Ex-Led Zeppelin vocalist and lyricist Robert Plant always said that the true spirit of Led Zeppelin as represented within a single song was more evident in "Kashmir" than it was in AOR standby classic tracks like "Rock & Roll" and "Black Dog"; the notion that a hard rock blues-based band of English white boys who practically invented the heavy metal music genre could in fact be considered the godfathers of "World Beat" music a full generation before Peter Gabriel came along is conveniently overlooked by Western rock music fans, as is the notion that the principles of Eastern music (in terms of Indian and Arabic theories and applications) were far more prevalent within Led Zeppelin's work than that of the Beatles, typically more associated with Indian music thanks to George Harrison's association with Ravi Shankar.
This outstanding live performance recorded 10 years ago as of this writing is a fantastic example of Plant's opinion and the Led Zeppelin vision of musical exploration gloriously realized. As detailed within the interview included with this DVD's bonus features, Plant and guitarist/co-songwriter Jimmy Page chose a set that lent itself well to a broad interpretation and that reflected less the brute force of the riff-driven heavy metal classic tracks that permeate albums such as "Led Zeppelin II" and their self-titled 4th album (although "Four Sticks" and a wild reinterpretation of "When The Levee Breaks" are included) and more of the songs crafted as introspective compostions from "Led Zeppelin III" and "Houses Of The Holy".
This is not Led Zeppelin in their prime; that would be "How The West Was Won". And in truth John Paul Jones' absence is much lamented by this listener as he may well have been the best musician in the band and was the unifying force keeping them together during their last years...but the musicians filling in for him and the late John Bonham are certainly competant and their absence tugs at the sentiment of the heart rather than the sensitivity of the ear.
But for me the accompanying musicians are what really makes this set go. This is not a case of adding an extra guitarist (i.e., Pat Smear from the "Nirvana: MTV Unplugged" concert); the musicians added to this performance play every thing from banjo to hurdy-gurdy to native Arabic lutes, in addition to both Western and Eatern string sections as well as Arabic percussion specialists. The culmination of the meshing of musical talents and the melding of musical sensibilities is no better realized than in the epic performance of "Kashmir", my personal favorite Led Zeppelin song (and perhaps my favorite song by any performer). The song is hardly recognizable as the 8-plus minute classic rock radio staple; it has instead become the living embodiment of the spirit of the band and with its new energy surpasses the original studio recording whose orchestral sounds were generated from an early synthesizer (by John Paul Jones); the energy and the determination exhibited by the lead and supporting musicians during its performance is thoroughly inspiring and worthy of one of the finest performances in contemporary rock history.
This is a tremendous sampling of a band broken down to its most musical elements. Not specifically rock, folk, or even acoustic. Just evidence of the work of one of the finest bands to ever record. All the elements are there; you owe it to yourself to partake of them.