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On December 10th 2007 the seemingly impossible happened. Zed Zeppelin,
the world's original super group and one of the few bands in history
who could rival The Beatles for fame and popularity at their height,
reformed for a one off concert at London's O2 Arena for the Ahmet
Ertegun Tribute Concert. The show set a world record for ticket demand
with over twenty million people (including myself) registering online
for a chance of one of the 20,000 tickets. Like close to twenty million
others I didn't get a ticket for a show that myself and other fans had
been waiting for, for over twenty five years.
Fast forward nearly five years to October 17th 2012 and the concert was screened for one day worldwide in cinemas ahead of a DVD and Blu Ray release on November 19th. This time demand wasn't so high and I managed to get two tickets for a screening at my local multiplex. While in no way the same as seeing the band, my favourite of all time, live, the two hours I sat in the cinema were amazing. The band showed that despite having barely played together in thirty years and missing original drummer John Bonham whose death in 1980 was the trigger for the band's breakup, that they are still able to rock with the best and sounded close to as good as they have on any other live recording I've seen.
One of the problems with seeing a band like Led Zeppelin at the cinema is that it isn't the sort of environment that you can really relax, sing,air guitar or dance in. It was a little awkward at times as a few people bobbed heads or tapped feet. I didn't feel as though I could properly enjoy the show in that environment and think that it is probably better suited to DVD. I had to resist the urge to sing and clap which isn't the most relaxing thing.
Before I go any further I have to make it clear that I may be biased in my review of this concert film as Led Zeppelin is my favourite band. Even so and trying to be as objective as possible, they put on one hell of a show. The film is shot in a fairly conventional manner with close-ups of faces, instruments and the like, spliced with wide shots and some nice super 8 style camera work which is reminiscent of the likes of The Song Remains the Same and the Led Zeppelin DVD. The old looking footage gives a 70s vibe which obviously matches the music. For the most part the camera-work is crisp and looks great in HD. There are plenty of interesting angles and cuts too which add to the visual enjoyment. Unlike Scorsese's Rolling Stones film Shine a Light which seemed to spend as much time on the audience as the band, Celebration Day focuses almost solely on the on stage action with just a couple of cut aways to the audience.
Musically the band sound incredibly tight. The three surviving members last performed together in 1988 and this was their first full length concert since John Bonham's death. Age and time coupled with a falling out between bassist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page appears to have had little effect as the band sound great. Robert Plant's voice is almost indistinguishable from his 1970s self save for a few missed high notes. Jimmy Page is still one of the greatest guitarists of all time and played the concert despite breaking his little finger just a month before the show. John Paul Jones, always the quietest member of the group and the one who seems least at ease on stage played incredibly well on both bass and keyboards. Drummer Jason Bonham, son of John was excellent and has all the ferocity of his father. He slotted straight in despite this being the first gig he'd played with the full band. Not a bad debut gig! It was nice to witness the genuine looks of pride and glee on the faces of the original members as the looked a Bonham Jnr playing his father's parts.
In their eleven year existence Led Zeppelin created some of the most iconic rock music in history with the likes of Whole Lotta Love, Kashmir, Rock and Roll and Dazed and Confused amongst the most popular and enduring songs in rock history. Stairway to Heaven of course transcends even those songs and is frequently voted the most popular song of all time, rock or otherwise. As well as the stalwarts like Kashmir and Stairway the band also perform some of my personal favourites such as No Quarter, Misty Mountain Hop and Trampled Underfoot, a song that always reminds me of my dad. For Your Life is also performed on stage for the first time ever but unfortunately there is no space for more of my favourites such as Communication Breakdown, When the Levee Breaks, Heartbreaker, The Immigrant Song, Gallows Pole or Ramble On. The problem with having such an extensive back catalogue is that there will always be songs that are missed but there could be few arguments that the chosen set was anything but spectacular.
Overall Celebration Day is the sort of thing which is probably more enjoyable at home where you can sit back, enjoy a drink or a smoke and properly rock out to the music. Even so I really enjoyed seeing my favourite band on the big screen and would recommend the forthcoming DVD to hard line fans as well as anyone who just thinks that Zeppelin are some old band what sang that long song. There's enough to satisfy fans and newcomers alike.
Just returned from seeing Led Zepplin's celebration day at Hammersmith
Odeon. The film is simply phenomenal, the sound out of this world.
