I just saw it last night at the Cinerama in Seattle, sold out show. Phenomenal! Page lead the frenetic pace throughout the show and did not stop jamming for the full two hours, he established himself as the eminent rock guitar god with no peer in my view (maybe Jeff Beck). The rest of the band (Plant, Jones, Bonham) were amazing just in the fact they could stay up with the old boy! Not only the best concert film I have ever seen, but one of the best concerts; particularly from a guitar perspective. Amazing, and highly recommend you go see it if you still have a chance, or at least pick up the Blu-ray when it release! Ramble On y'all!
Incredible show! A great film with some incredible performances by the entire band.Page clearly shows why he is still a guitar God even 40+ years after the release of Led Zepplin's debut album and tore the place apart.I bought their first LP shortly after I started high school.I've seen my share of classic rock concert films but this one ranks as one of the best two or three I've seen including Pink Floyd and the Stones.
I, too saw the film week before last...it was a thrill. Sir Jimmy is pushing 70 and still has the power and skills to mezmerize and amaze. I'm not forgetting the rest of the band as well...it was good to see Page and Plant with Jones again. It's been a while, and John Paul is such a powerhouse in his own right. A powerful rudder for a "Dreadnaught" of a band. And how 'bout Jason?! Papa would be proud...I'm wondering what you all think of his performance? His heart practically shone through his chest! Made me estatic just to watch him.
Was a strange night for me. I was the only women in the entire theatre, and there were only about 30 people there. I went to a midnight show; granted I'm in Wichita, Kansas, not exactly a cultural Mecca, but I expected to see a lot more Led Zep fans? I was surprised to see so many really young guys there, ya know, teenagers. Led Zep was gone long before I could buy a beer. Never got the chance to experience them live. I'm still grieving...
Gives hope to see that people of ALL ages still recongize the genius, innovation, and sheer joy of Led Zeppelins' legacy of music. Even took my mind off the bloody election!
Nice to read everyone's comments. The film was well worth being late to work, and once the release furvor is over, I'm sure I'll add "Celebration Day" to the collection.
Great post, honestly I was surprised it would even be showing in Wichita, KS (no offense, I am from a very small Midwestern town myself, so I totally get it), but I thought the theatrical release was only hitting major markets. Regardless, I am glad you had a chance to catch what was a phenomenal big screen experience! Regarding your question about Jason, he had a big chair to fill, and although I know he has played these songs in his solo band many times, this had to be a ton of pressure! I thought he really shone through, and added some emotional bandwidth to the entire show...and I say this because the rest of the band just seemed to be so natural in what they were doing it was hard to believe it had been 30 plus years!
Well said RWM! "Emotional Bandwidth" is a great way to put into words what Jason Bonham added to the experience. Not exactly the same (how could it?) but, certainly not lacking in skill, spirit and commitment. Nice to get your thoughts on it...
There were about 30 people who saw the Zep film in the theater in Fort Smith, Arkansas, too. There were only about 12 people for the showing of Queen: Hungarian Rhapsody - Live in Budapest 1986 concert film here in Fort Smith, as well.
There were about 30 people for the David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall concert film at the Tulsa showing about six years ago, and back in 2004/2005 (I think), there were about 50 people for The Who Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 concert film showing in Little Rock.
These films aren't gathering huge crowds, unfortunately, but it's definitely good to see that some people still enjoy concert films in the theater. :)
In an ironic twist, there was NO mention at all on Fantom Events' website or Zep's website (or anywhere) that "Celebration Day" was playing in Fort Smith, yet it did in fact play here, and I, sadly, missed it. Lesson learned, always check the local movie theaters' websites, even if Fantom Events/One Night Only/band's website says it isn't playing in your town. Lol! :)
They are hardly being marketed here in Houston. You'd blink and miss the ad in the weekly "alternative" press rag. It's a problem though, how much will a theater pay to advertise an even that's only occuring once, on one screen, maybe 2 screens? Maybe radio ads are too much to hope for...
In Greek mythology, before the Olympians, there were The Titans: gods so powerful, that their dying breath gave rise to mortals and men. There were hundreds of gods and demi-gods associated with the Age of Olympus, but only 12 Titans.
Ahmet Ertegun saw LED ZEPPELIN's titanic potential at a time when most critics and other musicians were ridiculing "The New Yardbirds" (as they were initially known), saying that they would 'crash like a lead zeppelin.'
... Fast forward 39 years ...
