Customer Reviews: Celebration Day
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2012
Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day arrived at my home from Amazon, and I couldn't wait to get it into my Blu Ray player. After being rejected in lotteries for a couple of Zep shows back in the very late 70s before the tragic death of John Bonham (my inspiration for drumming), this release finally provides the opportunity to see the band perform in the next best way to seeing them live.

This performance was captured at London's O2 Arena, and could be held up as a perfect example of the way a rock group should perform live. Barring some jumpy video editing, the show is a gem. I'll get to the jumpy video editing in a sec.

The Celebration Day concert is all show. Close up shots of each band member dominate the screen throughout and capture not only the great talents of the players, but also some moments of intimacy between the bandmates that are often missed in other DVD musical shows. Most importantly, there are no theatrics here to distract from the Zeppelin classics that comprise the awesome setlist; it's just the guys playing on a brightly lit stage. And all of the boys clearly committed to each other to give performances that were true to the studio versions.

As anyone reading this already knows, Jason Bonham fills in for his Dad on drums for this show...and he completely nails the essence of his Dad's drumming style both in look and style. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are also completely on for the Celebration Day show. Page's white hair showed his age, but his guitar work showed his expertise. Jones' bass and keyboards sounded precise. But one of the key elements?...Plant's vocals sounded terrific; I have to say that I was blown away by how much he sounded like Robert Plant circa 1977. Just amazing.

The picture quality and sound are absolutely terrific. If you've got a surround system, you're in for a pounding Rock experience. The sound has an amazing DTS mix.

Unfortunately, as I alluded to earlier, the video (most of the time) jumps around every 4 seconds (or less), so you really don't get to see the performance in a way that makes you feel like you're in a front row seat right there at the O2 Arena back in 2007. The jumpiness makes you feel're watching a DVD. Video producers need to leave the performance to the band and stop the self-indulgent "look what I can do with 16 cameras" editing. It's the worst during the fast songs; it's almost like the video editing team said, "Fast song...let's go with superfast camera changes." And all that really does is take away from the front row perception.

There were also some minor occasions where the videographer thought the viewer might like to see effects like a filtered, red screen, stop motion, slow motion or imagery effects. That kind of video-malarkey was quite popular in the 70s and even Zep's The Song Remains the Same DVD. But c'mon, even if it was some nostalgic nod to the video ways of when Zep was at their height, I think it's something we would all prefer to do without. But none of the aforementioned really took too much away from this excellent Blu Ray composition.

For the show you get the following setlist:

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
14. Kashmir
15. Whole Lotta Love
16. Rock And Roll

It runs for 2 hours, but, man, it felt like 20 minutes; I was screaming for more after that last track. These guys have GOT to pull it together for the fans and put this show on the road (I'm looking at you, ROBERT!!!).

You also get (with the Deluxe Edition) a disappointing bonus DVD that has the entire show recorded at their Shepperton Studio dress rehearsal. It's kinda cool to see, but it's a stationary single view camera with poor audio. Almost as bad as all those handheld bootlegs on YouTube of the show that we had to watch up until this release. There's minimal interaction by the band members between songs, and nothing that makes the inclusion of this bonus DVD anything other than the equivalent of another YouTube cell phone video.

The packaging and accompanying booklet are fair at best. It's a CD sized fold-out that houses the Blu Ray show, the bonus DVD, and audio of the show on 2 CDs with a booklet that has some brief (but heartfelt) band member comments about the show.

But this release is not about the packaging or extras; it's about the perfect, 5-star performance that Led Zeppelin delivered on December 10, 2007 and our ability to now share the experience on Blu Ray in high def awesomeness. It's the Led Zep live Blu Ray release we've all been waiting for. Any Zeppelin fan will enjoy this disk immensely. There is no question here. Find a way to add this to your collection.

Concert: 5 stars
Sound and Video Quality: 5 stars
Video Editing: 2 stars
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on November 19, 2012
I have been a huge fan of Led Zeppelin for as long as I have been a fan of music, and I have been looking forward to the O2 show being released commercially since I watched low quality cell phone videos after the show. It was obvious that the performance was fantastic and the band sounded sensational. When they announced Celebration Day, I pre-ordered on Amazon same day and set aside most of my Monday night to watch the blu ray.

