July 24, 1973, Three Rivers Stadium: The biggest crowd ever for a concert in Pittsburgh to that point, for Led Zeppelin, easily in the Top 5 on any list of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Must have been insanely great, right?
"The show itself was not memorable as far as rock concerts go," said PG critic Mike Kalina.
"The only standout work was performed by lead guitarist Jimmy Page."
But wait. Led Zeppelin was, above all else, an ensemble. Three killer players and one golden god putting the hammer to the blues.
Well, according to Kalina, Robert Plant's singing "was not particularly stirring."
And that rhythm section, the one with perhaps the greatest rock drummer of all time? "...drummer John Bonham and guitarists-keyboard man [?] John Paul Jones were only fair."
There you have it.
Turns out, there was a secret reason it was only fair. According to the PG's critic, "On their records, a network of technical tricks was employed to create their 'sound.' The group proved last night they can't duplicate their studio sound on stage."
So, we're to believe from this review that five albums into their career -- they were touring on "Houses of the Holy," which came out that March -- Led Zeppelin was in the process of proving that they couldn't play live.
Good thing there wasn't commenting on stories back then.
Press critic Pete Bishop had an opposing view, calling them "powerhouse rock 'n' roll personified." Plant, he said, was "a leather-lunged yowler" and Page "demonstrated his virtuosity on almost every number." As for the rhythm section, Bonham and Jones "provided excellent backup."
Led Zeppelin -- which made its Pittsburgh debut at the Hunt Armory in January 1969 before headlining the Arena in 1970, only returned one more time, to the Arena in 1975. Sadly, the scheduled 1977 and 1980 shows were canceled -- the first after the death of Plant's son and the second after the death of Bonzo.
One final footnote on this show: It was a Tuesday night!
Dewey G. posted on my Facebook page: "I can't begin to even explain the excitement 13 year-old me felt about this show. It was just about the greatest thing that had EVER happened. This was the show before the run of MSG NYC shows where The Song Remains The Same, which is why there's that whole Pittsburgh sequence in the film - when the band gets off the plane and goes through the tunnel, at which point Pgh becomes NYC."
Here is the goofy layout in the Press: