Sunday, December 21, 2008

the Led Zeppelin reunion, now a year past.

By looking through past entries, you can probably guess that I'm a big Zeppelin fan. That's an understatement.

Well we just passed the one year anniversary of the most import Zep-related thing to happen during my time as a fan: the Dec 10, 2007 reunion of the surviving members with Jason Bonham (son of the departed John) sitting in on drums. It was the first full concert the band gave since 1980. I've had an audio bootleg of the show since about a week after it happened, but just recently I downloaded a full video of the concert.

I really really enjoyed watching a DVD bootleg of the whole LZ 2007.12.10 performance. Of course I'd heard 4 different versions of the audio numerous times over the last year and I knew where the band excelled and where they faltered a bit in the performance. But it was fantastic actually seeing the whole thing for the first time earlier this month. I was totally sucked in!

I sat transfixed in my kitchen with my ear-eatting Sennheiser headphones on watching the whole thing on my laptop as the hour grew very late. I didn't finish the 2 hour show until nearly 3AM and had to work the next morning, but I couldn't pull myself away until the absolute last frame.

The 4 men on stage really sounded like Led Zeppelin, but a sort of nervous and very human Zeppelin. They didn't come across like the flashy, cocky rock gods of the 70s. From their body language it seemed they knew how important it was for their legend that they nail this performance (since the two 1980s sets were crap*) They seemed to be really concentrating, almost holding their collective breath. But every now and then, they'd loosen up and smile-- often when everything fell exactly into place for a few minutes or seconds and it sounded like 1973 all over again. It was in these moments of confidence that the old rock star moves would peak out a bit. Page or Plant would do a little flourish that called to mind the constant onstage dance of their heyday.

Watching the DVD I KNEW it would turn out okay, but it almost felt like I was there and the show was happening in real time. In the moments when they were a little less than together I felt nervous for them, thinking absurdly "come on, guys hold it together. Regain your footing!" The sound came from the best AUD sources (and actually gave you a few difference audio mix options like a REAL DVD release) and the picture came from 13 different sources mixing close ups, some BBC pro-shot stuff, and distant shaky camera phone style shots. The angles came from all over the vast venue so I really got a sense of the physical space of the show.

This is perhaps the best performance from the reunion. I never would've guessed this song would be included in the set.:

Watching this set, nearly fulfilled a dream for me: seeing a Led Zeppelin reunion in person. I became a fan in 1990, just after the second LZ reunion set and all throughout junior high I dreamed of them playing together again. I wrote about Zeppelin whenever I could in our daily "theme" pieces for English class. And once there was an assignment to design a poster for a pretend school concert. Well I figured that if the concert wasn't real then I could delve deep into fantasy and designed a poster for the 1990 reunion performance of Led Zeppelin at the Immaculate Conception Grammar School Gym in Somerville, NJ. It had "Led Zeppelin is BACK!" on the top and a drawing of Jimmy Page bowing his guitar a la 'Dazed & Confused.' I was very proud of my work, but when the assignment was handed back to me, written in red across the paper in my teacher's hand was "This is NOT what I meant!"

Oh well.

*( I blame the failure of the Live Aid July 1985 performance wholly on the presence of Phil Collins. He's an easy target. As for the 1988 set, it was marginally better but Jimmy Page was out of tune and out of sorts...)

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