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The Rover

**** PRESS REVIEWS HERE ****

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For those of you who can read Fench (well, why not, it's not a sin ! ha ha) here's the raving review from TELERAMA, the most influential French entertainment weekly, usually considered a tad too high-brow.

They decided to put Led Zep on the cover of their Wednesday issue (wonderful pic), much to my delight (as I've been a subscriber for a few years now)

http://www.telerama.fr/musique/23158-led_z...es_on_etait.php

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Led Zeppelin à Londres, on y était !

Publié le mercredi 12 décembre 2007 à 18h52 |

Ils n'avaient pas joué ensemble depuis vingt ans. Hier soir, à Londres, les trois membres restants de Led Zeppelin – Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, accompagnés de Jason Boham, fils du batteur John Bonham – étaient sur la scène de l'O2 Arena. Deux heures de puissance et d'émotion...

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Ils sont venus, ils sont tous là, se disaient-on lundi soir, à l'O2 Arena. Et pas que les stars de poids, Paul McCartney, les frères Gallagher, Dave Gilmour, Kate Moss ou même, paraît-il, Paris Hilton. Non, il y avait aussi et surtout James, venu du Canada, Flavio, du Brésil, ou Laurie, une grand-mère du Minnesota qui, pour rien au monde, n'auraient loupé ça. Et des centaines d'autres, certains qui n'étaient pas nés en 1980, d'autres qui attendaient depuis vingt-sept ans pour voir ou revoir Led Zeppelin, réunis, enfin, pour le concert de l'année. 125 livres (200 €) le billet, plus le déplacement (transport, logement), le jeu en valait-il la chandelle ? La réponse ne tarda pas à venir. Oui, cent fois oui. Après quelques amuse-gueules de rêve (Maggie Bell ou Paul Rodgers, notamment, apportant leurs coffres précieux aux Rhythm Kings de Bill Wyman), les choses sérieuses ne se firent pas attendre. Sur grand écran, un télé d'époque diffuse un vieux JT américain du début des 70's.

Le speaker présente quatre Anglais hirsutes qui viennent de batttre le record d'affluence établi par les Beatles au stade de Tampa. « Il s'agit de Led Zeppelin, un groupe dont le boucan, que vous soyez dans le stade ou aux alentours, sonne à peu près comme ça.... » Le riff d'intro de Good Times Bad Times résonne et c'est parti. Jimmy Page, le cheveu blanc, élegant costume noir, chemise blanche, se déhanche sur sa Gibson. Robert Plant, chemise noire (ça mincit) s'approche du micro : « In the days of my youth... » Premier miracle : la voix est là, retrouvée, presque intacte. Pas toujours en place au début, tout comme la batterie de Jason Bonham, fils de Bonzo, victime on l'imagine, du trac. Mais John Paul Jones, magistral, tient la barre, marque la cadence de sa basse monumentale, le temps qu'ils se ressaisissent sur Ramble On, puis Black Dog. Jimmy Page, comme s'il lâchait tout ce qu'il retenait depuis près de trente ans, a déjà décollé. Le public a le souffle coupé. Le son, la précision, l'intensité. Le tour semble joué, mais ça ne fait que commencer. In My Time of Dying vient après. Le titre que Plant ne voulait plus, ne pouvait plus chanter. Trop de mauvais souvenirs. La douleur est exorcisée. Page sourit, la salle a la gorge nouée.

Deux heures durant, rien ne se relâche. Aucun tube écrasant ne vient éclipser des titres moins connus, juste des classiques (même For Your Life, de Presence, perle heavy funk jamais interprétée sur une scène auparavant), monstrueux alliages de puissance et d'émotion, qui s'enchaînent les uns après les autres, et Page, impérial, qui ressort un à un tous ses joujoux préférés : l'archet pour Dazed and Confused, la double-manche pour Stairway to Heaven, le theremin pour Whole Lotta Love. Aucun délayage, aucun temps mort. Sous nos yeux, on assiste à la re-naissance du groupe telle qu'elle a été cent fois décrite. Avec Jason Bonham, qui cogne aussi fort que son père, dans le rôle du ciment entre les quatre individualités, alchimie mouvante sur laquelle Page édifie ses architectures démentielles, infernales. Chacun se regarde, comme avant, cherchant à épater l'autre. Ou à ne pas le décevoir. Les musiciens jouent pour eux, pour nous, pour l'instant. Un ultime Rock'n'Roll, en second rappel, est l'affaire est pliée. Les drapeaux volent dans la salle. « On me dit qu'il y a plus de cinquante nationalités ici, dit Plant, juste avant Kashmir. » Il paraît troublé, ému, épuisé. Le pari du jour est gagné. Celui des trois autres pourraient bien se réaliser : comment Plant ne pourrait-il pas avoir envie de recommencer ? Un fois, deux fois, qui sait...

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http://www.welt.de/kultur/article1450311/L..._in_London.html

SPIEGEL ONLINE KULTUR, 1111.12.2007

Whole Lotta Love für "Led Zeppelin"

Der Mythos lebt, die Magie der musikalischen Kraft ist unverbraucht - und der Jubel frenetisch. In London spielte die legendäre Rockband "Led Zeppelin" ein furioses Revival-Konzert. Fans und Kritiker sind sich einig in hymnischer Verehrung für die hohe Kunst genialer Riffs.

London - Von der "Mutter aller Band-Revivals" schwärmt die Londoner "Times", von der Wiederkunft - und Neuentdeckung - "alter Kraft" kündet die amerikanische "New York Times" und als schlicht "Led-gendär!" ruft das Boulevardschlachtross "The Sun" dieses Ereignis aus. Keines war so sehnsüchtig, mit so hohen Erwartungen antizipiert worden, kaum eines wurde je so einhellig bejubelt.

Die legendäre Rockband "Led Zeppelin" begeisterte mit ihrem ersten großen Livekonzert seit fast drei Jahrzehnten rund 20.000 Fans in London. "Ich habe sie live gesehen! Jetzt habe ich wahrhaftig etwas über Musik gelernt", "Phantastisch! Ich bin überwältigt!", "Alle unsere Wünsche haben sich erfüllt" - nach dem Event waren die Reaktionen der Zeppelin-Verehrer einhellig. Umgerechnet 175 Euro hatten sich die Konzertbesucher die Tickets kosten lassen.

Die Prominenz aus Musik- und Showbusiness musste sich um Tickets nicht sorgen und war reichlich vertreten: Die Skandal-Models Kate Moss und Naomi Campbell waren da, die Indie-Rocker Arctic Monkeys, David Gilmour von Pink Floyd, Queen's Roger Taylor, die Krawallbrüder Noel und Liam Gallagher von Oasis, Mick Jagger - und natürlich Sir Paul McCartney.

Die drei Bandmitglieder der Urformation, Sänger Robert Plant, Gitarrist Jimmy Page und Bassist John Paul Jones wurden an den Drums von Jason Bonham verstärkt, dem Sohn des 1980 verstorbenen Drummers John Bonham.

Das Konzert startete mit einer, wie es heißt, "nahezu perfekten" Performance von "Good Times Bad Times", gefolgt von "Ramble On", was die Befürchtungen der Fans zerstreute, Robert Plant sei höheren Tonlagen nicht mehr gewachsen.

Scheinbar mühelos gelang es den reifen Herren auf der Bühne, den noch bestens in der Erinnerung ihrer Verehrer verhafteten Zauber musikalischer Genialität zu entfalten: "Manche Bands ziehen das Tempo an, wenn sie ihre alten Songs spielen", urteilt die "New York Times". "Schnell zu spielen ist so eine Art Schutzpanzer. Led Zeppelin dagegen sind bedächtiger geworden. Die Band hat zu Tempi gefunden, die noch anmutiger sind als die, die man von alten Live-Aufnahmen her kannte."

Jimmy Pages Gitarrenriffs beschreiben verzückte Kritiker nach wie vor als "enorm, herrlich böse, großartig". Er habe Akkorde gespielt mit einer Macht, "als schleudere Thor Blitz und Donnerkeil aus den Himmeln", so die "Times". Im Publikum griffen überwältigte Anbeter seiner Kunst in verzückter Heldenverehrung zur Luftgitarre - eine anrührende Form totaler Reverenz.

Ein besonderer Druck mag auf Jason Bonham gelastet haben, der seinen Vater an den Drums jedoch mehr als ersetzte. Als "fehlerfrei" wird seine Performance gelobt, mehr noch: "Ehrfurchtsvoll" hätten die anderen Bandmitglieder seine Hingabe, seine musikalische Präsenz und Energie am Ende von "Black Dog" beobachtet.

Bei den Proben vor ein paar Wochen soll Robert Plant noch geklagt haben: "Mühevoll" sei es, einem 60-jährigen Körper die Stimmleistung eines 20-jährigen Mannes abzuverlangen. "Er hätte sich nicht sorgen müssen", urteilt die "Times": "Ein altes Gerät braucht vielleicht eine Weile, bis es rund läuft, aber wenn die Ventile erst mal durchgepustet sind, erkennt man echte Qualität."

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Here is a bigger size for the nice TELERAMA cover. This Arts & Entertainements weekly is really the most influential in France. Usually regarded as rather high-brow... They managed to have Led Zep on the cover of this issue, 24 hours after the gig (it's a weekly, remember), including a Jimmy Page interview and also - ironically - a raving review of the Plant/Krauss CD !

telerama-cover-15dec07.jpg

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^^ Thanks SWAN ! !

GIGWISE

http://www.gigwise.com/contents.asp?contentid=39364%20

Monday 10/12/07 Led Zeppelin @ O2 Arena, London

by Felix Carrasco on 11/12/2007

Fans around the world thought they hadn’t woken up properly when news broke that Led Zeppelin would be playing a one off date at the O2 arena - even fewer could believe their luck when they were told they had won a hallowed passcode. Music lovers from all around the world started to plan their journey to London for the 26th November only to find the Led Zep curse to strike again in the form of none other than a bizarre gardening accident! Jimmy’s finger would take a further two weeks to heal. Hotels, flights and arrangements were moved at any cost. This Sunday was similar to crossing an international border, the queues lasting anything between two and five hours to be met by a vigorous identity check which would give you the golden ticket to see rock’s finest ever export perform at the one-off memorial concert for Atlantic Records late founder Ahmet Ertegun.

The O2 was half filled when an unassuming looking Paolo Nutini graced the stage, playing alongside other support acts Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings, Foreigner and Paul Rodgers who played his own Free favourite ‘All Right Now’. After the supports had finished there was a video montage of interviews conducted with Ahmet Ertegun which included some of the bands which he signed ranging from their first signing of Ray Charles through to Ahmet’s last signing Paolo Nutini, it included footage of Crosby Stills and Nash, Chic, The Drifters, Blind Faith as well as the mighty Led Zeppelin themselves including late manager Peter Grant who duly received a loud cheer from the crowd.

