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Zep finally go out on a high
on November 18, 2015
For scholars of hard rock from the late sixties and early seventies, the temptation to compare Cream's 2005 reformation concert series with Celebration Day is almost overwhelming. After all, Cream's breakup left a huge hole in Atlantic Records' band roster, one that Zep would enthusiastically fill courtesy of Armet Ertegun.
And that's why this gig came about, as a memorial to the man who signed them in 1968. There's an energy on the stage between three lauded rock gods and the son of the departed fourth. It's sharp, tight, professional and feels meticulously rehearsed, as though they have to prove something, as though their last hurrah has to wash away the missteps of the end of their career. The loose, drugged out shambles that was their last album; Bonzo's death; the half baked reunions.
Jason Bonham more than fills his father's shoes, and at times seems to channel Bonzo. Nobody (least of all Phil Collins) would dispute that he was a better fit than Tony Thompson and Collins, who were press ganged to take up the sticks for the disastrous, bloated twenty minute live aid Zep reunion in 1985. But, more than that, Jason plays with true passion and genuine love, coupled with a sense of schoolboy wonder that, somehow, he gets to be on stage with his heroes.
Robert Plant since indicated in Rolling Stone there will be no more Led Zeppelin. And as much as some may see that as a pity, I breathe a sigh of relief that their extraordinary legacy can now close on the unmistakeable high that they so richly deserve. At their best they were a great live band, and this gig is Led Zep at their best.