuana Taco(don't ask...just slightly better than Taco Bell...they shut down later in the 70's when employees were caught selling drugs thru the drive-thru window), and we were back on the 405, past the Westminster Mall, past Seal Beach then Long Beach, until nearing LAX airport, and the giant Randy's Donut Donut marking the Manchester Blvd. exit. It must have been around 7pm, as we drove east on Manchester, past La Brea and Market, past the A-Frame International House of Pancakes on the left at Hillcrest, past the usual shady characters holding up "Need tickets" signs. This time we turned right on Prairie, then left into the Forum parking lot, the Forum Club awning up ahead. It was still plenty light outside, a pleasant June evening, and as usual for a rock concert, the parking lot was a bazaar of the bizarre. A panoply of colourful types everywhere you looked.

Thanks to my uncle's wife washing my clothes while sleeping off my trip in San Francisco, I was wearing my burgundy velvet hip-hugger bell-bottoms and yellow 1973 Zeppelin tour shirt. But I saw a bootleg parking lot shirt I liked and bought one for me and Trudy...total cost $4.

There was a long line to get in the Forum, so we headed to one of the special entrances for people with floor seats. Yeah, I had almost forgotten...after 4 previous Led Zeppelin concerts spent in loge or bleacher seating, I was finally going to be near the stage, 13 rows from the front, on the floor, looking at the stage head on. No side or obstructed views this time. I was already stoked...this sudden realization of where we would be sitting further stoked my fire. So eager with anticipation we fairly glided through the narrow tunnel into the Forum floor, past the massive soundboard/mixing desk towards the rear and past the rear sections of the floor, approaching the stage closer and closer until we came to our destination: Section B, Row 13. It did feel weird looking at our tickets and seeing the date May 30. The time once again said 8:00 pm...but we told Trudy that was more a "suggested" time than a firm commitment.

That allowed for plenty of time for concert prep...last-minute bathroom visits, stock up on snacks and coke and back to our seats with plenty of time to watch the roadies fine-tune the stage as the Doobie Brothers and Yes played over the sound system. Although the music wasn't nearly as loud as the concert would be, I gave Trudy the earplugs the BB had brought for her, as we didn't want her first concert to be too painful...I mean, Led Zeppelin were LOUD...VERY LOUD!

Being so close to the stage, you notice details you can't see from far away...the details of the amp setups...Jimmy's simple effects setup...Jones' keyboards and the white mellotron...Bonzo's orange Ludwig vistalites. In fact, I noticed that if you took away the gong and tympani, his drum kit was actually quite small compared to the gargantuan kits of Carl Palmer, Keith Moon and Ginger Baker. Just a bass drum, snare, one rack tom and two floor toms, that's it. Yet, in Bonham's talented hands, that kit sounded more MASSIVE than Carl, Keith and Ginger's kits combined.

Ooooh, there was the big mirror ball high above Bonzo's kit...I pointed it out to Trudy. She also noticed with some trepidation and awe the huge PA speaker stacks...courtesy of Showco. As roadies climbed roped rigging ladders to fix the various spotlights and whatnot, I sensed a different vibe in the Forum tonight from the Bonzo Birthday Party show. Yes, the audience for that show was excited...it was the first night and it was Bonzo's birthday, so we were hyped. But as shouts of "Led Zeppelin!" and "Rock and Roll!" and "Whole Lotta Love!" echoed around the arena, as frisbees and beach balls whizzed and bounced around, the anticipation and buzz of the audience seemed torqued to a higher degree. With the benefit of hindsight, I think I know why. First, the June 3 show was originally supposed to be the first show...and anyone who has been to multinight stands knows that the first night crowd often has the hard core fans. We were the "real" first night crowd, not the May 31 crowd. Second, that May 31 show was so amazing that obviously word-of-mouth spread. Folks heard how awesome the May 31 concert was, so everyone was at fever pitch for tonight's gig...both the people who were there May 31 and were expecting more of the same, and those who just heard about it and couldn't wait to experience it themselves. If you've ever been to a concert by your favourite band, you know the feelings you go through right before the band comes on: the butterflies in your stomach, the calculations in your mind at what the first song will be and what the setlist will entail. How you literally cannot breathe from excitement.

Well, take all that and multiply by 10 and you'll get an idea how feverish the crowd was for this Led Zeppelin concert was...if someone had thrown raw meat into the crowd, it would have been devoured. Hell, I feared if one of the roadies had fallen into the crowd, he'd be torn limb from limb. The beast was getting hungry...we wanted Zeppelin. At any bit of lull from the sound system, any break from the music, a great hue and cry went up from the throng in anticipation of the band coming on stage. At long last however, after several false moments, sometime around 9ish, the Forum went dark as the house lights went down.

CUE PANDEMONIUM!!! I am serious. Sure, every Zeppelin concert I attended the crowd would greet the band loudly, as loud as any concerts I have seen. But the concert of June 3, 1973 was something else entirely...it was like RAPTURE! People stomping their feet, ecstatically screaming, firecrackers exploding...the only other time I experienced this frenzied a response was the June 21, 1977 show.

In the dark, periodically illuminated by flashes and lit lighters, we could make out the shapes of the band members making their way on stage. As the stomping and hollering from the crowd continued, Bonham gave a quick test of the drums and soon after, the Little Richard-tribute drum intro to Rock and Roll commenced the beginning of the show as the stage exploded to brightness as the stage lights came on the same time as the band kicked into the main riff of Rock and Roll.

Oh shit Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore. Being on the floor is a completely different deal. The loudness is even more LOUD...IN YOUR FACE...AND IN YOUR GUT!!! Especially Bonzo's kick drum and Jonesey's bass. I looked over at Trudy and thanked my lucky stars we had thought of bringing earplugs for Trudy...she had been gripping my hand since the Forum lights went down, but as I looked at her she smiled and signaled she was okay. Her eyes widened as she took in the scene in front of us, and I returned my gaze to the stage. From behind the kit, Bonzo looked like he was wearing the same pastel tanktop, or wifebeater, as before. John Paul Jones was wearing some multicoloured button-down shiny shirt with these fantastic flash silver bell bottoms. Simply extraordinary...he should've worn them for the MSG shows! Unfortunately, being close to the stage allowed me to see Jones' mustache more clearly...he just didn't look right with that mustache. Jimmy Page was wearing the same natty white double-breasted suit as he did at Kezar. With the black and white shoes. His hair looked healthy and fluffy, the coloured lights giving it different hued highlights throughout the night.

Then, there was Robert Plant. Golden God. Golden, flaxen hair flowing down past his shoulders, the lights amplifying the golden hue of his curly locks. Long, lean and tanned body encased in skintight flared blue jeans and a pinkish-red shirt, more masculine than his usual 1973 blousey-type tops, but with just enough femininity to give Plant that otherworldly, ethereal sexual charisma he, and only he among the 70's frontmen, had. No, not even David Bowie or Freddie Mercury had it...David was too drugged out and sickly thin and Freddie too campy with his "Al Pacino in Cruising" look. To top it off, Robert had a red flower(a rose?) stuffed down his pants, so that the flower was just over his belt buckle.

