Fyens Forum, Odense, Denmark – May 4, 1971
Disc 1 (56:34) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 2 (56:42) MC, Going To California, That’s The Way, What Is And What Should Never Be, Four Sticks, Gallows Pole, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown
Back in May 2022 it was announced that the Tarantura label would be releasing a recording from Odense, Denmark from May 4, 1971. This news piqued the interest of the Led Zeppelin collecting community as it was reported that the recording contained both Four Sticks and Gallows Pole. The Odense show was a day after the brilliant Copenhagen, Denmark that also featured both songs, many consider a new recording of them coupled with a typical 1971 performance to be a holy grail. Knowing that it would be a few months until the release was ready, many just hunkered down for the wait while there’s plenty of new Zeppelin material out there to enjoy, lots of 8mm sources surfacing, L.A Forum 9/4/1970, MSG 9/19/1970, and the very new Bath footage.
In late August of this year the Odense recording surfaced certainly prematurely on Youtube, good and bad. The good is we can now fully enjoy this recording for free, one can just search it and be listening in minutes. The bad is that Youtube files are compressed so the sound quality is not as good as it could be. New show means new titles with all the regular players throwing something new in the market. Odense 1971 (No Label), Walpurgisnacht (Wendy WECD-428/429), Odense 1971 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1631-2), and Live In Odense 1971 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-504A/B) are the main titles. It should be noted that there are fan remastered versions of the recording out there that can be downloaded freely, perhaps one to look for would be the dadgad version as his mastering is consistently spot on.
The recording is overall good and consistent, there are times when the quality push near very good. The sound is boomy and is slightly distant, the vocals are the clearest in the mix followed by the guitar. The bass loses definition at times and Bonzo’s drums are low in the mix, it is clear enough to enjoy and overall this is an easy listen. The excellent Evenings With Led Zeppelin book states that the venue was only half full due to high ticket prices and a wealth of other guitar oriented Hard Rock bands playing the venue around this time, notably Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, and Deep Purple. This works to the tapers advantage as the crowd noise is minimal, standard cheering and some quiet conversations during songs, at times giving you the feeling of casual complacency. Lastly the recording ends at 5:38 of Communication Breakdown, sounds as if the song is winding down so probably not much is missing of that song. Based upon set lists from Ireland and Denmark, Rock And Roll may have been a second encore.
A bit of applause greets the band as they arrive onstage, Robert greets the audience with “Good Evening”, some brief tuning and the band get right into Immigrant Song, other than the sheer density of the instrumental bombast, what instantly grabs you is the clarity and sheer power of Robert’s voice. He is hitting those high notes with ease, he sounds very commanding in his delivery, one gets a feel of the hall echo from his vocals. The band are sizzling during Heartbreaker, Jonsey and Bonzo are rock solid and Jimmy is ripping into it and the opening salvo is quite pleasing to the audience and listener. Robert gets the audience to mirror his “Good Evening” that is fun to hear, his introduction to Since I’ve Been Loving You is met with a round of applause. The recording is a bit clearer now, the organ is a bit low in the mix and without the bass Bonzo is a bit clearer in the mix. This is a slow and deliberate version, Robert’s vocals are dramatic as is Jimmy’s playing. This is a version that is every bit about what is not played versus what is being played, the space within the notes.
Dazed is merely average, average 1971 is excellent but this night seems rather laid back. Instead of going for aggression Jimmy is going for atmosphere, Robert’s moans only accentuate this. He plays some interesting passages after the bow solo and doesn’t go right into the fast section, almost seems to get a bit lost before finally getting into it. Robert tells the audience they will be playing a few new songs and introduces Black Dog and Stairway To Heaven to zero reaction from the audience, just silence. Interesting to hear, or not hear, this reaction for two of the bands most well known and loved songs. Of course the songs are several months away from being released on the fourth album but it’s still interesting to hear. Black Dog is a monster, no laid back playing here it equals the energy and momentum the band had after Heartbreaker, extremely well played, and sung.
Stairway is really good, I like the sound of Jimmy’s guitar, his tone is clear and almost radiates from the sound spectrum. Due to the beginning’s quiet nature the sound is nice and clear, the hard rocking part is excellently captured, played and sung, Roberts vocals are incredibly powerful. The quiet Danes make for a detailed and enjoyable acoustic set, they certainly enjoyed and based upon their applause, appreciated the performance, That’s The Way getting the lion’s share. The audience very much enjoys What Is And What Should Never Be, loudly clapping for more, they settle down in time for the band to ready and get into Four Sticks. An obvious highlight of the recording, it sounds like the previous nights version as one would expect, Jonsey’s bass is discernible in the mix and it’s interesting to hear his rhythm patterns. The band literally end the song and the audience are unsure what to do, even Bonzo who bangs away after the others stop. Robert tells them that was the second time they played the song. Gallows Pole is more focused and really works where Four Sticks seems as if the band are deciding on its tempo and structure. Jimmy’s playing is confident and he clearly knows where his playing is leading him, lead and rhythm playing is focused.
Whole Lotta Love soars as one would expect, with all the new tracks in the set the song allows the band to just play and this go for it approach leads to some inspired playing. The post vocal instrumental passages before Boogie Chillun’ are very heavy and pummels the audience. When they break into Chillun’ their response is to clap along, the energy spills over into an an Elvis tribute with That’s All Right, My Baby Left Me, and A Mess of Blues, Robert going full Pop star crooner. Honey Bee is pure blues, Jimmy takes the opportunity to play some blistering leads while Jones and Bonzo keep the time. The band finish the oldies section with a fierce take on Robert Johnson’s Kind Hearted Woman Blues which leads into the Whole Lotta Love coda in stunning fashion. The taper lets the machine run so there’s over two minutes of the audience cheering before the band returns and hammers out Communication Breakdown. There are many chances for the band to break into something else and get a bit funky yet they never do, eventually heading back into Breakdown, Robert scatting some vocals that show after two hours his voice has not lost any of its power.
Photos from the gig itself adorn the inserts and CDs of this release, it is also numbered mine being 037. With all circulating sources coming from Youtube the quality will more than likely be quite similar, I’ve no plans to purchase any of the other titles as it has been reported that Tarantura is still planning on releasing the concert proper from a direct transfer of the source tape so that will certainly be an upgrade to all currently circulating versions. For those who want a release now, this Graf Title is worth consideration.