V 1/2 Performed Live In Seattle (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-017A/B/C/D/E)
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, WA, USA – July 17, 1973
Disc 1 (53:28) Introduction, 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 (65:03) MC, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 3 (63:31) MC, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean
Disc 4 (53:48) Introduction, 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 5 (65:05) MC, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven
Led Zeppelin’s concert in Seattle on their 1973 North American tour has a long history in the collectors market thanks to an excellent stereo audience recording, this is source 1. It was first released on vinyl as V 1/2 Performed Live In Seattle (Highway Hi-Fi HH Seattle 1-4), a double album of almost the complete gig, missing only Dazed and Confused and Moby Dick. This was soon issued by other companies, Trade Mark Of Quality released several versions using these matrix numbers (TMQ 72019,2820A-D, TMG 2964A-D, and TMQ 44772A-D), and as part of the The Trade Mark Of Quality Masters box set (HH Seat1-4). Other vinyl titles have been V 1/2 Live Concert In Seattle (Berkely 2025A-D), Live Seattle 1973 (M1 A-B, Live In Seattle 73 Tour (TMQ Smoking Pig 2964A-D), Seattle Daze (Box Top HHSeattle 1-4), Seattle 73 (Phoenix 44772A-D) and the massive Final Option and Film Can collections.
In the era of compact discs it seemed to get lost in favor of a second audience source that was far more complete and whose quality was also excellent, Grandiloquence (Antrabata ARM 17773), Seattle Daze (Image Quality IQ 007/8/9), V 1/2 (Cobra 007), and Zep Hakase (Akashic AKA-6-1-3) all feature this recording. From there companies began to use the second source and fill the gaps with the first source, Complete Seattle (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ 98200-1/2/3), Performed Live In Seattle (Eat A Peach EAT 96/97/98), and Seattle 1973 Master Reels (No Label) all feature this blend. But wait, there is an incomplete soundboard as well, V 1/2 Vol 1 (Dynamite Studio DS92J026), V 1/2 Vol 2 (Dynamite Studio DS92J027), Five And A Half (Scorpio, no matrix on page 163 of Robert Goodwins CD Edition vol 2), V 1/2 (Last Stand Disc LSD 44/45/46), V 1/2 Extravaganza (Badgeholders BH-01/2/3), and Monsters Of Rock (Tarantura T3CD-9). Almost done…then we have the soundboard / audience mixes, Afterburner (Cashmere CSCD 004/5/6), V 1/2 (Empress Valley Supreme disc EVSD 418/419/420), Performed Live In Seattle (Tarantura TCD 76-1/2/3), Performed Live In Seattle (Wendy WECD 207/208/209), and most recently as Seattle Supersonic (Moonchild SEATTLE1973-1/2/3). With a history as long as this, I am sure there are missed titles and mistakes on this list.
What makes this title from Graf Zeppelin unique is that it is the only title so far to use the first source as a foundation with the second source used to fill the gaps. To round out the set, the label has included the soundboard source as well. The first source, as mentioned previously, is an excellent audience recording very clear and detailed with a perfect balance of instruments and vocals, if anything the bass frequencies are a bit low. Obviously taped close to the stage, the taper managed to capture a vivid document of the bands performance. The second source is a mono recording and, like the first source, is an excellent, clear recording that has a very nice bottom end, both tapes perfectly capture the atmosphere inside the Coliseum on that Tuesday night 46 years ago.
My first taste of Seattle 1973 was part of the The Trade Mark Of Quality Masters box set (HH Seat1-4). That box set received so much play time, each show a classic and they became ingrained on my brain, so much I can remember getting the TDOLZ title and thinking “this is not the recording I am used too”. Nonetheless after repeated listening I soon warmed to the “alternate” recording and to this day the Seattle concert is my favorite of the 1973 American tour. Led Zeppelin always seemed to play well in the city Rock fans know as the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix. From the 1969 Mud Shark incident to the marathon concert in 1972 and the devastating 1975 show to the 1977 Kingdome performance, while not up to previous standards, it is famous for the full length concert video.
Back to 1973, the concert was played to a capacity audience and had the city abuzz, a review of the concert described the events;
News Report: Led Zeppelin – Rock as Extravaganza
The Stones first developed massive light and sound systems for the huge halls rock groups now play and Alice Cooper expanded the idea by turning concerts into spectacles, but nobody so far has reached the level of extravaganza shown by Led Zeppelin in concert last night at the Seattle Center Coliseum.
Smoke, fire, strobes, sparklers and rockets filled the stage at one time or another during the group’s nonstop three hours of music. Not to mention the three-story banks of lights and speakers that surrounded the four performers and the mirrored panels behind them.
And the show was so well coordinated that a tiny beam of light would land on Jimmy Page’s right hand the instant he began a guitar solo and flames leap out of canisters when Robert Plant hit a certain high note.
The sound system was such that at any point in the hall the music was visceral – it could be felt more than heard.
For me, this took some getting used to but once acclimatized it was strangely pleasurable, as if the constant vibrations activated some pleasure center.
The Led Zeppelin are one of the three or four most popular rock groups at the moment. In their current 33-city concert tour, they have already broken the national attendance record (56,000 people in Tampa; previous high was the Beatles Shea Stadium show which drew only 55,000) and have been selling out every show. Only one newspaper ad and two radio spots were necessary to sell out the Coliseum here in a few days.
This is one top group that owes its popularity to talent. Page is one of the finest electric guitarists in the world. He’s done session work for everybody from Donovan to Tony Bennett and like Hendrix, has helped expand the definitions of rock by his innovations.
Robert Plant is the greatest singer in rock, next to Little Richard, and that’s no mean feat. He can control a scream the way Leontyne Price controls an aria and it’s just as exhilarating to experience.
