Overblown Zeppelin Takes Off
BRITAIN’S HARD, hot, electronic rock quartet, Led Zeppelin, headlines the Fillmore West show which opened before an unexpected overflow audience last night.
Led by veteran guitarist Jimmy Page and featuring the shouting of Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin began their conquest of American rockdom here just three months ago.
At that time I thought them a sure bet for great success and heard in their work a potential for firm, significant contributions to the nebulous music world in which they exist.
Success the Zeppelin has had, but their first set last night showed little of the musicianship I heard in January.
Led Zeppelin has become overblown. Amplifiers are too loud, especially for stars Stage and Plant.
Drummer John Bonham has become much more visually demonstrative and less rhythmically interesting, and vocalist Plant has apparently decided to go the grunt-squirm-innuendo route which made The Doors’ Jim Morrison an infamous, egocentric, theatrical bore.
When Zeppelin gets into instrumental stuff there can be no complaints. Page has more electronic ideas than anyone around and he and Plant exchange sounds and solos in a most fascinating way.
Another bright British musician, organist Brian Auger and The Trinity (organ-bass-drums) are also at the Fillmore. Auger is a skilled and sensitive jazz organist in the Jimmy Smith all-over-the-keyboards style and churns up lots of excitement.
Unfortunately Auger has singer Julie Driscoll along with him. She who came on very big with ‘Season of the Witch’ on records, not so long ago.
Miss Driscoll in microgrooves sounds sharp and soulful, but last night she sang like many pop singers who are trying ever so hard to get a “real blues” feeling, and fail.
Miss Driscoll looks like a tall Mia Farrow-Peter Pan type. She sang and screamed and lurched around the stage with appropriately anguished motions but there wasn’t much personality being projected.
The Boston white-blues group, Colwell-Winfield, also played, and sounded like an ambitious, well-rehearsed, combined electronic and traditional instrument band who can’t decide between blues rock and jazz.
Tonight and tomorrow the show moves to Winterland, then back to Fillmore West on Sunday.
© Philip Elwood, The San Francisco Examiner, 25 April 1969