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Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ
April 18, 1970
M>CD-R>PC(TimD)>Adobe Audition 3(TimD)>CD-R>WAV(EAC)>FLAC8(TLH)


Disc One (50:51):

We're Gonna Groove (4:01)
Dazed and Confused (17:09)
Heartbreaker (6:47)
Bring It On Home (10:11)
White Summer (12:40)

Disc Two (41:30):

Organ Solo - Thank You (13:44)
Moby Dick (18:37)
Whole Lotta Love (9:09)

Special thanks to Rob G from Tucson, who provided this straight-from-master digital source for the first time ever. This, like Tucson, is not from the reels, but from the original tapes. It's not a great tape raw, the instruments disappear and the highs are very screechy, but it's very suitable for restoration and remaster as nothing's completely missing either. Rob stated that this was one of his first tapes and he learned a lot of lessons from it. It's a great show and worked out to be a pretty good recording, and it's named Heartbreaker both for the really intense performance of the song on this night, as well as the end of the show that wasn't, due to Robert's health at the bitter end of the 1970 tour. This show is really hot and on the verge of turning into a classic, but the usual classic features such as a really hot WLL medley, How Many More Times, etc. aren't there. This must be some of the earliest stuff from II as well, and it's neat to hear WLL, Thank You and Heartbreaker in what's essentially the early 70 set. The band is in no mood to play around tonight as a few abbreviated plug-in sounds quickly explode into the manic pace of "We're Gonna Groove," the usual show-opener from this era - it's apparent quickly that there is a lot of sound to recover here, as the instruments are all present and start to separate with a little work, John Paul is very tonal and eventually pretty clear, and Bonham's snare sounds like a large-caliber pistol with every shot. Jimmy is a little faded as usual but enhances fairly nicely, and you can really hear Robert roaring. This is going to be a fun one. Again with the snare drum during the intro to Dazed and Confused - a little out of place in the set for reasons that will become apparent later. During the intro you can hear a very young Tucson Rob saying "Yeah man, yeah..." as the song starts out slowly and spookily, and quickly into a rather extended middle section for 1970, during which Rob points out to his friend that Jimmy's playing with a bow. Rob told me while we were discussing the show that his friend wasn't as heavily into Zeppelin as he was and might not have been familiar with the bow routine - the friend really enjoys the show, as you can hear him say after several songs things like "Man, that was great," particularly after the next track. The band blows through the ending and straight into Heartbreaker, which ends up a little shorter than usual, but the solo is unique especially for the time period and the usual moment of molten Zeppelin heat when they come back in for the last verse is just brutal. The band is working really hard tonight as usual, and their professionalism is showing with a great set tonight.

This brings me to one small issue of disclosure about this show. There were several tape cuts during the intro sequence, one between We're Gonna Groove and Dazed and Confused, and one between Bring It On Home and White Summer on the first disc. There's also a tape flip about 2/3 of the way through White Summer. All of this stuff is engineered out and mostly inaudible, but you may find it on inspection of the waveform if you look very closely. I did ask for an explanation, and Rob stated that the tape cuts were to save tape by not taping crowd noise between songs, in case the show got long. They're not between every song, but the transitions where there are no breaks tend to be short ones. I address this because, looking at the unusual setlist order and where the cuts are, one might believe that the tracks have been rearranged or that there are missing tracks. There are no cuts on the second disc. While I don't believe this to be true, and the crowd noise is consistent around the cuts, etc., I didn't find any evidence that it *didn't* happen either, so there's my full disclosure.

Anyway, Heartbreaker shows the band locked in and machinelike, and the crowd responding. Bonham is having a great night, and he's extremely loud, higher than usual in the mix and the band is benefiting from the sound - he and John Paul are creating this driving rhythm that gives the music its own velocity on certain nights, and gets you really caught up even 39 years later. Jimmy's solo is hot, very nimble and quick, and the vocals are marked by Robert taking the low road during the very high points and harder, shouted passages - the passion is there but the voice just isn't, and he does a great job with what's left. One of the high points of Bonham's career marks the entrance back into the last verse - just listen to this man thrash out the fill and end the song.

Bring It On Home starts with more Rob introduction and it's fast, clean and also extended - you gotta wonder if shows like this are where some of the really extended jams of later years came from. Robert, as usual plays some really hot harmonica, There's a thumb-on-the-reel like marking in the extended jam session around the 35-minute mark or a little later - I left it in because there wasn't really a good way to get rid of it and make it sound right.

White Summer is really good tonight. I'm not one of those guys who compares versions of this song, and it's not ever held any fascination for me other than being a good instrumental and showcase for Jimmy's guitar vocabulary. It shines tonight, with a few sections that are rarely if ever heard. The tape flip and resulting edit are probably less than 10 seconds by my estimation, and the song finishes strong, with commentary from Rob and his friend at the end.

The next disc begins with an epic organ solo from John Paul Jones, with a strange pulsating sensation from the bass pedals and a very church-organ feel - a huge ovation as he heads into Thank You after 5:28 or so. Thank You is recieved very well by the audience. Bonzo again sounds very powerful and the band very alive - another thumb-on-the-reel around 7 minutes, before the solo. The solo is very good - very much like the album with no sticky fingers. This show is turning into another classic, the band really clicking and grooving - it's the nights when Jimmy and John Henry are in a groove that seem to sound really great, and this is one of those nights. Jesus, Jimmy's soloing forever, like he's determined to out-solo JPJ's organ. A firecracker scares the hell out of a girl at the end of the solo as the band gets quiet again. John Paul plays us out quietly and tenderly, and the crowd is reverent until another firecracker goes off, and Bonzo closes with a gong.

Robert introduces Moby Dick. Jimmy and Bonham roar in. Band takes a break, Bonzo drinks beer, raises hell, leaves. Rob and his friend chat quietly through the solo. I'm not the biggest fan of Moby Dick, but this one's worth a listen, and the crowd is damn impressed.

Whole Lotta Love? Robert taking the low road again in places, but the band is scorching, album-style and straight into the middle section, which is really loud if nothing else..., kinda a short version, and afterwards a rarity - Jimmy Page announces that Robert isn't feeling well and can't continue - I couldn't make out exactly what he said, but the crowd cheers wildly for the band and the tape ends abruptly.

As always, e-mail me to get on the list.


TimD 2/28/09