There’s no one definitive Led Zeppelin concert that fans point to as their finest moment. Some dig late-period gigs like the L.A. Forum 1977 or Knebworth 1979, while others point to early ones like the Texas International Pop Festival of 1969 or the Royal Albert Hall 1970. They’re one of the most bootlegged bands of the Seventies, so the selection is vast.
But nearly all hardcore fans hail their May 25th, 1975, show at London’s Earls Court as one of the all-time greats, and at three hours and 45 minutes, it is indisputably their longest show ever captured on tape. (The band has spoken many times of a supposed four-hour show at Boston’s Tea Party in 1969 where they played their complete set twice and tons of covers to an insane audience literally banging their heads on the stage, but there’s no tape and it’s possible it wasn’t quite as long as they remember.)
The show was the culmination of a five-night stand at Earls Court that wrapped up their 1975 tour. They were supporting Physical Graffiti, but the marathon set highlights songs from all eras of their career, including the final “Dazed and Confused” until their 2007 reunion gig. A professional camera crew shot the film and portions, including “Tramped Underfoot” and “Stairway to Heaven,” were used on their 2003 DVD collection. The audio feed from the shoot leaked out many years ago and the sound is pristine.
“If there was ever a concert that you could brag about seeing to all your friends, it was the Led Zeppelin one at Earls Court on Sunday evening,” reads a review in Record Mirror. “It turned out to be a nocturnal delight, one which should be remembered for eons to come. Led endeavoured to take us on a musical journey of their six and a half years reign. Robert Plant made a jolly raconteur as he told us about the good times, the hard times and times when the four heroes sat around the fire sipping tea. The sound in the vast arena was amazingly clear and concise, which was why Zeppelin decided to add an extra half hour to their three hour show.”
A little over two months after the show, Robert Plant was severely injured in a car crash and the group canceled all their upcoming gigs. They’d tour again in 1977 and 1980, but Earls Court was undeniably the end of an era, and many fans feel they never again reached the heights of this show. Check out the entire set right here.
For reasons that remain baffling, Zeppelin have released very few live albums. If they ever get around to some sort of official Bootleg Series, May 25th, 1975 would be a very good place to start.
From Rolling Stone US