Chicago Prelude (Image Quality IQ-JP001/002)
UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL – October 17th, 1988
Disc 1 (71:30): Who’s To Blame, Prelude, Over The Hills And Far Away, Wanna Make Love, Writes of Winter, Tear Down The Walls, Emerald Eyes, Midnight Moonlight, In My Time Of Dying, City Sirens > Drum Solo, Someone to Love
Disc 2 (55:02): Prison Blues, The Chase, Wasting My Time, Blues Anthem, Custard Pie, Train Kept A-Rollin’, Stairway to Heaven
Jimmy Page played the University Of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion about six weeks into the Outrider tour. By this time the setlist had coalesced (“The Only One” from the new album was the only casualty) and Page was delivering very exciting shows. An eyewitness to this Chicago show writes: “I saw Jimmy on the Outrider tour in Chicago. Still the best show I’ve ever seen. I don’t think many people who saw Jimmy on this tour went home unhappy, but the Chicago show was really something special. Everybody kind of loitered around outside the venue a long time after, trying to savor the energy that was still in the air.”
Chicago Prelude contains a good but slightly distorted audience recording of the entire show. There are two small cuts at 10:03 and 10:31 in “Midnight Moonlight,” a cut at the end of the drum solo and very beginning of “Someone To Love,” and slight tape deterioration in “Stairway To Heaven.”
David Silverman reviewed the concert in the Chicago Tribune (“Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page Soars In Solo Tour”) the following day, writing: “As a member of the ever-growing ranks of middle-aged rock legends, guitarist Jimmy Page gave a performance Monday night that belied his age and longevity, while thoroughly satisfying an audience of hard and heavy-metal rock fans at the UIC Pavilion…While most of Monday’s concert was taken from his latest nine-cut album Outrider, Page did oblige with a medley of riffs from a range of Zeppelin songs. But without Plant’s vocals and the unique Zeppelin sound, it was a hollow reminiscence.
“What was left was a good look at the latest work from Page. Undoubtedly it was this new solo material that provided the punch for the concert. With songs that ranged from the raucous, fuzzed guitar of ‘Emerald Eyes’ to the earthy acoustic of ‘Blues Anthem’ and an instrumental called ‘Liquid Mercury,’ Page carried the show’s pace on his fingertips. Although those hands have slowed some, Page’s ability to expand the music through improvisation has never stopped.
“The sentimental addition of drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980, was the only bright spot in a band that did little else to back Page’s solo work.”
And after criticizing vocalist John Miles and bassist Durban Laverde, he continues: “The result was an evening that was successful for Page as a solo artist and for Bonham’s excellent drum work. But the attempt to build a band around Page’s immense and unique talent came up short one.”
Page welcomes the audience at the very beginning (and probably takes a big swig from his Jack Daniels bottle as can be seen in the Mesa, Arizona telecast), before starting the show with two songs from Death Wish II, “Who’s To Blame” and “Prelude,” and the Zeppelin tune “Over The Hills And Far Away.”
Page informs the audience they intend to “do stuff from the past, the very distant past, and the present” before introducing “Wanna Make Love,” the first in a series of four songs from Outrider. Far from wanting a Zeppelin-retrospective, the audience are very enthusiastic for the new songs, especially for “Emerald Eyes.”
Jason Bonham has his drum solo. Page builds a fanfare based on the “City Sirens” riff from the Death Wish II soundtrack. Bonham plays his own solo instead of trying to duplicate his father’s “Moby Dick.” He does quote from “Bonzo’s Montreux” from the Zeppelin LP Coda. The Chicago Tribune review quoted above states says “in a show-stealing solo, Bonham ripped through cuts and rhythms that shattered two drums and nearly the Pavilion.”)
“Prison Blues” is in the same vein as “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Tea For One” and “I’m Gonna Crawl.” It’s slow, majestic, melodramatic, and one of Page’s greatest creations. “The Chase” transforms into the violin bow interlude from “Dazed And Confused.” Page plays it c.1972 with liberal quotes form “Walter’s Walk” during the long improvisation.
“Wasting My Time” was the first single from the album and the biggest hit, reaching number four on Billboard that summer. The set closes with “Custard Pie” complete with “Black Dog” reference and “Train Kept A-Rollin'” is the first encore. Before the final encore Page mentions the union needs to go home and this will be the last song. “Stairway To Heaven” is played as an instrumental, but the audience happily supply the vocals.
Chicago Prelude is the only silver pressed version of this show in circulation. It comes in a 2CD fatboy jewel case with inserts printed on one side and with the photograph motif common to all Image Quality titles. Judging by the catalogue number, Image Quality were planning on a series of Jimmy Page solo titles for their catalogue but didn’t get very far. (Their other Page solo release Atlanta Emerald is catalogued with their Zeppelin titles).
With so few Page solo titles available it’s hard to not recommend it, but there are better tapes out there representative of this tour.