We both thought that the first song wasn't loud enough and didn't have enough energy behind it. I also didn't think that the singer's voice captured Plant's sound at all and I was initially disappointed. I expected so much more. Although we acknowledged that its studio production might be too complicated to reproduce live.
The second song was a little better, I suppose as the band warmed up. "The Lemon Song" was welcomed by the middle-aged sopho-morons in the audience who had just recently figured out its innuendo. Tee-hee. The returning lilt at the end of "Thank You" was really, really nice but the song had gotten so quiet that everyone was already clapping.
The misogyny of "Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid" couldn't be mistaken. The show built it up all along until the climax with "Dazed and Confused" in the second set. I could have sung every (intelligible) word like anyone else there but by this point the singer had keyed in on the right sound and didn't need any help from anybody. Not everyone realized this.
I'm not saying that I understand blues at all, but Zeppelin's take on the genre seems to be Hosea-like: a saintly man tricked and cheated by a vile woman. Does anyone really believe that women are the more promiscuous ones of the two? But anyway, it's a theme I can live with so long as the model isn't extended to all men and all women. So long as it isn't seen archetypically. Unfortunately, not everyone has the appropriate discipline to keep from generalizing.
But as blues music goes, it's just amazingly awesome. I think the band hit its stride with "Ramble On." The instrumental "Moby Dick" was fine, good drum solo. And "Bring It On Home" is just a nice blues number. I've said many times that I love harmonica. Jeff thought the singer didn't do too well with it, with singing around the harmonica, but I just listened to the cut on the album and Plant is doing something scatty with his voice. Something strange. He's imitating someone; I don't know who. So that probably accounts for Jeff's impression: he just wasn't remembering the original well enough.
After the intermission, they opened up with the songs we'd requested in an online survey. They probably could have just come back with Zeppelin's first album and called it a night. "Good Times Bad Times" was first, then as I said above, "Dazed and Confused." In the middle of the second set, they played "Stairway" and I voted for it, I know, I know, but it was good. Some people called out for "Free Bird." I guess that's a classic joke at concerts, no matter the band. Jeff said they played "The Song Remains the Same" but I wouldn't recognize that song. I think they played "You Shook Me" and "How Many More Times."1 The singer's voice failed him towards the end of one song and I was hoping he'd hold it together until he got through it. He didn't and took a break offstage while the band looped through a refrain until he eventually returned. They also played two others that I voted for, "Immigrant Song" and "Kashmir" which closed the show. I really like "Kashmir." It's really different.
And the venue is very nice too. Reminded me, in terms of sophistication, of MSG. I'll be very happy to see The White Album (scroll down) there in April. Jeff said our tickets are in the same place, first mezzanine, but over to the left more. Ça ne fait rien.
1 NJPAC's Facebook page says "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," "Rock and Roll," and "Black Dog" instead of "You Shook Me" and "How Many More Times" for a total of nine songs instead of eight. I'd have to check with Jeff to confirm what they actually played vs. what NJPAC expected them to play.