Led Zeppelin – Newcastle Symphony (Image Quality IQ-022/23)

Newcastle Symphony (Image Quality IQ-022/23)

City Hall, Newcastle, England – November 30th, 1972

Disc 1 (53:22):  Rock And Roll, 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 (72:33):  Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, mellotron solo / Thank You

Led Zeppelin began their biggest tour of the UK with two sold out dates in the City Hall in Newcastle on November 30th and December 1st.  The extant for the first night is good, clear and enjoyable but hissy and a bit flat.  The opening two songs and the encores are a bit muddy but the rest isn’t that bad at all.  First to circulate were six songs, “Immigrant Song,” “Heartbreaker,” “Dazed & Confused,” “Stairway To Heaven,” “Thank You” and “Whole Lotta Love” attributed to the March 20th, 1971 show in Mother’s in Birmingham. 

Two silver titles, Stepmothers Club (Mad Dogs MAD DOGS-027/8) and Stepmothers Return To The Club Tour 1971(Zeppelin Live Archives ZLA-9314/5) were released with this attribution.  The ones responsible took the songs from Newcastle and put them in sequence so that “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker,” encores in Newcastle seem to be the beginning a 1971 concert.  “Dazed & Confused” and “Stairway To Heaven,” both played late in the show in 1972 are pushed up to much earlier in the set like they were the previous year.  

The entire tape came out and were pressed on Nice Starter! (The Symbols BS 36/37) first.  Newcastle Symphony on Image Quality followed and they increased the volume on the tape to make it much more audible.  There are cuts between some songs but most of the Plantations and all of the music is preserved.

This is Zeppelin’s first show since the end of their second tour of Japan in early October and their first gig in the UK in more than a year.  This would be their most extensive tour of the UK in their career and, when it was announced, prompted the British press to say that it wouldn’t sell well because their popularity has undoubtedly waned.  Selling out every gig in one day was proof enough they were still a draw.  A review of this gig carried the headline ZEPPELIN – THE LAST LAUGH.  Written by Roy Carr, he gives a triumphant summary of the gig and the band’s after show reactions.

At the beginning of the tape the promoter Tony Smith is audible saying, “what can I say?  Led Zeppelin!”  The band start with “Rock And Roll” and it has the little flourish at the end present on the studio recording but dropped in live performance.  “Over The Hills And Far Away” follows and was unreleased at this point and it sounds almost identical to the studio recording.  Plant’s voice falters on “many dreams come true” and Page messes up the solo and is in  a big hurry to finish. 

“That was a track off of the album Led Zeppelin IV…which comes out in January” which is how he introduces the new song.  “Black Dog,” instead of being about the black Labrador, is simply “My Brain Hurts” referring to the Monty Python sketch.  Another song from the untitled album follows.  Plant introduces “Misty Mountain Hop” saying, “So, here’s one that escaped the ears of the censors because it really didn’t relate to ding-a-ling.  But it should.  I’m sure that the vice squad should have certainly found it before it could.” 

Plant is referring the Chuck Berry’s song “My Ding-A-Ling” which hit number one on the British five days before and was the cause of some controversy.  Mary Whitehouse, campaigner for morality, successfully had the song banned.  John Paul Jones is missing and there is some kind of commotion on stage (largely inaudible in the recording).  Plant says something about a mic before coming back and introducing the song as “another one called My Brain Hurts. It features John Paul Jones, who’s just trying to find his was onto the stage.”

A cut eliminates Plant’s introduction to “Dancing Days” (“The new album should have come out in August but it’ll be out in January.  But I went to bed in July and didn’t get up until October.  Had it come out when we intended, this next number ‘Dancing Days’ would have been just right for that time of year.”)  But for the first time being played in the UK they deliver an intense performance of the song.   So much so that Carr writes that he wished they would have played it again.

“Dazed And Confused” is twenty-three minutes long and includes a long “Crunge” section, yet another preview of the new album.  Before “Whole Lotta Love” Plant dedicates it to “a very good friend of ours, who’s in hospital at the moment ah, Roy Harper. And it’s fitting we should finish the first gig on the first tour and if anybody knows Roy, he’s gonna get his ass back on the road.”  The long medley includes the normal inclusions, starting with “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” “Boogie Chillun’,” “Let’s Have A Party,” “Going Down Slow” and ends with “The Shape I’m In.”  By the time they hit Glasgow in a couple days the medley will end with “I Can’t Quit You.” 

There is a cut in the tape afterwards, but when they come back out for the encores Plant is saying “Who’s working this bloody PA anyway?  Good evening. Had ya fooled, had ya fooled, see?  Bring the offering from the grammar school.  This is for you Robert.”  They play their old opening of “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker” for old time’s sake.  Page begins “Immigrant Song” in the wrong key and the rhythm section keeps playing the song until he comes back in with the correct one.  The finale is Jones’ two minute long mellotron symphony, something he introduced live in Kyoto in October, and would perfect in Southampton in January.

Overall this is a tremendously exciting show in much better sound quality than one would expect.  Image Quality is more than a decade old yet remains definitive since none of the labels have bothered to look at this tape again.  A fair sounding, incomplete tape of the second night in Newcastle also exists and pairing these two shows together would be an interesting project.  Newcastle Symphony is packaged in a fatboy double with the same photo motif found on every other IQ release and is worth having. 

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