And because we were now looking straight ahead and up at the stage, and not down from afar as before at other shows, the band, particularly Jimmy and Robert since they were closest to the front, appeared 10 feet tall. Like they truly were gods descended from Mount Olympus to bestow upon us mere mortals their immortal musical alchemy. As Rock and Roll progressed, with Jimmy doing his signature Rock and Roll stagger step, Trudy and I were hopping up and down on our seats, standing on our seats the only way we could see over the grownups in front of us. After the guitar solo, when Jimmy did his little leap, Trudy and I jumped as well, as various girls around us squealed. That's another thing I noticed being down front...lots of teenage flesh in hotpants and platforms. But let's get back to the music...

Rock and Roll was at it's end, Bonham flailing away like Animal of the Muppets during the final drum flurry, which leads to the rousing fanfare into Jimmy's solo intro to Celebration Day, notes flashing fast and furious from his vintage Les Paul. THIS was one of the moments I was already anticipating, for the previous 2 Zeppelin concerts had proven how great, and underrated, a song Celebration Day was in concert.

Tonight was no different...as Jimmy's opening guitar shot rapid fire notes, and Robert intones the opening lines, the song builds to that slight hesitation as Robert sings "and she wonders pretty soon everybody's gonna KNOWWWW" and then Bonzo, Jones and Jimmy SLAM into the song in total force, and the impact is UN-FUCKING-REAL!!!

Try to picture this in your mind...Bonzo and Jones are laying down this MASSIVE volcanically-erupting groove, Jonesy's bass inhabiting your bones, while Bonzo's drums wallop your guts, all the while he's staring intently at Jimmy, his mouth popping open from time to time like he's chewing gum and his head jerking with each accent of the beat. Meanwhile, Jimmy is slinking around the stage, guitar slung low, while carving out that ridiculously sexy funky Celebration Day riff. It's not that there's anything wrong with Rock and Roll, although even then it sounded slower in concert than on record, with Robert's vocals not as manic as the studio version, but Celebration Day, for me, is when the enormity of the concert hit me. The song seemed faster and more high energy than Rock and Roll.

And it was somewhere during Celebration Day that I lost it. How can I explain it to you? There isn't a bootleg in the world that can replicate the sound, the experience. Jimmy's guitar is sounding like 100 chainsaws carving that riff into your head...the bass and drums are exploding into your spine causing you to spontaneously jerk and dance about. The overwhelming loudness of the sound envelops you, harmonic overtones, that no bootleg can pick up, merging to create new tones and notes, raising the hair on your arms and sending tingles up and down your spine. On top of the the force of the groove and the sound, is the visual impact of Robert and Jimmy swaggering, thrusting, dancing across the stage...their movements somtimes in tandem, sometimes on their own, yet still strangely in sympatico with each other; the yin and yang. As Robert's voice, by now warmed up from the rough Rock and Roll opening, wails over the musical onslaught, and Jimmy's guitar cuts like a knife sharper than Bryan Adams will ever know, Jimmy struts to the front of the stage and I half expect him to just keep walking off the stage into the air above us. That is when I just erupt in tears of joy. I couldn't help it...I'm with my girlfriend and the band is sounding so good and they are fucking rocking the stage like they OWN IT! None of this tentative squirreling about like some bands. And Celebration Day is KICKING SO MUCH ASS! I tell you, I was in a state of happiness, of TOTAL BLISS, that the waterworks just flowed and flowed. I hugged Trudy and gave my BB a high-five as CD came to an end much too soon...they could have kept that groove going for another 10 minutes as far as I was concerned. And they should have made Celebration Day a permanent part of the setlist from 1971 on, I'm my opinion.

No time for dillydallying, Jimmy immediately slides into the Bring It On Home riff after CD...and Robert promises all the ladies in the house he's going to make them sweat and groove, as the band lurches into the serpentine riff of Black Dog, the third all-out hard rocker in a row to open the show. I always preferred the Bring It On Home riff as an opener to Black Dog to the Out on the Tiles riff, and here's why. With the Bring it riff, the segue to Black Dog seemed smoother. Also, I didn't particularly want to hear the actual song Bring It On Home, by then having grown bored with the early blues covers like Bring It and You Shook Me, so I liked when they shifted into Black Dog. But Out on the Tiles is one of my favourite songs, especially after hearing it on the Live on Blueberry Hill bootleg. So everytime they would play that opening riff to Out on the Tiles, I would get excited they were going to play the whole song. So I actually would feel a twinge of disappointment when they would go into Black Dog instead. C'mon guys, just ONCE gimme Out on the Tiles!

Black Dog swaggers to a close, Jimmy bringing the song to an end with a blazing run, and just like that, the opening three song assault is over, and us fans have a chance to cheer and welcome the band back to LA, as Robert says good evening and goes into one of his plantations, none of which I recall. It's funny, but even more so than in the stands, people down front yell all sorts of stuff at the band, thinking they're so close the band will hear them and respond. Greetings, requests...some musical, some sexual...non sequiters, all manner of nonsense is shouted at the band as a whole and at individual members; Jimmy and Robert topping the list, natch.

Another thing you notice up front is all the stuff that gets thrown on stage that the roadies periodically have to clear off. Joints, wadded balls of paper(notes, I presume), cards, flowers, candy, popcorn, items of clothing(some intimate)...it's quite a sight and probably quite a haul by the end of the night. Fortunately, Trudy refrained from throwing any clothing.

Jimmy took this time to remove his jacket, revealing an orange-red striped button-down shirt with black cuffs that I don't think I've seen him wear before...or since. In fact, both Jimmy and Robert are wearing shirts that I've hardly seen pop up in photographs other than in photos of tonight's gig.

With jacket removed, and Robert's introduction over, the folky beginning of Over the Hills and Far Away begins, as Jimmy's sweet cherry red Les Paul tone lulls you into a state of mellowness, as Robert sings to his lady...then WHAM! The volume increases ten-fold, and again, one of those ingenious simple-sounding yet complex riffs grabs hold of you, while Bonzo lays down a beat that at first seems at odds with the riff, but gradually reveals itself to be a marvel of deep-in-the-pocket groove. In fact, OTHAFA is one of those songs that was fun to watch the band play in concert. Jimmy hunched over, jerking his body to the riff, while Bonzo and Jones watched each other, working over the changes as Jimmy solo'd stratospherically over the top. Robert by now would throw in his Acapulco Gold aside to knowing looks and laughs among the stoners in the audience.

After the song drew to its languorous close, Jimmy bathed in deep blue light, I checked with Trudy to make sure she was okay...that it wasn't too loud or if she needed to rest. Before the concert, we said that we would stay to the end, but if she needed to go to the rest room, I would escort her, and if she got tired, she could sit and if possible, nap in her seat. So far, she was A-OK, thumbs-up, all systems go! Which was fine by me, as we were coming to another highlight of the show for me: the Misty Mountain Hop/Since I've Been Loving You tandem, signaled by Jones removing his bass and walking over to our left and sitting down at his keyboards, face-forward to the crowd, while Jimmy switched from the red Les Paul w/ black pickups to his customary Les Paul Sunburst.

Hippie funk-groove, followed by the sweeping, cinematic English blues drama of SIBLY. As the band charged into Misty Mountain Hop, the vibe of the show kept elevating...so many people dancing and smiling and having a goodtime. Apparently enpugh people in the crowd had experienced getting hassled by the cops over rolling papers to the point that the entire Forum wanted to escape to the Misty Mountains. Once again, the sound is massive, as Jimmy Page's guitar is in your face. Robert is doing all his hippie dances and wiggles across the stage while Jones' funky Fender Rhodes gives the song its colour. But it is Bonham who really drives the song, his every beat of the drum a mighty wallop, with the most awesome snare sound I've yet to hear...crisp, deep and resonant. Fill after fill with perfect timing electrifies the song until the final riff explodes, as Jimmy hits a switch and the guitar increases 10-fold in intensity and Bonzo does what seems like one continuous, roiling fill until the band reaches the point where it suddenly STOPS!

