No Longer Down Under: Live In Auckland 1972 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-008A/B)
Western Springs Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand – February 25th, 1972
Disc 1 (63:26): Intro., Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Celebration Day, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp
Disc 2 (74:01): mc, Dazed & Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown
An excellent sounding audience recording of Led Zeppelin’s February 25th, 1972 Auckland tape surfaced. It was both a source for both revelation and a frustration. On the one hand it had a very rare early glimpse of Jimmy Page’s creative prowess on stage and Robert Plant’s explicit praise of the logistics of the show. But it was frustrating because the tape was so fragmented, missing almost an hour of music. There are several good versions of this tape including Going To Auckland (Akashic AKA-30) and Live In New Zealand 1972 (Empress Valley EVSD-440/441).
The surfacing last year of a second, albeit inferior sounding tape, offered a complete concert. No Longer Down Under Live In Auckland 1972 presents an edit of the two tapes. The first, excellent tape source is utilized for a majority of the show. The new source is used for the introduction, “Immigrant Song,” “Celebration Day,” “Going To California,” the second half of “Dazed And Confused,” “What Is And What Should Never Be,” “Moby Dick” and “Rock And Roll.”
The editing job itself is seamless and the difference between the stereo and mono tapes not too drastic. It certainly does not distract from enjoying the show, which is one of the better ones from this tour.
Plant acknowledges the importance of the event after “Black Dog” by saying, “we’d like to really thank you for the faith for making this the biggest thing to happen in New Zealand. And all the traveling involved it’s an amazing thing to hear. We traveled thirty-six thousand miles but at least we stopped in Bombay which is a great place to stay after a war.” Plant plays along with the audience, giving a sarcastic “thank you, thank you” after the applause for introducing “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”
Zeppelin make the surprising choice to play “Celebration Day.” Introduced as “about a little town not too far from here called New York. It once used to be new,” it was regularly played in 1971 but by the following year it was dropped as a regular number and played only three times (New Zealand, Brisbane, and Charlotte).
The boisterous audience keep shouting out requests. When they are setting up for the acoustic section of the set, Plant tell them: “For anybody who keeps shouting out about all of the numbers, we got to put you straight from the word go. We have this sort of thing all over the place. What we like to do is to do as much as possible in the time that we’ve got. So please don’t shout out because we’re gonna do it eventually.”
The audience seem uncomfortable during acoustic set comes off well. The taper emits a loud belch in the middle of “Going To California.” Plant sings “Tangerine” with much more emotion than usual, but he is obviously disturbed by the apathy. Before the final acoustic song “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” he tells them that “this is all about a dog with blue eyes. I won’t even go into the story because I wouldn’t like to wake anybody up.”
They do respond to “Dazed And Confused,” now thankfully complete. The piece contains an early reference to “The Song Remains The Same,” the light and airy riff leading to the power cadence Page used in the middle of the guitar solo and is played right before the violin bow section begins.
Regarding this version, Tim Blanks, host of “Fashion File” on CBC observed: “Led Zeppelin changed my life. I was a screwed-up-tight schoolboy when I saw them in Auckland, New Zealand, on a midsummer night in 1972, shortly after the release of their epochal fourth album. The stage was a distant blur. Fortunately, the couple beside me had binoculars. It was during the showpiece ‘Dazed and Confused’ that Jimmy Page began to ravage his guitar with a violin bow and my synapses involuntarily combusted. The sound was so alien, so witchy-coming from a man rumored to be in touch with dark forces-that I was whisked out of my seat, compelled to dance in the pagan style popular among mutant hippies of the day.”
The improvisation is pushed longer than before with Page spitting out very hostile and nasty riffs. Plant sings the chorus for “Wake Up Little Susie” afterwards, obvious not satisfied with the audience’s response.
“Whole Lotta Love” in its entirely is present and the usual Ricky Nelson and Elvis rockabilly classics are inclusions in the medley, “Hello Mary Lou”, “Let’s Have A Party”, “(Baby You’re So Square) I Don’t Care” and “Going Down Slow.” The only encore “Communication Breakdown” is complete with a fiery solo by Page to end the afternoon’s show.
No Longer Down Under: Live In Auckland 1972 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a numbered sticker on the front. The inserts are printed on high quality paper with an insert containing the Graf Zeppelin catalogue. Every title they’ve released is characterized by the same high quality in the mastering and attention to detail, making them all close to the definitive versions of those respective shows. Graf Zeppelin is also a difficult label to find. Given the sound quality and editing, this is an excellent title worth having.