A bud of mine recently shared a YouTube link of the audio from Led Zeppelin’s March 16, 1973 show in Vienna, Austria. It was an astounding show, with a much similar setlist to that made famous in the concert film The Song Remains The Same. Check it out below. It may be one of the most explosive performances I’ve heard from the band — with a few notable and welcome setlist variations. There’s no Moby Dick. (I hate arena drum solos.) There are a lot of new songs, still two weeks away from being released at the time: The Song Remains The Same, Over The Hills & Far Away, Rain Song and Dancing Days. And they do Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.
Turns out Zep played 61 concerts in 1973, primarily across a one-month European tour (March-April) and a three-month North American tour (May-July). North American, not really. Just one Canadian date: Vancouver on July 18. Zero Mexican dates. Yeah, I went down a rabbit hole. I love setlist.fm.
Any fan can guess the most common songs the band ever played live — Dazed And Confused (413 times) and Whole Lotta Love (312 times). But with only eight studio albums containing 72 songs, they probably played your favourite quite often, even if it was a deep cut like Thank You (103) or Sick Again (90).
So I went looking for surprises — specifically songs I was shocked to discover the band hardly played at all. According to setlist.fm, they only played Ramble On once. How is this possible? It’s from their second album — in a year where they played more than 150 shows, and then 70 the following year. Granted, Ramble On has never been a favourite of mine, but — just once? I mean, they did Hot Dog 16 times.
The other one which shocks me is Good Times Bad Times, the opening track from their debut. They only played it four times. I mean, I know the band was cranking out songs at an incredible rate in those first three years. but there were so many shows during that time as well. And get a load of this: There are some songs they never played live at all, ever. These don’t surprise me as much, really.
They played every song on the debut, but there’s one on the legendary Led Zeppelin II they never did: Living Loving Maid. It is my least favourite on that record. So, so far, no harm done. Same with Led Zeppelin III — no surprise they never played Hats Off To (Roy) Harper.
Every song on the untitled fourth album got played live, and only one on Houses Of The Holy was never performed. No surprise, it’s D’yer Mak’er — though unconfirmed reports say they played it at an invite-only warmup gig in London’s O2 Arena the night before their legendary 2007 reunion concert.
Six of the 15 songs on Physical Graffiti were never played. Boogie With Stu, obviously. It’s kind of another Hats Off. The Rover and Night Flight are ones they used in soundchecks, but never before a crowd. I’m surprised In The Light and Houses Of The Holy never got performed and the other is Down By The Seaside.
Most of Presence never got performed live; just three of the seven songs were ever on a setlist: Achilles Last Stand, Nobody’s Fault But Mine — and For Your Life, which they only did once, at that 2007 reunion.
It’s the same deal with In Through The Out Door. They only did In The Evening, Hot Dog and All Of My Love. They never performed the single from that album, Fool In The Rain.
The first show the band played — as Led Zeppelin instead of New Yardbirds — was at the University of Surrey on Oct. 25, 1968. Their setlist was Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, Dazed And Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, How Many More Times and Communication Breakdown.
The last (real) show was in Berlin on July 7, 1980. Surprisingly, they also opened with Train Kept A Rollin’, but that’s not the only song in both setlists — Jimmy Page also performed White Summer / Black Mountain Side.
This was the last show performed while John Bonham was alive. A little over two months later, the drummer died while the band were in Berkshire doing rehearsals at Bray Studios for a tour of North America set to begin in Montreal in mid-October. Bonham, 32, died in his sleep after a full day of heavy vodka drinking and rehearsals.
His Moby Dick drum solo was the third most-played song at Zeppelin concerts — 309 times. First at their very first show in Surrey — and last at Seattle’s Kingdome on July 17, 1977. He played it twice in one day at the Fillmore East on Feb. 1, 1969. He played it five consecutive days in a row from May 1-5, 1969 and six days in a row from March 7-12, 1970. Between March 7 and April 18, 1970 he performed Moby Dick 30 times, including a six-day run April 9-13.
“Think not, is my 11th commandment; and sleep when you can, is my 12th.”
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.