Finger Flu: 1975 Chicago Tapes Vol. 2 (TCOLZ 027/028)
Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL – January 20th, 1975
Disc 1 (51:59): Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, When The Levee Breaks, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, The Wanton Song
Disc 2 (55:37): No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick, In My Time Of Dying, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown
Finger Flu utilizes the new tape source for Led Zeppelin’s first of three shows in Chicago near the beginning of the 1975 tour. This is a very good and listenable audience recording which is slightly more distant than the older tape used for every other release dating back to the days of vinyl. It lacks a bit on the bottom end as well, but the top is very sharp and detailed. The virtue of this release is that is solves the issues associated with all of the other silver pressed releases of the show regarding what songs were played and their correct sequence.
“How Many More Times” is indeed from the following night’s show since it wasn’t played on the 20th, and “In My Time Of Dying” is played much later in the set list, right before “Stairway To Heaven.” In effect the show is identical to the warm up gigs in Europe (of which the January 12th show in Brussels exists on tape). There are cuts at 4:11 in “Kashmir,” most of the drum solo is eliminated, a cut twenty-four seconds into “Stairway To Heaven” and the very end of “Black Dog” is missing.
This is the second show of the tour after opening in Minneapolis and with the band weakened with Plant’s flu they carry on as best as they can. A review in the Chicago Tribune states: “Lead singer Robert Plant, for instance, is just as susceptible as the rest of us to such mundane things as flu, which is what he repeatedly complained of last night. ‘Keep your fingers crossed,’ he asked the audience before starting out on Stairway to Heaven, a Led Zep staple and one of their most impressive numbers…Despite the difficulties and Plant’s obvious dissatisfaction with his voice, the show could be termed a success – a blend of Led Zep’s strong, pounding sound, with drummer John Bonham knocking out the rhythm, interspersed with slightly softer, sweeter guitar work by Page and John Paul Jones on mellotron….All in all, it was a good enough evening for music, if not for Plant’s health. If he can get rid of the flu for succeeding shows, none of the apologies he kept making will be necessary. Even with Plant not up to par, Led Zeppelin still manages to make most of their competitors look sick.”
The beginning of the show is painful to hear since Plant can’t hit the high notes in “Rock And Roll.” After the new song “Sick Again” he gives a long apology for his health, saying, “I got to tell ya, it’s more than a pleasure to be back. I’ve got a touch of the flu. What have you done to the weather here? It’s cold, yeah?” It makes one wonder what kind of weather he was expecting in Chicago in the middle of January. They play “Over The Hills And Far Away” but Page really struggles with the solo. “When The Levee Breaks” is introduced as “another old one.” It was played at the two European gigs and, one assumes, in Minneapolis in the previous gig. This would turn out to be the final live performance before it would be dropped. It would never be attempted live again and is relegated to being a Zeppelin studio creation.
“Well not only do we put up with the predicaments, my inability to cope with the environment, but Jimmy has managed to break one of his fingers. Can you believe that? The first time we tour America for eighteen months, and he’s made a good job of his finger. Anyway, we soldier on. It must be for our sins. This is a track called ‘The Song Remains the Same.'” This and “The Rain Song” work much better, sounding much more rehearsed and confident. “Kashmir,” even though it is new, also sounds tight and their enthusiasm is apparent. “The Wanton Song” is another new track from a long awaited album” and would last longer in the set than “When The Levee Breaks,” but would disappear by next week never to surface again. It is a good live number although it would be hard to tell where they could have expanded it in future performance. The Chicago audience are extremely quiet and Plant asks sarcastically, “is there anybody there?”
“No Quarter,” like the other Houses Of The Holy tracks, also works well in this show with Jones carrying the solo. “Trampled Underfoot” is “a song for a guy who works in a gas station.” With Jones again taking the lead the song sounds strong in comparison to others in the show and the audience wake up with a loud cheer by the end. With no epic yet in the set (“How Many More Times” would be introduced the following night) “In My Time Of Dying” serves as the lead up to the finale “Stairway To Heaven.” Before playing the last song Plant asks the audience to “keep the fingers crossed” and repeats it in the opening instrumental.
Before playing the encores Plant calls the gig a “good warm up” and says, “I’m gonna need a little bit of help from you if I’m gonna get rid of the flu for tomorrow.” A short “Whole Lotta Love” intro is played before “Black Dog” and a fast, two and a half minute version of “Communication Breakdown” closes the show. TCOLZ for the first time utilize real artwork on their release and choose several tour pictures that look gorgeous. Since this is the the only silver release to have the show in its proper sequence, and since the sound quality is very good, this is the definitive version of the show.