Leaving Jimmy to bend and sway as his fingers traverse the neck of his guitar, notes flying left and right until he slows into those familar notes that shift the band into Since I've Been Loving You. As the crowd howls in delight, especially the blues fans and guitar players amongst us, many of the crowd also begins to sit down, and Trudy is one of them, so I sit down with her. We still have some of our coke left and as we quench our thirst, I ask how she is liking the show so far. "Too much...it's far out", she replies. I put my arm around her as we settle in our chairs and watch the drama unfolding on stage. SIBLY is one of those moments where Jimmy trancends mere musicianship. He's not merely playing guitar, but making the guitar speak, as if the guitar itself had a soul. Or put another way, it's as if Jimmy and his Les Paul were fused into one, as if the guitar was just another extension of his body.

One thing I noticed with Jimmy Page, especially during SIBLY, is that he adjusted his tone and volume knobs on his guitar more than anybody I'd ever seen. Some guitarists I saw wouldn't touch their knobs once during an entire concert. Whereas Jimmy was constantly fiddling with the knobs, fipping the toggle switch...anything to create the variety of tones and sounds that emanated from his guitar. Considering the simplicity of his effects(compare his stage setup in 1973 to today's array of stompboxes taped down in front of every guitarists stage monitor), it's amazing the wide variety of sounds he got out of his guitar.

Again, just to listen is not enough, nor are pictures sufficient to suggest the total charasmatic effect that Jimmy playing the guitar on stage renders on you. And I fear my words fail to accurately portray the devastating impact of Pagey with a guitar. It goes beyond the way Jimmy moves and dances on stage, which is already beyond compare. Not Keith Richards, not Chuck Berry, not Richie Blackmore, not Mick Ralphs. Certainly not Clapton or Iommi, both of whom stand still as statues, making a guitar grimace once in a while. Pete Townshend is the only contemporary who comes close, and his vibe is more "athletic" with his jumps and windmills. Jimmy's vibe is more sinuous and sexy. His ability to dance and swagger and weave across the stage, while his slender frame is weighed down by some of the heaviest guitars in the business, the solid-body Les Paul and the Gibson doubleneck, is incredible enough. The fact that he often skitters across on one foot is miraculous and warrants comparison to James Brown. You think I'm kidding? Well, I'm not...if only someone would have filmed Jimmy at a 1973 concert, just focusing on his feet, you would be talking about his footwork with awe. To see it up close was breathtaking. But what truly made Jimmy a guitar god and sexually charasmatic to everyone in the arena no matter their sex or sexual orientation was the way he danced with his guitar while his feet were dancing upon the stage. Start with the fact that nobody wore his guitar slung as low as Jimmy. NOBODY. Most guitarists had their guitars strapped pretty high, which is the best position for clean, fast playing: Steve Howe, Richie Blackmore, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead guys...all guys who strapped it high. Keith Richards and Pete Townshend had theirs a little lower than that, but still nowhere near as low as Jimmy. And I'm sure Jimmy sacrificed some speed and accuracy having his guitar so low...that can't have been good for his wrist and shoulder. But I'll be damned if in 1973 I could tell for he sure sounded fast and accurate enough to me. And that was while he was doing electric gyrations across the stage. When he deigned to stand still like during Rain Song, he sounded as clean as his studio performances. But Jimmy wasn't built to stand still...he used his body to transmit to the audience every electric charge he was feeling through the music. Every whiplash chord, every sinewy solo, transmuted his body. At any given moment, he would swing his guitar away from his body, or hold it aloft with his right arm extended upwards to form a "V". He would be hunched over dramatically studiously focused on the fretboard, or gracefully arched back, back nearly parallel to the ground, while pulling of a solo. Or there were those tender moments, often during SIBLY, when he would pull the guitar up gently in a nearly vertical position, as if he were cradling a baby or a woman, and coax the most beautiful tones out of his instrument. It was a pas de deux between man and guitar and it was mesmerizing, both aurally and visually, beyond compare.

It was Godhead...sheer and utter GODHEAD! But while I was transfixed by the moans and groans emitting from Jimmy's guitar, my girlfriend Trudy was enraptured by something equally as powerful and potent: Robert Plant. Six feet of tanned, blond, British sex-on-two-legs. For while Page's guitar was emoting its way through SIBLY, so was Plant doing his moaning and groaning, while doing his mic stand parry-and-thrusting...sometimes hanging on and gripping the mic so tightly, you thought he would crush it. As Plant and Page engaged in their signature banter, with each seeking to echo and underscore what the other was doing, until both vocal and guitar lines were intertwined, the slow-burn drama of the song began to build towards that crucial hypnotic part right after the guitar solo. When I turned to look at Trudy, she had a look on her face that suggested she was transfixed. Not exactly a 1000 yard stare, she was keenly focused on Mr. Plant, a broad smile creasing her face until later in the song, she was just frozen in open-mouth wonderment. You know that scene in The Song Remains the Same movie, where that beautiful hooded girl breaks into a smile during SIBLY, overcome by the power of the song? That's what it was like watching Trudy during SIBLY. I can't say if it was the best SIBLY I ever saw...I tend to be partial to the SIBLY's where JPJ uses the Hammond B3 organ. But it was plenty emotional and definitely up there with the best.

Now came the Houses of the Holy trilogy of mood: the gloomy winter of No Quarter; summery surge of The Song Remains the Same; and pastoral spring of the Rain Song.

As Jones remained at the keyboards, the fog rolled in off the stage as Jones sounded the opening notes. It was incredible from this vantage point. It seemed at times as if the whole band would be swallowed up by the bank of fog, the stage lights giving it a haunting glow. I don't see how Jimmy could find his wahwah pedal in all that smoke. Speaking of Jimmy, this is one of those songs from Houses of the Holy that, while sounding perfectly okay on record, took on an extra depth, energy and power in concert. Jimmy's riff especially gained depth in concert. On the record, it's suitably fuzzy and kind of jazzy...but it lacks heft. The riff sounds thi and barely there. But not in concert. Once Jimmy stomps on his Crybaby, the riff CRUSHES your skull and you find yourself alone in the snowy, wintery night, chased by the dogs of doom. The sound of the song is MASSIVE...yet you look on stage, and there's ONLY THREE GUYS making this simultaneously huge, yet subtle and colourfully varied sound. No backing tapes or backup musicians a la the Who or Queen. No other 4-piece (which basically was a trio instrumentally, with a vocalist), could equal Zeppelin's sound in 1973. Black Sabbath? HA! Nice try, but ultimately a one-trick pony, and not helped at all by a shoddy muddy sound system.

To watch Led Zeppelin in concert was to be reminded once again of the mathematical trueism: the sum is greater than the parts. While each member of Led Zeppelin was spectacularly proficient on his individual instrument, it was the spontaneous combustion when they got together, the sum total of their talents, the off-the-charts group chemistry they had that made Led Zeppelin special.

Let's face it...Led Zeppelin was playing the same notes, the same blues scales as many other bands. But their talent and sheer force of personality made it appear to the audience that we were hearing these sounds for the first time. They sounded fresh and new the way Zeppelin played them, while Grand Funk, Deep Purple, Uriah Heap, and Sabbath sounded old and stodgy after awhile.

