“Led Zeppelin have confirmed that their 2007 reunion concert at London’s O2 arena will be released in “multiple configurations” as ‘Celebration Day’ on Nov. 19, 2012. Prior to this, the film will screen at movie theaters across the globe on Oct. 17.”
Led Zeppelin have long ago achieved legendary status, and it’s never more obvious than when the remaining trio enter a room; it’s akin to witnessing the second coming. When Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones entered New York’s Ziegfeld Theater for the premiere of their concert film, Celebration Day, the applause was almost deafening. The group never spoke, but their presence was a powerful force in the room during the screening. Everything that could possibly be said concerning the 2007 gig at London’s O2 arena celebrating the life of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun has already been said. You know, five years ago. Seeing it close up in gorgeous HD, however, is another matter entirely.
It would be a mortal sin to discuss the film and not mention the sound system at the Ziegfeld. Mind-blowing certainly comes to mind. Cranked to 11, watching Celebration Day really was like watching an actual performance; the audience cheered and applauded after songs, much like at an actual show. Of course, it did help that the performers themselves were there in the room. The film, directed by Dick Carruthers, accurately captures every angel that one could possibly want to see. Largely ignoring the crowd, Celebration Day is about the raw energy that still exists between this group of guys. Every nuance is there, including the smirk on Page’s face when he knows he’s doing something awesome. A smirk, unsurprisingly, that shows up quite frequently.
Outside of the performance, the film is a no-frills affair; it begins and ends with it. Those wishing to see something more involved will have to shell-out for the special edition release, which will contain coveted rehearsal footage. All the backstage and interview could-have-beens aren’t missed, as the performance and direction are so powerful that the opinions of the individual members or pieces that put it all together hardly matter. Well, except for the always-vexing question as to why and how Plant keeps his hair so golden blonde. The world may just have to content itself with the mystery on that one.
Discounting Zep, the audience became a sort-of “Where’s Waldo?” of rock stars. Paul Stanley – rocking studded boots, of course – could be seen roaming the aisles before the show, as could Kirk Hammet, Joan Jett and Chad Smith (The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s drummer, guys.) But they, as with everyone else, came to worship at the altar of Zeppelin. The band made their exit during the first encore, most likely in hopes of avoiding a frenzy, but even their exit was enough for a righteous round of applause.
Anyone following music news would know that Led Zeppelin gave a somewhat contentious press conference at the MoMa earlier in the day, but any bad vibes that may have been spread by Plant calling that one guy a shmuck were completely absent from the theater. Though every once in a while, several different shmucks could be heard shouting things like “tour!” and “reunion!” That may never come to pass, but what they left us with is a very powerful document of a band post-breakup, post-sixty, and yet somehow still at their peak.