Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Atlantic 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

Led Zeppelin
Celebration Day
Atlantic


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

Almost six decades after forming the short-lived Rising Sons, the two legends reconvene to pay tribute to the classic blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the warm and rootsy Get on Board.

Deep into Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, percussionist Joachim Cooder lays out, letting the two elder musicians can take a pass through “Pawn Shop Blues.” To start, they loosely play around with the song’s intro on their acoustic guitars. “Yeah, nice,” remarks Mahal off-handedly in his distinctive rasp—present since he was a young man but, at 79, he’s aged into it—and Cooder lightly chuckles. They hit the turnaround and settle into a slow, loping tempo. It’s a casual and informal affair—some notes buzz, and it sounds like one of them is stomping his foot intermittently. Except for Cooder’s slide choruses, neither guitar plays a rhythm or lead role. They simply converse.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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