Previews & Novelties (Equinox EQ-00-016/017)
K.B. Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark – May 3rd, 1971
Disc 1 (72:26): Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, What Is And What Should Never Be
Disc 2 (50:21): Four Sticks, Gallows Pole, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Misty Mountain Hop, Rock And Roll
The greatest benefit in collecting unofficial releases is in hearing the rare and unique performances. For Led Zeppelin there are none more so than the audience recording of the May 3rd show at the KB Hallen in Copenhagen. Although they did the club tour in the UK and a mysterious tour of Europe, this is one of the least documented of any period in Zeppelin’s history. Outside of the Ireland tapes and the April BBC broadcast, Copenhagen is the best sounding and most complete live tape of the first half of 1971. The audience recording is very good and clear. The music is very enjoyable but Plant’s comments are very low. There is a small cut at the very end of “Black Dog” losing the final note, after “Stairway To Heaven,” after “Gallows Pole,” and after “Whole Lotta Love” and “Communication Breakdown.”
Two songs, “Four Sticks” and “Gallows Pole” are found on the vinyl Live In Copenhagen July 21 1971 & Staines March 25 1969(Rock Solid Records SSA-B) along with “Dazed And Confused” from the Supershow and Loose Ends (Supercharded Records SC004) has “Four Sticks” and “Rock And Roll.” The earliest CD release is the Australian Poles And Sticks (Black Cat BC-33), which runs at the wrong speed. It can be found also on Copenhagen 1971 (Cobra 012), Loove! (Tarantura T2CD-9) and its European clone The 2nd European Tour (Whole Lotta Live WLL011/12), K,B (Image Quality IQ-051/52) and on In Concert In Copenhagen (Empress Valley EVSD 113/114) which sounds very flat compared to the others. Previews & Novelties was released in the summer of 2000 along with the other titles on this label and is one of the best sounding editions of this show. The others are cut fifteen minutes into “Dazed And Confused” but that is not found on Equinox.
The excitement builds early with the opening numbers, so much so that Plant sings the wrong lines in the first verse of “Immigrant Song.” After one of the heaviest “Heartbreaker” on tape there is a short delay with some in the audience causing a fuss. “Whoa, stop stop stop, whoa, tell him, tell him, tell him to stop. Tell him if there’s any trouble we walk off, right? We go. Leave him alone, leave him alone. We can’t play if there’s going to be this going on through every number. Somebody better tell him in Danish what the score is. We cannot, we cannot play if there’s going to be a constant passage of people moving. We’d rather people sit on the floor. So sit down. We want to give you a concert of music, and we cannot do it if there’s a lot of people running around.”
The arrangements of the pieces are most similar to the BBC broadcast from the previous month. “Dazed And Confused” in particular sounds very close with the same spaced out improvisations by the end. Three songs from the as yet released fourth album follow including one of the earliest versions of “Stairway To Heaven” before a live audience which is introduced as something that “goes on for some time and gets nice, another profound statement.” The new song “Going To California” and “That’s The Way” form a two song acoustic set in the middle. Plant goes into introducing a fourth new song, saying we’re gonna try something that we have never tried before, and there’s every chance it’ll fall apart” before realizing they have to play “What Is And What Should Ever Be” next.
After the Led Zeppelin II track he continues with his nervous introduction, saying, “Now this is a thing, I was saying we’re never done before. It seems we had to come round to it, so, so here we go. This ah, this hasn’t even got a title yet, but we’ll think of one as the night goes on.” Page tunes his guitar to some applause and Plant replies, “for your entertainment.” What follows is the first and only live performance of “Four Sticks” by Led Zeppelin and for such a difficult song they manage to pull it off well onstage. Plant is still able to hit the high notes and is effective in creating a tense and ecstatic atmosphere in the venue. The first full performance of “Gallows Pole” from the third album follows. The arrangement differs slightly since Bonham comes in with the drums during the first verse. The subtle build up of the studio recording is replaced by a live blast of fury.
A twenty minute “Whole Lotta Love” closes the set. The medley includes “Boogie Chillun’,” “Cumberland Gap,” “That’s Alright” with Page doing a great James Burton impersonation, “Mess O’ Blues” and “Honey Bee,” a carry over from the previous years medley. A long encore set begins with “Communication Breakdown” with a long bass solo by John Paul Jones and the first live reference to “Celebration Day” played in the middle. “Misty Mountain Hop” is played for the first time and the only time as an encore. It would form part of the regular set by the end of 1972 and the final new song “Rock And Roll,” introduced as “It’s Been A Long Time” closes the event. Previews And Novelties is a unique Zeppelin show with a great recording and Equinox produced an excellent version of the tape. There is very little mastering done on the tape so it has a very dynamic and natural sounding timbre.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)