Led Zeppelin fans set to rock and roll
It has been five years since Led Zeppelin rock and rolled. Their one-off concert at the O2 in London in December 2007 has been acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records to be the most over-subscribed in music history - with 20 million online applications for 20,000 tickets.
For the 19,980,000 or so fans who missed out on a ticket, the film of the concert, entitled Celebration Day, will be screened tonight in 30 Irish cinemas and cinemas worldwide. It will be released on CD and DVD next month.
Veteran director Dick Carruthers was asked to film the concert for posterity just in case. He said it was “implicit” in the filming that if it wasn’t good enough, the band would bin the footage.
Led Zeppelin have form in that regard, having refused to licence their set at Live Aid for screening afterwards following a shambolic performance.
Carruthers likened the band’s 02 performance to a downhill skier navigating a particularly tricky slope, where “every corner is a potential disaster”. There was no warm-up show and only one full live rehearsal.
Instead, he said they “smashed it”, though the band themselves did not look at the footage for years and were not convinced the concert was as good as they remembered - until they saw the result on film.
“It could potentially have been embarrassing, but instead it became a triumph that confirmed every Led Zeppelin’s fan’s perception that when this band got together and played live they were incredible,” he said.
Led Zeppelin have been extraordinarily tetchy about the subject of a reunion tour when it has come up, with singer Robert Plant calling one reporter a “schmuck” for even asking the question. The answer would appear to be a definitive no, but this had to be dragged out of the band.
Carruthers said: “They are fed up with it being asked. It was asked a lot in the immediate aftermath of the gig. It was a projection of the fans. They are projecting that image on to a non-existing reality.
“If there is any slight annoyance at it [a reunion] being the story, it is because it isn’t the story. The real story was that they got back together once and once only for a really unique and special night to honour Ahmet Ertegün (the founder of Atlantic Records)."
The film is edited to highlight the musical virtuosity of the band and how they interact together, despite all the years apart.
"Working with Led Zeppelin is never dull," he explained. "You are working with these incredible musicians who have written these amazing songs, and that is just your starting point. Then it is the way that they play them and the way they communicate and work musically. It gave me so much to work with. It is a terrific tapestry to put together.
"You are getting an insight into how that band hear and perceive and feel their music. I get to interpret that, I get to piece that together for them. It’s a tremendous privilege and amazing fun."
See ledzeppelin.com/celebrationday for screenings.