Happy Black Friday, everybody. Here's a review of Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day for your post-Thanksgiving shopping pleasure.
Why won’t Led Zeppelin commit to a reunion tour and cash the biggest unsigned check in the music business? Partly because Robert Plant has better things to do (and new music to make). And partly because, in their heart of hearts, the band members know that sustaining the thrilling excellence demonstrated throughout this document of a one-night-only get together over the long slog of a world tour would be no easy business.
Celebration Day (Atlantic *** 1/2) was recorded at London’s O2 arena in 2007 in honor of then recently deceased Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegon. “Ahmet, we did it!” Plant shouts skyward after the band performs “Stairway To Heaven.”
Guitarist Jimmy Page, bass-keyboard player John Paul Jones, drummer Jason Bonham (son of original member John Bonham, whose death in 1980 led to the band’s breakup) and leonine frontman Plant are in commanding form throughout the two hour set. Crisp, thunderous and relaxed, the defining architects of heavy rock move from strength to strength, from intoxicating jams like “No Quarter” to the controlled fury of “Rock & Roll,” with Plant paying tribute to revered if uncredited blues forebears like Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson along the way.
Celebration Day comes in a variety of configurations; I digested it in its 2 CD 2 DVD format, with one vid disc devoted to a pre-concert rehearsal, but it also comes in CD only, vinyl and Blu-Ray packages. Whichever you choose, make sure you get one that includes the Dick Carruthers-directed performance film that captures the Page-Plant onstage interactions and provides the fully satisfying Led Zep redux experience. Sneak a peak at "Black Dog" below.