I cranked up my surround sound earlier tonight and popped in the Blu Ray. While Good Times Bad Times sounded great, there was something that wasn't quite right. I soon realized that it was the editing of the video. I knew from reading advance info that they filmed the show with 16 cameras. This should have been a positive, but just because you HAVE 16 cameras doesn't mean you have to continuously use them. The video very rarely stays on the same camera shot for more than 3 seconds. Once I realized that was what was messing up the flow of the show, I actually started counting. I hoped that it was a tempo thing tied to the first song, but it continued for the whole show and was very distracting. It also made it hard to observe the interactions between the band members, which is too bad because everything I read about the show was that they really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Putting the video portion aside, they sounded incredible. Plant's vocals are at least as good as they were live near the end of Zeppelin (ie - Knebworth show), and far better than at the other one-off reunions in the 80's. On some songs, Plant's somewhat weathered voice actually worked better than his younger vocals. Page sounded great, and it doesn't sound like they did much as far as overdubs in the studio - it is Jimmy's performance, with all the highlights and the occasional warts. JPJ and Jason Bonham were powerful and as tight as if they'd played together for years.

As a fan, it was worth getting the deluxe edition for the video of the rehearsal. The video (shot from a single stationary camera pretty far back) and audio quality is obviously not up to the standard of the O2 show, but some of the performances sounded like they were even better than the O2 versions.

Despite my disappointment in how this performance was presented on video, I would still recommend it to any Zeppelin fan, provided they already owned Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin's performance and the audio CDs are 5 star, but it is mystifying to me that what may be the last performance by this epic band was edited together so poorly, especially since my understanding was that Jimmy and JPJ were heavily involved.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 19, 2012
This review is of the CD-only set, and is probably redundant: there's already been masses written and said about this album, and if you're looking at it you're almost certainly a Led Zeppelin fan of some sort and you'd want this album even if it wasn't all that good. Thankfully, it is good. Very good, in fact. The three surviving members plus John Bonham's son Jason still had the old magic even in 2007 when this concert took place, and this is a fine record of it.

I saw Led Zeppelin play live just once, at Earl's Court in the mid-70s. It was a great concert which I still remember with huge pleasure. Unsurprisingly, they have matured since then, but still generate a terrific atmosphere and perform a great set. Jimmy Page plays superbly and with a little more brevity and concision in his solos than of old, which to me is no bad thing. John Paul Jones reminds us what a very fine musician he is and Robert Plant still has a fantastic voice which he uses with real maturity. The power is still there when he needs it but there is a sensitivity and delicacy in places which, while there in Zeppelin's heyday, has matured into something very special.

The recorded sound is great, and it's a cracking live album which manages to capture the atmosphere as well as the band's performance, and a fine addition to Led Zeppelin's discography. Warmly recommended - but then, I bet you already knew you were going to buy it.
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on November 20, 2012
First, this was a great concert and a great performance by Led Zeppelin in London in 2007. The performance I think equals, or nearly equals, that assembled in The Song Remains the Same double-CD from 1977, I believe. The set selection is excellent as well. I don't think I've heard a better version of Trampled Under Foot- which gives you new appreciation for that song- and is worth the price alone. But every song on the album is done well, if not among the best performances out there. In any case, after listening to this Blu-Ray audio, it will be hard to ever go back to listen to the older performance again. Here's why:

The audio quality. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to finally hear Led Zeppelin as they really are - without the hollowed-out sound, no matter how many times its been remastered, no matter how good your audio equipment is, from decades past. Right from the beginning of Good Times, Bad Times- the state-of-the-art recording, the chest-pounding bass, the full range of HD audio- it's amazing to say the least- and something every Led Zeppelin fan (especially those who have never been to a live concert- including me) must have.

If you haven't listened to this disc, and have never been to a Led Zeppelin concert in person, you haven't heard the best of Led Zeppelin. It's that simple. A must have, without a doubt.
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on December 1, 2012
I pre-ordered Celebration Day (Deluxe Edition 2CD + 2 DVD (CD sized digipak). This is one of the best purchases I've made in my life!!! HANDS DOWN!!! I received it on 11/20/12, opened the package, inserted disc 1 into the cd player in my company truck & was completely blown away. The cd's haven't been replaced in my player since that moment. Crystal clear, thunderous, professional, WALL OF SOUND!!! The following weekend I watched the dvd of the concert & OH MY GOD!!! A wonderful concert experience. (I didn't particularly care for the editing of footage from concert goers cellphones. Give me a break!!!) Robert, Jimmy, John, & Jason were in top form & enjoying every minute of there performance. Their interaction & feeding off of each other just gave me the chills from excitement. Jason was emotional & humbled (towards the end) being able to perform with his father's band. Watching the concert made me appreciate the cds even more. This package is money well spent.

