Memorial Drive, Adelaide, Australia – 19 February, 1972
Disc 1: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
Disc 2: Dazed And Confused, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love
In early 1972 Led Zeppelin undertook their only Australian Tour. Between 16 and 29 February the band played six concerts in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane (as well as a show in Auckland, New Zealand). Recordings have appeared on CD for five of these shows, Perth being the exception. The Adelaide concert was staged at a tennis venue, Memorial Drive, on 19 February. Originally, Creedence Clearwater Revival was due to play on 17 and 18 February, but the band relinquished the latter date in favour of Zeppelin. However, the effects of heavy rain caused the show to be postponed until the next day. As reported in The Advertiser for 19 February, “a buckled stage and damp amplifying equipment forced last night the postponement of the UK rock group Led Zeppelin’s performance at Memorial Drive until tonight.”
The show has appeared on CD in several incarnations. An hour of the show constituted one disc of Shivers ‘N’ Shakes (Red Hot), the songs included being Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way and Dazed And Confused. The first appearance of the complete tape was on Tarantura’s Voo Doo Drive in 1994 and this was followed by Oooh My Ears, Man! (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin) in 1997. Then in 2000 the Equinox label included the show in their boxed set of Australian concerts Thunder Down Under. All of these releases had their origin in a fourth generation tape.
A superior tape was utilized by the new Tarantura label for Voo Doo Drive Vers. 2004 and by Empress Valley for Deep Downunder; as gsparaco pointed out in his review of the latter release, “in 2002 a first generation copy surfaced on FBO. This had a much better and clearer sound than the older copies in circulation with much less hiss.” Godfather has now issued its version as Adelaide Revival. In addition to these CD releases, there has been a DVD (audio and picture montage) from Genuine Masters.
Obviously, the sound quality of these releases has been subject to some variation. There is more hiss on the older versions and the Red Hot release runs, according to Brian Ingham on the Underground Uprising website, “2% slow.” The BootLedZ website points out that the Tarantura version “runs a hair slow.” Gsparaco’s review expressed a preference for the Empress Valley release over the new Tarantura, stating, “Deep Downunder has excellent sound quality. EV didn’t try to eliminate the hiss which leaves the entire sonic range intact unlike the Tarantura who, in attempting to reduce hiss, also took off the upper frequencies.”
Overall, this tape, in whatever version, has consistently attracted praise its for quality of sound. A visit to the Underground Uprising website reveals a plethora of positive comments, including, ”a near excellent audience recording from very close to the stage” (Brian Ingham, TDOLZ and Equinox); “a bright, clear and balanced audience recording, obviously from close to the stage” (Tony Gassett, TDOLZ); “the best recorded of all the 1972 Australian & New Zealand Tour” (Jules McTrainspotter, Genuine Masters).
The performance has also garnered praise. Gsparaco’s review noted that this show (along with the other Antipodean concerts) was “outstanding with the band giving potent performances.” The Led Zeppelin Live website comments that it was, “das beste Konzert der Australien Tour.” Argenteum Astrum refers on his website, Led Zeppelin Database, to “this powerful and excellent show.” There was also praise from the press at the time. Richard Mitchell’s article “Led Zeppelin Is Shattering Rock Experience” (The Advertiser, 21 February, 1972), commented:
“The Led Zeppelin concert at Memorial Drive on Saturday was a shattering experience of some of the world’s heaviest, wildest rock. The controlled violence with which the UK group produced many of its sounds, hurled out of two giant banks of speakers at the 8,000-strong crowd, has never been seen here.”
This “controlled violence” is at its most evident at the beginning of the show, which opens with Immigrant Song. With Jimmy Page’s heavy guitar underpinned by the relentless ferocity of John Bonham’s drumming and overlaid by Robert Plant’s Valkyrie wailing, the song constitutes a stunningly visceral aural assault. It is no surprise that someone close to the taper (perhaps the taper himself) is heard to say, “oh, my ears, man!” thereby providing the title for the TDOLZ release. Page plays a fine solo in Immigrant Song, setting himself up for an excellent evening’s performance, and he also contributes prominently to the next number, Heartbreaker. His guitar solo here is the highlght of the song. Initially it is literally a solo, with page playing alone. This section includes a short section from the bouree (fifth movement) of J. S. Bach’s Suite in E minor for Lute, BVW 996, a piece many will be familiar with from its inclusion on Jethro Tull’s album Stand Up. He then goes off on a blistering run, accompanied by Jones and Bonham. The latter again plays drums in a thunderous fashion, typical of his performance during this show, which, to quote Mitchell, “at times sounded like a hammer striking steel.” Plant is then heard bemoaning the fact that the band was suffering from “an Australian bug, and we got the colds and flus and shivers and shakes.” (He later recalled that “my voice was a bit rough. We’d been travelling a lot and not sleeping and everything like that.”) Fortunately, Plant’s voice is largely untroubled by this and he only has problems with hitting notes at the top of his vocal range. Then we are treated to a crunching version of Black Dog to complete a trio of songs that Gasset calls, “very heavy, aggressively played.” As AA puts it. “the opening salvo is awesome.”
