September 3, 1970
San Diego, CA US
Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, Bring It On Home, That's Way, Since I've Been Loving You, Organ solo / Thank You, What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (medley incl. Let That Boy Boogie, Roberta, Crosscut Saw, Travelling Riverside Blues, Honey Bee, Lawdy Miss Clawdy), Communication Breakdown.
Press Review: A Noisy Evening by Led Zeppelin
The Led Zeppelin is a well-known hard rock group whose reputation has little to do with music – or so I would judge from the ensemble’s performance last night at the Sports Arena. The show put on was a combination of the old-time religion and burlesque, but it was not essentially a musical experience.
The performance was old-time religion without a message and without a moral, although there was plenty that was physical for the congregation of young people. There was the hand clapping, the shouting, the parading in the aisles – and finally there was the self-induced frenzy that was once the trademark of some evangelical religious sects.
Led Zeppelin was a kind of burlesque, but burlesque without nudity, and certainly without leering humour that usually marks that idiom.
Robert Plant, the vocalist, and his three sideman (Jimmy Page, guitar; John Paul Jones, bass; and John Bonham drums), all knew about bumps and grinds and they knew most of the other movements and sounds with which the masters of burlesque ply their art.
Plant grunted and groaned and as a singer his most effective weapon was a screaming falsetto. He could also make sound effects that imitated the guitar and bass, but his words were virtually impossible to understand. Lucky, Led Zeppelin had no message of social or political reform.
As for the music itself, the principal expressive attribute was volume – wave after car-splitting wave of volume, I suppose it is useless to complain about the harm being done to ears of young audiences – useless particularly when the idiom is so exclusively visceral. But after the decibel fad has passed, the damage will have been done to thousands of little ear drums.
Suffice it to say that the music was so loud it made the sears shake until they felt like therapeutic vibrator chairs – literally.
The one moment that came nearest to a musical experience in the traditional sense was an organ solo by John Paul Jones. With all of the echo and electronic feedback employed in this style, there were some mildly interesting polytonal effects and Jones displayed a rather highly developed rhythmic independence among voice parts.
The young audience seemed to need the chaos, the jostling, the hypnotic rhythms and the psychodrama of it all. It did not seem to have turned out purely in anticipation of a concert and other than for a few young, apparently easily excitable young girls, it seemed a rather passive group.
Anyway, if this music is part of the new life style, it somehow makes the wrong side of 40 seem like the right side. [by D. Dierks/Music Critic/SD Union/9-4-70]