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Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day

Nenad Georgievski By

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Led Zeppelin

Celebration Day

Three P Films Limited

2012

Many biographies and history books reveal that in the early autumn of 1968, in a stuffy London rehearsal room, guitarist Jimmy Page gathered together a group of newly found musical colleagues—singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham—to whom he called out a sequence of chords. Seconds later the studio room reverberated to the sounds of "Train Kept a Rolling," which laid the foundation of what would become one of the most influential forces in the history of rock music. Those were the very first moments when a group called Led Zeppelin was airborne, destined for a memorable 12-year flight. During that period, in the studio the band stretched its imagination as far as possible, creating several standout albums whose hallmark was superb musicianship, musical eclecticism and outstanding production.

Much of the reputation the band attained during its reign was also achieved through its ever-evolving live shows. As many bootlegs demonstrate, Zeppelin live was an example of profound musical telepathy. Taken into consideration its undoubted ability to improvise and expand on any given musical structure, the live performances of Zeppelin's album tracks often took on new dimensions. The band developed an onstage intensity that few peers could match. All of that stopped and Led Zeppelin was grounded with the sudden passing of Bonham in 1980. After the band's breakup, there were several live reunions and attempts for its band members to play or to make music together which were less satisfactory by its standards, and were never full concerts—until the concert that took place at London's O2 Arena in 2007.

Led Zeppelin was the most successful recording act in Atlantic Records' history. The reason behind the 2007 reunion documented on Celebration Day was to pay tribute to label president and close friend Ahmet Ertegun, who'd passed away in December, the previous year. The concert also holds a world record in "Highest Demand for Tickets for One Music Concert," when 20 million people worldwide applied for 18,000 tickets. Five years after that triumphant concert, this video/audio document is finally seeing the light of day.

As with many other Zeppelin concerts, the purpose is not to see whether it could faithfully reproduce its studio creations but, rather, how far it could stray, stretch and build from those points. Subsequent interviews revealed that the band rehearsed a lot for this occasion, which placed Bonham's son Jason in the drum chair. Directed by Dick Carruthers, who has also worked with the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, The Who and others acts, the film portrays the members of Led Zeppelin having regained their youthful vigor for rock and roll. Recorded with 16 cameras and edited at breakneck speed, Carruthers expertly captured these moments of rock and roll music at its most dynamic, its most spectacular and its most magical.

The DVD opens with a series of news bulletins from the '70s, when the band was breaking many ticket sales records. During the course of two hours, the group plays 16 tracks that canvas its vast repertoire. The show starts with the rollicking opener "Good Times, Bad Times," which was last part of the group's set in 1969, and the never fully performed "Ramble On." Further, the group thundering through "Black Dog" "In My Time of Dying" "Trampled Underfoot" and "Nobody's Fault but Mine" showed that these tracks were seriously prepared. "For Your Life" has had its first live premiere here. "Stairway to Heaven" is the perfect example of light and shade, while the tempestuous "Kashmir," storms its way and birngs another climax. "Whole Lotta Love" is a rip-roaring treat, while "Rock and Roll" a rocking blast.

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