Triumph-Zug (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-314A/B)
Messe-Zentrum Halle A, Nuremberg, West Germany – March 14, 1973
Disc 1 (66:18) Intro, 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, Ramble On / Stairway To Heaven (Extra Long Source)
Disc 2 (74:41) MC, Dazed And Confused, Ramble On, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker
Led Zeppelin’s concert in Nuremberg on March 13, 1973 was the fourth stop on a 14 date European tour that consisted primarily of dates in Germany plus a few in France and Sweden, Vienna, and Denmark. The tour is a favorite among Zeppelin collectors due to the high caliber of playing, while the set lists would follow a standard selection of numbers played in the same order, the improvisations of the playing on a nightly basis was at an extremely high level, sometimes to audiences who seemed indifferent to the proceedings. Over the last couple of years I have been filling in small gaps from this tour, sure I had Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, and Offenbach, but the shows in France, Essen, and Nuremberg could not be found on my shelves. Recently I picked up the Essen show via the Moonchild label as well as the Nuremberg show on this release by the Graf Zeppelin label.
The Nuremberg show has seen a few previous releases, a fragment of this recording appeared on the vinyl title Live In Nuremberg 1973 (Private Collection PC-016). The excellent TDOLZ label released it some twenty years ago as Nuremberg 1973 (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-99) and it’s been some time since the Wendy label put out Die Meistersinger Don Nuremberg (Wendy WECD 155/156). WGPSEC was kind enough to send me copies of both the TDOLZ and Wendy titles for comparison.
There is only one audience source for the Nuremberg concert, it is a very good source that suffers from hall echo and the power of the instrumental machinery overloads the sound a bit. It is well balanced and clear enough that you can hear the individual instruments and vocals cleanly, I was rather pleased with the sound and found it to be an easy listen. First off is the TDOLZ version, when I compare the Graf Zeppelin to it I find that the Graf Zeppelin title is louder and less distant sounding with a fuller range of frequencies. The Graf Zeppelin is also more complete, it has a bit of tape before the concert begins, Rock And Roll is not cut, and Stairway To Heaven is almost a minute longer. This Graf Zeppelin title is a significant improvement over the TDOLZ title.
The Wendy title, Die Meistersinger Don Nuremberg (the title is taken from Richard Wagner’s 1868 opera) was, in itself, also a major improvement over the TDOLZ, it also has the additional tape for Rock And Roll and Stairway To Heaven. When I compare the sound of this Graf Zeppelin title to the Wendy title it holds up extremely well. The Wendy title sounds great, I am assuming the label has done work to minimize the bass frequencies which in itself helps with the overload and have presented a really nice clear version of the recording. The Wendy title sounds just a bit lower in volume than the Graf Zeppelin with just a bit lower amount of hiss as well. The Graf Zeppelin sounds much more powerful than the Wendy, some of it due to the volume, Graf also retains a nice analog tape warmth and for my personal taste I prefer the Graf Zeppelin, side by side it just sounds better and more natural. The sound throughout Stairway To Heaven is also much more consistent than Wendy, it sounds like Wendy switches to a higher gen source for about 4 minutes, it’s louder with more hiss, Graf does not have this issue. Graf Zeppelin has also added a bonus track as well, they have used a higher generation version of this recording for the last three minutes of the recording. This tape source has a lot of hiss, sounds distant and flat in comparison and is not an easy listen and is nothing more than an interesting oddity.
The Nuremberg concert is an excellent and extremely well played concert that seems to improve as it goes along. The three instrumentalists are in typical fine form, it is Robert’s voice that needs a bit of warm up. Rock And Roll is the opener as it has been since the October 72 shows in Japan, the band starts with high energy yet the transition into Over The Hills And Far Away seems to be too pregnant and with the songs mellow beginning, does not lose momentum, perhaps just delays it a bit. It does liven up when the band break into the heavier part of the song, Jimmy’s playing during this tour is extremely fluent as evident by his great solo. I really enjoy the versions of Black Dog from this tour, the band is so powerful, the song has that swing to it like the version on the fourth LP.
Page’s solo transition from Misty Mountain Hop into Since I’ve Been Loving You is breathtaking, fast and fluent then slows it down without skipping a beat, high drama. Page’s playing is simply stunning, Robert still seems a little low in the voice making his presentation sounding perfectly morose. Plant makes references to “little schoolgirls” as an intro to Dancing Days, this is a reference that would be touched on during a few of these European concerts. Page does throw in some cool little references, during Bron-Y-Aur Stomp he plays a bit of That’s The Way and just prior to Song Remains The Same he plays a hint of Derek and The Dominos Layla, concerning the latter I would like to hear more. He also strums the acoustic part of Ramble On just before Stairway, Robert even throws in a few of the lyrics, almost hinting at what could have been. I even detect a brief nod to Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love during the latter part of Dazed And Confused.
Dazed And Confused is excellent, while it is a Jimmy Page show piece, the real power behind the song is totally John Henry Bonham. As Gerard touches on in his assessment of the TDOLZ title, “John Bonham plays the drums as a lead instrument” is a perfect analogy of his playing on the song. He plays these fast rolls at the beginning of the song prior to Robert’s vocals, almost letting Page know he is ready and is coming for him. The prelude to the oriental riffs and bow solo is excellent, Bonham challenges on every turn with alternating drum patterns, just incredible playing. The duo resume their sparring post bow solo, Page seems to be trying different patterns with a reasonable success. Stairway is the calm between two storms, Jimmy’s solo is really good and the song builds to a wonderful climax. The Whole Lotta Love medley is just more of the same great playing we’ve been enjoying for the past couple hours. I love the 73 Euro tour, lots of good Elvis songs played plus some blues from the first record, very focused and intense concealed in a party atmosphere. The sole encore is a smoking version of Heartbreaker, no signs of fatigue here my friends.
The packaging consists of inserts with black and white photos throughout, picture discs and numbered sticker the usual. In my eyes the Graf Zeppelin label has done a fine job in presenting this concert, they are a label focused on Led Zeppelin and offering quality versus quantity. The sound and packaging are both well done and this title offers a nice version of this concert. As Gerard stated in his review, “Every tape is precious and worth having including this one from Nuremberg. It isn’t the best sounding tape, but it is good enough to be enjoyable and it captures a fantastic show.” I can only agree.