Need a cool gift? Led Zeppelin's 2007 show a DVD worth having

When Led Zeppelin regrouped for a one-off concert five years ago to honor Atlantic Records leader Ahmet Ertegun, the reunion sparked much hyperventilation over the potential for a full-scale tour by the 1970s hard rock gods.

Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones said, "Nyet."

The entire "will they or won't they?" affair repeated itself again earlier this year when "Celebration Day," the film of that 2007 show, was released to movie theaters and on DVD. This time Page and Plant took umbrage to the questions from the press, becoming visibly annoyed by the badgering from breathless media members desperate for a reunion tour.

Let's get this out of the way: Led Zeppelin can never properly reunite because original drummer John Bonham is dead. His son Jason now sits in for him and does a remarkable job. But it's not a proper reunion when one of the key band members has been dead for 31 years.

This nostalgic fussing probably drives the band members crazy because it diverts attention from what Led Zeppelin accomplished in staging the 2007 show, detracts from Plant's quite successful solo career, and -- most importantly -- it just doesn't feel right.

There is something admirable and even noble about the band's decision to not stick someone else in the drummer's chair and soldier on with tours and new releases. It's a statement about the group being bigger than any one member and without Bonham's raw energy and brawny power, it's just not Led Zeppelin, so they moved on.

All of which makes "Celebration Day" that much more special. The band rehearsed for weeks and turned the concert at London's O2 Arena into a full-stage production that never feels haphazard or casual. The message is obvious: if these guys are going to play together, it's going to be done right, with no corner cutting or cheesy nods to the past .

The DVD puts the band in your living room playing a 16-song show that features blistering versions of "Rock and Roll," "Black Dog," "Misty Mountain Hop," and a slew of other songs that are part of the hard rock nomenclature. An element of Zeppelin's unique greatness was that the band could blow your face out on one song, veer into bluesy jams on something like "Since I've Been Loving You," get trippy and space out on "Dazed and Confused" with its primordial bass line, and then become truly proggy on "No Quarter" while making it all sound perfectly natural.

Page, who comes out in a long trench coat that sets off his white hair, is on fire throughout this show and by the end he's a sweaty mess. Animated and clearly happy, his guitar is a massive force in all the arrangements. But Celebration Day also calls attention to Jones, an underappreciated bass player who is the perfect melodic balance between Page's power chord forays and Bonham's muscle.

Plant's voice has never sounded better, losing some of its high end in exchange for a more balanced timbre, and Bonham looks absolutely thrilled to be playing parts his father made famous.

The highlight of the show is a chill-inducing, majestic, crunching take on "Kashmir" that sets out to slay the audience and thoroughly succeeds, especially when you play it loud enough to rattle the walls.

The package includes a double-CD of the show and a worthless rehearsal DVD.

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 3

iamapotatohead writes:

Thanks for the thumbs up. I ordered that cool gift for ME. It will be here in time for New Year's Eve!!!

jbc writes:

"Jason Bonham resigned from Foreigner in 2007, in hopes that the Led Zeppelin reunion would extend past one reunion show:
Bonham had played drums for Foreigner since 2004. Page says, “Some of us thought we would be continuing, that there were going to be more concerts in the not-too-distant future… I know that Jason, who was playing with Foreigner, resigned from that band.” One reason the reunion was a one-off: Robert Plant had scheduled a tour with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss to promote their multiple Grammy winning collaboration, Raising Sand. "

GoodGriefTN2 writes:

I love LZ. I grew up with LZ. I learned how to play guitar listening to LZ. But they did so much multi-track recording and special effects in the studio, they can never capture that sound live. That's a pity.

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