Of course he was helped a bit last night by the sound man who added echo, reverb and other aural tricks to augment his voice.
John Bonham, the drummer, displayed superhuman strength by lasting the full three hours without a rest, even after an energetic drum solo that must have lasted 20 minutes.
John Paul Jones, an arranger and conductor before joining the group, played bass guitar, electric organ and mellotron.
Led Zeppelin made one of their first public appearances in Seattle just before Christmas 1968 as an unknown and unannounced second-on-the-bill to Vanilla Fudge. Their first album had not yet been released and the audience wasn’t prepared for them.
I remember the Arena crowd back then paying little attention to the band’s high energized rock music and they walked off stage to more boos than applause.
What a contrast last night when the audience was almost mesmerized by the goings-on on stage and give out the longest, most deafening ovation I’ve ever heard (about 8 to 10 minutes long and at least 5 on the Richter scale).
It was quite an experience. (by Pat Macdonald, Seattle Times July 1973)
The first disc beings with the long introduction courtesy of the second source, “Led Zeppelin have asked if we can get a few things straight tonight. Nobody around here digs any fireworks, please cool the fireworks. Please also, we have an area right here in front of the stage, we have so many optic effects that we need to get off tonight, that we can’t have any chance of anybody bumping the stage ‘cos it’ll completely ruin them. Their show usually runs about one hour and forty five minutes. If you can keep the fireworks down and keep everything off the front, Led Zeppelin would like to thank you and do about three hours tonight! So, sit back and stay cool and we’ll have a long great show this evening!”. There is a mix of both sources for the remainder of the intro, the second source is used for the first two seconds of Rock And Roll, Graf Zeppelin is known for their excellent mastering, the patches are seamless and smooth. The second source fills a gap at :41 – :53 during Celebration Day, this is where you really get to judge the difference of these recordings, the first source being far superior. The band’s playing is on from the first song, Rock And Roll and the momentum is carried throughout Celebration Day and Black Dog. Page’s fingers are nimble and he seems to go from riff to lead effortlessly all over an enthusiastically solid foundation from Jones and Bonham.
A song about the passage through life, Over The Hills And Far Away, is next on the list, the audience are quite receptive. Since making its live debut the previous summer and being released on Houses Of The Holy, the song has had a position early in the set and become a live favorite. Plant briefly speaks of the “Trouble in Vancouver” the previous summer as an intro to Misty Mountain Hop. I love the sound of Page’s guitar on this song, yet for me it is the blistering solo he plays to transition into Since I’ve Been Loving You that always raises the hair on my neck. Just incredible, light and shade, the Hammer of the Gods! A superb version of No Quarter follows Plant asking for more monitor, Page and Bonham are in perfect synchronization, their playing is incredible as they seem deep in a mind meld, the reaction is instantaneous, not even given a thought.
Plant’s introduction to The Song Remains The Same is at both the end of the first disc and beginning of the second. This version seems fast and aggressive yet retains its light feel, in perfect compliment is a gently beautiful Rain Song. The second source is used for all of Dazed and Confused, Plant remembers the 1969 Seattle Pop Festival during his introduction which garners some cheers from the audience. This is one of the really long versions from this tour, clocking in at about 35 minutes long. Page does not seem to be in a hurry and plays a gentle prelude into the oriental riffs and finally San Francisco, Bonham’s drumming accents the transition into the bow solo and the whole thing is haunting yet melancholy. After the fast solo section Page does get into some meandering leading into the call and response section, Bonham intent on following and adding fills where needed. This followed by another fast section where the playing is really good, it seems like Page is trying to lose Bonham but he cannot shake him. While the song is one of the longest from the tour and does meander at times, the inventiveness by the instrumentalist is always interesting, a flourishing garden of sound.
We are back to the first source for the majority of Stairway To Heaven, Plant introduces it as something “entirely different”, as soon as Page plays the first notes a huge ovation washes over the Coliseum. Jimmy’s solo is just perfect, albeit a little long. He never looses his way, just going on feel. The second source starts at the 10:36 mark and completes the song and is used for all of Moby Dick up to the beginning of Heartbreaker. Moby Dick is almost as long as Dazed and Confused, just shy of 32 minutes long and is well received by the loyal fans of Seattle. Heartbreaker sounds a bit sluggish, it doesn’t take long for things to heat back up after Jimmy plays an incredible solo and they explode into Whole Lotta Love. The get into a bit of The Crunge and Boogie Chillun, the second source is used 10:46 to 12:17 just in time for Plant’s cries of “Woman” that lead back into the proper end part of Whole Lotta Love. After another massive ovation, the sole encore of The Ocean brings a riotous end to a superbly played concert.
The soundboard is an excellent and well balanced recording consistent with the best of the North American soundboards. It is incomplete having the first three quarters of the concert finishing with Stairway To Heaven. Like the other soundboards from 1973, it is bare bones but does have some slight audience noise that lends to the atmosphere and thankfully not completely dry like the Dallas board tape. For continuity’s sake, the label has included the long introduction from source 2 as well as filling a gap at the beginning of The Rain Song at the 1:55-2:13 mark and the last 1:14 of cheering after Stairway To Heaven.
The packaging is great with the artwork being a take on the original Highway Hi-Fi vinyl bootleg, the back cover has a nice aerial view of the Seattle skyline with a Zeppelin floating above. The interior tray features the Smokin Pig vinyl cover and that’s not all, you get picture discs, numbered sticker and a poster featuring the HH artwork, all housed in a fat boy jewel case. Typical classy artwork from the Graf Zeppelin. This title was released back in 2016, how it eluded me I do not know, when I pull out Seattle 1973, this is what I want to hear.