For someone who wasn’t fortunate enough to even be alive during Led Zeppelin’s powerful musical reign, seeing a film like Celebration Day certainly was a treat. Taken from the band’s one-off charity reunion show on December 10th, 2007 at London’s O2 Arena, this show saw the band really step it up, trying (and succeeding) to impress. In the five years since, bootlegs of the band’s rehearsals leading up to the show leaked online and you can find the rehearsal tape for Whole Lotta Love here.
Packed into a theater full of die-hard fans sporting Zeppelin apparel, everyone, especially those who hadn’t yet witnessed the live power of Led Zeppelin, was excited to finally see what the band has spent the last few months hyping up. The film began without any trailers as the theater darkened to the sound of a rabid crowd cheering. Suddenly, the screen lit up into the image of a massive projected television set sporting a video taken from a news report covering a Led Zeppelin show in Tampa, Florida. The news report introduced the band as they walked onstage to the roaring approval of the members of the crowd both at the O2 Arena as well as in the theater.
The band then began their hit-filled two hour set with Good Times, Bad Times, which had a much heavier feel to it with John Bonham’s son Jason sitting behind the kit. Everyone in the band was spot-on, excited to be there, and very energetic, especially Jimmy Page, who was drenched in sweat within two minutes of the first song. Segueing straight into Ramble On, all of Led Zeppelin was ready for a show. Throughout the entire set, Jimmy Page pulled out solos left and right, disproving anyone who had a thought that his age restricted him from nailing any solo thrown at him.
The turning point in the film came when John Paul Jones broke out the eery opening notes of Dazed and Confused, which eventually led into a full-on attacking solo from Jimmy Page that kept everyone’s eyes glued to the screen, watching his fingers perform intricate and seemingly effortless fretwork (although when the camera panned to his face, it seemed otherwise). It was then that Page pulled out the double-neck Gibson guitar which could only mean one thing: Stairway to Heaven. As Robert Plant stepped to the mic to sing the opening notes of the legendary ballad, everyone in the theater seemed to straighten and wake up, some even piping up and singing along with Plant. When the time came for Page’s solo, everyone was rocking in their seat. The band then concluded their main set with the epic Kashmir, which, once again, showed the pure talent of the group. From John Paul Jones’ flawless keyboard work to Robert Plant’s vocals, everything was spot-on, giving the feel that the band was still very much in their prime.
After returning to the stage for Whole Lotta Love, the film came to an end with a second encore of Rock and Roll. Throughout the entire film, Jason Bonham showed that he has what it takes to play his father’s role in the band and the show-concluding drum solo undoubtedly proved his worthy, leaving many in the theater smiling with no idea what other reaction to have and almost everybody in awe.
Celebration Day is a film that really exemplifies how Led Zeppelin will permanently have a place in the hearts of fans and always remain a rock and roll cornerstone. The film takes the opportunity to remind everybody that Zeppelin was, and always will be, one of the greatest groups that rock and roll has ever seen and that time will never hinder their pure power. Throughout the entire movie, people found themselves unconsciously tapping their foot to the beat, bobbing their head, or mouthing the words with Robert Plant as his shrill vocals cut through the surround sound speakers, hitting every note almost perfectly and leaving all in attendance with a smile on their face. So is Celebration Day worth seeing? Most definitely. No, it won’t be a life-altering experience, but it’s probably going to be the closest thing to seeing Led Zeppelin live in concert that you’re going to get.
Led Zeppelin ‘Celebration Day’ Tracklist:
1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Ramble On
3. Black Dog
4. In My Time Of Dying
5. For Your Life
6. Trampled Under Foot
7. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
8. No Quarter
9. Since I’ve Been Loving You
10. Dazed And Confused
11. Stairway To Heaven
12. The Song Remains The Same
13. Misty Mountain Hop
15. Whole Lotta Love
16. Rock And Roll
Pre-order Celebration Day on Blu-Ray DVD from Amazon, which is slotted for a November 19th release.