Sound — 9
I just came from the movie and I'm trying to write this while the show is fresh in my head. The first thing that I realized was that the reason Zeppelin is so successful is due to feeling. Each song has a distinctly different feeling/taste that is just so unique and amazing from "No Quarter" to "The Song Remains The Same" to "Whole Lotta Love", yet all of the feelings can be summed up under one childish word: EPIC! This concert shows the different sides of the Led Zeppelin feeling, and in such a different way than before. Thanks to new and improved technology, I saw Zeppelin in a whole new light tonight; a jamming band that still conveys the most intimate sense of feeling, even live, that no other band can match. This of course starts with the rhythm section of John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham. Jones is in top form, never missing a note, and Bonham would make his dad immensely proud. Both are just so perfect that it is uncanny. The two of them could not have played any tighter than they did, giving Page & Plant, who are both showing age, room to operate. On the note of Page & Plant, Jimmy retains all of the taste that made him on of the greatest guitarists of all time. Personally, I found his guitar solos to be excellent. Though he didn't seem as nimble on the fretboard as he did 50 years ago, he managed to create solos that pierced the heart with feeling. One moment, he's aloof, the next he's ominous, and on "Rock And Roll", the closer, he's just flat out having fun. Jimmy seemed to use the wah a little more than usual, sometimes tastefully, and other times, not as much. At one time, not "Whole Lotta Love", he closed a song with his theremin. He seemed to be feeling his way through the whole concert, mistakes and all, which is exactly what I love to see from him and why he inspires me each and every day to pick up my guitar. Robert Plant turns in a performance that I wasn't expecting. As many already know, Plant's voice has deteriorated over the years, and many of the songs, "Kashmir" being an exception, were played in a lower key to accommodate him. He also fundamentally changed parts of songs, for example, "Black Dog": ah, ah, aaahhhhhhh changed to ah, ah, being done by the audience and he changed aaaahhhhhhh to ohhhhhhh. Granted his slight, shall we say, impairment, Plant performed wonderfully, adding a lot of taste and feeling, almost rivaling that of Page, and telling stories in between songs. In terms of stage presence, Jason was actually the best. You could see how much fun he was having in every camera shot, trying to take everything in at once from a once in a lifetime experience. Jimmy Page is next on this list, and like his playing, I thought his stage presence was very tasteful, contrasting Bonham's all-out mentality. Plant disappointed me the most in this category because I was expecting more out of him. And of course, could it have killed him to shave? I'm probably being too critical because overall, he and the others were amazing.
Content — 10
The setlist for the show at the O2 Arena from October 12, 2007 is: 01. Good Times Bad Times 02. Ramble On 03. Black Dog 04. In My Time Of Dying 05. For Your Life 06. Trampled Under Foot 07. Nobody's Fault But Mine 08. No Quarter 09. 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 & Roll "Good Times Bad Times" worked out very well as everyone was excellent and Page's solo was probably his best of the night. The only negative of this song is that you realize how much louder you want the movie to be in the theater, and this feeling upset me for the first few songs. "Ramble On" had great dynamics going between Page, Jones, and Bonham, though I think Plant butchered the song vocally, drastically changing the style from the studio version to live, a change that altered the feel of the entire song to something weaker than it could've been. "Black Dog" starts with a great transition from "Ramble On" where the band incorporated a part from "What Is And What Should Never Be". Plant manages to do an OK job on this song while, Jason really shines in this song that is one of Zeppelin's most well known. "In My Time Of Dying" was one of the highlights of the show. In the 70's while playing this live, the band was tuned lower than the studio version and they sounded even lower tonight. I thought this really added to the song's heaviness and I liked this version of the song more than any of the others. Everybody did well on this number, which emulates "Southern Church Blues", adding to Zeppelin's infinite catalog of feels. Page used a Gibson ES-350 on this one. I consider myself a bad Led Zeppelin fan for not having heard "For Your Life" before. Accordingly, I cannot attest to how well the song sounded compared to the original but it seemed well rehearsed and had an overall spirit that I enjoyed. This was the first time that Led Zeppelin has played this song live, and Page Pulls out a Black Beauty with a Bigsby for this song. Disregarding Jimmy's guitar solos, I thought "Trampled Underfoot" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" were fun to listen to and Plant did very well on these songs as well as Bonham and Jones, who got his trademark keyboard (harpsichord?) solo right on the mark. I thought that "No Quarter" was actually better here than on "TSRTS". This song totally changes the mood of the concert, making this one of my favorite songs of the night. I think that the improved recording techniques of modern times contributed to this as well. In this song, Page was creative and Jones was, as always, flawless. "Since I'Ve Been Loving You" is such an amazing song, it didn't matter that Zeppelin was not at the top of their game. I thought all of them did worse here than during "TSRTS". However, it doesn't mean that the song was mediocre. The song was epic with an especially epic scene where the camera is to Page's left side and it catches him soloing with the glare from a red stage light. You need to see it to