One of the ways Led Zeppelin showed their love of southern California was in the secheduling for their tours. All of them either ended there or had a leg end there with the exception of the 1971 summer tour which actually began in LA. The long 1977 tour was no exception with the middle of three legs ending with one in San Diego and six in Los Angeles. These seven shows are among the longest and most inspired of the trip and even Robert Plant himself says, before “Stairway To Heaven” in the June 21st show, this is ”sort of the highpoint of the whole tour.”
Sequence Of Events is a six disc set with the June 19th San Diego and June 21st Los Angeles shows. These occur after a the six week New York marathon of shows and a five day break in the schedule. The sound well rested, happy and loose in these performances and one gives one the impression that, had the tour been completed through August, these still would have been the highlight of the entire summer.
Both are sourced from the common Mike Millard recordings that have been booted many times, the Los Angeles show more times than San Diego. The manufacturers boast that these come from first generation tapes and have not been remastered, so they are not as loud as past titles, but have a more natural sound to them. Their merit is dependent upon personal taste (obviously).
San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, CA – June 19th, 1977
Disc 1 (66:37): Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (52:04): Ten Years Gone, The Battle of Evermore, Going to California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (43:40): Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
The first of nine California shows on Led Zeppelin’s eleventh and final tour of the US was in San Diego on June 19th, 1977. The site of some of the wildest shows on their previous two tours, this has been captured on an excellent sounding, three dimensional stereo audience recording which is the source of numerous silver titles.
The latest release of this tape can be found on Mystery Train (Tarantura TCD-87) released several years ago. Sequence Of Events claims to be from the 1st generation Millard source. It is very clear and enjoyable. Unlike Tarantura, it hasn’t been tweaked at all and is not as loud.
Zeppelin’s performance in San Diego ranks among the worst on this tour. Plant mentions in the show that Jones has a bad back, but Bonham apparently was suffering from food poisoning and constantly misses breaks and tempo. It is apparent right from the beginning in “The Song Remains The Same” and in the segue into “The Rover,” which is the early electrifying moment, just limps instead.
Plant tries to ignore the issues in his greetings, saying, “first of all, I suppose we should try and apologize for not being here the last couple of years, but you know, you know how it went. And secondly it’s very nice to see they finally found you seats here. Isn’t it amazing when they can’t afford a few seats for people? Anyway, this is the earliest that we’ve ever got to a concert, so that means we’ll get to bed early tonight. I’m not going to do much spieling cause I heard the live album, so we’ll just play a lot of music instead.”
“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” again has it’s painful moments with Bonham losing track of the breaks. After “In My Time Of Dying,” which includes cries of “oh my Audrey,” Plant focuses his attention on Jones by saying, “now strangely enough we’ve reached a very awkward physically yet again and that is that John Paul Jones is, I don’t know if ever any of you men in the audience ever had any trouble with your backs, remember ‘Saturday night when you just got paid, full about the money you don’t try to save’ [quoting Little Richard’s ‘Rip It Up’] and you get trouble with you back. You understand? You know what I mean? It’s about time he had some sordid press cause he’s got a very bad back, and he’s only by the luck, by the grace of god, is he sitting at the keyboards today. So he’s been lying in bed all day with a hot water bottle under his back, and it’s about time that somebody noted it down in the press that John Paul Jones doesn’t just play backgammon.”
“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is a slight improvement over the first four songs and is notable for really emphasizing John Paul Jones on organ. The performance begins to really improve with “No Quarter.” With Jones and Page taking the lead, Bonham dutifully follows along and they deliver a very interesting improvisation in the middle of the piece which lasts about twenty minutes.
The acoustic set is when they noticeably loosen up a bit. It turns into one of the highlights of the show and was even singled out in the reviews in The San Diego Union the following day where Robert Laurence writes: “At its very best, the show captured what is best about rock ‘n’ roll, its power to stir the human juices and inspire feelings of joyous abandon. At other times, though, particularly during the several extended, pointless solos indulged in by Page, it dragged and sagged and its momentum came to a halt…Oddly, a high moment in the evening came during a quieter time when Plant and Page performed as a blues duo, seated side by side in the middle of the stage, Plant singing (for him) softly, Page strumming a right bluesy acoustic guitar. They opened the set with ‘Mystery Train’ as Plant pointedly imitating the classic Elvis Presley version of the song.” (“Led Zeppelin Puts Extra Roll In Its Rock”).
Before “The Battle Of Evermore” Plant is more interested in listing all of their aliments, speaking about “John Paul Jones’s back,” and saying “I hurt me foot in a soccer match yesterday,” and “Jimmy hurt his hand when a firecracker hit in New York,” and even “JJ Jackson hurt his head on the way.” “Battle” is one of the more interesting renditions on the tour with Plant hitting some of the high notes in the middle.
“Going To California” sounds gorgeous and, as Laurence points out in his review, they play a bit of “Mystery Train” as a prelude to “Black Country Woman.” “White Summer” hangs together well and “Kashmir,” despite Bonham’s attempts, also comes off very well. Page and Jones truly take the lead in this song and resist the drummer’s attempt to steer the song into disaster.
