I was a huge, huge Zeppelin guy as a teenager, and they’re still probably my #1 all-time band. Before I really knew how to play guitar very well, I could play a handful of Zeppelin riffs and solos. I knew all the songs, especially the deep cuts, and used them to begin figuring out how music is made, and how bands work.
But live Zeppelin always sucked, and in my 30s I moved on to more and different kinds of music. Then I heard Black Dog live one night on the radio about five years ago. I was blown away by how heavy and how tight it was, not at all like the sloppy, druggy Song Remains the Same. I figured it was a good cover by the Black Crowes or someone, maybe even with Pagey. When they said it was Zeppelin from ’73, I couldn’t stop grinning.
The next day I picked up How the West Was Won, a triple live album released in 2003. It features crisp versions of Immigrant Song, Black Dog, The Ocean, Dancing Days Rock and Roll; an acoustic mini-set with John Paul Jones on mandolin and Robert Plant on guitar; and 20+ min. solos and medleys built around Whole Lotta Love, Dazed and Confused, and Moby Dick; and an uplifting rendition of Stairway that makes you ashamed you ever grew tired of it.
Listening to Zeppelin live in 1973, in California touring for Houses of the Holy, makes me happy and makes me feel young. Rock and Roll.