Coherence (Watch Tower WT 2005137/8/9)
The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – June 27th, 1977
Disc 1 (75:17): Intro., The Song Remains The Same/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (73:27): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Going Down South/Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Dancing Days, White Summer/Black Mountain Side/Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 (72:42): Out On The Tiles/Moby Dick, guitar solo/Achillies Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love/Rock and Roll
The Millard tape for this final show in Los Angeles, and one of Zeppelin’s final shows in the US, has been released many times. Previous titles include The Legendary End (Silver Rarities SIRA 206/207/208), The Legend of the End (Tarantura T19CD-16-19), Sunset (TDOLZ Vol. 55), Farewell To L.A. (Rabbit Records RR 001/2/3) and Deep Striker (Empress Valley EVSD-26/27/28/29).
Watchtower claim they have used the master tape Coherence. It is certainly more clear and dynamic than the others. Like many of the other tapes from the LA Forum this is an amazing sounding stereo audience recording that sounds almost like a professional recording. All of the instruments are perfectly balanced along with the audience noise.
This concert is notable for being the final show of the second leg of their eleventh tour and for being their final concert in Los Angeles. But even more, along with the March 21th, 1975 Seattle and May 25th, 1975 Earl’s Court, one of the longest concerts every performed by Led Zeppelin. The set list played at a normal pace averaged two and a half hours, but the expanded numbers in the show on this night push the show more than an hour past the average and is one of their legendary epic marathons.
One gets the impression listening to this show that, since it was their final in Los Angeles for the tour, they wanted to squeeze every note and savor every second onstage. The band showed signs of needing a break in this long tour and the performance itself is erratic and the first five songs sound like they are teetering on the edge of disaster (but always being saved at the last minute).
For this reason it is overshadowed by the other concerts in LA, but is very satisfying in the end. “I might say welcome to the Forum because it’s becoming like our front room. Know what I mean? As this is the last night out of six nights; six nights out of seven we’ll do our best to play…until we fall over” is Robert Plant’s opening words before the first song from Presence is played, an excellent version of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”
“Over The Hills And Far Away” follows and contains an interesting guitar solo by Jimmy Page where it sounds as if he is fighting his instrument. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is introduced as about “a little bit of distress in a relationship as is usually the case” and is dedicated to DJ J.J. Jackson. The rough moments are overshadowed by what is one of Page’s finest solos.
“No Quarter” begins with an introduction of John Paul Jones with “strawberry tart in his pockets.” This version is thirty-three minutes long and is the first highlight of the night. During the long improvisation in the middle they play a catchy 12 bar boogie before the dark, brooding and intense solo that is magisterial in construction.
The ending of the acoustic set is unique with a minute long rendition of the 1948 Muddy Waters hit “I Can’t Be Satisfied” (listed as “Going Down South” on the liner notes). Plant sings the chorus and mumbles the second verse before they go into “Black Country Woman” which is segued with “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp.”
This version is expanded to include a John Paul Jones stand-up bass solo, a Page solo, and the band playing “Dancing Days,” a song that sounds much better acoustically than electric. Page’s “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side” solo reaches almost five minutes with parts of “Swan Song” and “Kashmir” thrown in before the band crash in with “Kashmir.”
Bonham’s drum solo “Moby Dick” is about the only piece that isn’t longer than normal, reaching only fifteen minutes. Page’s second long solo of the evening is close to a half hour and includes “America” from West Side Story in addition to “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Dixie.” This is segued directly with “Achillies Last Stand” which Page plays with an out of tune guitar and is among the weakest versions of the tour. The rest of the show is enjoyable, however, and despite the mistakes is an effective concert.
It’s a nice show to have after absorbing Eddie and Badgeholders. All this is on three CDs (some of the other labels stretched it over four) in packaging that is unimaginative even by Watchtower’s undemanding standards. But this is probably the most enjoyable version of this well circulated tape and definitely recommended.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)