Legendary Reunion 2007 (Wendy wecd-105/106)
O2 Arena, London, England – December 10th, 2007
Disc 1: Before the show, Opening film, Good Times Bad Times, Ramble On, Black Dog, In My Time Of Dying, For Your Life, Trampled Under Foot, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, No Quarter
Disc 2: Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, The Song Remains The Same, I Can’t Quit You, Misty Mountain Hop, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, after the show
After the anticipation and excitement for what many consider to be the reunion of the decade and the concert event of the year, we are left to sort through all of the tapes and make our judgements. Even though Led Zeppelin made the mistake of not broadcasting the event on television, it was obvious that there were plans to record and release the show from the moment the show was first announced. In the intervening month there have been at least eight different tape sources circulating. Wendy were the first silver label to announce their release of the show, coming on the morning afterwards. Taped specifically by the company exclusively for their label, the taper was in a position in the arena to record a phenomenal sounding document.
The music is very well balanced but there are occasional hints of distortion in louder passages during “Ramble On.” The stereo effects of the audience noises achieve a great, rich live sound. Some claim this is better than a soundboard and there is a lot to support that view. The only possible drawback are very faint, muffled conversations behind the taper. But since they are so low the music easily drowns them out at higher volumes. This is an good achievement given the acoustic problems with the arena that are so much of a concern that Zeppelin themselves contacted Elton John for advice on how to handle it.
This is the first time Led Zeppelin played a full set in almost thirty years and the first time they played together publicly (with John Paul Jones) in almost twenty. And considering both Live Aid and Atlantic 40th Anniversary were less than stellar, this is the closest they’ve come to capturing the magic since the mid seventies. The tape begins with more than five minutes of noise before the gig before cutting into the news clip about the record setting Tampa 1973 gig. “Good Times Bad Times,” “Ramble On,” and “Black Dog” all follow in quick succession. The first two songs sound a bit tentative, but they hit a nice stride by the third with Plant enjoying the audience interaction. “Good evening” is Plant’s curt greeting before a nice version of “In My Time Of Dying.”
Jimmy Page switches to a vintage and rare Gibson ES5 for this song giving it a warmer timbre compared to the 1977 versions on the Danelectro. Plant throws in a line of “Honey Bee,” a blues they covered in the very early days. “Of the thousands and thousands of emotions we’ve been going through together finally get to this point for Ahmet, and to bring Jason in, and the double bass pedal. This is the first adventure with this song in public.” They play the live premier of “For Your Life” from 1976’s Presence LP. Although that album is very good (and not the unappreciated masterpiece some collectors claim), this is the most interesting song and should have been included in the set list of their 1977 tour instead of playing it safe with the blues-based “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”
The angular theme and dissonant guitar solo are one of the highlights of the evening. “Trampled Under Foot” is introduced as “a Led Zeppelin ‘Terraplane Blues.'” The first disc ends with an eight minute version of “No Quarter.” In contrast to the previous live arrangements of the piece, from the dark and intense 1973 arrangements to the tour-de-force marathons in 1977, the O2 is unique in sounding very close to how it sounds on Houses Of The Holy including the cocktail piano melody in the improvisation. Jones even uses the same organ sounds and it is in general very effective. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is the Zeppelin song that had the longest stage life during their career and this version is, like the preceding song, very conservative and played very close to the original studio arrangement.
“I don’t know how many songs we recorded together. But I think about creating a dynamic evening choosing things from ten different albums, there are certain things that have to be there…and this is one of them” Plant says before a ten minute version of “Dazed And Confused.” Page throws a lot of energy into it with devastating results. The violin bow solo lasts long, and the improvisation stays close to the Led Zeppelin arrangement eschewing the elaborations the piece built up over the years. Page misses his cue for the return to the main theme.
The band start into “Stairway To Heaven” with no introduction. Considering Plant’s hatred for the piece it comes off rather well albeit mellow. Page stays on the Gibson double neck for “The Song Remains The Same” and afterwards Plant introduces Jason Bonham. “I can’t remember how long ago it was, but Jason was only like this big. His mom, his dad, used to sing. They were the best Jimi Hendrix impersonators in the whole of Worcestershire. Pat’s got a great voice. And I remember John used to be in a band in Birmingham and he used to sing ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ about four hundred times a night….But Jason’s a pretty cool singer too. And so we’ll feature Jason here on vocals now. We’ve been rehearsing for this so it would be wrong to not hear how Jason sings on his own.”
Jason does a good Robert Plant imitation singing “Oh, I can’t quit you, babe” before Jones begins “Misty Mountain Hop.” “Kashmir,” introduced as the fifty-first country, closes the set and two encores, “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll” close what is an extraordinary event. Wendy package Legendary Reunion 2007in a fatboy jewel case with an obi strip on the outside. The inside contains a thick cardboard collage with photos, the set list, and newspaper clippings of the event. In what will surely be a much released concert, this already is being called definitive. Although it isn’t absolutely perfect, it is a wonderful and vivid record of the event and is worth having.