On Dec. 10, 2007, LED ZEPPELIN re-united as the headliners for a tribute concert at London's O2 Arena to honor and pay tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. LED ZEPPELIN fans have read for the past five years that the O2 show was one of the most momentous performances in rock history: 'jaw-dropping', 'incredible' and other superlatives & adjectives were what almost everyone lucky enough to see it live said it was at the time.
Now there's evidence: 'Celebration Day' is an exceptional concert-film documenting LED ZEPPELIN's sole full-length reunion performance since their brief tour in 1980. It fully delivers on the nearly-mythic hype that immediately burst forth after that show, finally placing a proper, shining, capstone on their seismic career. It also gives anyone who was too young to catch the real thing a golden glimpse at the thunder these 'rock gods' can unleash in action.
The two-hour chronicle of their stunning show at London's O2 Arena in December 2007 was distributed via closed circuit TV to U.S. movie theaters in October and November. After attending one such screening with an 'invitation only' guest list, everyone in attendance agreed this was a keeper -- one they'd definitely be adding to their music/video collections. Even people who said they were 'not fans' of LED ZEPPELIN were blown away by the strength of the performance, and the quality of the video production. 'The Hammer of the Gods' was wielded with full force and effect that night ... and recorded for posterity.
Inevitably, there will be comparisons to 'The Song Remains The Same', LED ZEPPELIN's 1973 performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which became a popular theatrical 'midnight movie' during the late 1970's and early 1980's. That is a very different film, from a very different era. The over-the-top (for the time) light show is toned down at the O2, and LED ZEPPELIN plays more like a Band here than they did back then. In 'SRTS', Jimmy Page was just over-powering in almost every song; here everyone shares the spotlight equally -- and the overall impact is far greater. The playing is tighter, and more wizended and assured, also more measured and precise. It's not necessarily 'better' (Jason Bonham doesn't look like he's going to bring down the rafters like his father, John Bohham did), and Robert Plant no longer leaps all over the stage hitting all those ultra-high notes -- but his stage presence is still just as commanding. John Paul Jones is the biggest surprise here (more on that later).
'Celebration Day' is a nothing less than the epic you'd expect from a group that so carefully oversees its legacy. Director Dick Carruthers decided to keep special effects to a minumum, and cut out any 'non-concert sequences'. In so doing, he keeps full focus on the band and their music, as it's performed. After you view the film, it's not hard to understand why it's unlikely that a show such as this will ever happen again.
After twice attempting to sputter back to life (a sloppy four song set at Live Aid in 1985, and a quickly-forgotten reunion flop for Atlantic's 40th anniversary in 1988) which left both the band and their fans disappointed, they really got it right here.
LED ZEPPELIN could do a cash-grab tour, but it was probably best that they really went all out to honor their past and 'nailed it' the one time when it mattered to them (paying appropriate homage and tribute to Ahmet Ertegun).
If there were a live tour, you would never get as close to the band as this film gets you anyhow.
Their playing is not suffocatingly or academically perfect -- if it were, then LED ZEPPELIN would hang like dead-air on stage, like the studio-musician acts who play behind over-hyped vocalists these days on shows like 'American Idol' or today's Top-40/teeny-bopper acts. Their instincts for a funky groove are unerring to the point of unearthly - especially when they rip into "Black Dog," followed by an explosive blast through "Trampled Under Foot" (their interpretation of Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues," from 1936) and the bluesy changes in epics like "Nobody's Fault but Mine" (by bluesman Willie Johnson) and "In My Time of Dying" (by Sonny-Boy Williamson).
Blues enthusiasts to the end, they embellish every piece. Beginning with the thunder-blasts that open "Good Times Bad Times" (the kickoff song) and a rousing "Rock and Roll" finale, to all points in between, including the first-ever live version of "For Your Life," (from PRESENCE), a suitably demonic rendition of "Dazed and Confused" (complete with violin-bow guitar solo -- but shortened considerably from their version in 'Song Remains The Same'), a surprisingly majestic rendition of "No Quarter" (which easily out-does that 1973 concert version), "Since I've been Lovin' you" (the only in-common song that was arguably done better in the 1973 film) and, of course, "Stairway to Heaven" -- which is still as awesome as ever after all these years.
Curiously, LED ZEPPELIN doesn't perform 'Celebration Day' here. But they do perform "The Song Remains The Same" -- as they also did in the same-titled movie.
