1/7/2013 1:45 PM
I admit I never wanted to see an over-the-hill Zeppelin because prime
Zeppelin always meant so much to me. I kept afar of any footage from the
2007 reunion show with John Bonham’s son Jason filling in on drums, but
now it’s out on film and in all sorts of take-home formats including
the 2DVD/2CD package I just had to check out. I’m so happy I did.
main thing going for Celebration Day
is the sound. Led Zeppelin may not
look like the rock gods of yore, but they sound amazing, and the sound
of these discs is clear, deep, and punchy. Zep Fan’s main reason not to
be interested in Celebration Day
is Zeppelin’s 2003 double live CD set
How the West Was Won and the associated eponymous dual-DVD that
immediately became the definitive video document of the band during its
1970s glory decade. But nothing on either is sonically close to
’s state-of-the art sparkle. These audio CDs alone are
essential listening for anyone hooked on sonics. The video is crystal
clear, which isn’t the most important thing when viewing an aging band,
but the presentation is appropriate. There are a few trippy effects but
nothing over the top. It’s all about the music. Celebration
’s set list is intriguing. First off, it is one set recorded on one
night in December of 2007 at London’s O2 Arena. The band clearly becomes
increasingly comfortable as it shakes off the rust and gets into its
groove in real time as the show progresses. It’s fun to watch them
having more and more fun. There are zero acoustic songs, which is a
shame since the acoustic side of Page’s guitar playing is almost as
interesting as his electric side, and you’d figure that a “mature” band
would relish the opportunity to cover some of its campfire classics.
Instead, they charge headlong into the heavy, heady stuff. Celebration
kicks off with two tunes that aren’t on the 2003 releases—“Good
Times, Bad Times,” and “Ramble On”—and it includes what Plant calls “our
first public adventure” playing “For Your Life,” which was originally
the second track on Presence in 1976. “Good Times, Bad Times” is
musically amazing, especially John Paul Jones’ hyped up James
Jamerson-style bass line, and Page’s watery guitar solo. Plant’s voice
starts off a bit shaky, especially in the lower register, but it begins
to loosen up on “Ramble On.” Page’s Les Paul sounds particularly edgy on
the chorus “chunks.” Perhaps that can be attributed to the Orange amps
sitting alongside his trusty Marshalls. Page pulls out a Bigsby-equipped
Black Beauty to cop the whammy licks on “For Your Life,” and he makes
it sound as good as it looks with its gold hardware glimmering.
addition to classic effects and antics including Theremin and bow, Page
whoops out some updated gear including a trippy, octave-up pitch-shift
effect that he manipulates with his actual foot Whammy-style while
playing the solo on “Trampled Under Foot.” Wild. Page plays his
TransPerformance Les Paul on “Whole Lotta Love” using its ability to
change tunings in real time to create moments of string-sational
disorientation. Whoa! “In My Time of Dying” and “Kashmir” are
interesting because Page doesn’t don a Danelectro to play them as he did
back in the day. On “In My Time,” Page slides around on a huge Gibson
hollowbody, which of course sounds way thicker than a Dano, even if the
hollowbody falls so out of tune by the end of the 11-minute performance
that the instrument itself sounds as if it might be dying. Page conjures
“Kashmir” on a Paul, and it proves to be whole show’s coup de grace—a
thunderous performance of an epic composition driven by Jason Bonham’s
The “bonus” DVD is primarily rehearsal footage
of Led Zeppelin getting its act together for the O2 show. It’s weird.
There’s no footage of the bandmembers actually figuring out what to do
or how to do it, which would have been insightful. Instead, it’s simply
the show without a crowd, which is just kind of creepy. However, the
dress rehearsal footage does demonstrate just how well prepared Led
Zeppelin was for this gig. They certainly did not take it lightly.Celebration
is Jason Bonham’s dream realized. He pays proud tribute to his
father, and it’s just too cool that John Bonham’s kid can handle rock’s
heaviest gig. John Paul Jones is truly remarkable. His presence on bass
and keyboards makes the case clear that no Page/Plant affair is even
close to a Zeppelin reunion without him. Plant has the hardest job. His
body is his instrument, and human bodies simply don’t sound better with
advanced age like a vintage Les Paul. That said, he still sounds damn
good and looks cool for a cat that has been around the block so many
times. As for Jimmy Page, the sonic wizard’s dark hair may have
lightened 50 shades, but his lightning chops, heavy hand, and magical
tones have not diminished. Play on Page the White! —Jimmy Leslie
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2 comment(s) so far...
By Richard Lockhart on
1/24/2013 12:29 PM
Jimmy Leslie: DVD/CD Review--Led Zeppelin Celebration Day
I really enjoyed reading your review of Led Zeppelin's 2007 London O2 Arena show. I was lucky enough to be in the first 7 rows of 5 of their Los Angeles Inglewood Forum shows between 1970 to 1977 and I always remember how magnificent their overall sound was compared to the other rock-n-roll bands of the day. Years after their break up after John Bonham's passing, an interviewer once asked Jimmy what he felt his greatest accomplishment and achievement was during his career with Led Zeppelin and Jimmy quickly said dialing in John Bonham’s drum sound in the studio and in concert had to be it! This just goes to show you not only what a genius Jimmy was but also how many different creative hats he mastered during their storied career! Led Zeppelin had the magic from the very beginning when it came to wonderful light and shade compositions, timeless songs that will always matter along with amazing production and sound quality coming from 4 completely different musicians although when standing next to each other inside a small room produced more imagination and magical chemistry then any other quartet I can ever seen! John Paul Jones once remarked that a big problem with a lot of the current rock bands is that all the members in the same band sound like they're all listening to the same influences. With Led Zeppelin all four members were all into very different influences. That has to be one of the defining things that made them sound so big and important!
Thanks so much for sharing!
By BKA on
2/28/2013 2:24 PM
Re: Jimmy Leslie: DVD/CD Review--Led Zeppelin Celebration Day
...I had the fortune of being indoctrinated into the hallowed halls of Fandom in 1971 with the listening of the second album...later going back and embelishing on the earlier tracks of the 1st LP and then everything else there after.
For Christmas last year I got the Celibration Package from my wife and I could hardly wait to see and listen to it...( mostly because I saw the preview of 'Kashmir'). Absolutly a 'Rock On' moment that I didn't want to end...so I watched it again!!!
....All I can say is DITTO to you story and thanx for sharing.