Thank you to all involved for blowing the mind of a man who thought
he'd seen and heard it all. Thank you to Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and
John Paul Jones for showing up to introduce the film. Will definitely
be going again and again to see this one. Visually the camera work and
editing leaves nothing to be desired although I wouldn't have used
those square CGI's; they were an unnecessary distraction. The film is
emotionally charged right out the gate and caused my eyes to well up
through the first two songs. Throughout the film I sat with my hands
together as if in prayer, my body occasionally moving in time.
The sound mix is near perfect, I wouldn't change a thing although there was one song I would revisit where the guitar was noticeably lowered to accommodate Robert, this could be more subtle. (I'd have to see it again to be sure though) Actually the mix is perfect. It is brilliantly thought through with incredible attention paid to the emotional value of Led Zeppelin. My hat is off to all involved, you should all be tremendously proud of creating a master piece which will, for all time, set in celluloid the legend of Led Zeppelin.
The previous reviewers have summed up this film perfectly - this was an amazing experience to see Led Zeppelin performing circa 2007 at the O2 Arena in London. The band themselves do not stray from a very tight pattern on stage, but that keeps you close to the music and the performances - yes they have aged, but they still keep it together perfectly. Director Dick Carruthers lets the music do the talking, and while the editing is tight, the camera concentrates on the band, rarely focusing on the audience. Absolutely fantastic. If you've missed them on the big screen, then seek this out on Bluray and DVD in November - you will not be disappointed if you love Zep. The best concert film in a long time.
They can still rock.
I was skeptical of the idea of a reunion concert, but this more than met my expectations for the DVD. I wish I'd been at the concert--my last chance. I was too young to drive to the arena in the 70s; now I'll never see them live. This DVD is going to be as good as it gets and it's good, better than good. Robert Plant's signing is slightly different but just as interesting, Jimmy Page is still passionate and technically amazing, John Paul Jones is still the consummate professional and Jason Bonham is a lot of fun to watch and listen to.
The concert was supposed to be a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun but it's obvious it also had other meanings to the band members. There's a moment during a break when Page leans over to ruffle the non-existent hair on Jason Bonham's head and I couldn't help thinking that maybe this concert extinguishes any lingering bad karma over John Bonham's death. All I know is that I fell in love with Led Zeppelin all over again this past year, with the attention they've been getting making me listen to and appreciate their music again, with a more seasoned ear and an appreciation of how unique they were and their lasting impact.
Plenty of highlights, and like most of their output, has a way of
growing on you to an almost uncomfortable degree taking you on a
miniature journey. As a rock audience, we've practically seen it all:
multiple camera angles, audience noise, high-speed editing, close-ups,
cameras in clear plastic balls, helicopter shots from above, giant
video screens, wide angle shots, 3-D effects, and even fan-held cameras
on the loose. After so many years of technological leaps and bounds
finding their way to the big screen, it's downright hard to bring
anything new or innovative to this medium.
In this concert film we see what we need to see the concert. And probably all the things that I wanted to see were up close and personal. This includes close-ups of Jimmy Page playing his classic sunburst Les Paul at just the right times, John Paul Jones' fretless bass and Page's skillful slide guitar playing during "In My Time of Dying," Jones' use of the rare 12-string bass during "Trampled Under Foot" and Page's use of the Transperformance guitar during "Whole Lotta Love." Awesome percussion by Jason Bonham throughout and Robert Plant's vocals hold up well. And those were just the technical/musical close-ups of real value. Add in the human emotion of Jones, Page and drummer Jason Bonham looking at each other, nodding and smiling when they were locked in to a tight groove. Not a dull moment, completely engrossing all the way through.
This is definitely a film that is a must see.
Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day (2012)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
I'm sure when the four current movies of Led Zeppelin walked off the stage of this 2007 concert, all but one figured that there would be more shows to follow. As of me writing this it hasn't happened but we can always hope. If this concert does turn out to be the final Led Zeppelin show then it's certainly a good one and thankfully it has perfectly been preserved in this concert film. There's no question that all three original members and Jason Bonham are at the top of their game as they bring these classic songs to a new generation of fans. While there are certain changes from the last time the group was together, there's still no question that this here is a major achievement with all sorts of classic tunes. I think the highlight of the night would have to be the amazing version of "Stairway to Heaven," which perfectly captures the mood and spirit of the studio version. "Kashmir" is another masterpiece as is "Rock and Roll," "Black Dog" and "Whole Lotta Love." In fact, there's really not a weak moment to be found among the setlist as the tunes selected are all fan favorites and the band does a very good job here. I was surprised at how well the band was but it's clear that they were doing a lot of rehearsing in the six weeks prior to this show. Page's guitar playing is as good as ever and Plant's voice holds up extremely well. One just wishes that all the work and effort that went into this gave way to more shows but CELEBRATION DAY is certainly a nice little gem that fans should love.