believe it, but this is the embodiment of Led Zeppelin, searing leads with epic rhythm passages that set Page up for greatness no matter what the actual result. Again, the song was amazing, just not as good as in "TSRTS". I Think the band took a misstep with "Dazed And Confused". Jones's intro bass line didn't boom like it usually does, Plant changed his part for the worse, and PAge's guitar and violin solos were less epic than in the Led Zeppelin DVDs. On a positive note, there was a really cool moment when Page is in his violin solo with a green laser light. Overall, through dynamics, taste, and feel, this song could've been better. Then came "Stairway To Heaven", the greatest song ever written. This song has the most epicness and feel of any song in the history of the world and it is the only song that makes me want to cry, laugh, sing, chant, and play guitar all at once. Led Zeppelin could never match the song's prowess in a live application, though it was still very good live. That being said, this concert shows why Zeppelin altered the song live. Tonight, Page tried to mimic the studio version, and with only one guitar that is distorted the whole time, this doesn't work. He also almost copies the studio solo note for note, proving to be another mistake. In this version, with everybody's combined efforts, the song has a deeper meaning than before, but it fails to be the 8 minute epic adventure that made it the greatest song of all time. Overall the song was very good live, just not the greatest of all time. If only I could get my band members to recognize this, they would stop forcing me to play this song live while nobody, not even Led Zeppelin themselves, can master it. "The Song Remains The Same" is also one of my favorite songs from the night. The only way to describe it like a train leaving a station that throttles along nonstop until the end of the song. This rendition of it was one of their best ever, in my opinion. "Misty Mountain Hop" was an interesting offering that I was not expecting for this one-off reunion show. Jason Bonham harmonizes with Robert Plant during the verses and Page plays well with Jones, making this one of the most complete songs of the night. I also really liked the line of taste Page took in this solo. The rotating riff in "Kashmir" is sometimes considered Zeppelin's best, though I prefer "Heartbreaker". While I said that "Misty Mountain Hop" was a complete song, this song was by far the most complete of the night, with a very thick sound that can only be attributed to the hard work and cooperation of each member, most notably Page and Jones who create a singular voice with their guitar and keyboard, respectively. Plant turns in his best vocal performance of the night and everybody is really clicking on this one. This is the final song before Led Zeppelin leaves the stage. "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock And Roll" close out the show as the encore songs. By this point the members of Led Zeppelin are singularly concentrated on having fun, which is evinced by Page in "Rock And Roll" with a constant smile on his face combined with him skipping across the stage. Both songs are similar in that they are both greats centered on huge riffs, though more in "Whole Lotta Love". For this Page used his trademark theremin and the song was much more structured than other versions in that it followed the format of the studio version without any detours to other songs. As a whole the concert was extraordinary. I am trying to be critical of the show, but in reality, it is so far above any others and it deserves the proverbial 11 on the 1-10 scale. This was by far and away the most important show of the decade and it definitely earned its title.
Production Quality — 10
Production wise, this was a very sound movie. The audio and video were of the absolute top quality most likely due to countless hours spent revising it before its release. The spread of camera shots is excellent and there are very few times when the crowd is focused on. There are two times when the crowd is on camera. One is with a young lady singing the words to "Stairway To Heaven" and another is a close-up shot of the screen of a digital camera shooting the concert. I really liked the use of one camera type that was reminiscent of the 8mm tape used in the Led Zeppelin DVD. With the surround sound and HD video, it definitely feels like you are in the O2 Arena. In this aspect "Celebration Day" is far superior to any previous Led Zeppelin DVD release. For someone who was born after Led Zeppelin disbanded, like myself, this aspect is crucial. Again, a lot of time must have been spent organizing the production side of this film, and it is flawless, leaving almost nothing to be desired.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, "Celebration Day" was a great movie. Having come into the theater with relatively low expectations, this blew me away. Again, Led Zeppelin personifies any feeling that one could have experienced. Their incredibly unique sense of taste and feeling, which resonates through the film, has been unmatched, making Led Zeppelin arguably the greatest band of all time. The sense of overall epicness throughout makes this show the most important concert of the last decade. Some of the songs in this concert were performed better than in previous releases, and others weren't. That still shouldn't diminish the status of "Celebration Day". As a last concert, Led Zeppelin proved that they still have it, though some members were a bit shaky at times. Having seen this, I'm kind of happy that they never embarked on a worldwide tour after this, because it would've most likely decimated their bodies. And, after all, they put the utmost effort into producing this film and they fulfilled what I call their duty by sharing "Celebration Day" with the world so that everyone, even in future generations, can experience the greatness of the all-mighty Led Zeppelin, the greatest band to have ever lived.