It was during No Quarter, as the lights turned blue and the band worked into the jam groove, that you noticed another singular element about Led Zeppelin...it wasn't so much notes they played, but colours and emotion. Bands like Emerson Lake and Palmer and Deep Purple would show off their instrumental chops and I wouldn't feel anything other than an overwhelming urge to chop off Keith Emerson's hands or knock Richie Blackmore's scowl off his face. With Zeppelin, their jams created a mood, an emotion tied to the song and to some distant yearning in the listener. Time stopped and you felt transported.

Jimmy remembered the second part of the solo, unlike San Francisco, and it was during the latter part of the song that we got the first taste of Jimmy's Theremin, accenting the howls of the dogs of doom. Followed by Jimmy going crazy on the wahwah. As was usual by now on the 73 tour, the song engendered a standing ovation. Trudy and I, along with most of the crowd, had spent SIBLY and No Quarter sitting down, but now were on our feet roaring. And as Jonesy took his bows, and moved to put his Fender bass back on, and Jimmy strapped on his iconic Gibson EDS-1275 12- and 6-string double-neck guitar...red body with black pickguard, thank you very much...I knew we wouldn't be sitting down soon. For by now I knew it was too early for Stairway to Heaven. Besides, with Jones on bass, that meant it was time for the rush of sound that was The Song Remains the Same.

Robert was doing an introduction to the song, and I believe he mentioned Rolling Stone magazine sarcastically...which I think he also did at Kezar. It seems Rolling Stone compared Led Zeppelin unfavourably to Slade, which when you think about it sounds ludicrous. But then, that's where Rolling Stone's head was at at the time. I mean, Slade had some moments but to put them in the same league as Zeppelin was laughable.

So, 1-2-3-4-GO! And The Song Remains the Same blasts us in the face, Bonzo's galloping beats and JPJ's rubberband-man bouncing bass lines underpinning the chiming bells of Jimmy's 12-string guitar. It's such a warm, beautiful sound...those ringing, chiming bells; what a TONE! Then again, there's the magical, indescribable sight of skinny Jimmy, huge doubleneck strapped to his thin frame, weaving and bobbing around the stage, somehow managing to avoid crashing into the drums or decapitating Plant with his guitar. The song is so joyous to hear and see performed, that I'm almost moved to tears of joy again. Trudy and I are boogieing on our seats, as is my BB. The smells of cannabis and hash are in the air, but whether it's because I've built up a resistance or what, I don't really feel affected by it. The groove of the song is IMMENSE and INFECTIOUS! And the camaraderie among the band is evident, with Robert, Jimmy, John and Bonzo exchanging winks and smiles like they were the coolest boy's club in the world. Watching them, I want in...I want to play guitar like Jimmy Page and start a band. That becomes fixed in my brain as the state of supreme happiness.

When Robert sings "California sunlight", I cannot help but beam with state pride...California's mentioned in a Led Zeppelin song! I also notice something else...I prefer Robert's vocals on this song in concert than the helium vocals on the record. The Song Remains the Same is hurtling along, pell-mell, taking the crowd along in its frenzy. Shit is flying through the air and we're all just along for the ride. The song at once sounds tight and together and also about to come apart at the seams. It's like Bonzo said "alright, everybody go on the count of 3, and meet you at the finish!"

The song comes to its end so quickly that you barely get your breath back before the sweet, lilting sound of Jimmy on the 6-string rings in the opening of Rain Song, as the bright lights dim to blue. FYI, Jimmy looks gorgeously spectral in this light. Now, I knew Rain Song followed TSRTS, but Trudy didn't, so as I knew she liked the song, I couldn't wait to see her reaction when the song began. She gave my hand an extra tight squeeze, and as everybody was sitting down again, as I sat down she sat on my lap and gave me a hug and whispered "thank you" in my ear. Again, Robert's vocals were perfect...so tender and filled with sincere emotion. I know some people think he lost it after 1972, but on some songs he sang better than ever. Immigrant Song might have been beyond his reach at this point, but he nailed all the Houses of the Holy songs.

As Jimmy and Jones, who now was seated at his white Mellotron facing right towards Jimmy and Bonzo, began the langorous instrumental interlude after Robert's opening verses, Trudy turned to me and kissed me deeply...and we kept kissing...and kissing all the way through til when the song gets to the rocking middle part. Everybody who has been to a concert with their significant other has had a moment like that. It's a memory emblazoned on my brain and one I will never forget. Whenever I hear Rain Song, I think back to that kiss.

As Jimmy delicately finger picks the closing arpeggios, and Plant brings the song to a rousing finish with a final wail, we are on our feet again giving the band another well-deserved standing ovation. People, mostly the girls, are shouting endearments to the band, as piercing whistles echo through the arena and bics flicker and glow in the darkness. Jimmy takes a bow and nods to the audience before handing his doubleneck to Raymond, his Scottish guitar roadie. As Robert also acknowledges the crowd, and the multifaceted Jones once again switches instruments, Jimmy rolls up his right sleeve. For now it's time to really get to work.

As Jimmy straps on his trusty Les Paul, Robert gives an introduction about an oldie...then only a single spotlight on Jones as the doom-ladened notes of his bass sound the beginning of "Dazed and Confused", in 1973 still one of the most anticipated songs of the night. A whoosh of expectation rushes through the crowd, as Jimmy sounds the first opening squeal of his guitar, heralded by a flash of smoke and fire and deep dark red lights. As Jimmy manipulates the sound of his guitar via his wahwah and and bending the strings behind the tuning peg, the mood turns positively evil. Is this the SAME BAND that just moments ago had transported us to a serene English meadow? In fact, consider the sheer variety and shifts in mood in this stretch of songs: Over the Hills and Far Away...Misty Mountain Hop...Since I've Been Loving You...No Quarter...The Song Remains the Same...Rain Song...Dazed and Confused.

Okay, I have to confess I didn't like the way Robert sang Dazed and Confused in 1973...and 75 as well. Too much unnecessary squealing and changing the lyrics. Saying "I wanna make love to you little girl 25...25...25" over and over was annoying. It's a hoary blues cliche. Wished he would've stayed with the original "will your tongue wag so much when I send you the bill".

But the opening verses pass quickly enough, and 1973 is the last year where Jimmy really hits the vibrato during the chorus riff. Now it's on through the new segment developed for 1973, the fast solo and riffing bit leading into the "San Francisco" segment. I looked over at Trudy and she was still hanging in there. The band was cooking until suddenly it stopped and Jimmy shifted gears and began picking out the most beautifully melancholy melody I've ever heard. The genius of this band to just nonchalantly spring into a riff that other bands would kill for. As we all know by now, that riff was later used as part of "Achilles Last Stand", which I suppose is one reason why Dazed was dropped after 1975...although the band could've just dropped the "San Francisco/Woodstock" segment.

But as much as I love "Achilles", I feel that riff was most effective in the live Dazed and Confused's. It felt more naked and vulnerable...more haunting. As Jimmy played the riff, and Jones and Bonzo figured out when to come in with the beat, Robert sang the lyrics to "San Francisco", the Scott McKenzie song I barely remembered from Monterey Pop. Then as Jimmy leaned on his wahwah and played that phasing sawing riff, Robert added his spectral moans courtesy of his echoplex.

Before you knew it, Jimmy was headed towards his wall of amps, and the moment everybody was looking forward to was at hand...Jimmy had the cello bow in his hand.

