John Marshall and I have known each other for 30 years (!) and some of you may know him from his time with Metal Church and his association with Metallica. John was one of the fortunate few who were in the same room as Led Zeppelin on that cold night in December of 2007. So, without further ado, here is John's reaction to:
The next afternoon I took The Tube over to the 02 Arena and met up with Big Mick and Paul Owen (Metallica’s longtime sound and monitor engineers) and Big Mick’s brother ("It’s me bruvva!") for a snack and beer before the show. Big Mick had the incredible honor of running the front of house sound for Zeppelin, although he only mixed the band. Robert Plant had his own longtime sound man, who had his own mixing desk loaded with vocal effects that he could blend in at any time. The dual sound engineer approach seemed a little odd, but the sound during the show was excellent. (Geeky techie note: Plant’s sound guy did miss the echo in 'No Quarter' where he sings “The Winds of Thor are blowing cold"...but funny enough the effect shows up in the movie..).
Fast forward to this week and a movie of the Coolest Concert Ever was in theaters for one night only and the DVD comes out in November. How cool is that? Recorded for posterity in full 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound! A friend from work is a fellow Zep Geek, so we decide to make an evening of it with our spouses and met up at the local brew house across the street from the theater. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie; I have vivid memories of sitting in line outside the Park Theater in El Sobrante, surrounded by pot smoke and beer, waiting for the midnight showing of The Song Remains the Same. But this was not 1977.
For being the biggest Rock Stars on the planet, their onstage demeanor was remarkably subdued and that’s what makes them so cool. They’re not standing up there with their toes on the front edge of the stage, shoving guitar solos and wicked screams down the audience’s throat, which seems required today. They just stood together in front of the drum riser, playing songs and playing music for the audience. Fucking. Great. Music. Just like Back In The Day, when music was the show, not the vehicle for the show. Kids these days just don’t know.
Thankfully this movie is nothing like The Song Remains The Same. There are no fantasy sequences, no interviews, no out-of-sync video, and no commentary. Celebration Day is literally just the concert (although there will be an extras DVD). During the movie I kept going between the music geek and the techie geek in me, looking for weird edits or stuff that were changed or left out. There is one bit missing from the film that happened at the concert: Right before 'Misty Mountain Hop', when Plant says what a great singer Jason Bonham is and tells him to sing a little. At the show Jason responded with the vocal intro to 'I Can’t Quit You Baby' and the place went nuts! I kept waiting for it in the movie, and it wasn’t there. Other than that there seems to be minimal editing, and for the most part the movie is seamless. You feel like you’re watching the concert as it happened, and no song was left out nor was the sequence changed.
This is the copy of the hardcover program from the 2007 Zeppelin show that John scored for Umlaut. James Hetfield once attempted to "steal" it from me. True story.