At 9pm rock titans Led Zeppelin finally took to the stage. They came out to some old news footage of themselves which told the viewer how they had broken Beatlemania’s records for numbers at a concert - and this was just the first stadium of their US tour. As the footage ended and the stage lit up they were straight into ‘Good Times Bad Times’ much to the hysteria of everyone inside the arena, they did not let off any steam playing through ‘Ramble On’ and ‘Black Dog’ coping with some mild feedback throughout the first two numbers. Sadly, the sound levels didn’t improve until four songs in and only then did you truly feel the momentous hurricane force that a Led Zeppelin concert brings. Robert Plant clearly pleased to be playing with his band-mates once again wished the crowd “Good evening” much to the delight of everyone inside. This would be the start of an astounding night.

The four piece tore through a set list filled for aficionados and celebrity passive fans alike. John Paul-Jones showing off his skills as an amazing multi-instrumentalist on ‘Trampled Under Foot’ and looking the freshest member of the band, who are clearing showing signs of wear and tear physically, but not instrumentally. Notably, despite fears before the show, Robert Plant was able to hit the high notes throughout the set. The revised line-up with Jason Bonham (John Bonham’s son) were clearly playing as one unit able to improvise through the classic track ‘Dazed and Confused’ before delivering to the ecstatic crowd fan favourite ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with Jimmy Page powering out the chords on his double necked guitar, to which Robert Plant joked at the end “Ahmet we made it!” Before set closer ‘Kashmir’ he stated “There are people from 50 countries here, this is the 51st”. After a massive standing ovation they returned to play a one song encore of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, clearly not quite enough, they were forced to come out one last time and perform a song that perhaps sums up everything this band is about, pure ‘Rock and Roll.’

The O2 has held some exceptional concerts since it opened, however I seriously doubt that there will be anything that compares to the occasion of seeing Led Zeppelin reforming and blowing away the 20,000 fans that were inside. The question that will arise after tonight’s beast of a performance will surely no longer be ‘will they reform for a full tour?’ but ‘when will they play London again?’ Absolutely spellbinding.

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Kevin Shirley's entire review in Modern Guitars - a good read:

http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/004061.html

December 11, 2007

Review of Led Zeppelin at London's O2, December 10, 2007

by Kevin Shirley.

Led Zeppelin. Monday, December 10, 2007. London's O2 Arena. I came to be critical. I am just that way. I don’t enjoy live gigs as a rule, much preferring the sonics of records, so I came with arms folded across my chest – just the type of audience musicians hate. But, Led Zeppelin lived up to the hype. They are still the world’s greatest rock act. The one thing that struck me, which I know but was strongly reinforced, is the wonderfully tactile nature of musical instruments and how it's the players that make all the difference. In a world of computer generated music and digital perfection, nothing compares to fingers on strings, hands and feet playing drums and keys. The results are just as signature as a voice. But first, a little background before the details of the show.

Background

During the pollen-laced Spring of 2007, while working on the DVD revamp of the iconic Led Zeppelin movie, The Song Remains The Same, I heard the first grumblings of a revamping of the band and a possible live show. While I laboured away over lip-reading and syncing the Golden God’s voice to immovable picture; matching the flashing and nimble guitar fingerings of the skinny dragon-clad guitar hero to the strobing frames; and the snappy snare beats and heroic drum fills accommodating walking bass lines to a wavering QuickTime of the poorly edited feature film in an upstairs studio, all three remaining members of the band could be seen talking huddled over coffees and seated at the café of London’s Metropolis Studios. Jimmy Page, now having accepted the greying of his locks, seemed to preside over the proceedings. Robert Plant, still preening-proud and lionesque, the years only showing in the lines of his jowls, appeared to be feisty, ferociously holding his own; and Jonesy, trim and athletic in high-waisted jeans, looked bemused and a little ambivalent as all three were deep in secretive conversation over a number of things – the new DVD, downloads, management, Mothership and The Concert.

In the summer of 1980, just out of my teens, I traveled to Europe from South Africa with only a little money as just a week before I had splurged my travel savings on a vinyl set of all the Led Zeppelin records. I loved the sleeves – the revealing and tantalizing tenement windows on Physical Graffiti, the harvest calendar wheel of Led Zeppelin 3 – there was so much to glean. I was hoping to catch them playing somewhere in Europe and after all the dinosaur bashing the spiky-haired punk-rock set and NME had dumped on them, they still remained my favourite band, ever. I never got to see them. Instead, I learned, over a glass of cheap retsina in a Greek island taverna, that John Bonham had died. I cried. It may have been the retsina.

I went back to South Africa, having decided what I wanted to do with my life, and have written "Record Producer" in my Immigration and Landing Cards ever since. My career has been very varied, busy and successful. From Aerosmith to the Black Crowes, and then Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes, the road led to the steps of the Cathedral of Led Zeppelin. And in I went – to assemble and mix How The West Was Won, the amazing DVD, Page and Plant’s Unledded - No Quarter and now The Song Remains the Same and the Mothership special editions.

So, when the O2 show was announced, with my long-suffering wife’s blessing, I booked the 11-hour coach flight from Los Angeles to London and hotel accommodations. Costly, but I felt I needed to be there.

Monday morning, December 10, St. Martin's Lane Hotel

Sleep didn’t come easy. I’m anxious and it’s not caffeine.

I get an email from legendary filmmaker Cameron Crowe. He writes that he’s unable to be at the Led Zeppelin concert tonight, but says: "Word is already in that the sound check was thrilling. Please write about this on your blog, brother. And bravo again on your genius work on the music. Everybody’s flippin’.”

It’s 8.25 a.m. Jimmy Page's assistant has just called and said, “You have tickets and passes as I’ve told you all along. You have tickets and passes, including to the party with the band afterwards, which will be horrendous as there are about 700 people going in a room that holds about 200, but it is what it is.” So, it seems I am going. He says the sound check was amazing and Jimmy is in a great space.

I am relieved. Now I’m going to lie down and see if I can finally get some sleep

I wait all day for information on where my tickets are – and it’s late in the day when I find I need to go to the O2 box office to pick them up. At the box office there’s no special treatment for me. I feel a bit precious, but realize I’m being a big baby. It’s very cold outside. The O2 is a nice venue. Inside, bars and restaurants of all qualities and types surround the auditorium, and there are benches, bookstores, even trees inside. It reminds me of Las Vegas – being in Caesar’s Palace or the Paris hotel. It’s cold inside too – I quite like that.

Led Zeppelin take the stage

They come out blazing with "Good Times, Bad Times." The simple stage yields up guitarist Jimmy Page. Who is that gaucho, amigo? Page looks regal and stately with his shoulder-length grey hair, well presented, with his vintage Gibson Les Paul slung over a stylish long black coat, black pants, waistcoat and a crisp white shirt. He's on the right and immediately that guitar tone shocks me at how recognizable it is. Not the notes – the fact that when he plays them, they sound different from everybody else. I have been working with him since about 1999 or whenever it was that I recorded him playing with the Black Crowes for the Live At The Greek record. I loved that gig, but his playing then was not in the same league as the gentleman I see tonight. Unfortunately, though, the early songs are almost destroyed by awful sound. In fact, the first couple of songs are barely recognizable for the poor sound – at least from where I'm sitting on the ground floor toward the back.

Then, "Ramble On." The signature bass line is inaudible. The vocals are buried in the soup but Jimmy’s solo is there, in time, in place. As the familiar entry of the third song trumpets from the stage, the sound engineer begins to find his fingers. Singer Robert Plant, looking tall and lean in boots and jeans, belts out “Hey, hey mama, said the way you move,” deep from his lion’s chest, introducing the bombastic riff fest that is the iconic "Black Dog." Jimmy digs deep into the riff, then picks up the harmony and laces it onto the root riff that Jonesy is laying down on the bass guitar. Drummer Jason Bonham picks up his late dad’s famous fills and straight-time feel that has become synonymous with Led Zeppelin, and it is fantastic. The audience howls back the “ah ah ah ah” wave grandly, the years falling off the executive audience like a stock crash on Wall Street.

Zeppelin’s borrowed blues track from the deepest South is next as Jimmy pulls out the finger slide and slithers into "In My Time of Dying." It is amazing. Jason nails all the fills. Robert never puts a note wrong and no squeaks are in evidence, unlike some of the performances from over 30 years ago. He is helped by the general tuning down of the entire set, and I think he could have pushed it up a full step and stretched his voice to more effect, but in general he is exemplary.

I haven't mentioned bassist John Paul Jones yet. That’s because Jonesy has been absolutely perfect thus far. Unfortunately, both his temperament and his place in the band don’t offer much space to shine next to the massive comic-book auras of Robert and Jimmy, and even (I hate to add) of Jason, who is looking fit and trim and like a bare-headed wrestler. Kind of like Mr. Clean in sunglasses. I wouldn’t mess with him.

View from above of Led Zeppelin Concert on December 10, 2007, at London's O2 Arena. Cameraphone photo by Marcus Bird.

Then we are introduced to a new performed-live Zeppelin track, "For Your Life," a track from my favourite Zeppelin album (Presence). It's even better live as the space in the song makes it sound as wide as the Grand Canyon. Jimmy is just beginning to feel really comfortable on stage, and the guitar is singing, shining, yelling – dahhhh dah – dum dada dahhhhh dah. The enormous screen behind the entire back of the stage lights up bright white for the first time. Brilliant. Shockingly brilliant.

Next up – "Trampled Underfoot" – and time for Jonesy to dig into the keys and bounce the familiar pocket that sets the pace for the song. Perhaps a touch quick, but lively, and again Jimmy’s solo is spot on. The set's energy has dipped a little, but not a single fat, grey, bearded fan has sat down.

"Nobody’s Fault But Mine" is good. Not mind-blowing, like the version from Knebworth on the DVD, but good. Solid.

"No Quarter" – you can’t take this away from Jonesy. It’s great. Amazing. He’s playing the keys with such grace, fluidity, pure class. A musician’s musician, he seems content to be a maestro in this gang of freakish talent. Robert is again perfect as he croons through the opening verse, throwing up his hands to accompany the effect of the delays on his voice. The song is sublime and when the guitar takes up the wah-wah riff, it’s effortless. I haven’t seen Jimmy play the guitar since the Crowes shows, and he is stunningly together. Timing, sensitivity, placement – he is a star supporting the piece and then he backs out as Jonesy takes a slow keyboard solo, dry-ice mist swirling around the stage. Jimmy enters for his accompanying solo, like a demon on the moors at midnight and is again totally amazing. The sonic wave in his hands reaches deep into me, like a hand in my chest. Unfortunately, the awful sound presentation of the drum belies Jason’s feel, and he’s presented as bombastic when it’s quite a graceful piece, really. I enjoyed it, but I’m here to call it as I see it, and that’s how I see it.