“Moby Dick” is understandably dropped and Page goes straight into his solo. He plays snippets of the Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Dixie before the theremin and violin bow exercises. “Achilles Last Stand” is similar to “Kashmir,” that despite Bohnam’s mistakes comes off very strong and Bonham’s bashing at the end out of frustration adds a level of violence to the piece.
Afterwards Plant refers to the song as “that’s a song that tells of a few months of our existence while on the run from the British government. All hail the Jolly Roger. Well San Diego, this song really doesn’t take too much explaining. I guess this is for the holy.” “Stairway To Heaven” closes the show and the short encore of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll” close the event. Overall there are much better concerts from this tour to enjoy, but none more interesting than this which sees the band compensate for another with good results. Tarantura package this in a box with a small poster of the front cover with pretty looking picture discs. This works well for those who want a nice looking version of this common tape.
The Forum, Inglewood, CA – June 21st, 1977
Disc 1 (70:10): Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills and Far Away, No Quarter
Disc 2 (52:52): Ten Years Gone, The Battle of Evermore, Going to California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer, Kashmir
Disc 3 (75:08): Over The Top / Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
This is the common Listen To This, Eddie tape, booted more times than is worth recounting dating back to that late seventies. The trend in Eddiereleases going back over the past decade is to edit in the inferior recording for the cut in the guitar solo in “Ten Years Gone” and the transition between the guitar solo and “Achillies Last Stand.” That is certainly the case with one of the best versions of the show found on Listen To This, Eddie (Christmas Edition) (Empress Valley EVSD-260/261/262), which is the most complete and best sounding. Sequence Of Events utilize the Millard tape only, so the cuts have not been edited.
The concert remains legendary in Led Zeppelin’s live history. Bonham is healed from whatever ailed him in San Diego and delivers one of this most powerful and creative performances, reminiscent of his work on the 1973 European tour. It’s evident in one of the most aggressive versions of “The Song Remains The Same.”
After “Sick Again” Plant spiels to the crowd, asking if anyone was present when he and Page jammed with Bad Company in May, 1976 and telling the audience that “tonight no beating around the bush. We’re just gonna play cause that’s what we’re here for.”
“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is much tighter than the previous night’s disaster, and “In My Time Of Dying” is dropped in place of “Over The Hills And Far Away.” Like much of this show, there is an aggressive aura surrounding the piece and the contrast between the pastoral beginning of the heavy-metal solo riffing in the middle is startling. Page squeezes out several mournful moans from his guitar.
“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is referred to as “urban blues of the United Kingdom. … it’s a song that’s very close to all of us in the band from time to time.” It is a great performance and afterwards Plant jokes, “it’s starting to cook!” He mentions Bonham’s food poisoning before introducing John Paul Jones for a very long and improvisatory version of “No Quarter.” Three of the very best versions are found during this run of shows and it’s great to have all three so well recorded.
The acoustic set is very relaxed and as intimate as can be in the Forum and brings, as Plant says, “a rather warm vibe.” He introduces John Bonham before “The Battle Of Evermore” as “the rhinestone cowgirl…I guess he’s the cowgirl in the sand.” Someone close to the mic shouts “bring on Neil Young” at the mention of Young’s song.
The ”White Summer,” ”Black Mountainside” and “Kashmir” medley sometimes is the source of musical disaster but goes off without a hitch and sounds massive in this recording.
There are some problems with the drum-kit before “Over The Top” and Plant has to keep spieling the audience until it’s fixed. Plant calls the drummer “the man who fought against the elements. The man who fought food poisoning. The man who drinks Heineken. The man who doesn’t get out of bed. The man who hasn’t got a cymbal. The man who’s having a chat with his man who knows the man who tunes Jimmy’s guitar who comes from Scotland, and doesn’t know the man they call Tim, but does know Audrey from Dallas. Thank you. The man who now learns how to construct his own drum kit. The man who’s not very professional. The man who said he could go back to a building site, and we all agreed. The man who’s holding up the show. The rhinestone cowgirl. Come on Bonzo, get on with it. That’s what the Quaalude stagger is. The man who played the Los Angeles Aztecs and beat them 10-1 by himself. The man who one wonders is he worth waiting for, and doesn’t really realize there’s a curfew here. A childhood friend. A man who many people once said, never heard of him.”
Thankfully the drum solo is kept to below twenty minutes. It’s probably kept to a minimum because he was recovering from illness. It is, however, quite energetic, making up for the length with intensity. A surprise “Heartbreaker” is pulled out, probably to compensate, and is followed by Page’s guitar solo leading into “Achillies Last Stand.”
The show ends with Plant’s long thank you to the crew and friends before “Stairway To Heaven” and the short, two song encore of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll.” Sequence Of Events is in a basic jewel case with tour photos on the artwork. While the sound is good and packaging very nice, it’s hard to say who this might appeal to. Experienced collectors are sure to have multiple versions of Eddie, that this edition doesn’t have the cuts edited diminishes its appeal. San Diego sounds really nice and the Tarantura isn’t accessible to many collectors, but there are other titles out there with this tape.