February 27, 1975
Houston, TX US
Includes: Rock and Roll, Sick Again, Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker
Press Review excerpt: Zeppelin: “the Priests of Rock”?
If loud and hard is what you like, then surely you were among the delirious who crammed the Coliseum to capacity Thursday night, where the supreme priests of heavy metal held high rock mass. Yes, it was those much maligned, often misunderstood, yet perennially popular boys from Britain. Led Zeppelin. Though they are blasting their way across America on what is expected to be the largest single grossing enterprise in the history of rock and roll. The high-flying blimp managed to swoop down long enough to sufficiently melt the eardrums of some 15,000 Houston rock fans.
If you were one of the thousands of Zeppelin fanatics who threatened to take the Galleria by storm last month, and were lucky enough to survive as a ticket holder, the premium price you paid for general admission entitled you to meet the same thousands Thursday night in the Coliseum. The stands of the hall were filled to over brimming with banks of eager faces. The floor was a slowly boiling sea of humanity which could be traversed only by tiptoeing through yards of stoned teenies or muscling your way through a forest of tightly – packed bodies.
Zeppelin’s legions gathered this time, considerable more well-mannered, to get-down and get it on, and that’s precisely what they proceeded to do.
By 8:20, a heavy veil of cannabis hung like a grey canopy over the Coliseum crowd that buzzed with anticipation. The house lights dimmed and a surge of electricity shot through the audience. Premonitory screams drowned out an unnecessary introduction as an instant replay of Mt. Vesuvius erupted on stage.
It’s been a long time since they’ve rocked and rolled in Space City (almost a year and a half), and perhaps that is why the Zeppelin launched into their three and a half hour set with Rock and Roll, a cut from their fourth album.
That night, lead singer Robert Plant would approach the microphone, dressed like a faded Celtic peacock in bells and billowing blouse to say: “Our intention is to cut right across like a piece of ice cream, or whip cream, across the spectrum of our music.”. And indeed, from their initial number to their second encore, Led Zeppelin gave us a generous sampling from their five platinum albums and their newest release, Physical Graffiti.
Older numbers like Over the Hills and Far Away and Dazed & Confused were punctuated with such new material as the oriental-flavored Kashmir, the unabashed rocker Trampled Underfoot and the synthesizer-assisted drum solo of percussionist John Bonham.
Being a veteran of every Led Zeppelin tour since the Texas Pop Festival in 1969, I have observed a steady change in the group’s approach to performing their music in concert. The Zeppelin’s performances have evolved from an accurate, albeit highly charged reproduction of their recordings into a showcase of improvisation – dominated by lead guitarist Jimmy Page. Granted, mimicking one’s albums night after night, tour after tour would inspirationally be the kiss of death for any performer, but there must be a middle ground of artistic compromise – especially in Led Zeppelin’s case.
The secret of the Zeppelin alchemy that turns “Led” into cashbox gold is its tight timing that shamelessly relies on raw rhythm – a rocking visceral pulse as old as tribal drums, the rocking cradle or the primal throb of the heard itself.
“This song can’t be retrospective… so it must be, honestly for you, “ cooed Robert Plant in to the mic, as the band floated into the ethereal strains of probably the most significant Zeppelin song, Stairway to Heaven. Page’s electric twelve-string soared like a homesick angel, with Plant’s vocal not far behind as the power quartet brought the concert to a crescendo. At barely 10:55, Messrs Plant, Page, Bonham and Jones left the stage only to be followed by a 10-minute ovation of cries for more and the now standard lit-matches salute.
All of this, of course, was carefully calculated to fire the crowd, for the might blimp returned on stage as hundreds of lights exploded to encircle the stage and illuminate the 10-foot letters spelling out “LED ZEPPELIN”, Broadway marquis-style – sheer showbiz. The triumphant musicians then treated the crowd to two encores, a Theremin augmented version of the meaty hit Whole Lotta Love and an unfamiliar blues jam. After they thundered through an expanded Heartbreaker, the four boys from Britain bid the audience farewell amidst cries for more.
“Goodnight Houston”, we love you”, the lion-maned singer called out as the Zeppelin blasted off on a limousine assisted flight into the stratospheres of superstardom.
Judging by the vacant look of stoned bliss on the faces of departing concert goers Thursday night, the four sonic sorcerers had indeed effectively cast their spell over some fifteen thousand who filled out to their cars, their heads still smoking from a sub-lethal dose of Zeppelin magic. [R.Bruce, March 1975]