September VI (Empress Valley EVSD-486)
International Center, Honolulu, Hawaii – September 6th, 1970 (early show)
Immigrant Song, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (Boogie Chillun’, Messin’ Around, I’m Moving On, Roadhouse, Some Other Guy, Be A Man), Communication Breakdown (incl. American Woman)
Led Zeppelin played two shows on September 6th in Honolulu. The early show, and the source of this new release on Empress Valley, was at 7 pm and was followed by a second show at 10:30pm. The early show was shortened to accommodate the schedule and the band play what they must considered to be essential to their show. “Bring It On Home”, “That’s The Way”, “Bron-Y-Aur”, the organ solo and “Thank You” are all omitted and only one encore, “Communication Breakdown”, is played. This tape surfaced in the early days of the protection gap cd with Holiday In Waikiki on Gold Standard.
The famous Box Of Tricks (Red Hot RH-023) followed several years later. Almost Son Of Blueberry Hill (Shout To The Top STTP 123) was a good, inexpensive way to obtain this show and is one of the better titles produced by that chequered label. Finally Akashic gave it the expensive, limited edition deluxe treatment on In Exotic “Honolulu” (Akashic AKA-24) which they released at the same time as The Rolling Stones In Exotic Honolulu (Akashic AKA-23), a tape of the early show in the same venue on January 1st, 1973. The tape captures the entire show and is very clear.
September VI sounds significantly more thick, dynamic, heavy and powerful and makes the others sound very thin and tinny. There is a cut in the tape after “Heartbreaker” and at 4:52 in “Whole Lotta Love”. “Moby Dick”, which is cut on the Gold Standard and STTP releases, is complete on Empress Valley.
Not found on the others is two seconds of digital noise between 10:53 to 10:55 in “Dazed And Confused”. This sounds like a minor mastering fault but is not too intrusive. The show itself is an amazingly played, fast paced performance that doesn’t have the improvisations as others on this tour. The mc gives an introduction to the band before they play “Immigrant Song”. Page doesn’t segue into “Heartbreaker” quick enough so John Paul Jones plays the beginning of “Dazed And Confused”. It is curious how the band follow his lead and plays the song for the next fifteen minutes.
On other occasions they would stop just wait until they got back on track. “Dazed And Confused” being played as the second number was a feature of the spring tour and this is another very good version. The guitar solo is kept to a minimum however. Afterwards Plant says, “What am I doing? This is one from the second album. It’s about a mean woman, as they usually are.” “Heartbreaker” picks up and Plant sounds strangely subdued in this recording.
Almost an hour of the set is skipped over and they get set to play “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Such is their love of the new song they skip playing well-known material from their latest album Led Zeppelin II. There is some commotion in the audience before the band can play and Plant says, “Don’t do that. Calm down. No frenzies. This group’s been renamed the ‘Box Of Tricks’.” It isn’t clear what he is talking about. It could be a reference to the new song or to the fact they changed the set list around so much?
At this point someone shouts out “Whole Lotta Love” to which Plant replies, “You know we get off on that every night but the thing is, it comes eventually.” The same guy, who is a big Yardbirds fan, shouts out “White Summer…White Summer” before the band begin a standard version of “What Is And What Should Never Be.” “Moby Dick” is only thirteen minutes long before Plant urges everybody to get loose. The “Whole Lotta Love” medley closes the set and is a compact fourteen minutes that includes the Hank Snow hit “I’m Moving On” but drops some of the regular inclusions from this tour like “Honey Bee”.
“Communication Breakdown” opens with a riff that sounds similar to “Out On The Tiles” while Plant yells out “groove!” The review in the newspapers the following day pointed out that the second show was better than the first. The organ solo is singled out as being awful, and Plant stopped the show twice because of a man having a seizure and for a fight that broke out. Despite these distractions the review called this show superior to the early one. If nothing else it is more interesting and makes one wish a tape would someday surface.
The front cover is a photo from the Royal Albert Hall show, the back photo is of the band arriving for their first show in Hawaii in 1969 holding the master tapes for Led Zeppelin II, and the inside photo is a live shot from 1971. Since both still photos and 8mm footage exists for this show, it would have been better if the label utilized some of those. But as it is this is a very nice release.