The band then slows things down with Since I’ve Been Loving You. It is an effective performance in a live context, though it rather lacks the subtlety and atmosphere of the original version from Led Zeppelin III, possibly simply by being played to a large audience in an open-air venue, partly perhaps because it has been influenced by the preceding musical mayhem. Plant then appeals for quiet from an audience which remained noisy and unruly throughout the show. Fortunately, at this point, they heed his words, for the next number is an excellent version of Stairway To Heaven, characterized by further fine playing from Page, both in the delicate opening section and in his solo. As AA points out, “Jimmy plays one of the best solos in Stairway To Heaven, and its only 1972!”
The band then comes to the front of the stage for the acoustic segment of the show, beginning with Going To California from the untitled fourth album and reverting to Led Zeppelin III for the ensuing trio of That’s The Way. Tangerine and Bryn-Yr-Aur Stomp (Godfather utilize the correct spelling for the latter title). Indeed, all the material on the first disc come from these then most recent releases, aside from Heatrbreaker from the second album. As Godfather’s sleeve notes put it, “the acoustic set is very warm,” and Plant sings beautifully and with appropriate restraint on the first three songs. Martin Armiger, a musician, composer and novelist interviewed by Keith Shadwick for his book, Led Zeppelin: The Story Of A Band And Their Music 1968-1980, remembers that the acoustic set “struck me as ultra-musical, Celtic-folky and deliberately anti-rock ‘n’ roll in stance.” Unfortunately, Tangerine is incomplete, cutting out after only a minute or so. Disc one then concludes with Plant’s withering put-down of a particularly annoying member of the audience.
Disc two takes us back to the band’s debut album for a performance of Dazed and Confused that is relatively brief at twenty minutes. This song, of course, showcases Page’s astonishing instrumental virtuosity. As Mitchell states, “his electric gutar work was extraordinary. At one stage, using a bow, he smashed out a string of piercing notes only to end with a run of delicate sitar-sounding music.” AA rates this version as “truly awesome.” This is followed by Moby Dick, which cuts out after three-and-a-half minutes. Presumably the taper was aware that his tape would soon be running out and did not want to fill the rest of it with an extensive drum solo. Disc two concludes with a wild and riotous Whole Lotta Love, which includes in the medley John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillun, recorded in 1948; the Gene Pitney-penned Ricky Nelson hit from 1961, Hello Mary Lou; Let’s Have A Party, sung by Elvis Presley in the film Loving You and also a hit for Wanda Jackson in 1960; That’s Alright Mama, the Arthur Crudup number from 1946 recorded by Presley eight years later; and Going Down Slow, the St. Louis Jimmy Oden song from 1941. Unfortunately the tape cuts out during this last number.
As to sound quality, the first two numbers see Page’s guitar and Bonham’s drums dominate the mix; Plant’s vocals are a little thin and detached and John Paul Jones’ bass is rather recessed. Plant’s vocal sound begins to improve during the first number, Immigrant Song, and by the time the band gets to Black Dog and Since I’ve Been Loving You, Jones’ bass sound is also fuller and clearer so that we have a full and well-balanced sound picture. There is virtually no tape hiss discernible, even when listening through headphones. Fortunately the noisy audience, whose behaviour Plant blamed partially on inadequate security (“a little guy of about 80 with a flash-lamp”) does not intrude badly on the recording. Overall, Butterking’s comment on the Genuine Masters version, from the Underground Uprising website, “this outstanding-for-its-time audience recording,” applies equally well to the Godfather version. One problem with this, as with all versions, is that the taper stopped his tape recorder between songs. This results in the loss of some, though obviously not all, of Plant’s between-song banter. There is also distortion to the sound due to tape speed-up each time that recording is resumed. As with the Equinox and Empress Valley versions, Godfather has removed this between songs but it does last a couple of seconds into many of the songs themselves. Godfather states that its release is not based directly on the FBO torrent or the other CD releases that resulted from it, rather that, “we have remastered an unworked original source,” though the BootLedZ website contends that all of the CD releases dating from after the FBO torrent, including this latest Godfather CD, ”are very similar in sound.”
Godfather’s release comes in the usual trifold packaging, featuring a psychadelic front cover reproducing artwork by John Barnett. Inside there are some onstage photos from the Sydney concert and the rear of the sleeve features a colour photograph of Plant, Page and Jones performing the acoustic set. The latter will be familiar to many collectors from the front cover of Empress Valley’s Swinging In San Bernadino (San Bernadino, CA – 22 June 1972) and a similar shot, clearly taken during the same performance, adorns the cover of their Auckland concert release, Live In New Zealand 1972. Godfather, however, stoutly maintains that is is definitely from Adelaide. There is no booklet, but there are sleeve notes by “Paul De Luxe.” Godfather have produced some fine Led Zeppelin titles recently, such as That’s Alright New York and The Dancing Avocado, and their latest release is recommended to anyone who has not yet acquired this show.