Tulsa Assembly Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA – August 21, 1970
Disc 1 (66:30) Intro, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Y-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 2 (64:32) MC, Organ Solo, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown
When I first got Robert Goodwin’s book, The Illustrated Collectors Guide to Led Zeppelin The Compact Disc Edition I spent a tremendous amount of time looking over every page, marveling at now in the new age of the compact disc full concerts were available, most I had never knew existed. Between this book and the Hotwacks Supplements, I soon got on the web and made contact with a company who sold such items and began ordering a scant few titles whenever I saved enough money to do so. It was soon obvious that in those days the original Tarantura label was putting out the best product and I soon ordered my first title, Tulsa Hillbilly.
It was later I found that the label used an inferior version of the tape and thus upgraded to The Lights Go Down on TDOLZ, a title that has served me well. Like most I really enjoy the sixth American tour, the playing is outstanding and there are many really good recordings available so I am always keen on upgrading really old titles, hence my purchase of this Graf Zeppelin title. This is not a new title, it was released a few years back, I believe the Latin term is tempus fugit. The source for the Tulsa concert is a very good audience recording that is clear and detailed with the guitar and vocals up front and bass and drums just a tad lower, albeit a bit distant as well. The recording is consistent throughout the performance making for a really easy listening experience, sounds good loud and as with the other recordings from, the band’s performance is excellent. The concert has been release a few times prior, Bottle Up And Go (Scorpio LZ 021-022), Tulsa Hillbilly (Tarantura T2CD-10), You Gotta Be Cool (Whole Lotta Live WWL-009/10), The Lights Go Down (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-86) and Tulsa Symphony – Ode To Joy (Wendy WECD-80/81).
When compared to the old TDOLZ title I find this title is similar with warmer sound and not as sterile, clearer and more natural sounding and if anything I detect just a minute bit of hiss as well. Overall this new Graf title is much easier on the ears than the old TDOLZ, not a significant upgrade but an upgrade nonetheless. This new title is also longer than the TDOLZ, Moby Dick is a couple minutes longer although this alone is not significant. Needless to say I did not pull out my old Tarantura title, although I do still listen to it, as that release sufferers from very inconsistent sound.
The previous American tour in spring 1970 seemed more like an extension of the 1969 tour with a slightly expanded set list, more filled out with Zeppelin II numbers where this tour was fully in support of the third album and a newly designed set list. The recording begins with an announcer introducing each member of the band and finally “An evening with Led Zeppelin” while the taper gets his gear readied. The concert kicks off with one of the most dynamic opening combinations in the history of Rock, Immigrant Song into Heartbreaker. Robert hits the high notes of his Viking wail effortlessly and Jimmy begins his solo a bit tentatively and lets it build naturally, the audience give a quiet ovation as the band start Heartbreaker. Jimmy stops Heartbreaker and asks for the house lights to be turned down, one gets the feeling that the venue was apprehensive about Rock concerts, Page quickly picks up where he left off and gets into the hoedown picking that leads into a blistering solo and finally Bouree.
The audience reaction to John Paul Jones initial bass notes heralding the arrival of Dazed and Confused are lackadaisical, the song is immaculate in its conception slow and deliberate with Bonham’s drumming spot on, every fill is perfection. The venue is quiet making for an eerie bow solo, Plant’s moans come from the depths and lead into a mimicking of voice and guitar. The others arrive and Page is almost waiting for them and the fun begins, more mimicking and lots of twists and turns, the ending is spectacular and one of the most unique ever and Page gets into a slow Raga like rhythm that leads into White Summer, quite ethereal sounding. He would get into this one other time, a year later in Orlando, Florida, similarly but completely unique.
Robert tries to wake the people in the balcony prior to That’s The Way, I love the 1970 acoustic sections, there is an innocence to them as the group wants to expand their musical presentation away from the previous song’s bombasts. John Paul Jones’ mandolin playing is perfect, adding that other texture the songs needs, sadly there is some mic ruffling as the taper tries to get a better position to pick up the quiet music. Plant’s cry of “Wake Up” is followed by three minutes of tuning so Page can play the melancholy Bron-Y-Aur, Plant takes this time to explain the name of the song.
Both Since I’ve Been Loving You and Thank You has benefited from the four months since the previous American tour, the former is fully fleshed out like the studio version and the latter is gloriously expanded and very dynamic. Whole Lotta Love is the culmination of the set and of course the highlight of the song is the medley, standard nuggets like Boogie Chillun’, Bottle Up And Go, Jimmy Rogers’ That’s Alright, Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat, the squeeze my lemon portion of The Lemon Song gets a nice ovation and the obligatory Elvis classics My Baby Left Me and That’s Alright Mama. It seems like this onslaught Rock and Roll has finally waken the rather docile audience as the ovation brings the house down. Communication Breakdown is the standard encore, the sound is a bit lower most certainly due to the crowd being on their feet, also interesting is the Theremin bursts toward the end of the song during the fast reprise ending, made me wonder if it was Robert doing the duties?
The packaging is standard Graf, inserts with pictures relevant to the tour with the inner tray portion featuring notes taken from Lewis and Pallett’s excellent Led Zeppelin The Concert File book. Picture CD’s, numbered sticker, the full Monty all housed in a slim line jewel case. Graf Zeppelin’s tasteful mastering and typical attention to detail make for a nice release.