At first, as Jimmy applied the heavily rosined bow strings to his guitar, Jones and Bonzo gave light accompaniment, but soon they stopped as the stage darkened with the lights only on Jimmy. Now the bow segment began in earnest, as the most unearthly, loud, resonating howl emerged from the depths of hell. Then, as he began the part where he slaps, or whips the bow against the pickups, and pointing the bow in the direction the sound was reflecting, people began to lose their minds. The lights flashed and changed colour with every slap of the bow...blue, red, yellow, green, orange...as Jimmy pointed left, right, front, back with his bow, bow strings shredding, directing the sound around the arena. Then, the coup des grâce..the lights begin flashing rapidfire as shapes flicker in the background as Jimmy whips his guitar mercilessly, bow strings breaking and flailing everywhere, people in the front row trying to grasp the falling strands. It is one of the most indelible concert moments I've ever seen and heard. By this time Jimmy seemed 10-feet tall, and held complete command of all of us. But he was just beginning.

As he began bowing a spooky, scary-movie motif, I looked at Trudy and saw that she was sitting down, holding her hands over her ears, even with her earplugs already in...this was too much for her to take at her first concert. But like a trouper, she endured it with no complaint, unlike some other girls I took to concerts. One thing people often forget about the bow segment, is that it wasn't just about Jimmy. Depending on how inspired he felt, Robert would also contribute to the sound-orgy by adding his echoplexed melismic moans and howls to Jimmy's bow screeches. With the lightshow getting weirder and weirder, with trippy shapes and shadows projected onto Jimmy Page, the mood of the whole piece attained a level of evil dread that Black Sabbath could only dream of reaching. Every time I saw Black Sabbath, I could never take their attempts to be dark and evil seriously...mainly because Ozzy was such a ridiculous frontman. He was like a hyperactive frog.

As the bow segment reached it's climax, and Jimmy unleashed the hounds of hell, the sound began to drive you mad...you can't imagine how loud and shrill it was. Nor the white noise harmonic overtones that added to the texture of the sound. By now, Jimmy was frantically rubbing his fingers up and down the strings from the neck of his guitar to the pickups, while sawing his bow, with barely any strings left. With his hand rubbing more violently, I feared he was going to slice his hand on the strings. Bonzo joined in the final unholy climax of noise, and as Jimmy threw the bow away, the band got ready to gallop into the marathon jam, with Bonzo, Jones, and Jimmy hitting a few preparatory power chords before launching into the first fast guitar solo section familiar from the album version. From here the song becomes KINETIC personified. Behind the drums, Bonzo is hammering away at a racehorse pace, head snapping at the beat, each strike of the kick drum knocking you for a loop. Meanwhile, Jones is rolling through that endlessly looping bassline at inhuman speed, using just his fingers...NO PICK! Then there's Jimmy, strafing the audience with blitzkrieg runs up and down the neck of his guitar...how his guitar is still in tune after the violent lovemaking he gave it during the bow segment is beyond me. And don't forget Robert...he's not taking a break during this jam, either. Whether engaging in call-and-responses with Jimmy, or boogieing along to the music, Robert was a lion on the prowl.

As the band worked through the different changes, Jimmy, Bonham and Jones watching and listening to each other for the various cues, the incredible stamina of the band hit me with the force of a Bonham beat. Here we were, nearing the 90 minute mark, and while most bands would just be wrapping up their shows by now, Led Zeppelin were just getting started, savagely attacking their instruments with godlike intensity. The Rolling Stones would already be in their limos heading out of the Forum parking lot.

But Led Zeppelin asked no quarter...and they gave no quarter. When you entered a Led Zeppelin concert, you were entering a test of extreme stamina and emotions. Led Zeppelin was body music to the extreme, but it was also music for the head and psyche. After a Zeppelin concert, not only would your body feel pummeled, but your psyche, emotions and senses felt like they'd been put through the wringer. It was total immersion.

The boys were winging their way through the various twists and turns of the Dazed and Confused jam, Jimmy and Bonzo taking delight in prodding each other. My girlfriend had decided to take it all in sitting down...the storm of sound that is Dazed and Confused was a bit much for her. Baby steps I thought to myself...everything in good time. By now, sweat was flying off Jimmy's hair everytime he whipped around. I wouldn't be surprised if the people in the front row got sprinkled with a bit of holy sweat. As Jimmy navigated the twists and turns and dips and dives of the jam, he pulled out all the stops. Electro-stagger steps...laybacks...whirls and twirls...chicken dances. He was everything you want a guitar-hero to be...and his boundless energy was stunning to behold.

1973 was the last year I truly enjoyed Dazed and Confused from start to finish. In 1975, while I liked parts of Dazed, I found the energy of the piece as a whole, flagged at times...sometimes even coming to a complete halt. In 1973, the energy was NON-STOP! Like I said, it was a ocean of sound, a storm of sensory overload battering the senses. A complete contrast, say, to the jam in No Quarter. No Quarter was more a study in the use of space in a jam, Jonesey's piano, Jimmy's guitar, and Bonham's drums working off each other's tangents. Dazed and Confused was more about exploring every riff's possibility for themes and variations. That's why there's enough good riffs in Dazed and Confused to create 6 or 7 new songs.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, as the band comes to the end of the song, where any normal band would hurry to the finish, Led Zeppelin find one last spark of inspiration and take the audience on one last stratospheric jam...Bonzo and Jones engaging in a funky, bouncy round-and-round groove, while Jimmy goes in wahwah hyperspace. Just when you think the song couldn't last any longer, you're engrossed and groovin' to this spacey jam and you think to yourself that you wouldn't mind the jam going on for a while. Several minutes later, Bonzo's flying fists of fury are flailing around his kit at supersonic speed, and 30-some-odd minutes later, Dazed and Confused comes to an end. The band and audience both seem half- euphoric and half-exhausted. Jimmy smilingly accepts the hosannas of the rabid crowd. Again, the intensity and vibe of the crowd tonight seems 10 times the previous shows, which in turn seems to be inspiring the band to greater heights.

More Plantations follow, as Jimmy once again straps on the Gibson doubleneck, and Jones sits again at the Mellotron. I can't remember exactly when during the concert Plant made these remarks, but I know he mentioned Jimmy's hand injury and how he had been soaking it in a bucket of ice-cold water ever since the injury. He also said something to the effect of "you shouldn't be here tonight and we should be in England", in reference to the May 30 show being rescheduled for June 3.

Robert Plant's relaxed remarks and calm control of the stage revealed another reason why Plant was such a singular presence in the 70's. Apart from his sexual charisma and primal rock voice, it was refreshing to have a frontman from England that you could understand when he talked between songs. I couldn't understand half of what Mick Jagger or Ozzy Osbourne were talking about when they bantered between songs. Of course, it didn't help that they were yelling half the time. Which brings me to another plus about Plant...he wasn't a hype-meister who condescended to the crowd. Robert could talk and joke with the crowd with a quiet confidence, a relaxed nature that made a show feel intimate even though there were 18,000 other people in the room. And if he wanted quiet, he wasn't afraid to issue a curt "shut up a tic" to the crowd. Most frontmen so want to be liked that they're afraid of saying anything that would piss off the audience. But the quality I most admired in Robert was his refusal to be a hype-meister and phony. Mick Jagger and Ozzy Osbourne being two examples of the above. Mick and Ozzy found it necessary to constantly harangue the audience to make some noise and go crazy, always yelling, Yelling, YELLING at the audience. It's like they didn't trust the music to excite us, they had to whip us up in a frenzy like they were working a circus sideshow. It became annoying after a while. Sorry Mick and Ozzy, I don't always have to be jumping up and down and waving my hands in the air to have a good time. Sometimes I just want to be still and concentrate on the music. They are like the precursors to today's rap hype-men. Robert trusted Led Zeppelin's music to do the talking. He didn't need to scream the cliché "Are you ready to rock, Cleveland?" or the equally hoary "make some noise!" And THAT Midlands England accent...such a distinctive and charming accent!