"Since I’ve Been Loving You" – Jimmy is tentative in the intro. I think it has been threatening him, and he approaches it very cautiously – perhaps too cautiously – but he settles in once the intro is confined to history. It’s good, the song’s dynamics could have been greater, and Jimmy’s guitar solo is also tentative, but it feels solid with Jonesy’s foundation of the swirling organ beneath it. The final verse is where they finally grab the song by the neck and wring it furiously, ramping it up until the dying riffs and it ends orgasmically.

"Dazed And Confused" – oh my God. John Paul Jones walks into a bar ... slowly, they turn. It’s sensational. Jimmy’s guitar is thick on top of the walking bass, and bending, twisting some wicked sonics and sounds, that really only he can do. He’s got the bends and the deep brown sound laces through the air like thick smoke, only controlled. All too soon, we’re into the solo, which is too short. It doesn’t need to be 20 minutes, but it’s way too good to be contained to five, and it felt a little bottled up.

Then, as the band folds into the darkness, Jimmy grabs a violin bow from atop his Orange amplifier. The old and well-greased audience gasps and lets it out, and I’m waiting ... is this Spinal Tap? No, no, no! Not Amy Winehouse no, just no. This is the Guitar God I grew up worshiping and he is brilliant. As the Penderecki-esque shimmerings and slithered chordings reverberate around the O2 arena, I am struck by the majesty of this composition. It is otherworldly and ethereal and by the time Jimmy thumps the chords and points the bow heavenward with the delays, the experience is complete. This is Led Zeppelin, as good, if not better than they’ve ever been.

After that, there is only one thing you can play – and the familiar, yet somehow strange pickings of "Stairway To Heaven" throw me for a loop. For the first time, I’m blatantly aware of the de-tuning, obviously to accommodate Robert’s changed singing style and age. I don’t like it. Jason is good – he doesn’t feel as bombastic – and Jonesy is good. But, it doesn’t feel right to me. Jimmy is picking out the notes so well, and as the 12-string fanfare heralds in the most famous guitar solo ever, Jimmy doesn’t disappoint. He’s on the money – so good. What a solo, I think there’s a tear in my eye. Robert is amazing.

Jimmy keeps the trademark red Gibson double-neck guitar around his shoulders and bends into the opening salvo of "The Song Remains The Same." His picking is clean and ferocious, and the precision stuns me – it’s the same caliber of playing as the stunning version from the movie and 35 years on, sounds as fresh as today.

As the long ending chord holds the applause at bay for just a hint, Robert introduces Jason who sings the opening line of "I Can’t Quit You Baby" before the band lunge into "Misty Mountain Hop." The overall sound quality has never really become good, and if only the damned snare drum sounded better and fit into the sound, it could have sounded great. It’s too busy a song to be peppered by non-stop shotgun flashes, and I was pleased to get to the end of it.

But, I wasn’t prepared for what came next – "Kashmir." Majestic, plodding (in a good way), I feel transported ... the desert winds, the sun – Robert, the Lion of the Desert. Jason settles in quickly, and I think his dad joined his old compatriots four bars in, after a slightly clumsy opening, and inhabited his beloved son's body. Jason is elevated from his earthly seat and sinks deep into the groove. Jimmy doesn't miss a lick and Jonesy sticks it all together with a big monstrous glue. It’s wrong to single out the individuals actually, because this piece is the band as one, and there has been no better, ever.

"Kashmir." The most exhilarating musical moment of my life. I am hallucinating. I am in that desert. Wandering...

And then the lights. Rapturous applause from this adult audience who were all 18 again. The band bows that famous bow. All linking, Jimmy smiling, Robert’s Colonel Sanders beard catching some of the light. Then they disappear. Everyone knows there's an encore coming, and the audience holds station, clapping, yelling, whistling, and talking to their "+1s."

"Whole Lotta Love" – it’s good and it’s time for the theramin solo. Three green lasers make the first Spinal Tap moment for me, as Jimmy stands in a triangle of green light, looking like an image from a 1980 Apple computer. Guitar hero meets Pong. I think the light designer might have been away for this one. It cheapens it a little. I may be tired.

Lights up, another bow. I think it’s the end and head for the exit. I’m not alone. As I pass through the doors, the machine gun intro of "Rock And Roll" echoes off the walls and without hesitation I duck back into the auditorium and grab someone else’s vacated standing room. The audience is still up to answer the “Lonely, lonely, lonely” at full voice. Then they’re gone again, and I’m into the night.

After the show

Well, not quite into the night. Outside the doors I meet Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliot. We chat – he loves my work, apparently. I’m flattered. I talk to Rosanna Arquette – we live in the same town and I’ve seen her walking around Malibu. Juliette Lewis is there. Then it’s off to the after-party.

Apparently, the band will show – I don’t believe it, but it’s fun to have a drink with Joe Elliot, who’s just had a brush with Jeff Beck. Many people come and say hello and compliment my work. I see Jason [bonham] and go over to him. He’s genuinely thrilled to see me and it’s a great interaction. We chat for about ten minutes before I leave him with the tugging, nagging attention seekers.

I hear Jimmy and Jonesy made an appearance but I didn’t see them. Black Crowes’ drummer Steve Gorman and his quite lovely wife come over – I’m thrilled to see them. It’s been awhile and I have a great relationship with them. Steve tells me Chris Robinson listens to How The West Was Won constantly on the bus. I am pleased to hear that. I liked Chris a lot, back in the day. Lou from Gibson is there, the lads from Soulphood, Vince from Getty. A lot of Americans have flown over for this gig. It must have cost everyone about $6,000 to see the show. London is so expensive, and everything adds up. The taxi to the venue is about £50, over $100 - each way. I bought a program and a T-shirt (which I’ll never wear).

The evening is wearing down – it’s nearly 2:30 a.m. I see Ross Halfin as I’m leaving. He was shooting the show and says he had a good night. The line for taxis is a mile long, and there aren't many cabs. I tell Troy, who’s panicking, just to follow me. We walk to the road and hail a luxury Mercedes that takes us back to our hotel for £40, where we closed the bar with a club sandwich and a Coke before parting and I hit the white crisp sheets with my ears ringing. This could be heaven.

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Well... if Kevin Shirley were a poster in this forum he would INSTANTLY become my new best friend... for life !!!!!! Not a word there that I couldn't relate to. Excellent read and thanks for posting this !

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By John Aizlewood, Evening Standard 11.12.07

Breathtaking and spine-tingling

There are re-formations. And then there is the Led Zeppelin re-formation. The most popular, the loudest and the most innovative act in their day, their reunion show was always going to be the most popular, the loudest and the most innovative of this era, from the moment one million people entered the ballot for the right to purchase the 18,000 tickets for what is officially still just a one-off event to benefit a charity established by their late mentor Ahmet Ertegun.

Two hours and 10 minutes after they began with Good Times Bad Times, the opening track of their 38-year-old debut album, they had assuaged the doubts and delivered a show of breathtaking power and spine-tingling excitement; a four-way musical tug-of-war in which they all won.

A crowd including Sir Paul McCartney, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and the inevitable Kate Moss (none of whom, one suspects, entered any ballot) could scarcely believe their luck. Not only had they actually secured tickets, but this was rock's holy grail made flesh: a full-length performance featuring all three surviving members, plus Jason Bonham, drumming son of drumming father, John.

Naturally, for a band who always left nothing to chance, the sound, lighting and backdrop were perfect. Weeks of rehearsals had shed ring-rustiness and reconciled everyone to playing Stairway To Heaven, the favourite of nobody inside the band. They delivered it straight and slow with Jimmy Page on double-necked guitar and 18,000 hearts melted. Even mine, despite that preposterous lyric which rhymes "May Queen" with "spring clean".

If Jason Bonham was his father's equally hard-hitting son, the others have sauntered to their bus pass years with varying degrees of dignity. Even so, the rock band who taught the rest how to rock still have much to teach. John Paul Jones may have been unassuming, but his feel for bass was almost Jamaican and his pounding keyboards on Misty Mountain Hop showed he could lead as well as follow.

Singer Robert Plant was lined of face but long of hair and lithe of body. More crucially, although he required a teleprompter, his voice - part air-raid siren, part instrument of lust - was as astonishing as it always was.

It needed to be, for Page (less the waxy buddah of recent vintage after losing weight) was wondrous. Initially peeping from behind sunglasses and dressed in trademark frock-coat, once he had ignited Ramble On with some mind-boggling guitar work, the shades and coat were soon dumped and he was sweating and smiling like it was 1975 again.

By Dazed And Confused (all 26 minutes of it), Page was at his most avant-garde, attacking his guitar with a violin bow, but on Kashmir, unleashing the Zeppelin riff of Zeppelin riffs, he was almost inhumanly exciting. It was like watching a man invent electricity. One oft-repeated Seventies myth suggested Page's prowess came as a result of a pact with the devil. Superstitious nonsense of course, but sometimes you wonder ...

This really is as good as popular music gets.

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This may be the best reviewed concert of all time!

the UK's Sunday Observer (isn't Google a wonder?)

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/stor...2228122,00.html

After 28 years away, Led Zeppelin still put on the greatest show in rock. Now bring on the tour ...

Kitty Empire

Sunday December 16, 2007

The Observer

Led Zeppelin

London O2 Arena

The wait is interminable. Forget the 28 years that have passed since Led Zeppelin last played a full set together, or the 22 years since their bloated and slapdash turn at Live Aid. Forget the pain of Jimmy Page's broken finger, which delayed the band's comeback by a further fortnight. The agonies of those long years are as nothing compared to the two hours between 7pm - the official start of this memorial benefit gig for Ahmet Ertegun, late founder of Atlantic Records - and the first notes of 'Good Times, Bad Times', Led Zeppelin's opening gambit in their one-off (allegedly) reunion show.

They say the wait for an ambulance is torture, but the warm-up to the most feverishly anticipated gig of the decade is no picnic, either. In the distance, a procession of third-string Atlantic luminaries ply their wares. Keith Emerson curdles the air with keyboards. Mark Ronson's stepfather (Mick Jones) and his lot (Foreigner) pump out 'I Wanna Know What Love Is' with a choir of schoolchildren, an act of questionable taste on at least two counts. It is all so dreadful, so Jools Holland, so smug old duffer-y, you start questioning the wisdom in being excited at all about seeing Led Zeppelin - the bluesmen who invented heavy rock, who set the template for a thousand Spinal Tap cliches, who made a base genre utterly transcendant. The band whose albums my wildest cousin gave me when I was 11, unwittingly sealing my fate.

