Pigeon Blood (Flagge)
Tampa Stadium, Tampa, FL – May 5th, 1973
Disc 1 (36:28): Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 2 (65:11): No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed and Confused, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 3 (41:47): Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean, Communication Breakdown
If attendance and sales records are an indication of a band’s success, then Led Zeppelin’s Tampa show on May 5th, 1973 is one of their greatest achievements. With a paid attendance of 56,800, they surpassed the record previously held by The Beatles’ August 15th 1965 show at Shea Stadium in Flushing, where they drew about 55,000. This was the second show of the tour and the first with tape sources for documentation (it is claimed that the first show in Atlanta was taped but remains with a hoarder). A very good audience recording was pressed on vinyl on The Beat Goes On: Inedits Volume 4 (Beat 1-2) which has “Rock And Roll” to “No Quarter” on one disc. The tape also runs slightly fast. The complete show can be found on Quantient (Sad Songs SS 7319 A-F).
This tape was used for the earliest compact disc releases of this show including 56,700 Fans Together and Boogie (Rock Calendar RC 2127/2128), First Day (ARMS 03/04PR), Quantient (Cobra 023), and most recently on Top Of The World (Badgeholders BH011-02-02). The first six tracks can be found on First Choice (Sugar Cane SC52001/2) as a bonus with the April 9th, 1970 Tampa show. A second tape surfaced and was used on two releases from the mid-nineties, 56,800 In the Ocean (Silver Rarities SIRA 166/167) & Tampa Stadium (Tarantura TAMP-1,2). This source is more distant but still listenable. Flagge released Pigeon Blood in 1999 and is an edit of the two sources. Mainly used is the first, but the second is used to fill several gaps in “No Quarter” from 5:28 to 6:48, “The Song Remains The Same” from fifty-three seconds to 1:30,and one in “The Ocean” from 3:20 to 3:32. Because on the tape “Over The Hills And Far Away” follows immediately after “Black Dog” with no comments by Plant, some have suggested there could be a cut there as well. Since there is no obvious cut there it sounds as if they were experimenting with an opening four song segue instead of the three that would be normal for this tour. Plant’s comments after “Over The Hills And Far Away” seem to suggest this.
The band are very much aware of the significance of the event and before they even play a note Robert Plant says, “Hello. It seems between us, we’ve done something nobody’s done before and that’s fantastic. We should have had one of those big satellites, you know?” They rip into the set and play the first four songs, “Rock And Roll,” “Celebration Day,” “Black Dog” and “Over The Hills And Far Away” at a furious pace with no break. “So now it’s time to say good evening. Is anybody, did anybody ever make the Orlando gig we did last time? So, we’re in the same country, yeah? Now this is the second gig that we’ve done this time since we’ve been to the States, and…I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this. It’s really great, but anyway, that’s up to us too. This is a song about what happens in England if you go walking in the park, and maybe some nice guy passes you some cigarette papers, and then it takes on from there. It’s called ‘Misty Mountain Hop.'”
The Zeppelin four track runs into “Since I’ve Been Loving You” in an arrangement they’ve been playing since Japan the previous October. There is a tremendous amount of discord in the audience during the song and afterwards Plant has to restore order, saying, “Now listen. Listen. Dare I ask you that, as we’ve achieved something between us that’s never been done before, that you could just cool it on these barriers here because otherwise there’s gonna be a lot might get poorly, right? So if you have a little respect for the person who’s standing next to you, which is really what it’s all about, then possibly we can have no problems, right? Cause we don’t want no problems, do we? I mean it’s bad enough with the balance of payments isn’t it?
“No Quarter” was introduced to the stage and was premiered the previous night in Atlanta. Tampa is the second ever live performance and they stick close to the studio arrangement, clocking in about eight minutes. It would soon be stretched out to twice that length. Two new songs, “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” follow. The crowd become restless during the mellow ballad and Plant has to say something again. “Listen, we want this to be a really joyous occasion, and I got to tell you this because three people have been taken to hospital, and if you keep pushing on that barrier there’s gonna be stacks and stacks of people going. So, for goodness sake, we are animals, but we can move back a little bit because it’s the only way. If you can’t do that then you can’t really live with yourself, just for this evening anyway. Can you cooperate? Seems a shame to talk about things like cooperation when there’s so many of us. Anyway, you people sitting up the sides there are doing a great job, but these poor people here are being pushed by somebody. So cool it for a bit cause it’s, it’s not very nice.”
He then reminiscences a bit, saying, “I’ve forgotten the first place we ever played in Florida. I know we played the convention center in Miami, which is really bad. The gig was good, but there was some men walking around all the time making such a silly scene, and we got nobody’s this time. So we’ve got to please ourselves have it, right. This is a number that was around then, and it’s still around, and it takes John Paul Jones to take us there.” “Dazed And Confused” is again very compact and Page rushes through the sections. This is especially noticeable in the beginning and Plant struggles to keep up. “Moby Dick” lasts only twelve minutes and segues directly into “Heartbreaker” with no return to the final theme. This is the only time they employed this arrangement. Plant mentions the record again during the “Boogie Chillun'” section in “Whole Lotta Love” and they reward the audience with two encores. The tape continues between the two numbers so two and a half minutes of cheering is present.
Overall this is a good but nervous and tentative show brought on by being the second show of what was their biggest US tour to date and the breaking of a record that stood for eight years by The Beatles who by that time had been apotheosized into the collective consciousness of pop culture. This is a very good sounding document of the show and a nice edit job between the two tapes for a complete show. Flagge stretched it over three discs when it could have easily fit onto two. It is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with the artwork printed on only one side of the inserts. Good action shots are used for the front and back covers and they print a review from The Concert File on the back. When Pigeon Blood was first released the price charged was prohibitive, but almost a decade since it could be found reasonably and is a good addition to the collection.