102. Celebration Day
103. Black Dog
104. Over The Hills And Far Away
105. Misty Mountain Hop
106. Since I've Been Loving You
201. No Quarter
202. The Song Remains The Same
203. The Rain Song
204. Dazed And Confused
205. Stairway To Heaven
301. Moby Dick
303. Whole Lotta Love
304. The Ocean
305. Communication Breakdown
On May 4, 1973, Led Zeppelin kicked off their 1973 U.S. tour, which would become legendary thanks to the 1977 concert film The Song Remains the Same.
By the spring of 1973, Led Zep had become the biggest band in the land. The immediate success of their new album, Houses of the Holy, only made that case stronger. Released just a couple of weeks prior to the tour, Houses was already all over radio and flying off store shelves, and even though Zeppelin had just hit the U.S. the year before, demand for the band was at an all-time high.
The tour kicked off on May 4 at the Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., with a record crowd of around 50,000. This was topped the following night in Tampa, where the band drew more than 55,000 fans, grossing $309,000 and breaking the record for a one-day event for one act, which was previously held by the Beatles for their legendary 1965 Shea Stadium show.
Fans worldwide got to see the shows for themselves when the three Madison Square Garden gigs that ended the tour in July were recorded for what would become The Song Remains the Same movie and LP. “The kind of speed we were moving at, the creative juices in the air, the whole thing was just an absolute mixture of adrenaline, chemical, euphoria, and there were no brakes,” said Robert Plant in the liner notes to The Song Remains the Same‘s reissue.
Living the high life of ’70s rock stars, the band even had their own private jet for the tour. A United Airlines Boeing 720B passenger jet, called the Starship and emblazoned with the band’s logo, got them from gig to gig. But the tour wasn’t without its problems. As documented in the film, the band had money (more than $200,000) stolen from a safe in the hotel they were staying at while in New York.
“Quite honestly, I don’t know why we’ve had such phenomenal success,” Jimmy Page told the Los Angeles Times in 1973. “Perhaps you could relate it to street music and the fact that people feel more of an affinity to Zep’s music because it’s not constantly hammered down their throats from every direction. All I can say is that whenever we’ve gone on stage or into the studio, we’ve always done our best. We’ve never really been involved in the media, we’ve never done a TV program, and air play, of course, is limited because of the fact that we don’t record singles.”
The tour would end up as, for the time being anyway, the largest grossing tour in rock history grossing $4 million for 36 dates. “We can’t allow ourselves the luxury of becoming fascinated with our own popularity,” said Page. “The way I look at it, if the Beatles were to get back together, they’d forget all about us again.”
LED ZEPPELIN BREAKS ATTENDANCE RECORD AS WELL AS AN OLD BARRIER OF SILENCE
Record-breaking tour audiences and grosses have been claimed by a lot of rock groups - Beatles, Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad. Now Led Zeppelin is claiming one - biggest audience for one act ever in the United States.
This was May 5 at the Tampa Stadium, the night after the British group started its U.S. tour in Atlanta. Attendance in Tampa was 56,800, with a $309,000 gross. Led Zeppelin is on a 33-concert, 30-city tour during May and July, with June off for vacation, expecting a total gross of $3 million. The quartet performs without an opening act or intermission, for two and a half hours.
But if anybody thinks they're blasé about playing to such a big crowd as in Tampa, 'he's wrong. We spoke later by phone with lead singer Robert Plant in New Orleans. He said, "I think it was the biggest thrill I've had. I pretend - I kid myself — I'm not very nervous in a situation like that. I try to bounce around just like normal.
"But, if you do a proportionate thing, it would be like halt of England's population. "It was a real surprise. Tampa is the last place I would expect to see 60,000 people. It's not the country's biggest city. It was fantastic. One would think it would be very hard to communicate; with 60,000 people some have got to be quite a distance off. There were no movie screens showing us, like in Atlanta. The only thing they could pick on was the complete vibe of what music was being done."
Plant and Page write most of the group's songs. Some are a collaboration of all four. Gold albums have been "Led Zeppelin," "Led Zeppelin II," "Led Zeppelin III" and "Houses of the Holy," Atlantic, the latter being the best-selling album in the U.S. tor the first two weeks of May. The group also has a gold single, "Whole Lotta Love." But singles are not a big item with Led Zeppelin.
"You can't pick up on what we do in three minutes." Plant adds that some people thought the group was heavy, sexy rock from its hit single. "Now I think they realize there is more. They realize we have subtlety and a spectrum. You can't keep sending out heavy rock all the lime.
"Every time we make an album, our musical leanings advance more and more. A person won't be repetitious if he has any artistry at all. It sounds egotistical but I think this group has the most talented musicians in England. Jimmy Page has played backup with innumerable people from Burt Bacharach to the Rolling Stones.
"He is like the father of the group. Bassist John Paul Jones has done arrangements for people who are world-famous. I came roaring out of the blues and drummer John Bonham used to be like me.
