Celebrating Seventh And Ninth Days (The Symbols)
Celebrating Seventh And Ninth Days on The Symbols is a four disc set with Page & Plant’s two Osaka shows in February 1996. Following seven nights in Tokyo and with Nagoya between them, these are the first and only Page & Plant shows in the city in twenty-two years.
When Led Zeppelin visited Japan for two tours in the seventies, both were remarkable for the looseness they were able to achieve in Osaka. In both 1971 and 1972 they played rarely played songs and jammed, stretching out the shows into three hour long marathons.
When Page and Plant returned to Osaka at the tail end of the Unledded tour, they were also quite loose and played some rarely performed songs. It is a rare meeting of experience, talent, and risk which makes the two Osaka shows perhaps the best from the entire Page & Plant era.
There are many different audience recordings and, regarding the first Osaka show, an excellent soundboard recording in circulation. So there are many opportunities to obtain these shows in one form or another.
Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – February 15th, 1996
Disc 1 (69:27): Eastern, Custard Pie, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker, What Is And What Should Never Be, Hurdy Gurdy Solo, Gallows Pole, Wonderful One, Going To California, Ten Years Gone, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Whole Lotta Love
Disc 2 (57:49): Tea For One, Friends, Yallah, Four Sticks, Kashmir, Black Dog, Rock And Roll
The first Osaka show is perhaps the most popular of all the Japan shows with many different titles in circulation. The Symbols utilize an excellent DAT stereo audience recording with remarkable dynamics and clarity. It is also included in the massive 10 Days (Hoochie Coochie) boxset, Two Days In Osaka (Real Dragon) and the first two discs of Back Into The Forest Vol. 2, an early Empress Valley title.
A professional soundboard recording surfaced many years afterwards and can be found on Live In Japan (Empress Valley EVSD 9-12) and Made In Occupied Japan (Tarantura TCDPP-1~3). and Maido In Japan(Akashic), a three disc set with rehearsals from the same day.
The middle eastern instrumental returns as prelude to the show before the rip into “Custard Pie.” Only the clavinet is missing from the arrangement. Opening the show with the from song from Physical Graffitisets the mood of potential surprises in the setlist for the night.
A trio of Led Zeppelin II songs follow with ninety seconds of “Bring It On Home” (the fast riff before the solo), “Heartbreaker” (up through the solo) and “What Is And What Should Never Be.” Page botches the song’s first solo, playing a very sloppy slide guitar.
“Hello Osaka. It’s indeed a great pleasure for me and Jimmy to be back in your town” Plant says before introducing Nigel Eaton and the hurdy gurdy solo segueing into “Gallows Pole.” The first surprise of the night follows when Plant introduces “here’s a new song…oh nooooooooo” before they play “Wonderful One.”
It’s the first performance since the previous May when they began to jettison the new songs for the Zeppelin tunes. “Wonderful One,” included on Unledded, is stately, majestic, moving and one of their most sublime creations. The deliberate, languorous rhythm section and sparse melody belie the intensity of the vocals. In construction it stands as a latter day “Kashmir” without the bombast. It’s a shame it wasn’t played more often, and every recording of the classic is precious and worth having.
After “Going To California” comes the second surprise of the night. “Ten Years Gone” from Physical Graffiti is played for the only time in the Page & Plant years. It was rehearsed for many months. The arrangement is very close to the studio recording except the orchestra stands in for the multide of guitars.
“Whole Lotta Love” contains references to the Knebworth arrangement as well as The Doors’ “Break On Through” and Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed And Confused.” But they follow it with “Tea For One” from Presence. It made its live debut in an chaotic performance in Tokyo, but this version sounds much tighter and is much more effective.
After a rather long band introduction they play “Friends,” a song which received its only live performance during Led Zeppelin’s career in Osaka in 1971. Plant mentions valentines and chocolate before “Yallah,” another new song. Finding two new songs in the setlist is a welcome rarity at this point. The long, apocalyptic rearrangement of “Kashmir” closes the show. “Black Dog,” with a reference to “In My Time Of Dying” and a curt “Rock And Roll” are the encores.
Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – February 19th, 1996
Disc 3 (56:26) Eastern, Celebration Day, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker, What Is What Should Never Be, Tangerine, Thank You, Hurdy Gurdy Solo, Gallows Pole, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, The Song Remains The Same, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 4 (66:27): Whole Lotta Love medley, Dancing Days, Egyptian Pharaohs, In The Evening, Four Sticks, Kashmir, Black Dog, Rock And Roll
After a show in Nagoya on February 17th (which The Symbols don’t cover in their Celebrating series), Page & Plant return to Osaka on February 19th. The label uses another excellent DAT stereo audience recording of the entire show, on par with other releases such as Have Mercy Osaka (Pore The Sole), Two Days In Osaka (Real Dragon), 10 Days (Hoochie Coochie) and discs three and four of Back Into The Forest Vol. 2 on Empress Valley.
The middle eastern opening music is a prelude the rare deployment of “Celebration Day” as set opener followed by the same Led Zeppelin II trio as the first night in Osaka. Afterwards Plant tells the audience that it’s a “special night for us” and calls it “The happi coat show.”
Plant will refer to the happi several times throughout the night, calling Nigel Eaton “Mr. Happi Coat” before the hurdy gurdy solo and that it is “happi coat time” before “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” (Are there any photos from this particular concert confirming they were indeed wearing happi coats?”
A mellow, acoustic arrangement of “Tangerine” is referred to as a song “written in the fifteenth century.” Following is “Thank You,” yet another song from the second Zeppelin album. With “Whole Lotta Love” appearing later in the set, most of the album makes an appearance.
The “Whole Lotta Love” medley contains a rare reference to “It’s All Over Now,” first released by The Valentines in June 1964 followed by The Rolling Stones in July 1964 as their first hit single. The rest of the medley contains references to “Break On Through” and “Dazed And Confused.” It is an intense version and afterwards Plant jokes: “This has been a Bill Curbishley presentation” [referring to their manager and is the individual responsible for persuading Plant to join Page for the Unledded project].
The Egyptian Pharaohs have their piece as an introduction to a very slow version of “In The Evening” (with the “Carouselambra” interlude). The second night in Osaka closes as the first, with the long “Kashmir” and encore set of “Black Dog” and “Rock And Roll.” Plant thanks Phil Collins for coming along before the final song of the night. (February 1996 is when he officially left Genesis, but it’s not clear if he was in Osaka that night).
Page & Plant’s Osaka shows are two of the best shows from the duo and are essential to have in any form. The soundboard recording of the first night is desirable, but the difference between that and the excellent audience tapes is not significant. Celebrating Seventh And Ninth Days is a convenient way to obtain these two shows together in one package.