July 26, 1969
Vancouver, BC CA
setlist includes: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown
Review: Led Zeppelin Flies Directly to the Nerve Ends
Not incidentally, one of the most spine-chilling songs of the Led Zeppelin is called Dazed & Confused.
This heavy English rock group, which appeared Saturday to a capacity audience at the Agrodome, works on the principle of sensory overload – extreme volume, a screaming vocalist, brilliant musicianship, a harsh sound that goes directly to the nerve ends, and involvement with the audience.
Led Zeppelin exists on the genius of lead guitarist Jimmy Page, whose baby face belles his musical message, that of jarring and unnerving the listeners with a fortissimo yowl that never lets up, never allows time for recovery.
Only in a haunting, beautiful solo did Page show any compassion, any feeling for lyricism. Page is a street corner philosopher who uses a loudhailer to speak to a little old lady asking for directions. One of his songs is titled Communication Breakdown. He obviously believes that to reach people’s hearts he has to slice through the layer of fat that holds emotions immobile.
Rock groups have to move, musically and philosophically. Being static leads to stagnancy, as was evident in the force-running performance of Vanilla Fudge only last year very much ahead of Led Zeppelin.
Page is moving fast. He has brought his group to the top with various means. He elicits from his guitar a big sound that I’ve never heard live before from any other guitarist. He employs a violin now, he fiddles around with amplifiers, and the result is so novel, so powerful, so dynamic that he holds his audience in awe.
He is aided by vocalist Robert Plant, an Englishman, whose voice sounds like the male counterpart of blues screamer Janis Joplin.
Plant and Page frequently engage in a musical duologue occasionally funny but most of the time more like a scream for help. Voice and guitar try to speak to one another but achieve only aping effects.
Drummer John Bonham does the obligatory solo with a difference. He has the clarity, the inventiveness and the technical skill of the late Cream’s Ginger Baker. A virtuoso, both brash and sensitive.
Bass guitarist John Paul Jones stays largely in the background, but his modesty is also his virtue. He is in perfect accord with Page and together they provide the vibrant glissandi and cadences that make Led Zeppelin’s sound unique.
In rock parlance, Led Zeppelin is a very together group. It is made up of four individual musical artists attuned to each other’s whims, capable of ensemble performance as well as separate forays into the jungle of lonely escapades.
How perfectly Led Zeppelin has assessed the hang-ups of their listeners is evident when Plant screams, “Do you feel all right?”
And seething mob below the platform screams back: “Yes!” (J. Hesse / Vancouver Sun / July 1969)