“After bashing out infectious rock, we've started to level out into an artistically leaning group. There's been no big hype behind it at all. The music sort of seeped through to people. The first album was sensitive, traditional songs like Joan Baez had done. Since then it has gone from strength to strength. An audience can ever anticipate in advance what our next album will be like.
"Live, we do a lot of improvising. The numbers will be more or less the same numbers, but what goes on inside, apart from the melody lines, will alter each night. There’s a lot of phrase tossing between drummer, bassist and guitarist and I've been renowned for using my voice as an instrument.
"A lot of groups are too frightened to play away from the track of the records. You see them twice and know exactly what you'll hear the third time. And it's the reason why our group has never changed personnel.
A lot of groups pack it up and form again. There's internal strife because of musical boredom — plugging away at the same old thing. We stay creative: I think that is exactly what we're known for." (A.P. - May 1973)
If attendance and sales records are an indication of a band’s success, then Led Zeppelin’s Tampa show on May 5th, 1973 is one of their greatest achievements. With a paid attendance of 56,800, they surpassed the record previously held by The Beatles’ August 15th 1965 show at Shea Stadium in Flushing, where they drew about 55,000. This was the second show of the tour and the first with tape sources for documentation (it is claimed that the first show in Atlanta was taped but remains with a hoarder). A very good audience recording was pressed on vinyl on The Beat Goes On: Inedits Volume 4 (Beat 1-2) which has “Rock And Roll” to “No Quarter” on one disc. The tape also runs slightly fast. The complete show can be found on Quantient (Sad Songs SS 7319 A-F).
This tape was used for the earliest compact disc releases of this show including 56,700 Fans Together and Boogie (Rock Calendar RC 2127/2128), First Day (ARMS 03/04PR), Quantient (Cobra 023), and most recently on Top Of The World (Badgeholders BH011-02-02). The first six tracks can be found on First Choice (Sugar Cane SC52001/2) as a bonus with the April 9th, 1970 Tampa show. A second tape surfaced and was used on two releases from the mid-nineties, 56,800 In the Ocean (Silver Rarities SIRA 166/167) & Tampa Stadium (Tarantura TAMP-1,2). This source is more distant but still listenable. Flagge released Pigeon Blood in 1999 and is an edit of the two sources. Mainly used is the first, but the second is used to fill several gaps in “No Quarter” from 5:28 to 6:48, “The Song Remains The Same” from fifty-three seconds to 1:30,and one in “The Ocean” from 3:20 to 3:32. Because on the tape “Over The Hills And Far Away” follows immediately after “Black Dog” with no comments by Plant, some have suggested there could be a cut there as well. Since there is no obvious cut there it sounds as if they were experimenting with an opening four song segue instead of the three that would be normal for this tour. Plant’s comments after “Over The Hills And Far Away” seem to suggest this.
The band are very much aware of the significance of the event and before they even play a note Robert Plant says, “Hello. It seems between us, we’ve done something nobody’s done before and that’s fantastic. We should have had one of those big satellites, you know?” They rip into the set and play the first four songs, “Rock And Roll,” “Celebration Day,” “Black Dog” and “Over The Hills And Far Away” at a furious pace with no break. “So now it’s time to say good evening. Is anybody, did anybody ever make the Orlando gig we did last time? So, we’re in the same country, yeah? Now this is the second gig that we’ve done this time since we’ve been to the States, and…I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this. It’s really great, but anyway, that’s up to us too. This is a song about what happens in England if you go walking in the park, and maybe some nice guy passes you some cigarette papers, and then it takes on from there. It’s called ‘Misty Mountain Hop.'”
The Zeppelin four track runs into “Since I’ve Been Loving You” in an arrangement they’ve been playing since Japan the previous October. There is a tremendous amount of discord in the audience during the song and afterwards Plant has to restore order, saying, “Now listen. Listen. Dare I ask you that, as we’ve achieved something between us that’s never been done before, that you could just cool it on these barriers here because otherwise there’s gonna be a lot might get poorly, right? So if you have a little respect for the person who’s standing next to you, which is really what it’s all about, then possibly we can have no problems, right? Cause we don’t want no problems, do we? I mean it’s bad enough with the balance of payments isn’t it?
“No Quarter” was introduced to the stage and was premiered the previous night in Atlanta. Tampa is the second ever live performance and they stick close to the studio arrangement, clocking in about eight minutes. It would soon be stretched out to twice that length. Two new songs, “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” follow. The crowd become restless during the mellow ballad and Plant has to say something again. “Listen, we want this to be a really joyous occasion, and I got to tell you this because three people have been taken to hospital, and if you keep pushing on that barrier there’s gonna be stacks and stacks of people going. So, for goodness sake, we are animals, but we can move back a little bit because it’s the only way. If you can’t do that then you can’t really live with yourself, just for this evening anyway. Can you cooperate? Seems a shame to talk about things like cooperation when there’s so many of us. Anyway, you people sitting up the sides there are doing a great job, but these poor people here are being pushed by somebody. So cool it for a bit cause it’s, it’s not very nice.”
