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Audience Reviews of Ahmet Ertegun


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My friend BBL posted this over at BlackCrowes.org

I thought it worth posting it up here too. Let's hope we get to see them next year!

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BBL's review of the show:

Before I start, I just want to say a very big thanks to Humbug for sticking to our agreement to cut each other in should either of us get a "Wonka Golden Ticket" for this gig. He hit the jackpot and got an email from Ticketmaster and, like the gentleman that he is, made a phonecall straight to me. What a guy!

From the moment I knew I was going to this gig several weeks ago, I have to confess I was feeling more trepidation than excitement. I even questioned whether I ought to go at all. I know that sounds ridiculous when there are over 20 million people trying to get tickets, but I was worried. The two times they had reformed before, they sucked badly and, clearly, they are not young men any more. Would they manage to pull off a dignified celebration of themselves and their music? Or would they try to recreate the past and totally embarrass themselves? Could they really still cut it? Or was this a disastrous idea? Should I go? Or should I stay away and keep the myth intact? These were all questions buzzing around in my head, but in the end, I decided that I wanted to see for myself what this show would throw up.

Even as we queued to go in, I still could not find it in myself to feel truly excited, such was the sense of concern and apprehension that I felt about the whole event. Matters were not really helped by the supporting cast. As an endless stream of rock has-beens too numerous to be bothered to name and the irritating Paulo Nutini got up to do a turn, I started to think my worst fears about the evening were about to be confirmed. Still, when the crew cleared the stage for the main event, it was impossible not to start feeling an enormous sense of anticipation as 9pm approached.

Finally, the moment arrived. The lights went down and a video played on the backdrop/video-wall of a news report of the band breaking an attendance record at Tampa back in the 70s. Then they appeared. Jimmy Page, despite looking to have fared the worst physically with the passing of years of the three of them, looked as cool as fuck in a long black coat and shades. The opening chords of Good Times Bad Times were a real surprise and confounded all our guesses as to the opening song. The first real moment of genuine excitement came as Page tore into the solo. The roar from the crowd was deafening and it was a real hairs-on-the-back-of your neck moment. My worries began to ebb away.

The first few songs saw the band slowly warm up and they did get better and more assured as the evening went on. Similarly, all the baggage I was carrying approaching this gig started to fall away and I really began to enjoy the gig for what it was.

For me, they really came into themselves in the run of No Quarter, Since I’ve Been Loving You and Dazed and Confused. They created some real atmosphere and genuine moments of magic, giving everyone a real glimpse of just why they were the band they were. Certainly Page’s solo on Since I’ve Been Loving You really was a high point. Of all the original members, he looked so completely in his element last night and really did attack his playing like this was the gig of their lives.

As they hit the final run in, they were really firing. Misty Mountain Hop rocked and Kashmir was immense. Despite, incredibly, fluffing the first verse of Whole Lotta Love, the encores of that and a rousing rendition Rock ‘n’ Roll saw to it that they finished the job properly and sent everyone home very happy indeed.

Possibly the only mistake they made all night was to intercut old footage with the current concert footage during Rock ‘n’ Roll. All night they had suspended belief and taken everyone along with them. It was a stark contrast to see them as they were next to how they are now and realise that the "real Led Zeppelin" were a different band from a different time and place. On reflection though, it was probably a good thing that people were shown the difference.

As for the individual performances, anyone who thought that Robert Plant’s voice was going to be the main stumbling block were very much mistaken. As those of us who have seen him recently with Strange Sensation already know, these days he plays to his strengths. He doesn’t try to be a 22-year-old anymore. He may not be able to wail like he once did but he has a richer voice now and it was deployed masterfully with last night’s material. We might never hear them play The Immigrant Song or Communication Breakdown again because of that, but there is plenty of Zep material that does suit his voice as it is now. And he can still pull out a big scream when he needs to.

John Paul Jones proved himself to be the amazing musician that he is. Jason Bonham is not his father, but did a creditable job (I still can’t help wondering how Steve Gorman might have fared though after his performance on Live at the Greek). Jimmy Page, however, was exceptional. In my mind, Zep was always his band and last night you could see that he was really giving it everything he had. He often gets criticised for his live playing, but there can be no doubting the passion and fire he has for playing Zeppelin material and I thought he played great last night.