Plus, the guy was gorgeous with the most amazing head of hair in rock history. I put it to you that no other rock frontman could have worn those flowery, feminine blouses that Plant wore, and still retain the masculine sexuality that Plant did. And Plant was sly enough, and confident enough in his masculinity, to allow the feminine, androgynous side to shine through, too. He was a sexual beacon for all.

But he wasn't the only one...and that is yet another reason Led Zeppelin had such a devastating impact on people, not just musically but sexually as well. For in addition to the blond Viking god, Robert, you had the yin to his yang, the dark, mysterious, ethereal Jimmy Page.

The next song showed this duality off to terrific effect. As Jimmy played one of the most instantly recognizable song intros ever, his guitar was momentarily drowned out by the huge roar of the crowd. Almost a year and a half since LZ IV's release and Stairway to Heaven had assumed anthem status. The blue lights sparkled off Jimmy's doubleneck, and reflected off the sweat on his face and in his hair. As Robert sang the opening lines, another roar erupted from the crowd, before everyone sat down to take in the song. This is where the band showed their understanding of pacing, as they knew after the half-hour of Dazed and Confused, the crowd would need a respite to regroup before building the audience's excitement back up again to carry over into Moby Dick. Stairway to Heaven was the perfect song choice.

Meanwhile Trudy had recovered from the Dazed and Confused onslaught, and liking Stairway to Heaven, her attention perked up...especially the way Robert Plant was glowing before her. Let me explain. While the majority of the stage was bathed in a cool blue light, golden spotlights shone on Robert from behind. So while his chest glistened with sweat in the mystic blue light, the spotlight behind him gave his hair a giant golden halo effect. I looked over at Trudy and once again, she had THAT LOOK. She had been zapped by the Golden God. And the effect was heightened by the fact that Robert stood mostly still while singing the first few verses of Stairway, so that when Robert looked our way, Trudy could imagine he was singing straight to her. Coupled with Jimmy standing to the side, blue light casting an ethereal shimmer on him, both Robert and Jimmy appeared to be a couple of Sylvan Sylphs, visiting our world to spread a little musical majick.

Bonzo soon added a little earthy reality as he came in with the beat, his snare sounding resoundingly through the Forum. Then, as the stage lights brightened to a white heat, it was time for Jimmy's fanfare, his doubleneck held aloft, vertically upright, fretboards parallel to his body. Then, THE SOLO! By now, it was de rigueur that every Stairway solo was different, which in my opinion, was a lot of pressure for Jimmy to put on himself. I mean, think of the strain and stress of having to come up with a different solo every night. But as I mentioned before, they asked no quarter, they gave no quarter. By the solo, most of us had risen to our feet again, and watched with elation as Jimmy tangoed with his doubleneck one last time for the night, wringing every last bit of emotion from the neck of his guitar. Come the final hard rocking part, and I think Plant stunned a few of us with the intensity of his attack on the final lyrics...he was holding nothing back. This was a band that still played Stairway to Heaven like they MEANT it. Needless to say, Plant's gentle reading of the final line triggered a massive wave of love as lighters were lit and more flowers thrown on stage and waves and waves of cheers descended upon the band as the lights hitting the mirror ball high above the arena threw 1000's of fractured shards of light spinning around the darkened Forum. Another memorable moment.

Now it was time for Bonham's showcase, Moby Dick, and it is a sign of the times that people still cheered a drum solo back then. But Trudy needed a pit stop, and as I had already seen 2 Moby Dick's this tour already(although I only remembered the Forum one), I didn't mind escorting her to the women's restroom and getting her a coke. Apparently we weren't the only ones making a pit stop at that time...as the line for the restrooms and snacks were huge. Judging by the length of the women's line, women have less of a tolerance for drum solos than men. The BB joined us, and while waiting for Trudy to emerge from the bathroom, we compared tonight's show so far with Bonzo's Birthday show the previous Thursday while we hit the men's room. I thought it was going even better than Thursday's concert. He wasn't sure. We both agreed the crowd seemed even more geeked up than Thursday...more geeked up than any concert crowd we had seen. FINALLY Trudy emerged from her restroom hell, and we headed to the snack bar line, where BB was already waiting for us, having gone ahead while I waited for Trudy. After nearly 20 minutes or so, we had drained our bladders and gotten some more coke to fill them up again. We were ready for the final stretch of the show..

As we made our way back to our seats, we saw the last bit of Moby Dick, as Robert shouted "John Bonham! John Henry Bonham! 25 years old" while Bonham stood up and tipped his hand to the crowd. Of course, Bonham's drum solo was so loud, that even though we were in line outside, we could still HEAR Bonzo even if we couldn't SEE him.
Meanwhile, there had been a few sartorial changes while Bonzo was making like Animal from the Muppets. Somehow, the red flowers in Plant's pants now were attached to Bonham's drumkit, and Plant had planted new flowers in his crotch. And Jimmy had ditched his sweaty orange-red shirt in exchange for a black zippered windbreaker jacket, with the zipper undone nearly all the way.

Bonham went into the 1973-style intro for Heartbreaker, and as Jimmy's wondrous 1973 tone carved its way like a scythe across the Forum as those buzz-saw riffs strutted like a tiger in heat, the band's intent became clear. It now became clear why the band dumped the acoustic set for the 1973 US tour.

As the 1973 US tour would be their longest and largest yet...more cities, more dates, larger venues...the band probably realized that they would attract a lot of casual and first-time fans on this tour. With the increased focus on Public Relations, there would also be increased media scrutiny. It seems, if you look at the setlist, and the way certain songs were linked together, that the band wanted to streamline their set for maximum impact. No more long gaps tuning up, or setting up acoustic guitars and stools. They kept the marathons the hard core fans loved (Dazed and Confused and Moby Dick), while adding enough of the eclectic and soft material to make up for the loss of the acoustic set(Rain Song, No Quarter, OTHAFA). And look at all the linkages, which cut way down on song intro time, not to mention equipment changes:

1. Rock and Roll>Celebration Day>Black Dog
2. Misty Mountain Hop>Since I've Been Loving You
3. The Song Remains the Same>Rain Song
4. Heartbreaker>Whole Lotta Love

Another consideration that may have led to the dropping of the acoustic set, is the reality that the ability of mics to pick up acoustic guitars in an arena setting with high quality was hit-and-miss in the early 70's. The band might have said let's wait until microphone technology improves before dealing with the hassles of miking acoustic guitars in a humid basketball arena. Just a hunch.

Whatever the reason, the 1973 setlist was a model of pacing and variety delivered for maximum impact.

Right off the bat, three quick all-out hard rockers: R & R, Celebration Day, and Black Dog.

Then, two more rockers that are slightly more eclectic: OTHAFA and Misty Mtn Hop.