P. S.: I bought Celebration Day (2 CD + 1 DVD, DVD sized digipak) for my 62 year old boss (he's a rock & roll fan from way back, but, you wouldn't know it by looking at him). That morning I walked by his office & Zeppelin was blaring from his computer speakers while he was working on reports. He told me he is wearing the cds out in his truck!!!
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on January 30, 2013
I couldn't stop grinning for the first 30 minutes....I was in awe the rest of the time. 40 years later and still the greatest.

This concert lives up to the hype. You'll understand why Led Zeppelin is the greatest band EVER.
This is how it's done....

John Paul Jones holds it all together as the most talented utility man in the business. He can play anything.
Jimmy Page Is in fine form, nails all his parts, his trademark sound and swagger, it's all there, and he plays with the emotion and skill he's known for.
Robert Plant sounds better here than he has in literally years and somehow manages to consistently hit high notes he hasn't hit in 20 years.
Last but not least.... Jason Bonham. Wow. He holds it down in a way that would make his old man proud. No one else could sit behind this band and pound those skins in a such a way that you could legitimately call this LED ZEPPELIN. He's been in the business a long time and has played with some of the best musicians in the world. This is nothing contrived. If anyone deserves to be there, it's him.

The set list rocks and each number is tight. They seem to get stronger as the set goes on which is incredible to witness.
I'd give an appendage to have been at this show. Not having the opportunity to be there just reaffirms the fact that life isn't fair. I'll have to be content to see it here instead.....but at that rate, I'm not going to complain.

The sound quality of the BluRay is fantastic. The video quality is fantastic. The light show is perfect.
Do yourself a huge favor and play this on a credible home theater system.....loud. Real loud.
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on December 7, 2012
I pre-ordered this from Amazon. When I got it I went home after work and put the DVD in the Blu-ray player. I was blown away from the opening licks. It's like they never quit, much less 32 years ago. There are no words to express the feeling of watching the members of the group, plus Jason Bonham drumming, slipping right into place in the music.
Jimmy Page has some new toys for his guitars, as does John Paul Jones' keyboards. Jason wails away on a new set of Ludwig Vistalites and in several songs, especially at the end or "Rock and Roll", I see him channeling his father. He admits as much in the liner notes. It's something to see. The only thing Jason does differently than his ol' Daddy is use a double bass pedal on the songs requiring the bass drum triplets that John did with ONE PEDAL (!!). I drum and it took me a long time to find out that he did triplets on the single Ludwig Speed King pedal. Amazing. I love my old Speed King, but I ain't THAT fast!
John Paul is as rock steady and fluid as he ever was and his keyboard work hasn't lost any of it's original luster. I always admired his bass runs on "What Is and What Should Never Be" and "Ramble On". He and Bonham completed each other and it's the same on this show.
Robert's voice took a bit to get warmed up. But when he did, I wasn't disappointed. I know some of the songs had the key changed, but it didn't mess anything up.
The rehearsal dvd wasn't as thrilling as the show. Practice is just that: practice. This was recorded 4 days before the show, so it was as smooth as the show, with the exception of one song Jason muffed, but on the next effort was nailed down tight. The only thing I didn't like about the dvd was the fixed camera position. Nothing was clearly visible. But, that's ok; it was practice.
If you don't have this set, I don't know why or you've been on a deserted island. Get it. If you're unhappy with it, mail it to me. I'm sure I'll end up wearing my copy out!
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on December 14, 2012
ok, I'm one of Zep's biggest fans, and pieced downloaded O2 videos from u-tube and assembled into a complete concert DVD. It was a labor of love - sometimes finding a better vid to replace something ragged. I've watched it on my home theater several times, but naturally the video quality on an 8' HD system was severely forward 5 years later... Finally Jimmy convinced Robert to release the pro-shot footage. And what an awesome show it was - one for the history books. These older rockers were able bring back the excitement and rekindled fond memories of seeing them at the sold out Pontiac Silverdome back in '77. They are all in excellent form. Robert can still belt it out and hit many of the high notes, though the songs were reworked to better align with his voice. Jason starts off nervously but soon melds nicely with the band and starts to have some fun, though I have to admit I miss the deep thump of Bonzo's foot pedal. Jason has about 80% of the drumming chemistry his dad possessed, which was truly larger than life in the drumming world. Jimmy plays around - and occasionally leads the band into unknown territory - but being the "best garage band in the world", he knows how to bring them back. What can one say about John Paul Jones...except he is technically PERFECT. Nobody does it better. Is this a great concert video - yes, if you like constant cuts to the various members - mainly waist up. The viewer definitely misses the constant panorama of the large screen presentation going on behind them. Several montages are completely missing, and that was an integral part of the show. Favorite song: Hard to pick, but For Your Life stands out - never before played live. Do I recommend this? Without doubt - it is highly likely that there will never be another show by this band. It is history - and a must have for all 70's rock fans.
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on November 19, 2012
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 the memory of 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 only full-length reunion performance since their brief tour in 1980. It delivers on the nearly-mythic hype that immediately burst forth after that show, finally placing a proper 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 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 "S.R.T.S.", Jimmy Page was just over-powering in almost every song; here Jimmy Page's performance is un-diminished, but everyone else shares the spotlight too -- and the overall impact is far greater.