Just over to the left, Bob Geldof chats to Bill Wyman, tonight's house band leader. Jerry Hall wafts past with a daughter. Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill, who has been on the long-list for England manager, is sitting inches from my knees. Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine - whose own reunion is imminent - skulks past a gang of Americans, one of whom is wearing a My Bloody Valentine T-shirt. The glut of glitterati in the house isn't a thrill, though; it's a worry. Have any acts of true greatness ever happened in front of an audience where the gilded and the botoxed virtually outnumber the ordinary fans? You suspect not.

It's nice to be wrong, though. Led Zeppelin are quite magnificent. Yes, reunions are staid, venal affairs that seek to make a noxious heritage industry out of rock. But this one is worth all the hyperbole. The next two hours fly by, as worry after worry melts away.

First, there's the sub. Jason Bonham - son of John 'Bonzo' Bonham, the Zep drummer who broke up the band by choking to death after a spell of heavy drinking - mans the kit. Thickset and goateed, he looks like he should be drumming for a bunch of rap-rock no-marks. But he's up to the task, hitting the drums very hard indeed, even if he is never required to reprise his dad's epic solos. His partner in rhythm, John Paul Jones, is a dour presence on the bass, cheering up markedly when he takes to the keyboards for expansive tracks like 'No Quarter'.

Then there's the sound. In the run-up to the gig, guitarist Jimmy Page wondered publicly whether the wobbly acoustics in the O2 would be up to it. There are a few anxious minutes as 'Good Times, Bad Times' swills muddily around the venue, and a leisurely version of 'Ramble On' feeds back. Three songs in, though, the band unleash 'Black Dog', and the sound man finally tames the howling din. As Robert Plant plays call-and-response with his 'ah-ahs', you dare to hope that not only will you be able to tell everyone from your school days who's just found you on Facebook that you saw Led Zeppelin, you will also be able to brag that they were as loud as anything. The venue is not ideal: Led Zeppelin's music is not the sort of thing that should be accompanied by upmarket enormodrome ciabatta cheeseburgers. But it's fitting that that other god-king, Tutankhamun, is listening in from his exhibition next door.

Page is another concern. Never mind the numbers - the millions of hits that crashed the website; the 18,000 lucky few here - what of the prime digit? Happily, Page's gammy finger is no impediment. Indeed, he is the night's revelation, more than living up to the expectations of a generation of first-timers. Playing the silver fox to Plant's golden god, he soon sheds his frock coat and starts to sweat, coaxing great sulphurous shocks out of a succession of guitars for two hours, until he is literally drooling. Ensconced in a pyramid of green lasers (the night's only questionable excess), Page bows his guitar on a tremendous working of 'Dazed and Confused'. It's easy to forget how avant-garde 'Whole Lotta Love' is, until you witness Plant moaning along to Page's abstracted effects in the mid-section breakdown. He's so good, Jimmy Page; so controlled and masterful, you almost believe all that old gubbins about the erstwhile occultist signing a contract with the devil.

Robert Plant has the hardest job. On the cusp of 60, he simply cannot be the shrieking, haloed torso'n'phallus of Zeppelin's heyday. So Percy karaoke is out. Instead, the feline Plant oozes dignity, prowling about the stage, letting his wrists flick the mike lead imperiously. He ends his least favourite song, 'Stairway to Heaven', with a jokey 'we did it, Ahmet!'.

It's a shame Zeppelin don't do 'Immigrant Song' - a tune whose wails would seriously test Plant's pipes - but Plant bullseyes all the high notes elsewhere. The role of august bluesman suits him down to the ground. If men can father children well into their dotage then there is nothing out of place about the percolating lust-babble Plant comes out with on 'Since I've Been Loving You'.

The blues are Zeppelin's strongest suit tonight. You cannot fault the mighty 'Kashmir', whose sinister riff is given a martial edge, or the set closer 'Rock 'n' Roll', which sends everyone home wet with joy. But Led Zeppelin probably peak on the bluesy curveballs a few songs in.

'In My Time of Dying' - a track off Physical Graffiti - starts as a filthy, inchoate skronk of slide guitar and resolves into everything you hoped Led Zeppelin would be about: ebb and flow, and a deep intimacy with the blues, that sparse underdog music that somehow wrought a multi-billion-dollar white entertainment industry. Then they hotfoot into 'Trampled Underfoot', a pacy racket that Plant is happy to confess originally came from Robert Johnson's 'Terraplane Blues'.

Most enthralling of all, perhaps, is the way Plant and Page exchange happy, engaged glances, and egg each other on throughout. With an excellent new album (Raising Sand, recorded with Alison Krauss) to promote, Plant is probably the Zep least thrilled by the prospect of a full-blown tour in the new year. But if Page and Plant can hold on to the dark matter zig-zagging between them tonight, then countless fans out there would share the undiluted thrill of seeing the best band in the world strut their unholy stuff.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

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FROM THE NEW YORKER, www.newyorker.com

Stairway to Here

Led Zeppelin returns.

by Sasha Frere-Jones

Last Monday, in London, Led Zeppelin played its first full live set since 1980, at the O2 Arena—formerly the Millennium Dome—which seats twenty-two thousand and was built in 1999, during the early, optimistic days of Tony Blair’s tenure. (The giant spiked dome looks like a satellite that has crashed to earth, been filled with air, and turned into a mall done up with holographic snowflakes and futuristic blue lights.) Twenty million people applied in an online lottery for tickets to the concert and crashed the computer system. Before the show, tickets were going for more than a thousand dollars apiece on eBay. After all, this was a reunion that was not supposed to happen. Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980, following the death of its drummer, John Bonham, and since then the remaining members—the singer, Robert Plant, the guitarist, Jimmy Page, and the bassist, John Paul Jones—have made only three public appearances together, none well received. In a recent interview, Plant cited the low quality of these performances, including one at a Live Aid concert in 1985, as an impetus for reuniting to play “one last great show,” with Bonham’s son, Jason, on drums.

The show was billed as a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records, who signed the band in 1968 and died in 2006, and who came as close to being universally beloved as any music executive could be. Ertegun’s careful nurturing of acts like Ray Charles and Led Zeppelin is often cited as evidence of the kind of patient temperament now lacking at major labels. As eager to score hits as any other record man, he seemed just as determined to let artists muck about. To the chagrin of other Atlantic executives and record-store employees everywhere, Ertegun allowed Led Zeppelin to release its fourth album, “Led Zeppelin IV” (1971), without any words on the jacket. (The album is the band’s biggest seller and the fourth-biggest-selling album of all time.)

My affection for Led Zeppelin is limitless and somewhat irrational. I often say that my respect for the band’s music is mathematical: there are fewer bad songs on its eight studio albums than on anyone else’s. But such shaky calculations mask what is an involuntary response to the music. John Bonham played the drums as if the fate of the universe depended on how hard he could hit them; he could both dissolve a song and send it rocketing forward. Bonham played rope-a-dope with the clock: sometimes his accents arrive a tiny bit behind the beat; at others, they land a split second ahead. (If you can isolate Bonham’s placement of the hi-hat, kick drum, and cowbell on “Good Times, Bad Times”—never mind the tomtom rolls, themselves a prizeworthy achievement—you’ll have heard proof that 4/4 time is limiting only if you believe it is.) Page’s guitar playing was born during an era of British reverence for the American blues, but it went somewhere else entirely, drawing on acoustic English folk guitarists like Bert Jansch and on a battery of studio effects that made his work irreproducible and strange. Listen to Page’s sound on “Custard Pie,” a song from the 1975 album “Physical Graffiti” which was stitched together from a handful of famous blues numbers. Page, like many other rock guitarists, uses a Marshall amplifier, but the result is simultaneously nasty, small, and big, as though a tornado were happening inside a tin can. Jones, officially the band’s bassist, was equally skilled on the keyboards. The sepulchral electric piano chords that open “No Quarter,” from “Houses of the Holy” (1973), could be ambient music, and Jones’s electric-piano part on the heavy and freewheeling “Misty Mountain Hop,” from “Led Zeppelin IV,” makes the song sound like one extended bass line, though it contains no bass.

Plant is the member of the band who is most likely to be mocked. Those tight jeans! That long, unmanly hair! Those open shirts! Those operatic high notes! What a peacock! But his work is unique and unpredictable. His lyrics for Led Zeppelin were oddly eco-friendly—odes to ice, snow, trees, and England’s sylvan beauty (several songs were inspired by “The Lord of the Rings”)—and, in retrospect, his singing, which often sounded distinctly un-Western, seemed to anticipate the globalization of pop. This may be one reason that so many rock critics at first misunderstood Plant; his keening high notes make him sound more like a muezzin than like a blues singer, and his cackles and screeches don’t belong to any particular pop tradition. Since Led Zeppelin disbanded, Plant has remained active. He has released ten albums, including, in October, “Raising Sand,” a calm and gorgeous collection of country and R. & B. covers that he recorded with the singer Alison Krauss.

For Led Zeppelin, whose music is so rhythmic, hard, and loud, the perils of undertaking a reunion in late middle age are greater than they might be for, say, Bob Dylan or Neil Young, who began their careers sounding like old men. Led Zeppelin’s catalogue is in large part a testament to young men and their libidinal drive: lemons squeezed, inches of love delivered. (Plant, as he put it in the song “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do,” attended to women who wanted to “ball all day,” while Dylan sang about going his way while you went yours.) Still, it’s unlikely that you will see another band with a collective age of two hundred and twenty-four that is as ferocious as this one. (Page, the oldest member, is sixty-three; Jason Bonham, the youngest, is forty-one.)

The O2 Arena is not hospitable to amplified sound, and the audio quality depended largely on where you were sitting. From where I sat, fairly far from the stage, Plant seemed to be singing over a big muddle. Heard from the floor, the group sounded hard and coherent, and close to the stage the sound was fierce. Plant is no longer the priapic castrato (mull that one) that he once was—many of the songs were transposed down a few notes—but his charisma is undiminished. Before playing “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” from 1976, he joked that the band first heard the song performed at a Mississippi church in 1932. During another break, he noted that people from fifty countries had come to the show. “This is the fifty-first,” Plant said, as the band launched into “Kashmir,” from “Physical Graffiti,” the evening’s highlight.

