Their performance Sunday night (July 29) was almost as overwhelming as their money-making ability. Power, innovation, theatricism, mysticism all were textured qualities surrounding the three hour set.
Their latest release, Houses of the Holy, continues in a direction of musical innovation for Zeppelin. It is perhaps its most polished album, one whose musical complexity and versatility supersedes any current disc and one that shows Zeppelin’s undauntedness for varying musical expression.
Example: John Paul Jones only plays bass, but organ, keyboards and the mellotron with expertise.
“No matter how efficient we are musically, I think once you know what’s coming, and that relates to anything you get into, it becomes a bore”, Jimmy Page says. “That’s why every LP’s so different. If they weren’t, our LPs would have all stuck in the same sort of groove, more or less. But all our minds are alive and working – that’s why we go through all these changes. With us, we’re changing every night,” Page says.
“We never get two guitar breaks that are the same. All those riffs appear out of nowhere – every night. It keeps us from getting bored because there’s always something new to look forward to. You never know what’s going to come out. It’s like embarking on a mysterious adventure every night.”
“The only annoying thing is when you really hit on some good things, they’re lost in time, it goes into the other dimension, you’ve lost it. They only come once and then they’re gone. But then again, it’s exciting because you know that something’s gone but then something new is going to come.”
The notes seem to spill out of Page’s guitar with a spontaneity and fluidity that makes him rock’s premiere guitarist. Whether it’s a traditional ballad like Since I’ve Been Loving You or the hard-driving Heartbreaker, Page cuts around the basic melody with riffs that become majestic journeys up and down the fretboard.
What puts him a cut above the rest is his reservoir and range of material. He may not be as fast as the limited Jeff Beck or as resonant as the repetitive Eric Clapton, but his spectrum, his creativity and his clear and powerful picking surpass his peers. He is the guitar virtuoso and a sensitive artist.
“I think I’m just learning how to play the guitar,” he says. “Sometimes when I’m on stage I only get a flash of what my potential really is.”
Page also is the best showman. Dressed in glittering black, he prowls and prances while bursting through blistering riffs that absorb and vacate the mind. He appears venomous while snaking around the stage, in and out of the light – leaning, bending, twisting.
But one man does not make a band. What makes Zeppelin so overpowering is that all four are superb musicians. Jones and Bonham combine to give Page the strongest rhythm section available. They are all so keenly aware of the integral flow of the music that each responds precisely and creatively to the other. The added dimension in the live performance was the different approach of the rhythms recorded previously on the albums.
This becomes apparent when each member dominates the performance at different points. John Bonham’s 24-minute drum solo in Moby Dick, where he plays like a caged animal but with the control of a tiger, is a fiery demonstration. Jones’ mastery of the mellotron is captivating as a free-floating effect is achieved in No Quarter.
Lead singer Robert Plant perhaps is the most spectacular on stage, as the group’s symbol on stage. His golden locks lay gently on his shoulders and the bare-chested performer creates havoc with a machismo. His voice control, his range and power make him the perfect springboard for the group’s music. [By Clint Roswell, Journal-News, August 1973]