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Led Zeppelin Concert Review: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, September 1971

20110303-073243-432450From The Globe & Mail

Let us consider a problem in reviewing. Led Zeppelin, the enormously popular English rock band played a concert at Maple Leaf Gardens on Saturday night. That’s the problem in general. Led Zeppelin performed for 2 1/2 hours, playing as usual, music that was heavy, bluesy, rhythmically stolid, filled with long but not necessarily unique improvisational passages.

And the audience, a Gardens sell out, reacted in customary style of Led Zeppelin audiences, which is to say with plenty of ovations (particularly on a very long and genuinely inept drum solo), a great rush to the stage (during the band’s anthem, Whole Lotta Love), and a tribute of matches lit up every row of the Gardens (a beautiful and exciting site).

That’s the problem in specifics: what do you say about a concert that produced everything that was expected and customary?

Well, there’s a remark a couple of years ago by a critic who suggested that Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer, is rock’s number one sex symbol after the late Jim Morrison. That may be so if, as Plant’s stage posturing indicates, sex is something swift and merciless. Plant offers the last word in performing narcissism: he acts out his songs, not for his audience, but for his mirror.

Okay then, how about the claim that Jimmy Page is one of rock’s finest guitarists? There’s more truth here. If nothing else, Page is efficient. He knows all the licks and he can execute them brilliantly. He’s a master at handling all the climaxes of the rave-up guitar style that came out of the Yardbirds way back in the early 1960’s. Which may be the trouble: there is something depressingly antiquated about the style. Psychedelic has lost its thrill, and surely Page would like to move on to new things. Led Zeppelin may be for him a straitjacket – a rich one, but still a straitjacket.

What else can you say about a Led Zeppelin show? That the band makes good music to get stoned by? Certainly, there was a nice haze of marijuana hanging over the Gardens and the people of St. John’s Ambulance had lots to do. One young man very appropriately chose the opening bars of Stairway To Heaven to freak out and collapse in aisle in front of the box seats.

Or you could say, on a purely simplistic level, that Led Zeppelin is at times the most overwhelmingly, stupifyingly loud band around. That’s true up to a point, and the point is Grand Funk Railroad which really is the loudest band and is coming to the Gardens on Oct. 9

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April 17, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concet Review Toronto 1971 | , | Leave a comment