“Kashmir” is as good an example as any of Zeppelin’s weird genius. The lumbering riff pits three guitar beats against two drumbeats, executing a Sisyphean march that cycles over and over without becoming tiresome; on the record, it is the shortest eight-and-a-half-minute song I know. Its minute-long breakdown is like one long drum sample, held together by the motion of John Bonham’s dancing right foot. (P. Diddy and Schoolly D have rapped over “Kashmir.”) The lyrics are allegedly inspired by the Sahara Desert—“the storm that leaves no trace”—and the combination of strings, guitar, and Mellotron keyboard has often been described as Middle Eastern. In concert, though, it became clear that “Middle Eastern” is just one way of capturing an implausibly big and eerie song that wanders through a spooky fog in enormous boots and could just as easily be about settling on the moon or diving to the bottom of the ocean.

Led Zeppelin version 2.0 did a magnificent job with it. Plant’s voice was rich and strong, and the mingling of Page’s guitar with Jones’s keyboards was thrilling. The distorted whine could have been a cue in a summer-blockbuster score, perhaps for the moment when the dragon decides to eat Baltimore. Jason Bonham is a fussier player than his father was, and a bit anxious for my taste, but he provided the necessary weight, in a song that could easily make an average drummer seem desperate.

There were several moments when Page’s complex compositions defeated him as a performer. “Stairway to Heaven” was one of the few numbers that never quite hung together, mostly because of the fast, tricky figures, which Page struggled to nail. (His inaccuracies have long been part of his charm.) On the recorded version, the transitions between the seven sections are metrically subtle and dramatically balanced—the song is famous for more than hedgerows—but at the O2 Arena the narrative line eluded the band. By contrast, the encore rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” (1969), a song not about making love but about fucking, was gloriously brutal and noisy. During the middle section, which expands into noise before the reprise of the main riff, Page played his guitar with a violin bow, unleashing a blizzard of sound that made the recorded version seem timid.

In November, the English rock band the Cult announced that it planned to tour in 2008 with a band whose name starts with an “l” and has a “z” in it, and rumors have floated that next summer Led Zeppelin is going to play at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, in Tennessee. This might seem like a good idea, but Led Zeppelin is a cover band now, covering its own material. Without John Bonham, the band can only sound like Led Zeppelin; it can’t be Led Zeppelin. The band should turn down the money and let its record stand. The failed gigs of the nineteen-eighties and nineties have been supplanted by a triumph, and the band should be pleased to have done Ertegun proud with such a spirited performance. I look forward to any chance I get to see Plant, Page, or Jones play live. But let the songs remain. ♦

PHOTOGRAPH: Sasha Frere-Jones

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nationalpost

Someone commented this article saying that elecrtic guitars and rock music had/have a barbarian influence on our culture!!! :hysterical:

Susan Fast on the success of Led Zeppelin's reunion concert

Posted: December 18, 2007, 5:15 PM by Marni Soupcoff

Susan Fast

Can a band like this live up to its 40-year-old myth? The answer may be yes

The reviews following Led Zeppelin’s “reunion” concert, played in London on December 10, have been gushing. The New Musical Express proclaimed that the concert “exceeded expectations,” and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke reported that the band was “rehearsed, ready and out to kill.” After watching performances of several songs courtesy of YouTube (less than 24 hours after the show: The legend of Led Zeppelin bootleggers lives on!), and listening to much of the audio, I have to agree. The band sounded as tight as they did in their earliest days. A comparison to the stellar Royal Albert Hall performance from 1970, which was included in the DVD released by the band a few years ago, seems fair.

The review of the show in the Daily Telegraph suggests that it was the rarity of this performance that made tickets so hotly sought after and the performance itself so spectacular, and that the band should now leave well enough alone. Perhaps.

Led Zeppelin always controlled their exposure in the 1970’s — very few interviews, a dearth of information about the band on album covers, long intervals between tours, and a tendency for them, the press and fans to mythologize what little information did emerge. But is this model for success based on absence the only one available for Zeppelin, or does it merely uphold some myth about rock authenticity — and perhaps the very concept of authenticity itself — that needs to be reexamined?

The high premium our culture places on individuality and originality, coupled with a nostalgia that often views rock music of the past as better than it is today, has made it nearly impossible for a band such as Zeppelin to launch a tour that would not damage its credibility. Zeppelin’s aesthetic was based on pushing forward creatively, on opening up songs to improvisation and new arrangements on stage, and to formal experimentations in the studio. In light of this, the idea of this band, or any band, coming back together to play 40-year-old material, to look back instead of ahead, seems particularly problematic.

Furthermore, our memory of them is frozen in time. Like all nostalgia, ours around this band is shaped as much through forgetting as remembering: We have the studio albums, some of us have vague memories of concerts, there are thousands of bootlegs in circulation, snapshots of days long gone. Our longing is for the band that exists in these fragments. Would it be possible for them to live up to the myth that they have become?

The answer may in fact be “yes.”

What we sometimes forget in our quest for “the new” is that much of the power and pleasure of the experience is hearing, in real time, with the musicians in front of us, songs that we know by heart. If it is note-for-note off the vinyl, that is often good because it is familiar; if there are a few subtle changes, also good, because this throws our knowledge of the song back at us, makes us rethink it, and allows us to go “a-ha!” This repetition is not only pleasurable, but it creates community in a powerful way, especially if it is done well.

Live musical performance of the arena-rock variety offers an important ritual experience: We sing along with singers like Robert Plant, we play air guitar alongside guitar heroes like Jimmy Page, and for a moment we’re all experiencing time collectively, we are all in the rhythm of those powerful songs. Hearing Plant say his characteristic “Good evening” a few songs into the concert, as he did in the 1970s as well as the other night, or to hear Page and Plant tease the audience with the beginning of the blues medley they used to insert near the end of Whole Lotta Love are rituals that have been repeated in countless live concerts and heard over and over again by committed fans. They serve as a rich and important part of the materiality of live performance, even if it is sometimes scoffed at, especially by those who do not frequent these kinds of shows.

There would certainly be room for some of the “new” as well. In fact, Page and Plant have already done this. In the mid-1990s, the two of them recorded an album and toured together, playing Zeppelin songs that were rearranged, some of them quite drastically. Because bassist John Paul Jones was not with them, it was not billed as a Led Zeppelin reunion (to drive home that point, the album and tour were called Unledded). But for all intents and purposes, it was. Later in the 1990’s, Page and Plant put out an album of original material (Walking into Clarkesdale) and toured again, this time performing some Led Zeppelin songs as one would have heard them in the 1970s. Although the band performed what is perhaps their best known and most overplayed song, Stairway to Heaven, this time out — a song that Plant has refused to sing since the demise of the group — they also gave the song For Your Life (from the album Presence) its first-ever live performance, indicating their interest in “pushing ahead.”

Plant and Jones have both had interesting solo careers in which they’ve taken some important risks and succeeded. (Plant has, in fact, just announced tour dates with bluegrass artist Allison Kraus, in support of their critically-acclaimed joint project, causing some observers to now question the possibility of a Zeppelin reunion tour.) It seems to be exceedingly difficult in the world of commercial music making to re-emerge from phenomenal success and carry on, but these musicians have managed to do it against very strong odds.

(I think it has been harder for Page because he was Led Zeppelin, heart, soul, mind and mythology, in a way that, perhaps, the other members were not. What a shame that we have heard relatively little from this imaginative musician, whose playing on December 10 was as brilliant as ever, in the years since Zeppelin.)

Must a mythology, a legend, be preserved at the expense of contemporary performances of this important music? Plant has already said that it might be interesting to do a Led Zeppelin gig “from time to time,” which is an interesting idea, at once preserving the “rarity” factor and keeping the music alive through performance. But it might well be time for a full-blown tour: keeping live performance this good tucked away in a dusty closet would be criminal.

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Crawdaddy!

Led Zeppelin: What Is and What Should Never Be

December 19, 2007

by Bruce Pilato

On December 10th, 2007 the Mothership finally landed inside London’s O2 arena and 20,000 of us got on it for the reunion ride of a lifetime. The long-awaited “official” reunion of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones (the surviving members of Led Zeppelin) finally took place. Performing with them was Jason Bonham, son of the late John Bonham, the band’s original drummer.

At 8:59 pm, the lights dimmed and the Mighty Zeppelin took to the stage for what was an unforgettable two-hour performance that featured 16 songs from seven of the band’s nine studio albums.

With the exception of the never achieved reunion of the Beatles, an official reunion of Led Zeppelin has been the most sought after regrouping in all of rock history, and the demand for tickets to this “one-off” charity show staged to benefit the late Ahmet Ertegun’s Education Fund was astonishing, to say the least.

Billed as a “Tribute to Ahmet Ertegun” (he died in 2006, at age 83, after losing consciousness when he fell backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in New York City), the all-star event brought together a myriad of stars, all of whom had been signed by Ertegun and seen their greatest artistic and commercial success while on his Atlantic Records roster. Over 20 million fans applied for the 02’s 19,500 available seats via an intricate lottery system designed to thwart scalpers. In the end, the scalpers prevailed to some degree, with one eager (and wealthy) fan paying a reported $160,000 for two tickets in the front row.

The concert was so highly anticipated that the venue actually sold out of all related merchandise before the show began. It is estimated to have grossed over $12,000,000, which, after expenses, will be used to provide music scholarships for students in the US, England, and Ertegun’s native Turkey.

“It’s kind of strange,” said Robert Plant, pausing near the last third of the performance. “I’ve been told there are people here from 50 different countries. I see a man in the audience holding up his young son with a sign that says ‘Hammer of the Gods.’ I can’t imagine people from 50 countries would like to see that,” he adds, laughing. “Especially so late in life.”

But come they did, in all shapes, sizes, genders, and denominations. There were a remarkable number of Americans at the show (estimated to be nearly 40% of the audience), and for celebrity watchers it was a who’s who of music (and TV) royalty.

Inside the arena, backstage, and at the concert’s VIP after-show party held at the venue’s trendy Indigo Club, scads of music celebs were visible among us: Sir Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Noel and Liam Gallagher from Oasis, Dave Grohl, Genesis member Mike Rutherford, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Marilyn Manson, and many others.

The road back for Led Zeppelin was a long and arduous one that began 28 years ago (almost to the day), when they officially broke up on December 4, 1980—after John Bonham’s death. Since then, there has been an almost constant effort to reform the band and get back on the road.

Led Zeppelin formed in the late summer of 1968, after guitarist Jimmy Page’s British Invasion pop band, the Yardbirds, disbanded. Page connected with bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, a successful session player and arranger, also looking for a new project. Page had asked popular Brit singer, Terry Reid, to join as vocalist but he declined, recommending instead his friend, Robert Plant. Plant, in turn, suggested Bonham, who had been in one of his teen bands.

