Monday, December 10, 2007

Led Zeppelin reunion: the review

You might think it couldn't possibly live up to expectation but, it transpires, the opposite is in fact true of Led Zeppelin's first public appearance in 19 years.

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They seem buoyed by the deafening roars that greet their every twitch tonight - everyone present in the O2 Arena is willing their performance to the realms of greatness. It's almost impossible to be subjective, to not be sucked in.

It takes plant three songs before he offers a cursory "good evening". By the time they've blasted through an incendiary 'Good Times Bad Times', a dramatic 'Ramble On' and the stop start rhythms of Black Dog'. He needn't say anything.

Next They launch into 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' and Zep are smiling at each other, only occupying about six foot of the enormous stage. You wouldn't believe this is a band who haven't played together for so long.

They do No Quarter' and they're locked in as tight as if it were the 1970s. Only the close ups on the screen at the back give away their advanced years.

Launchomh into a version of 'Dazed And Confused' that seems to last forever but every last second is enthralling.

Jimmy Page is lit up by lasers and at the song's climax Robert Plant yells out "Jimmy Page on electric guitar!" in a moment the resonates right back to their first heyday.

'Stairway To Heaven' follows. Ridiculous in many ways yet it is a song that everyone present thought was fated to only be performed by dodgy pub covers bands and not again by its creators.

Jimmy has the double headed guitar, bassist John Paul Jones is sat at a keyboard and Plant - contrary to the pre-gig rumours is singing beautifully.

Playing this well known classic proves a shrewd move as it gently reminds everyone present just which, giant-sized rock band they're dealing with.

The final half an hour is comprised of songs so omnipresent it's hard to make any sort of tangible judgement.

'Kashmir' finishes the main set sounding incredible the band take a bow and they're gone.

Rapturous applause follows as you might expect but its nothing compared to the sheer mania that greets the first encore song 'Whole Lotta Love'. Not many bands have one of those, you see.

The middle section veers into space rock territory any young band would be proud of and when that riff returns its well you know how it goes.

Then Led Zep blast through a second encoure of 'Rock And Roll' - paying tribute to their old mentor and the reason this concert is taking place, Ahmet Ertegun, on the way - and, well again... you know how it goes.

If there were sceptics here tonight - there weren't but just for the sake of argument consider it - Led Zeppelin silenced them and banished any rotten memories of their shambolic Live Aid reunion.

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More importantly though, what they have done here tonight is prove they can still perform to the level that originally earned them their legendary reputation.

We can only hope this isn't the last we see of them.
Hamish MacBain, NME Live Editor

Led Zeppelin played:

'Good Times Bad Times'
'Ramble On'
'Black Dog'
'In My Time Of Dying'
'For Your Life'
'Trampled Under Foot'
'Nobody's Fault But Mine'
'No Quarter'
'Since I've Been Loving You'
'Dazed And Confused'
'Stairway To Heaven'
'The Song Remains The Same'
'Misty Mountain Hop'
'Whole Lotta Love'
'Rock And Roll'

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