My brother and I had a bet when the show was announced.....If I won, I would take him. If he won, he would take me..... HE WON! Although the film is excellent.... nothing could compare to the energy in the O2 that night.... I know now why Dicky, ( The Director, Editor and One of the Producers) took five years to complete the film. He truly captured the magic of the evening. The way the whole evening was conducted, (Bill Wyman did an excellent job as MC), all of the other "Super Groups", that Ahmet had signed, (Yes... Emmerson, Lake and Palmer...), were there, and the night flowed perfectly... The audience was literally a who's who of the music biz. We stood at mix position, and we could see Sir Paul, Dave Grhol....etc. all within a few feet. Truly an amazing night. Once in a lifetime.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
But that's just, like, my opinion, man.
This is a well produced concert documentary. I really can't complain about the look or the sound. Jimmy, JPJ, and Robert Plant still can bring it live 40 years after they started. And Plant's vocals are really close to what he sounded like on his classic recordings...way better than Mick J.'s "singing" these days.
Everybody's got their favorite Zep songs. Many of mine showed up here, but many more didn't. Here's what I would have liked to hear and see over some "lesser cuts" which were played (in chronological Zep order):
Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Moby Dick (or even a partial revival by Jason Bonham of his father's famous "tom-tom improv." during his concert ending drum solo)
Bring It On Home
The Immigrant Song
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp (but would have settled for Gallows Pole)
The Battle Of Evermore (or When The Levee Breaks)
Over The Hills And Far Away
Definitely worth a DVD rental...check this out if you can.
If you watch Celebration Day expecting a 70s era Led Zeppelin experience this probably isn't for you. Please enjoy a midnight showing of The Song Remains the Same for that. Led Zeppelin was a musical freight train then; they obliterated audiences with a power never before seen in rock music. Fast forward 40 years. The greatest hard rock band in history has nothing to prove. Celebration Day seems to me to be just that, a celebration. The remaining members plus Jason Bonham are there to pay tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, and they do it as only they can. This is an older, more mature Led Zeppelin. They still hold the same power, it just now comes at you with laser precision. They rock as hard as any band ever has, but with a relaxed confidence that proves why they were - and still are - the best. Kudos to the concert team for the throwback projections and old-school set.
On 12 December 2007 legendary rock band Led Zeppelin reformed to
perform a tribute concert for Atlantic Records founder Ahmed Ertegun.
This is that concert. The concert, performed at London's O2 Arena,
included their most well-known songs. Set list: Good Times, Bad Times;
Ramble On; Black Dog; In My Time of Dying; For Your Life; Trampled
Under Foot; Nobody's Fault But Mine; No Quarter; Since I've Been Loving
You; Dazed and Confused; Stairway to Heaven; The Song Remains the Same;
Misty Mountain Hop; Kashmir; Whole Lotta Love; Rock and Roll.
Great concert, and capture of it. Good choice of songs. Nothing major gets left out (OK, maybe Immigrant Song, but I could understand if Robert Plant didn't feel he could manage the vocals on that any more).
While Led Zep might not have the energy and swagger of the 70s, when they were the undisputed kings of concerts, and rock music generally, their musicianship and artistry is undiminished. The power is still there too.
If anything, the music sounds tighter and fuller than in the 70s. Some of this is due to advances in live recording techniques and technology. Some of it could be due to guitarist Jimmy Page now not being under the influence of drugs...
If you compare this to The Song Remains the Same, the film of Led Zep's 1974 Madison Square Garden concerts, I probably prefer the music in The Song Remains the Same (we won't go into the non-music side of TSRTS - some of that was incredibly cheesy and certainly diminished the quality of the film). There's a rawness about it, and there's the Led Zep mystique too. Celebration Day isn't too far behind though.
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