Then a long stretch of new songs and old showcasing a variety of moods and tempos and solo showcases: SIBLY, No Quarter, TSRTS, Rain Song, D & C, Stairway, and Moby Dick.

Finally, the ramp back up to high energy rockers to send the crowd out on a high: Heartbreaker, WLL, The Ocean, Communication Breakdown.

Back to Heartbreaker...Bonzo is a friggen' marvel in this song; more than 2 hours of playing and right after completing a huge drum solo that would have exhausted most men, and John Henry is STILL delivering crisp fill after fill and hitting the beat hard. Jimmy is moving and grooving as only he can, and as he tempts and teases us during the wicked guitar solo, leaning out over the lip of the stage as he bends the strings behind the nut, it's hard to believe that he just recently injured his hand. You'd never know it the way Jimmy is blazing on guitar tonight. After I saw the Bonzo Birthday Party concert, I made a mental comparison between that show and the 1972 shows, and for the most part I felt the songs played in 73 were just as good, if not better than the same songs played in 72. The two major exceptions were Heartbreaker and Whole Lotta Love. I thought both those songs were played better in 72 than 73. And while tonight's Heartbreaker was better than May 31, I still didn't like the way it cut off the end to go into Whole
Lotta Love.

Whole Lotta Love started more smoothly than on May 31, more crisp and immediately in the groove. Watching Jimmy take a turn at the backing vocals was always a treat. But the real treat lay ahead during the Theremin segment. 1973 is when the Theremin segment came into its own. They ditched the bongo and organ underpinnings from the past, and finally got down and funky, with Bonham and Jones laying down a mean groove, while Page and Plant did battle with each other. Most of the time they would lead into the Theremin segment with a bit of The Crunge or some James Brown groove. But tonight they dove right into the Theremin segment, with Jones and Bonzo establishing the beat, as Plant asked where that confounding bridge was..."Has anybody seen the bridge?" But the main event occured when Jimmy cranked up his Theremin and Gizmotron, which I think were run through his Orange Amps. In one corner you had Plant at the left, his echoplexed orgasmic moans and cries of love whirling around the Forum as he pirouetted around the mic stand. Then in the right corner stood Jimmy, the Grand Wizard of Sound, directing with his elaborate hand movements bolts of whooshing and whirring sound to do battle with Plants orgiastic wails. It was like a Battle Royale...and once again, another indelible concert memory was imprinted on my psyche. There Jimmy was, hands arcing this way and that as he slid and stalked across the stage, his arms and hands directing the eerie electronic sounds this way and that. Truly remarkable...what a showman Jimmy is.

This theremin duel seemed to last a little longer than most...as if they were having one last bit of fun before the tour break. The crazy sounds were whirling around your head, buzzing your brain while Bonzo and Jones were making everybody get their groove on. After about 5 minutes of delirium, Jimmy cranked his guitar up again and launched into the famous WLL solo. One more verse and chorus and Plant unleashed one of his epic "Wanna whole lotta LOOOOOOOOOVE!"

Now the other night, they only did Boogie Mama, which kind of disappointed me, being used to the 25-minute Whole Lotta Loves with the wacky medleys. So right away I was stoked, as when Plant would normally begin his "Last night" spiel, he instead said "I'm going down", and the band followed suit, Jimmy nailing that staccato riff. YES! This what I wanted...something different and spontaneous. I was holding Trudy's hand and we were swinging our arms back and forth. A couple more verses and a guitar solo, then the band is crunching out the I'm A Man riff, then it's The Hunter...awesome, as this is one of my favourite parts of How Many More Times! Finally the band lets Robert tell us about his mama and his papa, too. This boy's reached the age of 24 and he wants to BOO-BOO-BOO-BOO-BOO-BOO-BOOGIE! When Jimmy starts that Boogie Mama riff, the anticipation and excitement builds until the whole band joins in and the Forum explodes with joy, as the infectious tune has the crowd happy and boogieing. Robert is shaking it one time for Elvis...well, actually he's shaking it a helluva lot more times than once. While Robert is shaking his bum, Jimmy is reeling off solo after solo, as once again the band's energy and stamina is a marvel. Just like that Robert intones "Woman...woman...woman", and we're back to finish Whole Lotta Love. "Waaaaayyyy down insiiiiide..." As Robert heads to the finale, I make sure Trudy can see as I don't want her to miss this...we have our arms around each other. The band hits those two power chords as Plant gathers himself for that epic "LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!"

Bonham starts his rat-a-tat fill as the lights briefly flash and dim until right at the moment Jimmy comes in with the WLL riff and BLAM BLAM BLAM! Three fireballs explode behind the stage, the heat of the fire warming our faces! Trudy freaks out at the explosions...she wasn't expecting THAT, hahaha. Oh, but there's more pyro to come...as Jimmy plays the wahwah variation of the riff, Bonzo's gong is prepared with the lighter fluid soaked wraps. All hell breaks loose then as Jones and Jimmy are slashing away at their instruments, Plant is howling above the din, and Bonzo bashes away at his Gong of Fire, flames surrounding Bonham as the whole thing becomes a sight-and-sound bonanza, crescendoing deliriously to the finish. The crowd is a sea of madness...we've been whipped into a frenzy and the band hasn't even left the stage before cries of "MORE!" ring out. Now some bands will only wait 30 seconds to a minute before coming back out for the encore. Led Zeppelin is different, natch. They make sure the audience is serious about wanting an encore, making us clap and scream and stomp deliriously for almost 5 minutes before the band makes it's way on stage. There's been more stuff thrown on stage in the interim.

Now, one way the 1973 Oceans were better than the 1972s, was that in 73 you got the Bonham spoken-word intro, which was always a treat. Bonham also sang harmony with Plant on the la la la part. The Ocean is a song for the fans, and the fans eat it up. It's snappy riff and monster beat lends itself to a happy vibe. It's a giant party in the Forum as people are clapping and dancing up a storm! Trudy and I have got our second wind and are dancing as energetically as we were earlier in the night, 2 and a half hours ago. Now, having had the Houses of the Holy album for 2 months, I had already memorized most of the lyrics, so I knew The Ocean by heart. On the May 31 show, I thought perhaps Plant switched lyrics during The Ocean, but I wasn't sure. So tonight as the band played The Ocean, I silently sang along and sure enough, Robert switched the 2nd and 3rd verses! Of course, I was later to discover he had a habit of transposing lyrics to other songs: Kashmir, TSRTS, No Quarter, Sick Again, Trampled Underfoot. The Ocean is such a killer song, though, I didn't really care about Robert's lyrical switch. Once again, as I watched Jimmy uncork another one of his rubberband-leg dances and the obvious relish with which the band was playing the tune, I think this is such a perfect encore song...one for the fans. In hindsight, I wish they hadn't dropped it from the set so quick...it would have made a better encore song in 1975 than Black Dog. Same in 77.

The Ocean is so infectious and sweeps you up into its party wake so easily that it's over much too quickly. And just like that the band is off again, while this crowd is not going to settle for one encore. I'm still kind of hoping, since this is the last night of the leg, that we'll get a blow-out of the likes of the June 25, 1972 show, with multiple encores. But as the setlist was exactly the same on May 31 and June 2, and so far tonight as well, I wasn't getting my hopes up.

