Led Zeppelin / Dec. 10, 2007 / London (O2 Arena)
Who knows if Led Zeppelin will ever tour again. But if its last show was indeed Dec. 10 at London's O2 Arena, one thing is for sure: the band ended as it began, concise, precise and dynamic.Who knows if Led Zeppelin will ever tour again. But if its last show was indeed Dec. 10 at London's O2 Arena, one thing is for sure: the band ended as it began, concise, precise and dynamic.
Like it was in the last few months of 1968, when the band toured as the New Yardbirds to fulfill old obligations and start new dreams, each of the 16 songs played at the 02 remained amazingly faithful to their original framework. But within each song, the band never failed to evoke the power, majesty and yes, the hammer wielded during its original incarnation.
The 130-minute show began with "Good Times, Bad Times," which lurched from off-kilter rhythms and explosive outbursts of kinetic energy in what was little more than two minutes. As the crew at the board struggled to get the sound together during the second song, "Ramble On" ignited the audience and from there it went on from one peak to the next.
By the time "Black Dog" kicked in, there was no doubt the band was strutting its stuff. Singer Robert Plant, supposedly the most reluctant about future Zeppelin activity, appeared to be having the most fun on the stage, displaying many of the moves associated with the physical vocabulary he helped invent as one of rock's great frontmen.
While Led Zeppelin is as vaunted for the shading and dynamics built within its original framework, the so-called light side of its sound was hardly evoked during the evening, with the band moving into still even heavier territory. For starters, Zeppelin unleashed "In My Time of Dying," where Jason Bonham reminds the audience that he is his father's son and shows the Zep foundation is in good hands.
"For Your Life," from the band's somewhat overlooked yet magnificent "Presence" album, was followed by a frenetic "Trampled Underfoot" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine." These songs are showcases for the architects of the band's sound, guitarist Jimmy Page and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, who shifted from bass to keyboard throughout the night.
These tunes set the stage for some of the band's signature magnum opuses: "No Quarter," "Since I've Been Loving You," "Dazed and Confused" and "Stairway to Heaven."
Showing economies of scale not seen since 1968, "Dazed & Confused," introduced by Plant as one of the songs that just had to be included, barely reached the 10 minutes mark, this for a song that in its heyday was known to stretch to 25-35 minutes long.
At the end of "Stairway," Plant shouts out to the evening's inspiration, the legendary Ahmet Ertegun, who co-founded Atlantic Records and died in December 2006. "Hey Ahmet, we did it," he said. And indeed they did.
But the evening wasn't over yet, the band dives into "The Song Remains the Same," where Page lives up to his reputation as rock's most inspired guitarist. That gave way to "Misty Mountain Hop" and the majestic "Kashmir." And the amazing thing is: at the end, just like his father did on "In Through the Out Door," Jason Bonham is taking the band to new levels.
Toss in a couple of classic encores like "Whole Lotta Love," and "Rock and Roll" and the recipe is complete: an exhilarated and spent audience, indeed. It may almost be 2008, but Led Zeppelin can still take you to the promised land.