Led Zeppelin – Cardiff 1972 Second Night (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-1212EX)

Cardiff 1972 Second Night (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-1212EX)

Capital Theatre, Cardiff, Wales, UK – December 12, 1972

(75:57) Let’s Have A Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Going Down Slow, Whole Lotta Love, Old MacDonald Had A Farm, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Mellotron Solo, Thank You. Bonus Trax: Philadelphia 1972 Excerpt (aka Buffalo 1972/06/10). The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA, USA – June 13, 1972: Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Bring It On Home

Led Zeppelin played a 24 date tour of the United Kingdom beginning November 30, 1972 in Newcastle and ending January 30, 1973 in Preston, the trek would prove successful but would not be without its problems. The first leg went off without a hitch, yet prior to the first gig of the second leg in Sheffield, Robert and Bonzo’s car broke down on the way to the gig and Robert caught a severe cold barely making it through the gig, the following two concerts would be postponed. The effects would hamper his vocals for the remainder of the trek. The UK tour was a warm up for the brilliant European tour that would encompass the month of March, the band would continue with the updated setlist debuted in Japan and through repetition, would transform the music into their unique brand of improvisation.

Zeppelin played two shows at the 3,160 seat Capital Theatre in Cardiff on December 11 and 12, 1972, the only recorded material from the two night stand is a 38 minute fragment from the second performance that begins during the Whole Lotta Love oldies medley and continues to the end of the concert. The sound is good but slightly distant and while it’s clear enough that the vocals and instruments can be heard, the bass is more prominent in the mix giving the recording a muddy sound stage. There is also just a bit of hiss as one would expect from a recording of this age, but overall a very listenable fragment with the atmosphere inside the Capital Theatre being well captured. This recording has seen only a single release, the mid 90’s release entitled Detroit Rock City (Lemon Song LS-7218-20) featured it on disc three as bonus material, I do not have this old title so this new Graf Zeppelin title is my first taste of this recording.

The recording begins during the Whole Lotta Love medley with a homage to Elvis with Let’s Have A Party, joined in progress, the ovation after the song is massive and one instantly finds there is a party inside the Capital Theatre. The crowd is very into the performance and clap along during Heartbreak Hotel digging the roots of Rock and Roll. I Can’t Quit You Baby is played slow and deliberate, the first half of his solo is played beautifully then he opens up like a storm with an aggressive flurry that leads into Shape I’m In sung beautifully by Robert. The segue back into Whole Lotta Love builds the tension and the place erupts with joy when Jimmy plays the iconic riff.

The audience scream, chant and stomp until the band returns where Robert gives them an obligatory “good evening”, then in a sheer moment of joy the band play Old MacDonald Had A Farm with the fans doing the E-I-E-I-O response. The transition from nursery rhymes into Immigrant Song happens in a flash yet the crowd is there in spades. Jimmy rips a great solo, I love the late 72 versions of this song since I first got a copy of the old Riot House LP decades ago. The crowd wants more, they are relentless and after a quick tape cut we are treated to Jimmy checking the Les Paul then starting a muscular sounding Heartbreaker. There is a brief bit of tape warble at the 1:43 mark that lasts just a few seconds, like the rest of the tape the crowd is whipped into a fury and the band know they will need more, so they play a final encore of Thank You, surprisingly the crowd is rather well behaved for the organ solo but once Jimmy and Robert appear back onstage it’s game on. A wonderful tranquil version of Thank You is played, very relaxing and seemingly satisfies the audience, and the listener. I can only summarize that the bands two dates in Cardiff were an unqualified success.

The final 37 minutes of this disc are taken from what is now considered Buffalo on June 10, 1972, at the time of this release it was attributed to Philadelphia June 13, 1972. The complete recording is about 92 minute and has been recently released on the Hard As Knuckles title by Graf Zeppelin, I’ll save more detail about how this recording came to be dated in my review of that title coming soon! The source is a fair audience recording that is quite distant and muffled yet has enough clarity where careful ears can discern the individual instruments. There is a bit of tape hiss as one would expect but does not interfere with ones listening experience. The audience also sounds in the distance so it also lacks atmosphere of a closer recording, although you can hear several fireworks being blown off, typical for summer time in America just weeks away from Independence Day.

The performance is excellent, I have not heard a bad show from the summer 1972 tour, even with the poor sound the excellent playing shines through. Black Dog is dynamic while Since I’ve Been Loving you is drama personified, Stairway To Heaven is perfectly played. The release star of the 37 minute bonus material is an incredible version of Bring It On Home making its first appearance in the set since September 1970. Incredible it sounds as fresh and invigorating as the 1970 versions but a little looser. We are treated to a Jimmy Bonzo jam that is par for the course, Robert throws in a few lines from The Lemon Song and the band jam on Big Joe Williams’ Baby Please Don’t Go, Jimmy certainly remembers the riff from his days as a session guitarist playing on the song with Van Morrison and Them.

Cardiff 1972 Second Night is part of the Graf Zeppelin bonus disc series, the packaging is simple, inserts with live shots from the U.K. 72 winter tour housed in a jewel case. A quite enjoyable release and while it takes a bit of work, and currency, to get, is a very nice addition to ones collection, the missing piece from the December 1972 dates.

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