Review Summary: It's been a long time since they've rock and roll'd, but Led Zeppelin prove they still got it after all these years.
As a big fan of Led Zeppelin myself, I very much anticipated the release of Celebration Day
. This is a band that has often been renowned for their live performances because, quite frankly, it's a mesmerizing experience to be a part of. There's a radiance of intensity and mysticism that seems to flourish through the atmosphere all at once, and it's almost overwhelming to witness. When it comes to their concerts, Led Zeppelin have often operated under a different motivation than most musicians of their time. They didn't just merely perform their songs, they took us on a journey, whether we wanted to go or not. They always experimented with their sound, and even completely re-wrote their songs right before our eyes. Leaving us lost within the spaces of their creativity, and utterly infatuated with the wondrous music that we encounter along the way.
Ever since the untimely death of their original drummer, John Henry Bonham, the band has often been hesitant about the thought of reuniting without him. And it was perhaps for good reason as their past reunions have been plagued with technical difficulties, indolent rehearsals, and overall disappointing performances. But this concert, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Celebration Day
not only redeems the band for their past missteps, but it also serves as a convincing statement on its own that Led Zeppelin is still capable of putting on a show that is as captivating as the ones from their glory days. The musicianship in Celebration Day
is rather straightforward when compared to the more expansive instrumentation found in albums like The Song Remains The Same
and How The West Was Won
, as most of the songs performed on here remain faithful to their studio version. Which could either be a disappointment or a sense of relief, depending on the expectations of the fan. But Led Zeppelin do exercise some of their experimental aspirations in Celebration Day
, particularly in songs like "Dazed And Confused" and "Whole Lotta Love", which are often used as canvases for the band's improvisatory tendencies. Both songs exhibit long and abstract instrumental voyages, which are always led by Jimmy Page's innovative usage of disorienting guitar effects. Each member certainly brings a sense of energy and passion to the stage, but Jimmy Page truly steals the spotlight throughout Celebration Day
, particularly in songs like "Stairway To Heaven" were we hear both his enrapturing vigorousness as well as his more delicate touch.
I was very eager to see how Jason Bonham would do in filling his father's shoes during this performance, particularly in songs like "Dazed And Confused" and "Rock And Roll" where John often showed off his bombastic and abrasive drumming style. So it was pleasing to hear Bonzo Jr. deliver the same overwhelming ferocity that his father is revered for. He's really done a fantastic job in fitting in with the other members. In fact, there is such a lucid synergy between all four of the musicians in this concert, we can really hear them complimenting each other's vibes and feeding off one another, making their performance feel all the more organic. This is quite possibly one of Led Zeppelin's finer live releases and, aside from their BBC Sessions
album, Celebration Day
is also perhaps their most accessible. It features a good balance of both their traditional rock songs like "Black Dog" as well as their more elaborate ones like the progressive epic, "No Quarter".
One of the main highlights of the album is, without a doubt, "No Quarter", because within this one song alone we experience all of the different sides of Led Zeppelin. Delicate cosmic spaces, abrasive rock sounds, metaphorical tales of fantasy, each component is exquisitely blended into a brew of musical alchemy that is utterly rapturous to the last intoxicating drop. I highly recommend this album to any admirer of Led Zeppelin because, from beginning to end, it has something to offer to every loyal fan. It's a truly momentous performance and a rather consistent one throughout, with each member bringing their absolute best in each song. From Robert Plant's soulful cries in "Since I've Been Loving You", to John Paul Jones' hypnotic basslines in "Dazed And Confused", Jimmy Page's dynamism in "Trampled Under Foot", and Bonzo Jr.'s energetic prowess in "Good Times Bad Times", Led Zeppelin unite all of their attributes to remind us all why they're still the biggest name in rock history.