“I would see (Jimmy) around,” said Jones, describing how the band formed in an interview I conducted with them in 1999. “There was an article in Disc magazine, a music paper that said that Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds was forming a new band. That’s all it said.

“And my wife knew I was going crazy doing sessions. She said to me, ‘Go, call him up.’ And I said, ‘You must be joking; I’ve got all this work!’ and she said, ‘Just call him up!’ So, I did. I asked him if he needed a bass player for his new band, and he said, ‘Yeah, fine.’ And then he told me he was going up to Birmingham to see this singer, who also knows a drummer. He said, ‘I’ll tell you what they’re like when I get back.’ And he came back raving about them. And that was it.

“I knew that we had a really good chance, because it was just such a really good band. Page and I knew what were doing and we knew we had picked the right people.”

Initially, they were to be called the New Yardbirds (and even did a brief tour to fulfill old Yarbird obligations), but when Who drummer Keith Moon heard about the band, he commented: “They are likely to go down like a lead zeppelin.” Loving the comment, Page changed the spelling, and Led Zeppelin was born.

Managed by the menacing 300-plus pound Peter Grant (a former bodyguard and wrestler), Led Zeppelin quickly became darlings of the London music press, delivering spellbinding three-hour club shows that combined blues, folk, and world-beat music wrapped in a thick coating of hard rock guitar riffs. Soon, the band was in the center of a record label bidding war, with Ertegun’s Atlantic Records being the winner.

The band’s first two records, simply entitled Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II, featured the incredible musicianship of the band members and are considered rock classics, yielding such radio staples as “Communication Breakdown”, “How Many

More Times”, “Heartbreaker”, and the massive, worldwide hit single, “Whole Lotta Love.”

“We did Led Zeppelin II while we were on the road,” says Jones. “It was like, we would have two days off and go find a studio wherever we were and we just cut it like that.”

The band began to experiment musically with 1970’s watershed acoustic, folk-driven Led Zeppelin III.1971’s Led Zeppelin IV cemented their place in the pantheon of rock, releasing rockers like “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, and the most requested and most played FM radio song in the US despite never being released as a single; “Stairway to Heaven.”

Between 1971 and 1977, they were arguably the biggest band in the world, selling out stadiums and releasing one amazing album after another, including Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti (considered by many to be their best), and the apocalyptic Presence. By then, things with Led Zeppelin began to darken. Page was rumored to be a Satanist, and it was clear his dabbling with heroin had become a major problem; Plant was nearly killed in a car accident only to turn around and lose his five-year-old son, Karac, to a rare stomach virus; and the band was forced to take an extended break as the punk revolution took over in the UK and US.

The band rebounded in 1979, with a brilliant performance at the Knebworth Festival, and in 1980, released another critically acclaimed studio album, In Through the Out Door. The band had just finished a brief tour of Europe and set up rehearsals in Page’s Tudor mansion before embarking on an extensive US tour in the fall of 1980. On September 23, Bonham decided to spend the night at Page’s after a drinking binge. He never awoke—he choked on vomit in his sleep.

“I was often worried about him,” recalled Jones during our interview. “When he died, I was angry. We tried to help him many times, but people have to want to do that. It’s not the drink that kills you; it’s the accident that happens when you’re drinking. I know people that have lushed their way through life without a scratch. He just ended up sleeping on his back when he should have been on his side. It was as simple as that. It could have happened to anybody.”

Shocked and saddened, Led Zeppelin announced it could not carry on without their friend, John Bonham, and officially broke up on December 4, 1980.

The pressure to reform the band since has been enormous and often got in the way of the members’ solo projects. There were two half-hearted reunion attempts, one at 1985’s Live Aid, where Page, Plant, and Jones did five songs with drummers Phil Collins and the late Tony Thompson; and in 1988, with Jason on drums to close the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden.

“They were not very good,” admitted Plant prior to the London reunion. “At Live Aid, we played with drummers that didn’t know our songs…” Jones concurred, saying these mini-reunions did more to prevent a proper regrouping than not: “Well, every time we would do a Live Aid or big event we would talk about just maybe trying to work together again. But, the fear had always been that we don’t want to try something and it doesn‘t work.”

Page did instigate a reunion of sorts, but only with Plant, when the two worked together as Page and Plant, between 1994 and 1996. "When we did [1994 MTV performance with Robert Plant] 'Unledded' we totally changed the format of the songs,” he explained to the UK’s Q earlier this year. “It was revisiting, but it wasn't a facsimile reproduction.”

Page and Plant recorded and toured with a new band and 10-piece Egyptian orchestra, giving the old Zep classics a distinct Middle Eastern spin. Though commercially successful, the two caused serious damage to their relationship with Jones, who found out they were working together when he read about it in the daily newspaper.

“No, they didn't call me,” he admitted.

“I suppose they didn't have to. But they could have called me to tell me what they were doing. Or at least made it so I didn’t have to read about it as a reunion of sorts, because they had to know that people would call it a Zeppelin reunion regardless of whether that's what they intended or not. They might have just warned me that it would be all in the papers. To this day, I have no idea why they didn’t let me know about it.”

eventually got to the point where Plant would not even attend the 2003 Grammys when Zeppelin (with Page and Jones attending) received the National Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Ertegun tribute came together after more than a year of discussions and meetings with the Foundation’s Board (which includes Bill Curbishley; former Atlantic Records Senior VP, Phil Carson; Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Fame; and top UK promoter, Harvey Goldsmith, who actually produced the show). But according to Plant, it was Jason Bonham who wanted to do the show in honor of his father, who convinced him they should play together at least one more time.

In September, it became official that the band would do the reunion as a one-off charity event to honor Ertegun and support his foundation. Rumors soon began to fly that Led Zeppelin was back and a world tour would be announced shortly. But, just weeks before the show, despite reports that rehearsals had gone well, Plant was still adamant that the show would be a one-time event. It only fueled the demand for tickets.

“We need to do one last great show,” Plant told British journalist Allan Jones. “The past should look after itself. I go on, undaunted.” When asked why he won’t consider headlining a festival such as Glastonbury, where he could once again command an audience of 200,000, he was quick to respond: “I just wouldn’t want to do that. What would be the point? What would I get out of it?”

When the show was postponed for two weeks when Page injured his hand, he issued the following statement: "I am disappointed that we are forced to postpone the concert by two weeks. However, Led Zeppelin has always set very high standards for ourselves, and we feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to."

The expectations grew as the various members started leaking reports that the rehearsals were so good, it was now likely a tour may also be around the corner. Still, as December 10th approached, the focus was only on this one event and the foundation it would serve.

“Ahmet’s charismatic bond with music and musicians was simply unique,” said Page a few weeks prior to the performance. “He had an uncanny ability to combine his love for music with the business of music, and doing so created a lasting legacy. Atlantic Records will always be the house that Ahmet built. I am proud to be associated with him.”

“(Ahmet) was the epitome of old-school cool,” added Jones, “a man of rare wit and charm… larger than life… full of soul.”

“During the Zeppelin years, Ahmet Ertegun was a major foundation of solidarity and accord,” said Plant. “For us he was Atlantic Records and remained a close friend and conspirator—this performance stands alone as our tribute to the work and the life of our long-standing friend.”

Backstage before the show, promoter Harvey Goldsmith said the band had been extremely easy to work with and were completely focused on putting on an amazing show. “Being much older, they’re very low maintenance now. They just asked for cups of tea and coffee. They have said they require very little now; they are completely focused and have been rehearsing. They know a lot of people have been waiting a very long time for this gig.”

The show had begun two hours before Zeppelin took the stage, with a hodgepodge of appearances, mostly by artists that Ertegun had signed when he actively pursued the best British rock acts that flourished from 1967 through 1975. Among those performing one or two songs each were Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Keith Emerson, Yes’ Chris Squire and Alan White, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke from Bad Company, Foreigner (whose only original member is guitarist Mick Jones), and former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and his terrific big band, the Rhythm Kings—who also served as the house band for the first half of the show.

And while the fans were treated to rock classics such as “Alright Now”, “Fanfare for the Common Man”, and “I Want to Know What Love Is”, it was Zeppelin they were waiting to see.

The group took the stage at 9pm sharp and opened with the first song anyone had ever heard from the band when they debuted in 1968, “Good Times, Bad Times.” From there it was a Zeppelin fan’s dream come true: the best material from nearly every album. “Ramble On”, “Black Dog”, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, “No Quarter”, "Stairway to Heaven”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, and more.

“I don’t know how many songs we recorded,” commented Plant later in the show, “but we chose to take songs from 10 different albums to make up this dynamic evening of music, knowing certain songs had to be there. This is one of those songs…” just then, bassist John Paul Jones started the opening notes to “Dazed & Confused”, and the audience erupted in a complete frenzy. The 10-minute version didn’t disappoint and contained Page’s trademark violin bow guitar solo.

Visually, it was a dazzling performance that placed the band in front of a massive rear projection screen (as wide as the stage and over 50 feet high), which combined live-action footage of the concert in progress with psychedelic graphic images.

They closed with a triple whammy: a stunning version of the cryptic classic, “Kashmir”, followed by two high-energy encores that included “Whole Lotta Love”, and "Rock and Roll.”

And then it was over.

The event fans waited nearly three decades to see has come and gone, but many remain hopeful for future appearances. Speculation involving a world tour has ensued for months, but conflicting rumors have Zeppelin fans the world over wondering what’s next. If they do indeed tour it will be a very welcomed addition to the already crowded concert season. Atlantic/Rhino Records has just issued an extensive two CD compilation of the band’s best recordings entitled Mothership, and Warner Home Video has just issued a brilliant remastered version of the band’s 1976 concert film The Song Remains the Same featuring 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage. All these events have further increased the demand for Zeppelin to return to the forefront of the contemporary music scene.

Days before the show, Jimmy Page told a British paper how he felt about playing with his friends and what it would lead to: "It's great to be playing this music again with the people who lived through the creative process of its making. It's a powerful experience. It feels like the right thing to be doing."

On Monday, December 10th, it appeared as though the entire world agreed.

The Complete Set List:

"Good Times, Bad Times"

"Ramble On"

"Black Dog"

"In My Time of Dying"

"For Your Life"

"Trampled Underfoot"

"Nobody’s Fault But Mine"

"No Quarter"

"Since I’ve Been Loving You"

"Dazed & Confused"

"Stairway to Heaven"

"The Song Remains the Same"

"Misty Mountain Hop"

"Kashmir"

"Whole Lotta Love"

"Rock and Roll"

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Susan Fast on the success of Led Zeppelin's reunion concert

Can a band like this live up to its 40-year-old myth? The answer may be yes

The reviews following Led Zeppelin’s “reunion” concert, played in London on December 10, have been gushing. The New Musical Express proclaimed that the concert “exceeded expectations,” and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke reported that the band was “rehearsed, ready and out to kill.” After watching performances of several songs courtesy of YouTube (less than 24 hours after the show: The legend of Led Zeppelin bootleggers lives on!), and listening to much of the audio, I have to agree. The band sounded as tight as they did in their earliest days. A comparison to the stellar Royal Albert Hall performance from 1970, which was included in the DVD released by the band a few years ago, seems fair.

