Led Zeppelin Soars At London’s O2 Arena
After the lights went down at London’s O2 Arena, newsreel footage of a 1975 performance in Tampa, Fla., was projected onstage. With thousands of fans worked into a frenzy, drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late John Bonham, began thumping the skittering beat, soon to be joined by guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant.
The song, rarely played live in the band’s heyday, proved a perfect starting point for this performance:
”In days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man,” sang Plant, showing no trouble reproducing his trademark wail at 59. ”Now I’ve reached that age, I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can. … No matter how I try, I find my way to the same old jam.”
After the group stormed the stage just after 9 p.m. local time, they followed with ”Ramble On,” ”Black Dog” and ”In My Time of Dying.”
While Page and Bonham both sported sunglasses, Plant mercifully kept his button-down shirt buttoned up.
Zeppelin returned for the benefit show to play its first full set since 1980, the year John Bonham died after choking on his own vomit. Robbed of ”Bonzo’s” pulsing drums, the band decided it couldn’t go on and split up on Dec. 4, 1980.
By mid-afternoon, the scene at London’s O2 Arena was frenzied, with a 500-strong line for merchandise and huge waits at the will call windows.
At a soundcheck on Sunday, selected fans were allowed to watch Zeppelin trying out a number of the songs that wound up tonight’s set list.
There is rampant speculation that Zeppelin will play additional shows in the New Year, but so far, the principals are staying mum. ”Let’s just do the O2 and we’ll see what happens from there,” Page said in a recent interview. ”I haven’t got a crystal ball here and nor have you.”