No Firecrackers (Electric Magic EMC-009A/B)
No Firecrackers (Electric Magic EMC-009A/B)
PNE Coliseum, Vancouver, BC, Canada – July 18th, 1973
Disc 1 (47:55): Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (37:12): Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, outroduction
One of the more interesting Led Zeppelin concerts on their ninth US tour is the July 18th show in Vancouver. A night after a triumphant show in Seattle, this gig was cut short because of the health of singer Robert Plant. The show was taped by journalist Rick McGrath, who interviewed Robert Plant after their 1971 show in Vancouver. The first half the show, from “Rock And Roll” through the first eight seconds of “Dazed & Confused,” was released in the nineties on Canada Dry (Tarantura CD-001), Twopenny Upright (Antrabata ARM17-11-71/18-7-73/19-3-73) a three disc set that also includes Berlin 1973 and Ipswich 1971, and finally Cut In The Seventies on The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin (TDOLZ Vol. 85) in 1999. It was a good but hissy tape that ran a bit too slow. About a year after Diagrams Electric Magic issued No Firecrackers featuring a more complete version of the same tape source in superior quality and running at the correct speed. As it stands, there are cuts at the end of “Celebration Day” which eliminates the ending and the first two verses of “Black Dog,” after “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and at 6:11 in “Dazed And Confused” losing “San Francisco.”
The cut after “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is problematic because it seems to lose both “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” since both of them normally followed in the set list. It is most likely that the band decided to drop those two from the show that night since Plant was tired. The sound quality on Electric Magic is much improved over the older silver pressed editions. The hiss is reduced to being a non-factor and we are left with an enjoyable, atmospheric recording. The only problem is that the sound tends to lean on the right channel too much. Adjusting the balance on the stereo is an option.
It is an interesting show because it was stopped early because someone slipped Plant some LSD before the show. He referred to the incident on their next visit to Vancouver in 1975 when he joked “there’s a man climbing up the mic stand…no that was last time” and “it was a peculiar show actually…if I ever find that guy…terrible bad news…something strange happened…I found the light show to be amazing and I wondered what the name of the group was.” In Seattle 1977 he mentions this show again when he says, “Vancouver – it’s not a nice place to get spiked, but it’s a nice place to play.” He is lacking in energy and focus and even interrupts his introduction to “Over The Hills And Far Away” to say “oh dear, I’m tired.”
The rest of the band seem to compensate by delivering a show that grow more improvisational as it goes on. The title comes from Plant’s plea before “Misty Mountain Hop,” saying, “We shall play our balls off if you promise no firecrackers, right? You can have our balls. We don’t want your firecrackers.” “No Quarter” in particular includes a unique and dynamic organ melody during the solo as Jones duets with Page. And in the latter moments in “Dazed And Confused,” before the return to the third verse, Page tries a new improvisation which doesn’t really work but is interesting to hear.
After “Stairway To Heaven” there is a short pause before the mc comes out to say: “Ladies and gentlemen, Led Zeppelin has left the building. Please stop for just a moment. They’re trying to get Robert Plant to a hospital. Please very orderly try to cool it with the traffic while we try to get the limos through the traffic. We have to get Robert Plant to the hospital in the next few minutes. They said to thank you, you’ve been an unbelievable audience. We apologize. Thank you Vancouver.” There are cries of “bullshit” from people close to the taper. No Firecrackers is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve in a slip case with the concert decription from The Concert File printed on the interior. It is a good release, but could be improved upon by centering the music.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)