The review of the show in the Daily Telegraph suggests that it was the rarity of this performance that made tickets so hotly sought after and the performance itself so spectacular, and that the band should now leave well enough alone. Perhaps.

Led Zeppelin always controlled their exposure in the 1970’s — very few interviews, a dearth of information about the band on album covers, long intervals between tours, and a tendency for them, the press and fans to mythologize what little information did emerge. But is this model for success based on absence the only one available for Zeppelin, or does it merely uphold some myth about rock authenticity — and perhaps the very concept of authenticity itself — that needs to be reexamined?

The high premium our culture places on individuality and originality, coupled with a nostalgia that often views rock music of the past as better than it is today, has made it nearly impossible for a band such as Zeppelin to launch a tour that would not damage its credibility. Zeppelin’s aesthetic was based on pushing forward creatively, on opening up songs to improvisation and new arrangements on stage, and to formal experimentations in the studio. In light of this, the idea of this band, or any band, coming back together to play 40-year-old material, to look back instead of ahead, seems particularly problematic.

Furthermore, our memory of them is frozen in time. Like all nostalgia, ours around this band is shaped as much through forgetting as remembering: We have the studio albums, some of us have vague memories of concerts, there are thousands of bootlegs in circulation, snapshots of days long gone. Our longing is for the band that exists in these fragments. Would it be possible for them to live up to the myth that they have become?

The answer may in fact be “yes.”

What we sometimes forget in our quest for “the new” is that much of the power and pleasure of the experience is hearing, in real time, with the musicians in front of us, songs that we know by heart. If it is note-for-note off the vinyl, that is often good because it is familiar; if there are a few subtle changes, also good, because this throws our knowledge of the song back at us, makes us rethink it, and allows us to go “a-ha!” This repetition is not only pleasurable, but it creates community in a powerful way, especially if it is done well.

Live musical performance of the arena-rock variety offers an important ritual experience: We sing along with singers like Robert Plant, we play air guitar alongside guitar heroes like Jimmy Page, and for a moment we’re all experiencing time collectively, we are all in the rhythm of those powerful songs. Hearing Plant say his characteristic “Good evening” a few songs into the concert, as he did in the 1970s as well as the other night, or to hear Page and Plant tease the audience with the beginning of the blues medley they used to insert near the end of Whole Lotta Love are rituals that have been repeated in countless live concerts and heard over and over again by committed fans. They serve as a rich and important part of the materiality of live performance, even if it is sometimes scoffed at, especially by those who do not frequent these kinds of shows.

There would certainly be room for some of the “new” as well. In fact, Page and Plant have already done this. In the mid-1990s, the two of them recorded an album and toured together, playing Zeppelin songs that were rearranged, some of them quite drastically. Because bassist John Paul Jones was not with them, it was not billed as a Led Zeppelin reunion (to drive home that point, the album and tour were called Unledded). But for all intents and purposes, it was. Later in the 1990’s, Page and Plant put out an album of original material (Walking into Clarkesdale) and toured again, this time performing some Led Zeppelin songs as one would have heard them in the 1970s. Although the band performed what is perhaps their best known and most overplayed song, Stairway to Heaven, this time out — a song that Plant has refused to sing since the demise of the group — they also gave the song For Your Life (from the album Presence) its first-ever live performance, indicating their interest in “pushing ahead.”

Plant and Jones have both had interesting solo careers in which they’ve taken some important risks and succeeded. (Plant has, in fact, just announced tour dates with bluegrass artist Allison Kraus, in support of their critically-acclaimed joint project, causing some observers to now question the possibility of a Zeppelin reunion tour.) It seems to be exceedingly difficult in the world of commercial music making to re-emerge from phenomenal success and carry on, but these musicians have managed to do it against very strong odds.

(I think it has been harder for Page because he was Led Zeppelin, heart, soul, mind and mythology, in a way that, perhaps, the other members were not. What a shame that we have heard relatively little from this imaginative musician, whose playing on December 10 was as brilliant as ever, in the years since Zeppelin.)

Must a mythology, a legend, be preserved at the expense of contemporary performances of this important music? Plant has already said that it might be interesting to do a Led Zeppelin gig “from time to time,” which is an interesting idea, at once preserving the “rarity” factor and keeping the music alive through performance. But it might well be time for a full-blown tour: keeping live performance this good tucked away in a dusty closet would be criminal.

— Susan Fast, an associate professor of English & Cultural Studies at McMaster University, is the author of In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music (Oxford University Press).

Edited by MadScreamingGallery

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Legendary Led Zeppelin feels a whole lotta love

By Jeffrey Stinson, USA TODAY

USA TODAY was there for Led Zeppelin's tribute to Ahmet Ertegun.

Music road trip: Ahmet Ertegun tribute featuring Led Zeppelin

Event/location: O2 Arena, London

Attendance: A sell-out crowd of 18,000

The gig: Long-awaited reunion concert Monday night by the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin, the iconic '60s and '70s hard rock group that ushered in heavy metal music, explosive stage shows and legendary debauchery. Joining original singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones on drums was Jason Bonham, son of original drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980 after a drinking binge.

The cause: A star-studded tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records co-founder who signed Led Zeppelin to its first recording contract in 1968. Proceeds go to a fund that offers music scholarships in Ertegun's name.

The anticipation factor: This was the band's first full live performance since one in Berlin in 1980 two months before Bonham's death. Page, Plant and Jones performed at Live Aid five years later and at a 40-year celebration of Atlantic Records in 1988 but considered both appearances flops. The concert was postponed from Nov. 26 after Page fractured a finger.

The ticket: The Sunday Times of London called the concert "the hottest … of the century so far." Only 9,000 pairs of tickets were drawn from 1 million online applicants worldwide at 125 pounds (roughly $250) apiece. The security and lines to collect them were more like boarding a flight at Heathrow airport than admittance to a rock concert. Lucky recipients had to line up for hours starting Sunday to display a secret purchase code, photo ID and the credit card they used to buy the tickets. Only then were they given passes and a wristband they couldn't take off until after the concert.

The venue: O2 Arena may be best known outside Britain as Pierce Brosnan's soft-top landing site after a high-speed chase down the Thames to open the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

Warm-up and back-up: Bill Wyman, 71, the former Rolling Stones member, and his group the Rhythm Kings warmed up, along with Paul Rodgers, Foreigner, Maggie Bell and 20-year-old Scottish singer Paolo Nutini, the last act signed by Ertegun.

The crowd: Among the lucky ticket-getters were Dave and Evelyn Ruhlin of Corpus Christi, Texas. The two leather-jacketed Americans made this their "Christmas trip," purchasing $600 worth of T-shirts to take back as presents. Dave, 54, saw Led Zeppelin twice when he lived in London in 1975. "They almost invented hard rock," he said. This time around, the two planned on a less hedonistic outing. "We're grown adults now, and we're going to enjoy it in a mature way," said Evelyn, 52.

For other fans, it was an entirely new experience. "It's Christmas early," said 16-year-old Stephen Libretto of Welling, England, who got his ticket from his parents. "It's fantastic."

The headliners: There was no doubt who the crowd was there to see. Try as they might, the warm-up groups couldn't fill the arena nor get the crowd going. Just minutes before Led Zeppelin hit the stage, the buzz built, and seats were filled. A roar went up when the aging legends, their leonine manes now gray, opened with Good Times, Bad Times. Most of the house stood up for the two hours-plus that Zeppelin was on stage, ripping through a hard-driving repertoire of 16 numbers that included what Plant called the Zeppelin-style of blues with Trampled Under Foot, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love and Rock and Roll.

Plant acknowledged the difficulty of choosing material from 10 albums. But "there are some songs that have to be there," he said, then lit into Dazed and Confused.

A live first: For Your Life, which they said they hadn't performed live before Monday night.

Onstage quotable: "There are thousands and thousands of emotions we've been going through … to get here," Plant told the crowd.

The cellphone-photo moment: The flashes all went off on the signature Stairway to Heaven. After 90 minutes of belting out the band's hard-charging songs, Plant was able to deliver the soft melody. And the crowd was with him at the crescendo. "Hey, Ahmet," Plant said in tribute to Ertegun. "We did it."

Light show: Throwback psychedelics and wild graphics were blended with lasers. Yes, there was fog. Plant can still kick the microphone stand. That and the driving sound were enough to keep the mostly middle-age crowd clapping and jumping in their seats. A handful of those on the floor got into performing air-guitar, jumping-jack and head-butt antics.

Next up: Fans are hopeful the reunion show will be followed by a full-scale tour. But so far, the band isn't letting on. "Let's just do the O2, and we'll see what happens from there," Page told Reuters last week. "I haven't got a crystal ball here and nor have you."

Find this article at:

http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/20...-zeppelin_N.htm

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Please Post any Press Review you find here. Let's make this Press reviews ONLY for this Thread. Audience Reviews are being done in another Thread.... :D

Here's a Link to the Tyler Bell Site with some Links compiled for the Press reviews:

http://blog.tylerbell.net/2007/12/11/led-z...eunion-reviews/

*********************************************

ALSO.... please keep in mind that many regionaland local newspapers may be publishing reviews done by larger papers..... so we don't need to post the same NY Times Review, again and again!!!

I'm going to post my review with Font Size # 2, to make it a little easier to read . . .

And, I'm going to use the "Black" Color option, as well....

It is so much easier on the eyes that way !! :thumbsup:

***************************************************

First I'll post the NME Review:

http://www.nme.com/news/led-zeppelin/33079

Led Zeppelin reunion: the review

The first opinion from NME.COM's critic at the O2 Arena

4 hours ago

You might think it couldn't possibly live up to expectation but, it transpires, the opposite is in fact true of Led Zeppelin's first public appearance in 19 years.

They seem buoyed by the deafening roars that greet their every twitch tonight - everyone present in the O2 Arena is willing their performance to the realms of greatness. It's almost impossible to be subjective, to not be sucked in.

It takes plant three songs before he offers a cursory "good evening". By the time they've blasted through an incendiary 'Good Times Bad Times', a dramatic 'Ramble On' and the stop start rhythms of Black Dog'. He needn't say anything.

