Average: 4.8 (1227 votes)

December 10, 2007

London, UK

The O2 Arena

Setlist:

Good Times Bad Times, Ramble On, Black Dog, In My Time Of Dying,  For Your Life, Trampled Underfoot, 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, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll

Notes:

Led Zeppelin reunites with Jason Bonham on drums for the Ahmet Ertugen Tribute charity concert. Official release, "Celebration Day", on audio cd, blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 19th, 2012.

Original 2007 announcement page, here.

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Submit your personal review of a particular show you attended, updates, corrections, etc., which will be considered for addition to the official online archive.You may also contact the webmaster at: webmaster@ledzeppelin.com

The return of Led Zeppelin

I went to both the Knebworth gigs in 1979, which kind of merged into a single experience for me, and posted a single-line review of these gigs on this site indicating the August 4th gig as the best I have ever been to. The reason I didn’t go into great detail is that, apart from a few instances (queuing all night for tickets, camping out the night before the gig, the rush I felt when Page hit the opening note of TSRTS, the moment the smoke bombs went off just before they played Kashmir), it’s a bit difficult for me to remember specifics after nearly 30 years. I certainly know a few other gigs have come close over the years, but never quite matched Knebworth 79.

The O2 gig in 2007 is a different matter, all the details still very much fresh in my mind. So, here’s my story….
It all started in the middle of the year, when I first started hearing rumours of a reunion. These have been cropping up every so often over the past 25 years, so I didn’t really pay much attention at first, but as time went on, they became more persistent, and when a venue and date were being mentioned, and even advertised on some ticket sites, I started paying attention. Not least because the venue mentioned, the O2, was in South East London, where I live. Led Zeppelin playing a one-off gig up the road from me? Too good to be true, surely. When the day of the announcement finally arrived, I was all ready to head off to the O2 at a moment’s notice, even though I expected the tickets to be distributed in a similar manner to the Live 8 concert in 2005. Well, the means chosen was of course the now-infamous ballot method. I had the same problems as everyone else getting onto the site, but finally managed to get on and register, but by the day the draw took place, I had already come to the conclusion that my chances of winning were virtually nil (actually something like 100/1 by my calculation), and had investigated the ticket shops in Charing Cross Road who were quoting anything up to a thousand quid per ticket. Given the strict rules governing the ballot, I couldn’t quite see how they would get hold of tickets anyway. Of course October 1st came and went, with no golden email for me, but this was of course totally expected. My next stop was inevitably eBay, where the passcodes started duly turning up. Harvey Goldsmith had already made it clear that the winners of the passcodes had to be the person that bought the tickets, but what about all the people that were buying with a passcode they had been given by their aunt, friend, boss, etc? Something told me this would be my only chance, so I plunged in and checked out the ‘buy it now’ codes. OK…let’s go for the cheapest one, which had only been posted a couple of minutes ago…whoops already gone! Lots of people out there thinking the same as me. OK, next one, costing a bit more…got it! Then straight onto Ticketmaster where I have the choice of standing or seated. Well, I know how they work, seated will probably keep offering me stuff way up high or right over to the side. If I had hours to try again and again I might eventually end up with something decent, but sitting in the office at work, I don’t have too much time for this, and the head of my department (a huge Zeppelin fan!) has already seen my buy the passcode, so I don’t want to spend too much time mucking about. So…standing tickets it is! Having secured the tickets, I now have to endure a couple of months waiting to find out of this will all work out; the promoter is quite clear I won’t get in…and my tickets will be cancelled within 14 days. As time goes on, however, the howls of protest start building, and it becomes evident that I’ve probably got away with it! I have a bit of a guilt complex, but the bottom line is that the touts have got hold of quite a few of these, so if I hadn’t bought them, someone else would have got them anyway!
So…after a few weeks, I start feeling a little more comfortable. Having taken quite a risk, I had of course bought a pair. The ‘obvious’ thing to do with the spare is flog it on eBay and get my money back….but there’s no way I want to do that. No doubt this would have gone to another fan, but I feel that even though I had the money to achieve this (and I’m certainly not a rich man), money should not be the deciding factor in who receives the other ticket , it should go to the person that deserves it the most. I need to go with another fanatic, someone who gets as much of a buzz out of this as I do. After reading through the posts on the (old) Zeppelin site, I eventually arrive at a short list of three candidates, out of which I chose Caz, AKA Chicken. Luckily the other two, leddy and brpsled both managed to get into the gig under their own steam anyway, so I think fate directed me to the right guest. I wrote to Caz letting her know the situation, and she agreed to join me, despite not knowing for certain whether this was all going to work out.

