Led Zeppelin – July, 2 Mannheim 1980 (Flagge 1980-20, 21)

July, 2 Mannheim 1980 (Flagge 1980-20, 21)

Eisstadion, Mannheim, Germany – July 2nd, 1980

Disc 1 (64:55):  The Train Kept A-Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (64:21):  Achilles Last Stand, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin played two nights in the Eisstation in Mannheim.  This is the only two show engagement of the tour and is a major disappointment after the heights reached in Zürich and Frankfurt.  When they seemed to get a handle on the set list and produce shows faithful to their vision, these are among the sloppiest and uninspiring shows of the last tour and those who like this tour are hard pressed to defend them.  A very good audience recording exists for this show and was pressed on vinyl on Zoso 80 (ZM-278) and copied on Handsome Zeppelin Display Is Actually Iron Lung (Kankakee ZM 278 A-D).  The soundboard recording for this show is very good but a bit hissy and has cut after “All My Love” and at the end of “Kashmir.”  It can be found on Dinosaur Watching Part 1 (Flying Disc CD 6 – 805) and Dinosaur Watching Part 2 (Flying Disc CD 6 – 806) released in 1991.

Blitzkrieg Over Europe (Tarantura T3CD-5) has “Stairway To Heaven,” “Rock And Roll,” and “Whole Lotta Love” from this show but misattributed to the Vienna concert.  This error was copied onto Spare Parts 1980 (POT-003).  Tarantura released both Mannheim shows on Eye Thank Ewe (Tarantura T4CD-4EYE) in 1994.  Several years later TDOLZ also issued a four disc set with both shows on Strangers In The Night (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ Vol. 066) but they used the audience recording to fill in the gaps in the tapes.  July, 2 Mannheim 1980 was released by Flagge in 1999 and features the soundboard tape only with no attempt to fix the cuts with the audience.  The sound is still slightly hissy, but is well balanced, more clear than the others and is a considerable improvement over all previous releases and comes close to being definitive.  It is packaged similarly to the Tarantura 1980 tour series with the set list on front of the gatefold sleeve with the warden poster and a photo on the back.  For this release Flagge uses a very ugly picture of a dour looking John Paul Jones. 

Perhaps it is meant to reflect the contents of the discs.  This is the third longest show of the tour (after Berlin and Frankfurt) and is a hard one to love.  It’s been said at some of the stops on the tour Page looked out of it and this is probably a prime example.  Both “Train Kept A Rollin'” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” are disjointed.  Page seems to recognize this when he says afterwards, “How was it?  I had to wake myself up.  I’ve seen some of these faces before down in front.  My God!  The next number is called, no not that at all, it’s ‘Strangers In The Night.'”  “Black Dog” also sounds uninspired although Page does create an interesting solo at the very end. 

Plant does some crowd control afterwards when he says, “It’s a very very good evening.  Apologies for being late, sorry.  Before we carry on we’d like to ask you if you would very kindly not move like the ocean.  just stand still because you can enjoy better and we can play better if we don’t think anybody is gonna get trampled under foot.”  “In The Evening” sounds a bit better even though Jones almost gets lost in the middle.  There are still issues with the audience afterwards and Plant says, “we did ask if you would do this. It’s no good, you can’t enjoy nothing if you’re moving around like a snake.”  He continues by introducing “The Rain Song” as “a song from way way way back on an album I can’t remember now.”

The Houses Of The Holy track fares better still.  Plant tries to lighten the mood by speaking about “Hot Dog” as “a token of our respect for the country and western market.  I don’t think we’ll be watching too many Burt Reynolds movies.”  Page is more absent than usual for “All My Love” and gets stuck on a high note in the first “Since I’ve Been Loving You” solo.  “Achilles Last Stand” comes very close to falling apart and about eight minutes into the song Plant scolds Page by singing “I used to know the way / used to know the way.”  Bonham also loses his place and begins the rhythm for the final section several measures too early.  Plant introduces Page for his solo spot “White Summer” as “James Fenimore Cooper’s friend.”  Strangely he begins to improve by this point and this song, which on many nights sounds ramshackle actually holds together well. 

The same can be said for “Stairway To Heaven.”  It’s obvious Plant is reciting the lyrics by rote, but Page delivers an interesting and dramatic solo.  “Rock And Roll” is the standard first encore and instead of leaving the stage Plant simply tells the audience “at this point we usually do a moody and walk off and pretend we’ve gone when we really haven’t.  As we’re a little bit tired to do that we’ll stay here just the same.”  Maybe inspired by their performance in Frankfurt, they again play a 1973 US tour style “Whole Lotta Love” lasting about fifteen minutes.  The theremin section features a loud, trebly John Entwistle style bass figure by Jones (something they would expand on five nights later in Berlin), and “Boogie Chillun'” again has “that little boy’s reached the age of thirty-one / I do believe it’s time that little boy to have some fun.”  The boogie section is not bad and just as Plant sings a bit of “Frankfurt Special” in Frankfurt he sings a verse of “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame” which was a hit for Elvis in August, 1961.  July, 2 Mannheim 1980 is an exellent release of a mediocre show which caters to completist of Zeppelin’s final tour. 

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