Led Zeppelin DVD: Wow

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Music
October 9th, 2003 • 4:56 pm

I’ve written before about my recent discovery of the music of Led Zeppelin. It was enough to make me want to purchase the recently released 2-DVD box set simply titled Led Zeppelin, which was released earlier this year.

I bought it a couple of months ago, but only got around to watching it last night. I only had time to watch the Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1970 concert on the first DVD, but I was thorougly impressed. Quite simply, I had no idea. Listening to the 4-CD box set of remastered album tracks did give me some idea of the level of energy in the music, but the live performances are something else entirely. Not only did they invent a whole new genre of music, but they also set such high standards for it that they probably remain unparalleled over 30 years later.

First of all, of course, there’s the energy. You might initially be suspicious of a lead singer who doesn’t play any instruments (except for the harmonica on occasion) and spends his time prancing around the stage and playing air guitar with his microphone cable while the other band members are actually playing their instruments — but Robert Plant’s voice is so naturally potent and he has such an understanding with the musicians and with Jimmy Page in particular, with so much focus on what they are playing and on his place in the music, that there is no way that you can separate his performance from the rest of the group. In spite of the many instrumental breaks, the power of Led Zeppelin’s music does rely heavily on Robert Plant’s lead singing.

Then there is the fact that, so early in the band’s career, they already had such mastery, and were already exploring so many different directions. Each performance is incredibly complex and shows a level of maturity that you wouldn’t expect from a band that had just burst onto the international scene a year earlier. This is definitely a performance that demands repeated listenings, just to fully appreciate the sheer musicality of it all.

Yes, Jimmy Page and John Bonham’s solos are impressive in their own right, but what’s really impressive is how they never really feel like digressions away from the core of the performance. The virtuosity is part of the very core, and that’s what makes it much more than just that (virtuosity).

I am afraid I am going to have no choice but to immerse myself more deeply INTO the music. But I’m just starting to realize just how big they must have been back in the day. Wow. And I still have two thirds of the DVD set to watch!

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