He then reminiscences a bit, saying, “I’ve forgotten the first place we ever played in Florida. I know we played the convention center in Miami, which is really bad. The gig was good, but there was some men walking around all the time making such a silly scene, and we got nobody’s this time. So we’ve got to please ourselves have it, right. This is a number that was around then, and it’s still around, and it takes John Paul Jones to take us there.” “Dazed And Confused” is again very compact and Page rushes through the sections. This is especially noticeable in the beginning and Plant struggles to keep up. “Moby Dick” lasts only twelve minutes and segues directly into “Heartbreaker” with no return to the final theme. This is the only time they employed this arrangement. Plant mentions the record again during the “Boogie Chillun'” section in “Whole Lotta Love” and they reward the audience with two encores. The tape continues between the two numbers so two and a half minutes of cheering is present.
Overall this is a good but nervous and tentative show brought on by being the second show of what was their biggest US tour to date and the breaking of a record that stood for eight years by The Beatles who by that time had been apotheosized into the collective consciousness of pop culture. This is a very good sounding document of the show and a nice edit job between the two tapes for a complete show. Flagge stretched it over three discs when it could have easily fit onto two. It is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with the artwork printed on only one side of the inserts. Good action shots are used for the front and back covers and they print a review from The Concert File on the back. When Pigeon Blood was first released the price charged was prohibitive, but almost a decade since it could be found reasonably and is a good addition to the collection.
The first recording of the band's record-breaking 1973 North American tour begins with an announcer saying simply "ladies and gentlemen, what more can I say... Led Zeppelin." As the band performs a brief soundcheck, Plant announces "it seems between us we've done somethin' nobody's done before... and that's fantastic" referring to tonight's show breaking the attendance record previously held by The Beatles for their concert at Shea Stadium in 1965.
The show gets off to a bit of a sluggish start with Rock and Roll. Page's fingers get stuck in the strings during the guitar solo. The finale leads directly into the first appearance of Celebration Day since 6/9/1972. Page's guitar solo is underscored by some excellent funky fretwork from Jones. The familiar Out on the Tiles intro to Black Dog has been dropped in favor of the riff from Bring it on Home. Plant demands "louder!" during his call and response with the crowd. The non-stop pace doesn't let up as the finale immediately gives way to Page's intro to Over the Hills and Far Away. Plant's voice is quite rough, having lost the momentum gained a month earlier in Paris. Page gets ahead of the band at the end of the guitar solo, creating a funky new arrangement. As the song ends, Plant asks the crowd "did anybody ever make the Orlando gig that we did last time?" adding "so we're in the same country, yeah?"
The crowd becomes restless during a laid-back Since I've Been Loving You, with a few people near the taper repeatedly shouting at those in front of them to sit down. Plant pleads with the crowd to ease up on the barriers before introducing the first appearance of No Quarter. One particularly agitated gentleman near the taper shouts quite angrily "sit your asses down goddammit!" during the first verse. As the song ends, Plant introduces "the mighty John Paul Jones on synthesized piano!"
Before Dazed and Confused, Plant warns "we want this to be a really joyous occasion, I gotta tell you this because three people have been taken to hospital and if you keep pushin' on that barrier, there's gonna be stacks and stacks of people goin'... so for goodness sake, we are animals, but we can move back a little bit." Page shreds through the first guitar solo. The workout section is a bit disjointed. The outro starts out promising with Page soloing wildly over Bonzo's syncopated rhythms, but everything falls apart when the band can't decide how to end the song. Plant tells the crowd "I've joined the Temperance Society where I no longer drink beer... I just drink lemons and honeys" before Stairway to Heaven.
Prior to the first appearance of Moby Dick since 10/9/1972, Plant announces "and now for something entirely different... for the tenth time in United States of America, ladies and gentlemen... for the tenth time in five years, we bring you our percussionist... John Henry Bonham, Moby Dick!" As the drum solo ends, the band skips the return of the main riff, jumping directly into Heartbreaker. Page blazes through the solos. The band skips the final verse, heading straight into Whole Lotta Love at the end of the guitar solo. The Everybody Needs Somebody to Love section has been dropped entirely from the new stripped-down arrangement. Plant once again makes mention of the record-breaking crowd during his boogie rap, saying "fifty-seven thousand people is four thousand more than the people that were at The Beatles' Shea Stadium, gotta boogie!" The medley has been stripped of its classics, leaving only the Boogie Chillen' jam.
The Ocean is preceded by the first appearance of Bonzo's signature count-in. Plant sings the verses out of order, causing a bit of confused hesitation. The band returns to close the show with Communication Breakdown. As they exit the stage, Plant leaves the crowd with a simple "goodnight."