A tribute concert is as close as we’ll probably ever come to experiencing the “magic in the air” epic-ness and mystery surrounding the legendary group of musicians that make up Led Zeppelin. About 18,000 souls were lucky enough to witness John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page perform with Jason Bonham (son of the late original drummer John Bonham) at London’s O2 arena in 2007 to honor Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun, the producer who first signed the band.
Director Dave Carruthers’ live concert documentary is downright porn for guitar players, or really any music enthusiast. At one point the camera cuts to the POV of Jones, and a highly inspired Jason Bonham is seen obliterating his skins through the mid-level break in Jones’ two-tier keyboard. The camera cuts to Page, convulsing and communicating with his mates through smiles and hand gestures, while unleashing an inner musical beast onto his signature burst Les Paul. Page is a nucleus around which all other vibrations orbit. You can see the beads of sweat rolling off his chin: He is literally dripping with mojo.
Carruthers expertly gets the moments. Plant and Page stomp their feet at the same time on the same note. Bonham grabs his hi-hat at one point and everything stops on a dime, signifying the seamless musicianship in the groove. Page breaks out the slide on “In My Time of Dying,” then things get really interesting. They go deep on “No Quarter,” Page presents the bow on “Dazed and Confused,” and then brandishes the EDS-1275 double-neck on “Stairway.”
The classics you’d expect in a two-hour, 16-song span are there, but all real-time and heartfelt. Plant—whose belt has lost some highs, but gained refined, soulful power—called “Trampled Under Foot” a “Zeppelin version of Robert Johnson’s ‘Terraplane Blues.’” For those of us who weren’t there to see the band in its heyday, this footage gives us better than front-row seats. Basically, we’re onstage the entire time, and all circumstance considered, it simply can’t be beat. —Tessa Jeffers