A few more minutes of hooting and hollering and back come the guys for a second encore. I listened to my "Three Days After" bootleg so many times in the 70's and 80's, that I can still recall exactly what Robert said before the starting the song: "This is something we don't seem to have trouble with...". And Jimmy warms up the Les Paul, then rockets into Communication Breakdown, an early precursor to speed metal, and already faster and heavier than Black Sabbath's Paranoid. The song unleashes a flurry of headbanging in the Forum, your humble narrator included. Until after the solo, when the band switches gears effortlessly from metal to funk, as the band extrapolates on the O'Jays "It's Your Thing" groove, with Jimmy weaving an incredible snake-like riff in and around the beat. What a conjurer of riffs...what a snakecharmer Jimmy is!

The band quickly ramps back to finish Communication Breakdown after the funky interlude. And afterwards, I'm expecting the band to take their bows again and say their goodbyes and disappear off stage. But WAIT! They're making no move to leave the stage...are we, the final night's audience, who have already proven to be one of the loudest and intense, going to get a special treat? YOU BETCHA! I have to bite my lip to contain my excitement as Jonesy sits behind his Hammond B3 organ. Robert then says, "We'd like to say something else." Jones then starts playing his organ solo, and I am so beside myself, I'm practically levitating. For while she knew Rain Song would be played, as I told her, I also said they had not played Thank You. But knowing that Jones organ solo lead into Thank You, I began to get goose bumps from excitement. Since Trudy didn't know this, I decided not to tell her so it would be a surprise. As Jones executed a sweet gospel-inflected solo, leading to the final fade into silence, as Jimmy prepared to enter, I was literally bursting. Then came those delicate opening chords to Thank You, before Jones and Bonzo entered and Jimmy cranked the volume on his guitar and the riff exploded as a cheer went up. I looked at Trudy and she looked so happy and so awestruck at the same time...we immediately began to kiss, standing on our seats in the middle of the crowd with the song enveloping us. Now, if you've heard the Three Days After boot, you know that after the initial cheer when Thank You begins, 30 seconds later an even larger cheer occurs. Something obviously happened. But what? That is what people have been asking me for years...and I tell 'em, I don't have a clue. For while that was going on, Trudy and I had locked lips and were holding our bodies tight against each other as we let the warm sound of the song cocoon us. So I don't know what caused that sudden crowd eruption...maybe a stage diver? Someone threw a giant joint on stage? A streaker? Maybe Silver Rider climbed up on stage and gave Jimmy a kiss?

All I know is that once again, I was in a state of absolute bliss, such extreme happiness, that I thoought I was having an out of body experience. Here I was, 11 years old, with a sweet girlfriend, whose tongue was doing loop-de-loos in my mouth...AND I already had 5 LED ZEPPELIN concerts under my belt. I knew that no matter what darkness the future held for me, the memory of this night would sustain me through any tough times.

And it did...and still does to this day.

Frankly, Thank You was a blur that night...was it as good as 72 or earlier versions? I don't know. It sounded pretty good to Trudy and me that night! All I know is that we got to hear one of the last Thank Yous ever...definitely the LAST THANK YOU IN L.A.!

Again, Thank You seemed such a perfect encore song, you wonder why it wasn't played as an encore all the time. Thank You over, we held out hope for another encore, so after the band bowed and said good night and goodbye, we stuck around just in case. But really, how could the band top that...Thank You was the perfect song to go out on.

We waited for the house lights to come up, so we weren't stumbling in the dark. Now it's one thing to leave the Forum from the stands, whereby you exit through the concourse and soon you're outside in the fresh air. But on the floor, once the lights come up, you're hit in the face with the craziness...all around you on the floor are hats, glasses, various shoes, ticket stubs, t-shirts left behind, a tambourine, trash of all shapes and sizes, spilled coke and beer. The detritus left behind at a concert is truly staggering. As we left our seats and headed for the tunnel that led out to the parking lot, I noticed a group of fans lingering at the front of the stage talking to the security guys...perhaps trying to talk their way backstage. Today, people try to get the roadies to hand them a setlist or a stray drumstick, but Zeppelin never used printed setlists.

Walking through the spilled drinks on the floor was one thing, but when we hit the tunnel...PEEUW! As loud shouts of "ZEPPELIN!" and "Fuck Yeah!" and "ROCK AND ROLL!" and "WOO HOO!" sounded through the corridor, the overwhelming stench of stale beer and sweat hit us in the narrow tunnel. What a blessed relief to finally make it outside in the crisp June night air.

After orienting ourselves, we found BB's Chevy Malibu, and joined the line of cars exiting the parking lot. Sure, it's a bit of a wait...but totally worth it. I feel sorry for those that left early to beat the traffic and missed Thank You.

Trudy and I are still in a state of bliss...we fairly floated out of the Forum. In my excited state and the glow of L-O-V-E suffusing me, I declare that that was the best concert I've ever seen. Trudy is too overwhelmed by it all to say much. The BB decides to treat us to a post-show nosh, and we hit the classic A-Frame IHOP down the street from the Forum on Manchester. While Trudy and I peruse the menu, BB makes a call to Trudy's mom to let her know the situation...we're having a post-show meal and then we'll head home. Trudy and I decide to share an order of strawberry pancakes with whip cream. And hot chocolate. They taste pretty good...but then, pretty much all food tastes good after midnight when you've been at a concert all night. Trudy can't wait to tell her friends and sister about the concert...she's finally in a state where she can talk about the show. She thought it was wild and made me promise to take her to see Zeppelin again the next time they played LA. She didn't care for Dazed and Confused though...that was too much for her. She said she literally got scared during the bow segment...it was hurting her ears and freaked her out. The BB said he thought the show was better than May 31, but that the 72 Forum was best overall...he missed the acoustic set.

Our hunger sated, we headed home, south on the 405, Trudy asleep with her head on my lap, as BB drove. I ruminated over all my favourite bands and concerts I had seen...the Stones, Dylan, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Yes, ELP, Elvis Presley, Roberta Flack, Joni Mitchell. It was now 1973...ten years from when the Beatles burst on the scene. A full decade. And in 1973, Led Zeppelin seemed to be the supreme summation of all the influences that came before that led to the developing of hard rock and also represent the possibilities for hard rock to transcend its influences and barriers. No other band did what they did...with the variety and power that they did it with. Not that other bands weren't good...the Stones, Floyd, Yes, Jethro Tull...all had something to recommend them. But when I measured them against Led Zeppelin, they all came up short...and I'm not just referring to the length of their concerts. The combination of musical prowess, stage presence, star power, charm, sensory stimulation, emotional depth, and sheer stamina all added up to one special band.

Seeing Led Zeppelin in 1973 confirmed to me that while my eclectic taste would allow me to listen to and love a wide range of bands...even bands with no guitars and drum machines...it would always be hard rock, or at least Zeppelin-style hard rock that would be my primary taste. And it would be the electric guitar that represented the sound of rock and roll. And Jimmy Page was THE MAN in 1973, when it came to the electric guitar.

1973 was the year Led Zeppelin ascended Mount Olympus. Houses of the Holy returned them to #1 on the Billboard chart. Their 1973 European and US tours were mega-successful. They broke the Beatles long-standing attendance record and caused hysteria with nearly every concert. Word-of-mouth spread like wildfire. They could even afford to hire their own plane...the Starship. If in 1971, Stairway to Heaven made them superstars, by the end of the 73 tour Led Zeppelin had gone from superstars to rock gods.

In a rare case of the reality not only matching, but exceeding the marketing hype, Led Zeppelin in concert delivered the goods, and then some.

Led Zeppelin: The effect truly was SHATTERING.