New Album Review: Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day
Freddie Matthews writes from London: If you were one of the 20 million Led Zeppelin fans who applied for a ticket to their O2 concert back in 2007 and missed out then now’s your chance to experience it all for yourself. Celebration Day has been five years in the making, since the concert at London’s O2 Arena, on 10 December 2007. Now, not only is the recorded concert on CD but it’s also been immortalised on film.
This is a total celebration and one of the greatest musical reunions ever. But why did it take the death of the Atlantic Records founder to make rock legends Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham’s son, Jason, pay tribute by reuniting one last time for this gig to their friend Ahmet Ertegun?
Throughout their illustrious career Led Zeppelin have sold over 300 million records worldwide, 111.5 million of them in the USA alone. A ticketing world record was also set for ‘the highest in demand tickets ever’ for one concert, when 20 million people applied for tickets to see was the final coming together of Led Zeppelin. It makes me wonder why, if so many people wanted to see the band, they didn’t perform for 20 nights in a row, or tour the world one last time, or just anything to capitalise on the immense popularity of a reunion, regardless of whether or not there was any new material.
Celebration Day is available via Atlantic/Swan Song Records as a double CD, CD/DVD, Blu-Ray audio and DVD, vinyl and digital download, so there are no excuses.
This is a band playing what was expected of them. The classic renditions of Led Zeppelin tracks are featured but in a slightly more stripped and thinner sounding format and there’s not a single drum solo in sight, although the untrained ear would be hard pushed to spot the difference between Jason and his late dad John Bonham.
These quotes from the band members not only go to prove just how special the show was for the fans but how much it meant physically and emotionally to the band also:
John Paul Jones: ‘As soon as we got together at the first rehearsal to explore the possibility of whether we could still play together and be as powerful and exciting as we once were, the answer was blindingly obvious. The energy and the chemistry were absolutely still there. The show itself felt like the first night of a tour. We wanted to keep everything simple and real, to let the power of the music speak for itself.’
Jimmy Page: ‘The first step was to get into a rehearsal room with Jason and kick it off. We managed to continue with the rehearsals over the next few months, subject to everyone’s availability, shaping the set, building confidence and reconnecting the Zeppelin synchronicity. There was a lot to live up to, but the preparation and passion were undeniable. We were ready!’
Robert Plant: ‘Why? For me… to do justice to meaning and expectation. It was a big ‘’ask’’. Anticipation and hype are not sensitive bed-fellows. House lights on – no place to hide.’
Jason Bonham: ‘The moment was seconds away and I still couldn’t swallow. It’s time. I raise my sticks and count us off into ‘’Good Times Bad Times’’: this really is the greatest day of my life, I thought!! I didn’t want it to stop. I felt a certain closeness to dad… like he was there with us and he was one with me. I fill up with emotion and use it as a fuel to deliver the drum break ending we all know so well in ‘’Rock and Roll’’. We take a bow and smiles are all around me. I slowly walk to the dressing room where I collapse and burst into tears.’
If you’re new to Led Zeppelin, Celebration Day is a wonderful place to start this musical journey into classic British rock but if like so many fans you already have every album from the back catalogue but couldn’t get a ticket to this gig, then this is another ‘must have’ for your collection.