Of course time slowly passed by, and apart from a near disaster (I was due to fly to Japan on December 14th) when Jimmy broke his finger, the great day finally arrived, December 9th. In retrospect I would have gone down on December 10th to collect the ticket, but originally thought I would be busy during the day, only finding out at the last moment that I was not. Anyway, Caz and I finally got to meet face to face, along with her boyfriend Bob, who joined us for loads of queuing during our time in Greenwich, with no reward for him! After a couple of hours slowly shuffling forward to the ticket desk, I handed over the sheet of paper with the reference number. I must admit, by the time I was certain there would be no problems…everyone else was walking away with the prize, and I’m sure loads of people in the queue had cheated the system like me! It was all over in a couple of minutes…here’s the tickets, write down your names on a bit of paper, have the wristband fitted….and finally it’s in the bag…sorted, as we Brits say! I was not just glad that it had all finally worked out, but also really pleased for Caz, who had travelled halfway down the country and effectively put her trust in a complete stranger. We posed while Bob took a photo, the pair of us looking like the cat that got the cream. We then went into one of the O2’s expensive bars to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly.

December 10th…finally the great day had arrived. After about 30 minutes queuing we were into the arena, and selected a pitch about 20 feet in front of the mixing desk. The security had been virtually non-existent, and I was a bit annoyed that I had decided against smuggling in my minidisk recorder, but I knew plenty of others would have done so, therefore the bootlegs would be available by the end of the week. The gig kicked off with a so-so prog rock run through of an ELP song from the late 1970’s, and then Bill Wyman’s band took to the stage, acting as a backing band to a number of singers such as (Swan Song artists) Maggie Bell and Paul Rodgers. This was all great, especially Paul, who sounded as good as when I saw him with Bad Company nearly 30 years ago. ‘All Right Now’ was exactly the kind of song this crowd wanted to hear, and he went down a storm. Unfortunately this was followed by the dire Foreigner, who made their power ballad even more inappropriate by bringing on a kids choir to sing along with the chorus. I really could have done without this, but the night was all about celebrating Ahmet Ertegun, and they did have connections there I suppose…I just think they could have come up with an alternative. Thankfully they only played the one song then made there exit.

Next up was the band we had all come to see. Would they rise to the occasion? I knew that other 1960’s bands could still carry it off. In 2006/2007 I had seen the Who four times and the Stones three times, and they were both great, although they both had extra members on stage. More to the point, in 2005, I had seen Cream four times, a band I never dreamed I would get to see, and they were way better than I could have hoped for, the final Albert Hall gig being second only to Knebworth ’79 as far as I was concerned. As for Led Zep: Jason Bonham was an unknown quantity to me, but I knew he had to be good to be on the same stage as the other three, no matter who his father was. JPJ was always totally reliable, so I was quite sure he would be fine. Robert Plant I had seen many times over the years, so I knew his voice was still in fine shape…the only slight worry I had was the man with the guitar. Jimmy Page in his heyday was only ever matched as a rock guitarist by Hendrix, as far as I’m concerned. However, his playing went downhill rapidly after Zeppelin split, and he has been trying to climb back up to the top of the pile ever since. He was pretty good playing with Robert in the 1990’s, but with loads of other people up on stage, I felt they were there to take the load off Jimmy to an extent. Would he manage to regain his old vigour tonight?

The lights go down, and some news footage of Zeppelin’s 1973 gig in Florida starts on the big screen behind the stage. The end of this herald’s the band’s arrival, as they launch into Good Times Bad Times. Robert takes a couple of lines to get going, but is soon in his stride, Jason Bonham is clearly up to the job, JPJ sounds OK, but a bit low in the mix to really stand out. Jimmy goes into his first bit of lead guitar, and there’s a huge roar of approval from the crowd around me…and there’s no doubt about it, the guy’s on form. At some points over the next two hours I watch the fingers of his right hand, projected onto the backdrop screen, turn into a blur, just like they did in 1979. He’s still got it. Not quite as fast as in his prime, but still well up to the task. The first and second songs, while great, are obviously placed to allow the band time to warm up, and the engineers to get the measure of the venue. Next up is Black Dog, and this is the one where the band hit their stride. Led Zeppelin have reclaimed their crown as the greatest rock band ever. Caz got a little emotional at this point, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was meant to be there, fate guided me in choosing my guest. The guys onstage kept up the momentum for the rest of the gig, In My Time Of Dying, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love…how can you go wrong with a set list that contains such gems? During Dazed and Confused Jimmy produced the violin bow, and while I’ve seen his do this a few times over the years, to see him do it onstage with Led Zeppelin, during this particular number…wow. Seeing him standing in the middle of the laser pyramid, creating that amazing sound took me straight back to my teenage years, and I felt exactly like I did as a 16 year old, standing watch him do the same thing at Knebworth. You can see footage of this on TV, but actually being there is a whole different thing!

The overall impression of this gig was that out of the hundreds of concerts I’ve been to over the years, this has to rank in the top three, alongside Cream’s final night at the Albert Hall and of course, Knebworth, 4th August 1979. After all the negative press Led Zeppelin got in the 1970’s, it was very pleasing to see the string of five star reviews in the press. I can only say that I feel very lucky to have been one of the fortunate few that actually got in to see this fantastic concert…they could easily have sold out 100 nights in this venue if they wanted.
Without doubt I’ll remember this night for the rest of my life.

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