Only 18,000 people were lucky enough to watch a somewhat reunited Led Zeppelin in 2007 at a tribute concert in honor of Ahmet Ertegun, the late founder of Atlantic Records who died in 2006. More than 20 million people applied for tickets to catch the one-off, two-hour show at London’s O2 Arena, featuring Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, playing their first real concert since the mid-1980s (Jason Bonham, the son of Zeppelin’s original drummer, John Bonham, was on drums).
Now the millions of fans who were left out can catch what happened in the new concert film “Celebration Day,” in theaters today and available on DVD on Nov. 19.
At a recent press concert to promote the film in New York City, the surviving Zep members were charming and funny, but they gave no indication that another reunion would take place any time soon. They did allow, however, that choosing Jason Bonham to join them onstage was a no-brainer.
“Once the idea was proposed — ‘Would we do the concert?’ — it had to be Jason,” Page said.
For Bonham, who has played with the band twice before, the giddiness of joining them again at the O2 hasn’t abated.
“I had lots of moments where I kept saying ‘I’m playing drums for Led Zeppelin!’ This really is something special and something I dreamed about all my life. I watched ‘Song Remains the Same’ so many times that the look that Jimmy gave John in ‘No Quarter,’ I remember, I looked over just like ‘Song Remains the Same.’ He gave me the same look,” says Bonham, before turning to Page. “It probably wasn’t for the same reason you [looked at] Dad, but it was very, very special for me, honestly.”
Page then joked, “That was the ‘where are we?’ look,”
“Celebration Day” includes the band’s monster hits such as “Stairway to Heaven,” “The Song Remains the Same” and “Dazed and Confused,” as well as the unexpected, such as 1976’s “For Your Life,” which the band had never played live prior to the London show.
“Celebration Day” is just a straight-up concert film, meaning no talking heads, no backstage glances, no trippy “quest” montages like in “The Song Remains the Same.” They appear shaky at first but then quickly get into their old rock ‘n’ roll habits. Per Page, they worked hard at “getting it right.”
“We just really wanted to get it right and go out and play to people who maybe never heard us, who had heard about this reputation and what we were about, and basically stand up and be counted for what we were,” he said.