Byline: JOHN AIZLEWOOD
REVIEW Led Zeppelin ***** 02
THERE ARE re-formations. And then there is the Led Zeppelin re-formation. Themost popular, the loudest and the most innovative act in their day, theirreunion show was always going to be the most popular, the loudest and the mostinnovative of this era, from the moment one million people entered the ballotfor the right to purchase the 18,000 tickets for what is officially still justa one-off event to benefit a charity established by their late mentor AhmetErtegun. Two hours and 10 minutes after they began with Good Times Bad Times,the opening track of their 38-year-old debut album, they had assuaged thedoubts and delivered a show of breathtaking power and spine-tinglingexcitement; a four-way musical tug-of-war in which they all won.
A crowd including Sir Paul McCartney, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Jeff Beck, FooFighter Dave Grohl and the inevitable Kate Moss (none of whom, one suspects,entered any ballot) could scarcely believe their luck. Not only had theyactually secured tickets, but this was rock's holy grail made flesh: afulllength performance featuring all three surviving members, plus JasonBonham, drumming son of drumming father, John.
Naturally, for a band who always left nothing to chance, the sound, lightingand backdrop were perfect. Weeks of rehearsals had shed ring-rustiness andreconciled everyone to playing Stairway To Heaven, the favourite of nobodyinside the band. They delivered it straight and slow with Jimmy Page ondouble-necked guitar and 18,000 hearts melted. Even mine, despite thatpreposterous lyric which rhymes "May Queen" with "spring clean".
If Jason Bonham was his father's equally hard-hitting son, the others havesauntered to their bus pass years with varying degrees of dignity. Even so,therock band who taught the rest how to rock still have much to teach. John PaulJones may have as popular music been unassuming, but his feel for bass wasalmost Jamaican and his pounding keyboards on Misty Mountain Hop showed hecould lead as well as follow.
Singer Robert Plant was lined of face but long of hair and lithe of body. Morecrucially, although he required a teleprompter, his voicepart air-raid siren, part instrument of lustwas as astonishing as it always was.
It needed to be, for Page (less the waxy buddah of music gets. recent vintageafter losing weight) was wondrous.
Initially peeping from behind sunglasses and dressed in trademark frock-coat,once he had ignited Ramble On with some mind-boggling guitar work, the shadesand coat were soon dumped and he was sweating and smiling like it was 1975again.
By Dazed And Confused (all 26 minutes of it), Page was at his most avant-garde,attacking his guitar with a violin bow, but on Kashmir, unleashing the Zeppelinriff of Zeppelin riffs, he was almost inhumanly exciting. It was like watchinga man invent electricity. One oft-repeated Seventies myth suggested Page'sprowess came as a result of a pact with the devil. Superstitious nonsense ofcourse, but sometimes you wonder . …