Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria – March 16, 1973
Disc 1 (57:13) Introduction, Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (73:58) Dazed and Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Encore Call, Instrumental / Heartbreaker
One curious legend in the annals of Led Zeppelin history is the way that manager Peter Grant had dealt with bootleggers, specifically the not so lucky ones whom he caught recording the band. I have always found this to be more myth than fact as there are so many wonderful audience recordings in the band’s unofficial catalog. Case in point is Led Zeppelin’s concert in Vienna, Austria. There are five known audience sources known to exist as well as a soundboard fragment, with all ranging from good to excellent in terms of quality. One could surmise Grant more enjoyed being side and backstage versus prowling the crowd for microphones taped to broom handles.
Led Zeppelin’s tour of Europe in early 1973 is much loved by collectors, many consider the month long tour the best the band would ever do. Recordings exist of many of the concerts, ranging from poor audience tapes to soundboards and regardless of quality, all seem to support the claims of perfection. One of the most well known and loved is the performance from Vienna, Austria. There is an excellent audience source that surfaced on a vinyl bootleg record Wrench In The Works (Screaming Oiseau 7502-A-D), a title that would be included on the massive Final Option (Rock Solid Records) vinyl set. A second source was used for Lead Poisoning and its reissue Whole Lotta Rock (RW 2-A/B) and Vienna Volume 2 (GELL). Needless to say it did not take long for the concert to reach the compact disc market. Lead Poisoning (Flying Disc CD 6-822) features the soundboard recording, and Vienna 1973 (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ 489701/02), Lead Poisoning (Cobra 008), Zig Zag Zep (Tarantura T3CD 013-1-3), Matrix Ledded (Tarantura TCD-029), and Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Empress Valley EVSD 448/9) all use audience sources and the soundboard fragment to provide the complete concert.
For this new release, the folks at Eat A Peach use the third source as its foundation with parts of sources 2, 4, & 5 to provide a complete concert, as usual the mastering is excellent with the edits being smooth and well handled. Having what I always considered a great version of this concert with Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Empress Valey EVSD 448/9), I was quite glad to see the Peach label opt for something different. After several listening’s to this version in both home and vehicle, I can say this version rivals the others in terms of sound quality and performance.
The third source is very good to excellent, it was recorded close to the stage on Jimmy’s side, his guitar is in the forefront by just a hair, the drums, bass, and vocals are just a bit lower. All vocals and instruments can be clearly heard and when you get the volume up, it’s a solid recording. As with many recordings from this era, there is a small bit of distortion from time to time, it must have been difficult for a recording device to withstand the live power of Zeppelin.
In his review of the Matrix Ledded title, Gerard says the concert is merely average and does not subscribe to its hype. I am more forgiving, sure Page’s fingers do get caught in strings from time to time but his playing for the most part is fluent and inspired. The audience is quiet which certainly lends to the “average” vibe, but the band do not take notice. The opening of Rock And Roll gets the concert going in proper fashion, Since I’ve Been Loving You features a superb solo from Jimmy, building to the blistering versions that would be perfected on the North American assault. The heavy section of The Rain Song is very powerful and devastates the listener. I found Robert’s groupie comments interesting, he expands on it by saying look what happened to Jerry Lee Lewis, comments that he could not say in America.
The meat of the concert is on the second disc, Dazed And Confused is perfection, clocking in at close to thirty minutes, having Page’s guitar up in front gives it a very heavy feel, the bass distorts just a bit lending to the mystery. Plant’s ode to San Francisco is nicely fleshed out and the audience appreciates Page’s use of violin bow, the applause rumbles from the bowels of the venue. The fast segment is simply perfection, towards the end the rhythm section rumbles behind Page as he works his Wah pedal like a cheap…you get the picture. Stunning version. Whole Lotta Love is fantastic, the band chug about while Page fiddles with his theremin, then wham into the famous guitar break and the oldies section, the band sets a fast tempo, Page’s leads during the boogie section are an incredible showcase of speed and fluency.
This concert was reviewed by Dave Hopkins for Melody Maker who described the event “The historic city of Vienna, normally bulging at the seems with Strauss waltzes and grand operas played host on Friday night to Led Zeppelin at the enormous Wiener Stadthalle. Robert Plant strode around with chest bared and hair flailing, thrusting his pelvic girdle at the audience, while Jimmy Page, wearing his Les Paul low slung, crashed out well amplified chords. John Bonham hammered the skins for all he was worth, and John Paul Jones provided some superb orchestral effects on the mellotron”. From what I deduce from this recording, a spot on assessment.
The packaging features black and white photos adorning the mini LP cover, CD sleeves and insert. The 1973 European tour was an intimate affair, the last time we would see the band on small stages. The Rover does his typically nice job on liner notes and the CD’s have a picture of a Zeppelin attached to a mooring in the distance. Great recording, I love the labels use of sources and the mastering is excellent. For the time, this has taken over my older version of this concert as my favorite.