Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day (2012)

An excellent concert film. The performances are strong, the vibe and energy of the show is great, the visual direction is interesting without calling undue attention to itself…there really isn’t anything that could have been done better.

Robert Plant cannot sing as high, or as well, as he used to, but he makes a valiant attempt. In the second half of the show, he performs a lot better. Most songs are downtuned a tone to account for age lowering his voice.

Jimmy Page is the same as ever really, some fantastic playing, a few odd choices, lots of skill as well as lots of sloppiness.

John Paul Jones is my favourite member of Led Zeppelin, and he’s excellent here. His playing is so precise and controlled, and grounds the wilder divergences of Plant and Page. He seems the most comfortable of the four musically.

Jason Bonham described the concert as the best day of his life, and his energy and joy is infectious.

What I really loved about the film was how clearly the group enjoyed playing together, and how much the three original members enjoyed Jason’s enthusiasm. There’s no great rockstar ego here, everyone is just having a great time playing together. It’s very, very nice to see, and makes the music all that more enjoyable.

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Director Dick Carruthers periodically has the video change into a 70s-style cropped, lower-definition style, but never to an annoying extent. It’s just a nice touch calling to the band’s history.

While there are certainly some songs it pains me to see weren’t included on the setlist, all those that were included were played well. Rarely did the concert feel like one of those cases of old rockstars failing to recapture past glories. This isn’t the Led Zeppelin of their heydays – John Bonham is gone, Robert Plant’s voice isn’t what it was, they’ve all aged decades – but they don’t try to be, they simply put on the best and most appropriate performance they could in 2007.

It’s a lovely concert film, and the good vibes present are as infectious as the tunes themselves. Reading the accompanying booklet with the DVD release had me enjoying the film even more, as all the thoughts of the band members on the concert were interesting and contextualised the performance well – I especially loved Jason’s emotional thoughts on the matter. I give the film three and a half misty mountains, and a mothership.

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