Next They launch into 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' and Zep are smiling at each other, only occupying about six foot of the enormous stage. You wouldn't believe this is a band who haven't played together for so long.

They do No Quarter' and they're locked in as tight as if it were the 1970s. Only the close ups on the screen at the back give away their advanced years.

Launchomh into a version of 'Dazed And Confused' that seems to last forever but every last second is enthralling.

Jimmy Page is lit up by lasers and at the song's climax Robert Plant yells out "Jimmy Page on electric guitar!" in a moment the resonates right back to their first heyday.

'Stairway To Heaven' follows. Ridiculous in many ways yet it is a song that everyone present thought was fated to only be performed by dodgy pub covers bands and not again by its creators.

Jimmy has the double headed guitar, bassist John Paul Jones is sat at a keyboard and Plant - contrary to the pre-gig rumours is singing beautifully.

Playing this well known classic proves a shrewd move as it gently reminds everyone present just which, giant-sized rock band they're dealing with.

The final half an hour is comprised of songs so omnipresent it's hard to make any sort of tangible judgement.

'Kashmir' finishes the main set sounding incredible the band take a bow and they're gone.

Rapturous applause follows as you might expect but its nothing compared to the sheer mania that greets the first encore song 'Whole Lotta Love'. Not many bands have one of those, you see.

The middle section veers into space rock territory any young band would be proud of and when that riff returns its well you know how it goes.

Then Led Zep blast through a second encoure of 'Rock And Roll' - paying tribute to their old mentor and the reason this concert is taking place, Ahmet Ertegun, on the way - and, well again... you know how it goes.

If there were sceptics here tonight - there weren't but just for the sake of argument consider it - Led Zeppelin silenced them and banished any rotten memories of their shambolic Live Aid reunion.

More importantly though, what they have done here tonight is prove they can still perform to the level that originally earned them their legendary reputation.

We can only hope this isn't the last we see of them.

Hamish MacBain, NME Live Editor

Led Zeppelin played:

'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'

A longer review will appear in next week's issue of NME.

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This is bloody long, but very well-written (IMO):

Led Zep: and a fourth... (and fifth from the author's daughter)

More Zep, starring the author's daughter and Jimmy's mum

By Ed Vulliamy, features writer for The Observer

December 11, 2007 9:22 PM

The set began as Led Zeppelin's debut album had opened four decades ago, with the double-punch that announces 'Good Times, Bad Times', and there have certainly been plenty of each, since 1968, for the greatest rock and roll band of all time. But the question in the minds of those lucky 20,000 of us, who could have sold our tickets for thousands but would not (or else had paid up to £83,000 - as one fan did), was: can this band be as good as it was, or will the epic re-union be an outing to Jurassic Park?

I saw Led Zep twice in the old days, in Liverpool and at Knebworth. But I cannot honestly dissect at this distance why I was awed by what I was listening to, except that it had something to do with a teenaged obsession with the Delta blues, wanting to hear those blues plugged in and played loud - and something subliminal in the sound texture beneath the adrenalin rush that reached the parts no other band except perhaps the Jimi Hendrix Experience could reach.

But if Led Zep were as good as this 'in their day', I really don't remember them being so. 'Better than ever' said one critic in this morning's papers (probably having planned to sneer about Jurassic Park) and that's my strong hunch too. This was unlike anything else - a different league - and why should that be so surprising? Why should one peak at 20? Why should musicians, like the best wine, not improve with age as they master their art and become more comfortable with themselves? These musicians have all been up to interesting things meanwhile, which may have sharpened as well as seasoned them - and maybe it is an advantage not to have played together for so long, rather than churn it out over and over, like the Stones.

It soon became clear last night, somewhere during 'Ramble On', that this was going to be VAST, even beyond the expectation, the resurrection in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, the raised stakes, the superlatives and the month of rehearsal. 'Ahmet, we did it', declaimed Robert Plant - but what, exactly? They did a lot more more than just come together again.

Quite apart from the spellbinding stage presence - in its way more cogent now than when they were strutting beaux - that makes 140 minutes feel like five, it has to do with the dazzling and unique MUSICALITY of what Zeppelin do. Jimmy Page can achieve things with a guitar that no living peer can attempt, and things I'm not sure even he did back THEN ('Dazed and Confused' was more daring and intense on Monday than on the re-mixed Song Remains the Same). He can make his instrument growl like a tiger, roar like a lion, cry like a fallen angel or pump like ... well, never mind. The driving rip-tide between John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham (whose demonstration of the veracity of the double helix and double pedal drum vindicated Zep's decision to keep it in the family and not replace his father with an 'outsider') was like Katrina gathering off the coast of New Orleans. Robert Plant's inimitable voice is the most extraordinarily, heart-stopping, expressive and wolfish in all music this side of the opera house; it was then, has been ever since and still is - be he singing the blues in a state of painful introspection, embarking on an orgasm or howling full throttle at a full moon. With age he has kept his performing strut, but - much more importantly - added a depth of real passion that is no less potent for being rounded, giving him a greatness above what he had back then. The singularity of Plant's voice is that it expresses close to every human emotion - like white or black at both ends of the spectrum of colours, and those in between - and the fact is that he himself has probably experienced quite a few of those emotions between 1980 and Monday night, thereby further charging his thunderous way of turning them into sound. (Strange to think, though, that Monday's powerhouse delivery comes from the same vocal chords as the mellowed tones on his recent Raising Sand collaboration with Alison Kraus - but that just adds to the excitement of Monday and the achievement of the new record).

And all this applies whether Zeppelin are pile-driving through 'Whole Lotta Love', as they did for an encore, turning the rack another notch through the Calvary of 'In My Time of Dying' and 'Since I Been Loving You', or crashing a path through the mighty and monumental 'Kashmir'.

But this is not the point; it doesn't entirely explain what puts Zeppelin into an entirely different league to anyone else - one of their own, indeed - as was made emphatically clear on Monday. If we're to say they were 'better than ever', we need to step back for a moment, resist the urge to shake every bone or punch the air, and concentrate carefully on what is actually HAPPENING. Every minute, every bar, is so damned MUSICAL - the chromatics, the minor falls, major lifts and zig-zagging between moods, colours and timbres. This may sound pretentious, but it's not: even when Led Zep are apparently just 'belting it out' (and does anyone belt it out like they do?), some very beautiful, if turbo-charged, things are coming off the frets and stretched 'skin', the keyboard when it is in action (as on 'Kashmir') and from that most remarkable of larynxes.

Page is a rock 'n' bluesman above all, of course, but also a jackdaw raiding the nests of folk, Arabic, jazz and most other genres of music, on Monday navigating a miasma of references with apparently casual command, and this is all the more satisfying when he's doing so with a smile beneath the sweat, with whitened hair and wearing a morning suit rather than his Merlin-on-acid costume of 35 years ago. The leonine - now bearded - Plant has the same voracious range of sources to invorm his voice, unique in many ways, the most important of which is, arguably, that he is the only vocalist whose voice does not sing lyrics above the music but is an instrumental part of it - note for note, phrase by phrase, breath by breath, howl by howl - sometimes in yearning counterpoint to the guitar, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in between (stroking some exposed nerve end) but always so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts - which is what the greatest music is all about.

For much of the time it's a subliminal thing, this masterly perfectionism, as we drink in Monday's occasion and cherish the fleeting couple of hours. But when it is stripped raw naked and surfaces, the effect of this musicianship is searing: as in 'Kashmir', the climactic finale, with its Arabic chromatics and epic major chords unleashed, and the song that Plant said 'has to be one of them' on the obligatory list: 'Dazed and Confused', Page performing acrobatics that no one apart from Hendrix could master, the latter with his teeth, so the former with his hallmark bow, which he waved aloft like a matador with the red lining of his cloak.

Zeppelin are a band for all seasons and, accordingly, the age range of Monday's audience was from six to about 86, with everyone in between and - obviously - a bulge around the 50-60 mark, but not too noticeable, either numerically or in terms of waistline. Everyone there had a hugely important personal background to the night, so that strangers were forever and happily taking mobile phone photographs of each other at this moment in history. For many, and I was one of them, there was a coda too: for two years now, I have been taken on a journey through music savoured by my daughter Elsa, now 13, an account of which was published in this newspaper, and have, thanks to her, discovered some terrific music. Now it was my turn. When an email arrived informing that I had two tickets for Monday (having had the honour of writing liner notes for Robert Plant's boxed set of solo albums - which came about after listening to his music, and only his music, while driving for a month around war-torn Iraq), I had no idea what to do with my own excitement, but it was obvious who had to have the second ticket. Even though Elsa went down with tonsillitis and a nasty cough on Monday and really should not have been out on the Thames until 02.30, but needs must. This is Elsa's verdict:

"I think I've always had a level of respect for LZ due to general information on how they had influenced all the bands I listen to. Then again, living in my own world, it didn't occur to me to buy any of their albums until I first heard them in the car after band practice. That was when the idea came to light that all the hype I've heard about LZ influencing music today really hit me, it DID sound similar to the kind of sound my band were aiming for. Anyway, skip forward to the gig. I was, indeed, extremely excited. The opening song ['Good Times Bad Times'] was brilliant to put me in the mood, 'the mood' which everyone was in at the time. The sound was thick and musical and sophisticated. The big sound complete with the advanced and exciting light show (and a mosh pit full of lit up mobile phones to add to the effect) and videos in the background gave the atmosphere a 10/10. 'Kashmir' has to be crowned my favourite, it was a real rock out. Robert Plant's vocals were amazing - damn good for the age he's at, in fact, they were damn good for anyone, it's not easy to fill the O2 arena- he definitely succeeded! He and Jimmy Page will remain among my most respected musicians from now on. Jimmy's style and skill are pretty intriguing. His guitar playing manages to be both epic and raw at the same time. His genuine originality was, if you'll excuse the pun 'music to my ears'. The whole set, in fact was fantastic. It was just the kind of music that you WANT in your head. The kind you couldn't turn off. Great band great night - I'll never forget it."

We had a time of the rest of it: on the riverboat, queuing ages for t-shirts and afterwards in the backstage bar, a palpable voltage running through even those who thought they had seen it all before, because they now realised they hadn't. Whispering Bob Harris of Whistle Test said he must have seen Led Zep 'a million times' but 'never like this' - so we were not hallucinating all this - it did happen. They were all there - Marilyn Manson and others who had flown in from the corners of the earth; Elsa and I were just keeping a rendezvous outside the toilets when an elderly but elegant lady came up and said: 'excuse me, can I just slip past? I'm Jimmy Page's mum'.

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/observermusic/..._and_fifth.html

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Thanks for the article. It's good, and glad to hear she's in good enough health to go see him play.

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