Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Bit of Led Zeppelin, and Oy! Audition Notices...

I get so depressed.

I know I am not crazy, that there used to be far more opportunities out there. Anymore, when I look at the listings, I just feel slightly depressed. There's rarely anything that really excites me.

There seems to be more musicals, however. Yeah, they're in the suburbs a lot of the time, but I don't recall that many musical auditions even 3 years ago.


Who knows?

I do get the distinct impression that many of the companies I admire out there have circled the wagons, and aren't publicly auditioning. I might be wrong about that, but I sure haven't seen a lot of action from a couple of places I make a point to keep an eye out for.


Who knows?

Downloaded How The West Was Won, a Led Zeppelin live album from a couple of years back.

I distinctly remember seeing it at the Virgin Megastore on Michigan Avenue, and giving it a quick run-thru on a listening station.

That store's gone now. So's Rock Records over on Washington. I guess there's a Coconuts over on Randolph, but otherwise any sort of record store, with any depth of stock is not to be found in downtown Chicago. There's Borders, of course, but I don't think anyone would say they have a "deep" catalog of stock on-hand.

...But I digress.

I also got The Song Remains the Same from Netflix, and finished watching that last night.

I am a Zeppelin fan, but not at all what I would call a "rabid" one. I do tell myself, over and over, that I really ought to own the whole catalog, because the songwriting and musicianship is just that good. Plus, those albums really do represent the blueprint for 70's hard rock, which, of course, I am a huge fan of. They were a great band, and, even now, I'd drop a large amount of cash to see them play live.

However, I'd never experienced anything showcasing Zeppelin as a live act before this. I've read many things about their live performance, from it being incredibly powerful, also incredibly indulgent, to being incredibly sloppy.

After taking this material in, I think it's all true.

Zeppelin was a hotbed of great songcraft. No one, NO ONE can deny that. However, I quickly became annoyed with the random guitar soloing. "Immigrant Song, " on record, doesn't have a guitar solo, and is better for it. When Page goes off on a noodling jag, it kinda cuts the balls off the song. He also seems to do this on every, single number.

Maybe I'm spoiled by bands like Rush that keep their shows tight and focused on the songs. Or Springsteen, who has storytelling moments that are set into specific songs for specific reasons. Perhaps the most annoying thing about these two live documents is that they showed little real forethought, or sense that the setlist was anything more than a random ordering.

Now, granted, neither one of these things is an actual document of a single live show. They're edited and constructed from the raw material. A single show at Madison Square Garden for The Song Remains The Same, and a myriad group of recorded shows for How the West was Won. Still, you think the band, and especially Jimmy Page, might've taken the opportunity to really think about the song order and such....

Doesn't really feel that way. Maybe I'm wrong, but it really doesn't.

Perhaps Zeppelin was a lot like Guns 'N Roses in it's heyday. I saw them twice in the 90's. One show (Mile High Stadium, Denver on the co-headlining tour with Metallica) was just God-awful, while the other (Civic Arena in Omaha) was fantastic. Utterly fantastic. G'NR was (is) famous for not having a setlist. The band has to be ready to play whatever song Axl Rose call for at any given moment.

I think that makes the arc of the show utterly random, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Maybe Zeppelin, with their blues background, worked in much the same way. Going by "feel" over planning. I admit this can give you higher highs, but also lower lows.

And, yeah....Page came off a little sloppy on the guitar. Again, I think it's a "feel over precision" thing. It's not like it came off that he couldn't play.

It's also worth pointing out that live shows are supposed to be just that, live. I'm almost 100% sure if I'd seen these songs played live exactly as they are on these releases, I'd be over-the-moon happy with the show. No recording can capture the feeling of being there.

The weird-ass "dramatic" elements in The Song Remains the Same didn't really help, odd. Rip the Nazi-guy's head off and it spurts rainbow colors...Ohhh Kaaay...


  1. I find it hard to believe that you had never seen Song Remains the Same. But, then again, I've never seen the first two Die Hard movies which is two movies that you have championed in the past. The How the West was Won package and the self titled DVD that were released back in 2003 are great documents of Zep at the best live. The Song Remains the Same has often been criticized by the band as not one of their best shows...except for Bonzo who (obviously) shines. Yes, Pages soloing just goes nowhere on SRS. I saw it at a midnight showing in Kearney back in about 89 and BGross was heard to say while Jimmy soloed on and on "Wrap it up Jimmy!!"
    To get a better Idea of good Zep live DVD. I would recommend the 2 disc Self titled set with performances from The Royal Albert Hall, Knebworth, Earls court and the outtakes from SRS at MSG.

  2. Thanks for the tips...

    Yeah, never seen SRS before this week. Such an odd film.

    Really? No Die Hard? Still?