I am happy to say that despite the lottery of getting tickets, there were no wankers down the front (we were standing front and centre about 20 metres back I guess – we were close). For once, there was no talking during the gig and everyone was totally absorbed in what they were seeing. I thought the overall presentation with the video-wall backdrop was excellent. The venue was horrible and very corporate and the sound was a bit cold at times, but once the band were in full flight, none of this really registered.

So, all in all it was a good night. At the end, there was almost a sense of relief, not least from the band themselves, that they had pulled off such a massively-hyped event and done it with such professionalism, dignity and class. All things considered, that they hadn’t played together for so long, that it wasn’t the 70s, that John Bonham wasn’t there, and that none of them are young and beautiful any more, they really did do as good a show as anyone could have hoped for. Sure, there were ragged moments. But there were moments of real magic and majesty too. It was a very impressive performance. When it comes down to it, true class always shows through in the end and Page, Plant and Jones have that in spades.

BBL

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P.S. My thoughts on the show..

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the highlight has to be Foreigner doing "I wanna know what love is, I want you to show me"...

Can't believe I was actually there!

But seriously, it was fantastic. I didn't think Page would be playing so well. He had a loud trebly, almost harsh guitar sound - lots of chorus, delay - more like the Presence guitar sound than the earlier records. Might have something to do with the O2 sound system also. It did actually occur to me that there were probably quite a few people there who if they were truly honest, probably wouldn't enjoy it.

It was loud rock n'roll - and the songs have that monolithic quality to them - sculpted out of brash steel sounds. In Kashmir, I thought, Christ they've got horns playing - but no, just Jimmy's guitar sounding like horns. He may have had some octaviser going on that one too. Earlier, when he went up the neck in Since I've been loving you, he may have pitch-shifted like Jack White often uses.

One thought that occurred early on was how strong this is as a band. John Paul Jones makes an incredible difference. I saw Page/Plant at Wembley and this was different, in that, it was actually Led Zeppelin. And they didn't cut down the sonic experimental side they've always had going. Plant was very dignified and sounded great. I love his album with Alison Krauss and he was singing great. I believe they tuned down a whole tone for the show. Good move.

My biggest problem with this show is the crowd. I was surrounded by people who seemed like they'd just discovered their hidden passion for amateur photography. Every new visual change in the lights was something to capture in their phones (instead of candles, Stairway is a sea of digital technology). I mean, are people afraid of something just happening and being over? As the set got to about halfway through, the girl next to me began deleting holiday snaps of her and pictures of her boyfriend. Well, it made me laugh, but it is quite hard to in a way, lose yourself in the show, the performance thats happening when there's little screens in front of you.

They had a great screen behind the stage too. On Stairway, I think, Jimmy turns towards the back, and they film him in split mirrored 'Song Remains the Same' style. He was playing the classic double-neck. Page did seem to enjoy himself a lot. When he first came on, he's sporting a pair of shades and has shock-white hair with a black coat. Great look. As the gig went on, he seemed to warm up a lot in terms of his playing. They had a dodgy moment going back into the main riff in Dazed and Confused. With the big video screen you can see the wobbly look John Paul Jones gives Page - a kind of 'oops..' Page gives a big laugh. 'Cause really that kind of thing doesn't really matter so much. The more important thing they did, was go hell for leather at every one of those songs.

The short tour with the Crowes clearly helped Jimmy Page work up his guitar playing again, but it's great that he's at the point where he can go out and do justice to their old classics. In footage I've seen of the Crowes, he's okay on the riff-stuff, but the soloing didn't quite feel right. Here he has gone out on a limb to get soloing and is basically still rocking better than anyone. Maybe the extra two weeks helped!

Also, Jason Bonham has clearly worked very hard to nail those drum parts. He did great at making them sound..well, like Led Zeppelin.

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I was front row center for Page/Crowes at the Greek. It was the most magical night of my life. I can totally relate to the mention of how well Steve Gorman swung the sticks and kicked that bass drum! I envy you all who saw the O2! So much worry by so many fans about whether they could muster the magic as Led Zeppelin. Glad to know they did!

Not that I had any doubts! :beer:

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