Led Zeppelin fans have been sent into a lather over newly-surfaced bootleg audio, which was reportedly recorded during the band’s 1971 Vancouver show at the Pacific Coliseum on August 19, 1971.
Fragments of the audio first surfaced last month via as user called Spindle on the official Led Zeppelin forum, but it has been collected together for the first time in the clip below.
The tracks include a rare outing for Led Zeppelin III tune Gallows Pole [the third song in the clip], which was thought to have only been performed in full a handful of times by the group (the rest of the time it was incorporated into medleys).
Elsewhere, there are clips of Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll and an improvised take on the band’s iconic riffer Whole Lotta Love, which in contrast to the studio version, takes on a galloping rhythm.
The rest of the setlist (which does not appear in the audio) reportedly included Immigrant Song, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused, Going to California and Communication Breakdown, among others.
It’s an intense, raw performance, which came as the first night of the North American leg of their 1971 tour and captures all the riotous excitement and explosive verve of a band that were dominating the rock world at the time.
Indeed, demand for tickets to the first date of the US run resulted in over thousands of fans left without tickets outside the 15,000-capacity Coliseum. Canadian music journalist Rick McGrath was in attendance and writes on the Led Zeppelin website:
“I got to watch the concert from the stage — about 10 feet away from Page. About 3,000 Zepheads from Seattle drove up for the show, only to find there were no tickets available. I remember them leaning on the glass outside the Pacific Coliseum until showtime, when the promoters decided it was safer to let them in rather than risking them crashing through the glass… so the Coliseum swelled to about 18,000 fans.”
During the show the city’s noise pollution agent was also reportedly set upon and beaten, leaving his monitoring equipment damaged. A news clipping from the time reports a warrant was then issued for the arrest of Led Zeppelin’s notorious manager Peter Grant (opens in new tab).
Thanks to Led Zeppelin’s exhaustive online archive, we also know what gear Jimmy Page took out for the shows, including four Marshall cabs, two Hiwatt units, two Vox “echo chambers” (likely a Long Tom or Short Tom), an Echoplex, two Gibson Les Pauls, one Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, a Vox wah pedal and, of course, his Sonic Wave Theremin. It even mentions Page is using Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings…
Sadly, a full bootleg release of the show appears to be unlikely, as forum conversation indicates the original tapes have been sold on to a private collector.
However, on the official side it seems there is some positive news for fans. Fan site LedZepNews reports that the much-vaunted documentary Becoming Led Zeppelin – the first to be sanctioned by the band – is registering social media accounts, suggesting a promo campaign and launch is imminent.
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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.