When Led Zeppelin broke up on December 4th, 1980, it was a direct result of the tragic death of their remarkable drummer John Bonham. While frontman Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page would continue to play together in different configurations over the next few decades, the thoughts of a full band reunion with bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and replacement drummer seemed like wishful thinking of the highest order. As the years went by, the band’s many fans had completely given up hope of seeing them play again. By 2007, it had been years since Plant and Page had even taken the stage together, and that’s why when they announced their unlikely full band reunion set for December 10th, 2007, fans were truly in shock.
Taking place at London’s O2 Arena, the show was a tribute concert in honor of the band’s long-time friend, well-respected music business executive Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun signed the band to Atlantic Records and turned them into superstars, and only such an influential figure’s passing could reunite the mighty Led Zeppelin. They tapped Bonham’s talented son, Jason Bonham, to play drums, adding to the emotion of the night.
When the night came, the band was fully prepared, unleashing a ferocious musical attack that stunned the excited and lucky audience. They seemed to pick up right where they left off, exploding out of the gates with “Good Times Bad Times”, “Ramble On”, and “Black Dog”. The audience went absolutely wild. The band continued to play mostly classic live tracks, with “Trampled Under Foot”, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, “No Quarter”, and “Dazed and Confused” supplementing some of their biggest hits in “Stairway to Heaven”, “Kashmir”, “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Rock and Roll”. It was a pure, unadulterated celebration of all things rock’n’roll, hence the concert’s name, “Celebration Day”.
In the fall of 2012, Led Zeppelin released Celebration Day in movie theaters across the world. They followed that up with a DVD and digital download release slated for November of the same year. The footage is honestly remarkable and gives a glimpse into an alternate universe where the band still toured regularly. All four members of the band were fully locked in; they didn’t just play a show, they rehearsed intensely so that they delivered the real deal Led Zeppelin live experience. Robert Plant was as lively as ever, showing his skills as the ultimate frontman, while Jimmy Page’s guitar playing was beyond impressive. John Paul Jones was a true wildcard, adding his thunderous bass and seriously underrated synth skills to the evening. and Jason Bonham did his father proud, perhaps stealing the show with his note-perfect playing on the drum kit.
Thankfully, you can watch the amazing Celebration Day in full on YouTube, courtesy of user Luigi Natale. Watch performances of “Kashmir”, “Black Dog”, and “Rock and Roll”, or the entire concert, below and relive the magic of Celebration Day!
“Rock And Roll”
[Videos: Led Zeppelin]
[Originally published 12/10/2016]