Live At London’s O2 Arena * December 10, 2007 (Tangerine Records 523 1/2)
O2 Arena, London, England – December 10th, 2007
Disc 1: Intro, 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, Misty Mountain Hop, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
In the midst of all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth over the decision to not broadcast or to officially release Led Zeppelin’s final reunion gig was the knowledge that an event this big would not escape unofficial documentation. According to the Led Zeppelin Database no less than seven audio and three video sources surfaced beginning with Wendy’s Legendary Reunion 2007 (wecd-105/106). Tarantura utilized the Jules source and an endless stream of CDR releases have been flooding the market too many to count. Tangerine Records use on this release the “Schoeps” source. Capturing the complete show, this is an excellent stereo audience recording with all of the warmth and dynamics of the performance. Led Zeppelin is best listened to with a rich deep bass sound to support Page’s wizardry and this is the best evidence of this ethic.
The best way to appreciate this gig is to place it in its proper context. Considering this is the first time Led Zeppelin played together in thirteen years (since their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995), and considering how poor the two reunions were in the eighties, this is worthy inclusion into the live Zeppelin catalogue.
The tape begins with the news clip about the record setting Tampa 1973 gig found on The Song Remains The Same DVD. “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. Tangerine Records package this in a cardboard digipack with several newspaper reviews reproduced on the inner flaps and copious photos of the event. This serves as a good compliment to the other silver audio releases of this show.