Even 50+ years after their debut in the late 1960s, Led Zeppelin remains pure, unbridled rock royalty to this day, and in their time they were the unparalleled heavyweight champions of popular music. 1973 was a particularly huge year for the band, as they independently released their Houses of the Holy studio album in March of that year, bringing songs that would become live staples such as “No Quarter” and “The Ocean” into the band’s veritable catalog.
Following the arrival of Houses of the Holy on March 28th, the band landed in Atlanta six weeks later for what would turn out to be the largest concert (at the time) in the history of the state of Georgia, drawing over 39,000 fans to Braves Stadium on May 4th. The next night in Tampa, the band drew a massive 56,800 fans to Tampa Stadium. A true phenomenon was clearly underway, as the band broke The Beatles‘ record for the largest single concert in U.S. history.
Zeppelin had already released four wildly successful albums in Led Zeppelin I, II, III, and IV, but a rock and roll concert tour of this scale had never been seen before. The band would continue setting concert attendance records across the country, and they became concerned with all the publicity surrounding their wild success, so they stopped announcing when they would break a record in fear that they would attract the wrong kind of attention.
By the time the band rolled into Madison Square Garden on July 27th for a three-night, mid-summer run at the New York City arena, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham were firing on all cylinders and likely appreciative of the relatively small confines that the venue had to offer. The band was at the tail end of their tour, and management organized a professional film crew to shoot all three shows—the footage eventually was used in 1976’s epic behind-the-scenes concert film The Song Remains The Same.
The pro-shot live footage on The Song Remains The Same is undeniable in highlighting arguably the best band in the world in 1973, no question. The shows were amazing, and by the third and final night, the New York City crowd was bursting with anticipation. The setlist for the July 29th, 1973 show is something out of a dream. Opening with “Rock and Roll”, Zeppelin treated their New York fans to classic arena rock anthems like “Stairway to Heaven”, “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Black Dog” with material from their new album, with “No Quarter”, “The Ocean”, and “Rain Song” all being included in the set.
The band was right to be paranoid throughout their tour, however, as July 29th also marks the anniversary of the band being mysteriously robbed of $203,000 from their hotel’s safe-deposit box. No one has ever explained the disappearance of the money, and no one has ever been caught by the police, so it’s safe to say that some sort of shady business was going down, given the amount of cash the band was carrying on them.
While the date July 29th might bring up some bad memories for the band and their management, for fans, this night was one for the ages with Zeppelin at the peak of their powers and closing their summer tour at the one and only Madison Square Garden. One can only imagine the energy in the room when they took the stage and started up “Rock and Roll” and the incredible feeling of luck and jubilation when the show closed with a beautiful version of “Thank You”.
See below for some amazing videos from The Song Remains The Same and full setlist details from this incredible night at Madison Square Garden.
“Rock and Roll”
“Since I’ve Been Loving You”
“The Song Remains The Same”
Setlist: Led Zeppelin | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 7/29/1973
Set: Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, (Bring It On Home intro) Black Dog, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Let That Boy Boogie), The Ocean, Organ solo
Encore: Thank You
[Originally published 7/29/16]