The playing is tighter, 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 or blow the walls out 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 no less 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 keeps special effects to a minumum, and cuts 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, it would probably require stadiums as large as the Grand Canyon, so you would never get as close to the band as this film gets you.

Their playing is not suffocatingly or academically perfect -- if it were, then LED ZEPPELIN would hang like dead-air on stage, like the studio-musicians who play behind over-hyped vocalists these days from shows like 'American Idol' or today's Top-40/teeny-bopper acts. LED ZEPPELIN's 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 rework and enhance every piece. Beginning with the thunder-blasts that open "Good Times Bad Times" (the kickoff song) and a rousing "Rock and Roll" finale, and 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" -- still as awesome as ever after all these years.

Curiously, LED ZEPPELIN doesn't perform "Celebration Day" here, as they did in "Song Remains The Same." 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 amazing fretwork, Jimmy Page enlivens all those familiar riffs that spawned thousands of garage-bound, wanna-be rockers. Here he executes them with familiarity, while still infusing each song with a magic that makes them all sound like something fresh or new. Page's fingers are startlingly nimble here -- like a much younger 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 high-point for a decade. On solo tours, backed by the aptly named band "Strange Sensation," the iconic singer 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 -- his restraint in "Misty Mountain Hop," for instance -- so that he's got enough left 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 or musicians when performing live -- and here, that bolsters the 'LED ZEPPELIN are Titans' myth. Even on their albums, the only time they ever had a guest/backing vocalist was in "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.

Jimmy Page decided to end LED ZEPPELIN after John Bonham died, noting that he was 'irreplacable'. Jason Bonham, however, definitely does 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, the 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 pounding to cyclonic propulsion during "Kashmir," and how he takes over and drives the band's groove in "Trampled Under Foot."

But the big surprise here is John Paul Jones. The audio-mix allows you to hear the details of complex music 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 he's playing keyboards, 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 simplistic. 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 "The 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 will probably never happen again. So Enjoy...

The DVD extras in the 'Deluxe edition' are only for hard core fanatics -- the rehearsals at Shepperton Studios are interesting, but nowhere near as well done as the O2 production; the TV-news broadcast from Tampa, FL documents that TV news has been completely moronic for at least 40 years; the promotional pieces are probably OK if you like paying for ads you can watch for free on YouTube.
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on December 9, 2012
I actually saw this film at the theater when it played for those 2 days back in October so I was pretty pumped to get this to watch and listen to at home. Once I saw that it was "out for delivery" I was really pumped. The quality and clarity of the blu-ray are outstanding, the sound is crisp and clear as is the image. The film itself is the concert from the O2 arena and the concert only, no backstage stuff or limo talk or wizard (like Song Remains the Same). The set list is amazing (Plant even mentions during the concert how they thought about what songs to include along with what songs HAD to be there) and I was surprised at how good Plant sounded singing. John Paul Jones is solid both on keyboards (Trampled Underfoot my favorite) and bass as is Jason Bonham filing in on drums while Jimmy Page shows he still can bring it. Solid, solid buy. I would say this is the best sounding live recording I have ever heard. I have to add that I finally watched the DVD that is included in the set and WOW is it a real letdown. Basically a camera is set up by the soundboard and that is the only camera angle for the entire rehearsal. Yes, you see the top of 4 heads (probably the sound guys) and the band (from a distance) as they rehearse the show. If you are a huge fan or need something to play while you are doing something else I guess it is for you, but I really don't see any need for it.
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