With heaps of blues schooling to match his astonishing fretwork, Jimmy Page enlivens all those staple riffs that have spawned thousands of garage-bound, wanna-be virtuosos. Here he executes them with familiarity, while still suffusing each song with a magic that makes them all sound like something fresh or new. Page's fingers are startlingly nimble here -- like a young man's. He's a blues-guitar-man to the core, reborn in the moment, and drenched in sweat by the end.
Robert Plant had been subconsciously working his way up to this pinnacle for a decade. On solo tours, backed by the aptly named band "Strange Sensation," the iconic singer has and found expressive new ways to put across old melodies. He retains their 'spirit' while toying with rhythms and cadences, mapping ways around those soaring high-notes that are now out of reach, all without diminishing soulfulness or reducing the overall impact of the songs. There are times when you can tell he's been holding off on smaller-scale range-scraping - say, the cries amid "Misty Mountain Hop" - so that he's got enough in the tank for the climactic and cathartic moments that 'really matter', like the end of "Whole Lotta Love."
Unlike many bands, LED ZEPPELIN has never used backup singers when performing live -- and here, that bolsters the 'LED ZEPPELIN are Titans' myth. Even on their albums, the only time they ever had a vocalist other than Robert Plant was "The Battle of Evermore," from their untitled 4th album (Sandy Denny, from FAIRPORT CONVENTION). Maybe it's part of the Titanic myth, but it's certainly impresive what these four can do on their own, without any 'backing' or 'backup' talent.
Page decided to end LED ZEPPELIN after John Bonham died, noting that he was 'irreplacable'. Jason Bonham, however, definitely doing his dad proud, behind a translucent gold/yellow drum kit with the image from the first Led Zeppelin LP cover on his bass head. More 'on-the-money' than his father, Jason's drumming is still the glue that binds the other talents together. He's weighty and heavy when required, but just as often often powering the show to higher heights with undertstatement while your focus is elsewhere. Take note of how his playing builds from straight-ahead thumping to cyclonic propulsion during "Kashmir," and how he takes over and drives the band's groove in "Trampled Under Foot."
But the biggest surprise here is John Paul Jones. The audio-mix allows you to hear the details of his complex underpinnings even when you can't watch his hands stretch out on bass. When the camera does zoom in on his stoic gaze, especially while at his keyboard array, his mastery is mesmerizing.
Jones' main instruments were piano and synthesizer when he worked as a teenage studio musician with Jimmy page (prior to LED ZEPPELIN). The bass was another instrument he got good at, because more British bands needed a bass player than a keyboard player when they started recording in studios, and had to have timing and note precision. Jones is a marvel at balancing bottom-end rhythm with top-end melody. After watching him do that with his hands while tapping out bass parts with his feet, even fabled keyboardists like Edgar Winter and Ray Manzarek seem one-dimensional. On this video, Jones reminds me of Keith Emerson in his heyday, but with an economy of motion and variance of sonic style that even Emerson never quite achieved.
"The culmination of thousands and thousands of emotions we've been going through these past six weeks to get to this point," which Plant explains - is on full display throughout 'Celebration Day.' A score of cameras catch egged-on glances, elated/relieved smiles and all manner of body language. The occasional inserts of grainy Super 8-style footage, often at odd moments, makes me wonder if --despite over a dozen on-stage cameras-- nothing captured by the videographers really worked. Fortunately, the editing-rhythm works here (clearly an end-product of many work-copy and re-edit efforts), to propel the preformance as much as the songs and on-stage talent.
Unlike 'Song Remains The Same' (or most rock-show documenaries for that matter) the band members rarely sprawl out or strike poses here. Instead, they gain intensity and maintain a 'permanent cool' by focusing their craft, and by staying physically close enough, they achieve a remarkable synergy as a band -- probably much more than they'd ever do individually or in other bands. It's almost 'transcendant' -- feeding the 'Rock Titan' myth that surrounds LED ZEPPELIN.
Yet it's a transcendent thing to watch, rare among concert films. 'The Song Remains the Same' and many of the songs in the self-titled 2003 DVD box set were great in their time. But 'Celebration Day' is the great concert LED ZEPPELIN fans have long wanted, and sought on bootlegs, or other media for many decades.
This is as close as we'll ever get to having LED ZEPPELIN back at full capacity, and it seems very unlikely that this will ever happen again. So Enjoy...
Hey Bass...nice to know there are more of "us" out there. I felt alittle lonely that night, lol! Truth is I'm not sure how I found out about it. Page has a very cool website...might have gotten it there.