Celebration Day is a concert film for hard-core Led Zeppelin fans only, and since I consider myself one of them it was a great thrill to watch Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham (John’s son Jason takes over, since John Bonham died in 1980 from an illness that took many a drummer called Drowninginyourownvomititis) tear up the stage and remind everyone why they are still the Gods of rock after a thirty year hiatus.
Zeppelin’s brief reunion concert in 2007 was put together for charity, in honor of Atlantic Records founder, music legend and fellow Turk Ahmet Ertegun’s then recent death. The three remaining members of Zeppelin briefly rejoined, blew the place down for two hours and then unfortunately disbanded yet again. Celebration Day is an aptly titled commemoration of this brief spark.
Don’t be fooled by the high rating and assume that this is a great music documentary. It is given only for the quality of the music, the power of the performances and the mastery of the execution by the video and audio crew who did an amazing job editing the footage together with a glorious surround audio mix. This is strictly a concert film without any bells and whistles or any other documentary footage unlike masterpieces like Gimme Shelter or Zeppelin’s own The Song Remains The Same.
Celebration Day simply puts the audience in the front seat of this momentous event and tries to recreate the experience any way it can. It’s usually a sad sight to see rock bands of yesteryear perform again decades later. The energy is off, the vocals are stale due to old age and the whole experience ends up a bit bland.
Zeppelin, on the other, has not lost a bit of their old energy and caused me to mourn that I will not be able to experience it live in person. But alas, this is the next best thing. Jimmy Page is a still a dynamo with the guitar and pretty much matches his talent from the old concert films. Robert Plant is almost more soulful than he used to be forty years ago, and his voice still holds up.
John Paul Jones looks like a mortician who accidentally found himself on stage but when he mans the keyboard for No Quarter, he kills it. Jason Bonham, showing off his sweet John Bonham tattoo at the end of the set is probably the best replacement, but no one can be as good as papa Bonham.
Celebration Day is a great concert film simply because it shows that the Zeppelin spirit lives on. These guys are dynamite and they show no signs of slowing down. Let’s see Coldplay do this at sixty. I just cross my fingers for a reunion tour.
Celebration Day will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray or CD on November 19.