Led Zeppelin – Lyon 1973 (LZ 32673A/B/C)

Led Zeppelin - Lyon 1973

Lyon 1973 (LZ 32673A/B/C)

Palais de Sports, Lyon, France – March 26, 1973

Disc 1: (51:18) Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2: (45:37) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 3: (36:42) MC, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin’s third tour of Europe took place in 1973 and ran from March 2nd in Copenhagen, Denmark through April 2nd in Paris, France. Lyon 1973 presents a much longer version of the March 26th concert than had previously circulated. Only a 30 minute fragment containing an incomplete “Dazed And Confused”, part of “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Heartbreaker” were known to exist. Lyon 1973 contains the entire concert sans the opening track “Rock And Roll” and the very beginning of “Over The Hills And Far Away”. The European dates are known for being powerful awe-inspiring performances and from what we can make out, this one does not disappoint.

The recording is muddy with heavy low end distortion throughout and much of the detail gets lost. Luis Rey describes the original 30 minute fragment in his book, Led Zeppelin Live, as “poor quality recording, disturbing and noisy”. While he is not that far off, there are some worthwhile moments and times where the sound quality slightly improves and overall becomes more listenable as the concert progresses (or could that just be my ears adjusting to the sound?). The drums get almost completely buried in the mix with most of the emphasis on the bass guitar. Jimmy’s guitar can be heard fair enough but Robert’s vocals get somewhat buried in the mix as well and his between song banter is very hard to make out most of the time due to the echo in the venue. Some crowd noise is picked up in between songs and occasionally during the music but really doesn’t interfere with much.  Some different music can also be heard bleeding through in the background and is only noticeable between tracks. This could be from improper tape storage or perhaps from a dirty tape or a tape that may have been reused.

The tape cuts in just after the band enters “Over The Hills And Far Away”. The first three tracks suffer the most from the recording quality and it isn’t until “Since I’ve Been Loving You” that there are some nice moments of clarity where Jones’ organ doesn’t distort the tape quite like his bass does and Page can be heard giving a fine performance. The lone acoustic track, “Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp”, contains a small reference to “That’s The Way”, common around this time.

About three minutes into “The Song Remains The Same” the tape improves some with a bit more top end shining through. “The Rain Song” is more enjoyable as well even though some faint conversation is picked up in places.

“Dazed And Confused” is an uncut 30 minutes and contains “San Francisco”. The crowd seems to acknowledge Jimmy bringing out the bow but something happens at the start of the bow section prompting Page to stop and retune his instrument. “Stairway To Heaven” gets the applause it deserves from the opening notes and about six minutes into the song they lose power just as they are getting to the epic accents that lead into Jimmy’s solo. After two minutes of silence the power is restored and the band picks up where they left off and Page delivers an amazing solo.

“Whole Lotta Love” is an almost complete 25 minute version that contains “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”, “Boogie Woogie”, “Baby, I Don’t Care”, “Let’s Have A Party”, “I Can’t Quit You, Baby”, and “The Lemon Song”. Bonham and Jones are really locked in during the theremin section. There is a dip in volume during “Baby, I Don’t Care” and a cut at 11:39 just as they are starting “Let’s Have A Party” (missing only a small part) where the volume gets restored. Luis Rey describes “I Can’t Quit You” as a semi-drunk version, but I found this to be a good solid enjoyable listen with Page shredding in top form. They return to the stage for a single encore, “Heartbreaker” and Jimmy continues to cut loose with another fine version. He includes “Bouree” and “Feelin’ Groovy” in his solo section.

Although Lyon 1973 won’t appeal to most collectors it really serves its purpose in the Zeppelin community by filling in a void in most fans’ collection and presents a much longer version on silver disc. Unless a better sounding recording surfaces for this date, Lyon 1973 is the best way to experience this concert. As it is, this is one for the die hard Zeppelin completists and should be avoided by the general collector. This set comes in a fatboy jewel case and all three discs are attractively silk-screened in red and black using the same image of Jimmy and Robert with LZ Archives written across the top of each.

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