Page & Plant – Vienna (PPE-001/002)

Vienna (PPE-001/002)

Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria – November 13th, 1998

Disc 1 (57:33):  Wanton Song, Heartbreaker, What Is And What Should Never Be, Walking Into Clarksdale, No Quarter, When The World Was Young, Going To California, Tangerine

Disc 2 (61:22):  Gallows Pole, Heart In Your Hand, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, How Many More Times (includes: Down By The Seaside), Most High, Misty Mountain Hop, Ramble On, Rock and Roll

Page & Plant began Walking Into Everywhere in the Balkans in February 1998, just prior to the release of Walking Into Clarksdale.  After a US tour in the autumn, they wrapped up touring with a visit to Europe in November.  On November 13th they played Vienna for the only time as Page & Plant and was the first time they played the city together since Led Zeppelin played there in June 1980.

Vienna is sourced from a very good to almost excellent DAT audience recording of the entire concert.  A bit of muffle and slight balance issues at some points are the only negatives to what is an otherwise very enjoyable recording.  

The taped Egyptian music is audible at the beginning before hitting the stage with “The Wanton Song.”  Two songs from Led Zeppelin II, a balanced “Heartbreaker” and a very sloppy and poor performance of “What Is And What Should Never Be,” follow.  

Robert Plant greets the Viennese audience, telling them they’re going to play a mix of new songs, somewhat old songs, and some really old songs in a tone very similar to what Phil Collins might say at the beginning of a Genesis concert.  The follow with the first new song of the night, the title track to the latest album. 

“No Quarter” is played in a similar creepy manor as the studio cut but with a pastoral guitar solo by Page in the middle.  It is followed by “When The World Was Young” which Plant calls a song they want to play “every single night for the rest of our lives.”  Of all the songs on Walking Into Clarksdale, it is the most derivative, sounding closer to Pearl Jam than Page & Plant (or Led Zeppelin, for that matter).  

A three song folk section follows.  Plant gushes about his shoes, saying the word “shoes” is the “G spot word” of the night and calling them “very Buckminster Fuller” and are “as far out as we are.”  It’s an inside joke which can be filed under “you had to be there.”  

“Going To California” is simply outstanding.  In the middle Plant quotes from Robert Johnson’s “32-20 Blues,” singing the line “If I send for my baby, man, and she don’t come.”  Very good versions of “Tangerine” and “Gallows Pole” follow.  

“Heart In Your Hand” is the next new song played.  It’s one of the moodiest, creepiest, and sublime numbers from the Page & Plant era and one of the few songs to continue to be played live.  They give a mesmerizing performance which hold the audience spellbound.  The audience rewards them with a loud ovation and Plant thanks them by saying that they are enjoying themselves now more than ever before.

Two songs from Led Zeppelin follow.  “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” has the short “Stairway To Heaven” quote at the very end, a gimmick of Page’s since the first P&P shows in 1995.  “How Many More Times” is promotion for the Zeppelin BBC Sessions released the previous year.  

Page offers a full creepy violin bow episode and they play a slow and melancholy arrangement of “Down By The Seaside” from Physical Graffiti.  The first single from the album, the Grammy Award winning “Most High,” closes the show.  It’s still a startling piece of music which reaches an almost perfect mix of western rock and middle eastern scales. 

When they come out for the encores they audience are begging and shouting for “Rock And Roll” (as they did in 1980 – an event which prompted Page to scold them).  “Misty Mountain Hop” is the first encore, followed by “Ramble On.”  Plant then jokes they will travel to Cuba later in the year before calling “Rock And Roll” a ballad.

Vienna came out soon after the event, either in late 1998 or early 1999.  It is not produced by any recognizable label.  But it is a good low key and affordable way to obtain a very good document from the waning days of the Page & Plant collaboration.  They would play for the final time about a month later in Paris, only to regroup sporadically in the years since.

The manufacturers utilize a basic slimline jewel case with simple inserts with the track list, photos from the era, and a clever riff on the Led Zeppelin IV cover on the inside.  Vienna is a nice piece worth having.

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