There are not many live Led Zeppelin shows available to purchase officially. For a band as important as Led Zeppelin, it’s very surprising that Atlantic Records, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant have not released more live shows to their fans. For years, all we had was the soundtrack to the motion picture The Song Remains the Same. It is only within the past twenty years that the vaults have opened just a bit with the release of The BBC Sessions , How The West Was Won and the bonus live CD on the remastered Led Zeppelin One album. Still, three official live albums of the original four members of Zep is very limiting for a band that many feel was the greatest rock and roll band to ever grace the stage.
Like all legendary classic rock artists, Led Zeppelin has always been a group that has been widely bootlegged. Most of the Led Zeppelin bootlegs that collectors have traded, shared and sold are audience recordings. There a just a handful of soundboards. The 1977 Soundboard that was released under the title Destroyer is usually thought of as the best Led Zeppelin bootleg ever released. The sound quality on Destroyer comes close to an official release. Nonetheless, there are some audience recordings from the late 1960s and early 1970s that define the brilliant musicianship and passion of the band wonderfully. The bootleg Live on Blueberry Hill is one such recording that showcased a band that was looking to prove just how great they were. They succeeded immensely on this one.
Live On Blueberry Hill is so fabulous because of the performances by all four members on that September 4, 1970 night at the Los Angeles Forum. The heart of a great Led Zeppelin performance was always led by the great Jimmy Page. If Page was on, Led Zeppelin was on. These guys listened to each other. All musicians have great nights and so so nights. That September 4th night in L.A. was a night in which Page was in complete tune and his solos were clean and exciting. Page solos right away as the night began in the opening number “The Immigrant Song.” However it’s in the set’s second song “Heartbreaker,” when Page lights it up with a solo in the middle of the song that stands as one of his best live performances of all time. You can hear it below….
At the L.A. show, Robert Plant’s vocals sound like he was in the studio. Plant hits every note in perfect tune. Robert Plant’s resonance is incredibly deep and strong. Robert Plant’s performance in “Dazed and Confused,” is to die for. Plant pulls out snippets of classic tunes like “Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay,” and scats perfectly with Jimmy Page through the middle instrumental break.
The performance of “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” will always stand as one of the highlights of that 1970 L.A. Forum show. Jimmy Page opens with that crying solo just before Robert Plant starts to sing low and deep. After the first verse, Robert Plant breaks into his higher register on the line “Everybody tells me.” and then lets it loose like no other rock and roll singer in history. Robert Plant finishes the line and Jimmy Page breaks into an immaculate solo that will leave you crying. It’s unbelievable how great these guys were. When Jimmy Page finishes his solo. Robert Plant returns with the line, “I said I’ve been crying,” singing the highest notes I have ever heard the man sing. It’s downright scary that a human can sing like that. It’s why Robert Plant was always thought of as the ultimate Rock God.
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are not the only members of Led Zeppelin that had their brilliant solo moments. John Paul Jones takes center stage on his celtic inspired organ solo just before the performance of “Thank You.” John Bonham’ shines basically on every song. A Led Zeppelin show would not have been a Led Zeppelin show without a performance of “Moby Dick.”The song always gave Bonham his turn under the solo spotlight.
In the end, the band’s fiery and virtuoso performances were the ultimate reason why the L.A..Forums shows were one of the highlights of Led Zeppelin’s career. Furthermore, what made these shows even more special were the cover songs that Led Zeppelin performed. The bootleg Live On Blueberry Hill gets its name from the Led Zeppelin encore performance of the song “Blueberry Hill.” At first, fans may shake their heads wondering over the song choice, but anyone who has listened to interviews with Robert Plant would understand the lead singer’s love of the blues. Robert Plant has always been a fan of that music and Led Zeppelin has always been in essence a blues band. Interestingly, four years later at the LA Forum, all four members attended an Elvis Presley concert. They all went backstage and hung out with Elvis for a couple of hours talking about those same blues influences that they all shared.
If you have never heard the LA Forum shows, we highly recommend that you check them out. The performances define a band looking to make their mark on history. You can hear it in every note and groove throughout the entire show.
Led Zeppelin’s Live Blueberry Hill Show Performance of Blueberry Hill.