Led Zeppelin – Chicago 1973 2nd Night (No Label)

Chicago 1973 2nd Night (No Label)

Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL, USA – July 7, 1973

Disc 1 (27:28) Introduction, Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (55:54) No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed And Confused

Disc 3 (72:21) Stairway To Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

Led Zeppelin’s 1973 tour of America was made up of two legs, the first began May 4 in Atlanta, Georgia and ended June 3 in Los Angeles, the concerts were played in the South, Texas and a brief run in the Western states. There was a month break for much needed rest with the band resuming the tour July 6 in Chicago, this leg would be more of an East Coast affair, although there were a couple dates in the North West and Canada. The first leg featured many incredible shows, the band was tight and playing very consistently and Robert’s voice was in good shape, after the month long break the band resumed the tour with two dates in Chicago. The first date found the band musically rusty and worse yet Robert’s voice is horse sounding and painful to listen too, the soundboard recording is generally considered one of the worst performances on the tour. One must put this in perspective, the band’s live work in 1973 was at a seriously high caliber, so even an average show had its merits. It would take a week’s time, but soon the band would be in full swing again, concerts in Detroit, Pittsburgh and the New York City finale would equal the best nights of the first leg.

In 2003 an audience recording surfaced from the second night in Chicago, and was pressed as In The Windy City II (Empress Valley EVSD 246/247/248) and Untouchable (Electric Magic EMC-022 A/B/C). The audience recording is very good as it was recorded close to the stage, has minimal crowd noise near the taper, just a tad amount of hiss, and a wonderful atmosphere. The taper accidentally hit the pause button cutting out some of Celebration Day and all of Black Dog, and while there are some cuts between songs, the rest of the show is here. In the realm of 1973 American tour audience recordings, this one is certainly one of the better ones, performance wise it is an improvement over the previous night, Robert’s voice is raspy but much improved and the instrumental machine is slowly getting back into the groove.

The new release from the folks at No Label is the first for this recording in some time, I have a CD-R rip of the EV title and am glad to get a silver edition of this concert. This new release sounds most similar to the EV in terms of sound quality but do change up the pacing of the CD’s. First off turn this up, the recording sounds great at louder volumes. Rock And Roll is a good starter, Rob’s voice is rough but the band, particularly John Bonham is playing well and the transition into Celebration sounds like the band is firing early. Sadly there is only 2:20 of the song before the pause. The recording picks up again as the band prepare for Over the Hills, John Paul Jones has brain cell issues. Pagey starts his solo sounding a bit disjointed but soon gets into it and the song ends on a high note.

Plant talks of cigarette papers and that “stuff” and Jamaican inspired session as he introduces a standard version of Misty Mountain Hop, his vocals are also much better having warmed up a bit. In a bit of hilarity, Page screws up the transition into Since I’ve Been Loving You, he does get it but the usual intense transition is not there. This is one of the those laid back versions of the song, Page has a great solo and Robert’s low voice works well with the slow, English blues. No Quarter is well received by the audience, and myself. The song shines without the excesses of the following years, the audience sounds a bit boisterous during Jones’ solo yet Bonham’s tympani sounds bombastic. Like much of his playing so far, Page starts off slow and finishes very strong, really nice version.

During Plant’s introduction to The Song Remains The Same, he gives the local press a jab for their review of the previous nights show, specifically John Bonham’s playing the organ!  The Song Remains The Same and The Rain Song are typically great, for me the 73 versions are definitive, they sound as fresh and vibrant live as they do on record. There is some tape deterioration during Song from 4:12 to 4:40. The highlight of the concert is certainly Dazed And Confused, the song is greeted with a huge ovation and Page attacked from the very beginning. His leads are aggressive and authoritative, he is clearly in charge. His finger picking during San Francisco is fluent, the low tone of Plant’s voice works for the mysterious nature of the music. This is one of the more interesting versions from the second leg, Page seems in an exploratory mood and tries some different things during the bow segment and solos effortlessly during the following instrumental passage, 28 minutes of pure musical bliss!

The taper is quite pleased with Stairway To Heaven, commenting “Nice…my favorite song”. There is a small cut at 5:27 with only a few seconds missing. Moby Dick is epic, clocking in at close to 30 minutes and at times is challenging for the audience, and listener yet there are times I marvel at the power of John’s drumming as it sounds powerful in this recording. The audience is rewarded with a blistering version of Heartbreaker, the tape does suffer from some tape warble that also effects the beginning of Whole Lotta Love that does clear up during the Theremin section. The band really swings during the boogie section, its a high powered shuffle, when Plant comes in to bring it back into Whole Lotta Love, his voice makes you cringe! As Plant thanks the audience, the taper and friends give their own comments, some girl explains “My body is numb” as the firecrackers blast in the distance heralding the groups return. The encore is a not Robert Plant friendly Communication Breakdown, he does not push it and more recites the lyrics while the three musicians lay down a blistering instrumental soundtrack. They get into a bit of funk with a Crunge tease, you can here someone do the “where’s that confounded bridge” sounding like an early sample, as noted on the Bootledz site, there is a glitch at the 4:49 mark as well.

The packaging is full color inserts adorned with live shots from the tour and the actual concert itself. Picture CD’s, stickers, its all here and comes packaged in a fat boy jewel case. Great recording and performance, this release is a nice way to get a concert that does not get reissued to death.

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