Occasionally in life we have a rare opportunity to re-live some of the more exciting and memorable cultural experience of our past. And so it was this week when we had the unique opportunity to enjoy an extraordinary big-screen showing of selected historic performances by the incomparable Led Zeppelin, one of the most creative and influential rock bands of all time. This one-night-only cinematic extravaganza spanned the band’s incredible career from 1970 to 1979. The film that featured several classic live performances was cleaned up, converted to digital and had the sound track remastered under the oversight of Fathom Events.
Viewers were treated to a larger-than-life concert experience featuring the band’s legendary performance from London’s Royal Albert Hall in January 1970, their historic dates at New York’s Madison Square garden in July 1973, their triumphant five-night run at London’s Earl’s Court in May 1975, and their record-breaking shows at England’s Knebworth Festival in August 1975.
The genius of singer-lyricist Robert Plant, the shrieking guitar brilliance of Jimmy page, the unrelenting power-drive of drummer John Bonham all combine in a synergistic amalgam to create what is probably the greatest rock and roll band has ever known…a seamlessly unified whole that was the sum of its genius parts. And although Led Zeppelin is known as one of the progenitors of heavy metal, the influences that shaped them are varied as their music: acoustic folk ballads, pop guitar, James Brown, country, Motown, traditional riffs, and what’s been called the trance-inducing element of blues repetition, all resulting in such varied works as “Whole Lotta Love” (’69), “Kashmir” (’75), “Rock & Roll” (’71), “All My Love” (’79), and “Stairway to Heaven” (’71).
But their time of personal glory was not to last. In September 1980, drummer John Bonham died suddenly of asphyxiation as a result of alcoholism and the tragedy of that loss marked the end of the magical synergy that was Led Zeppelin. A press release at the time read, “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deepest sense of undivided harmony by ourselves … have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were. “ Signed simply “Led Zeppelin”. The “undivided harmony” was shattered forever and the music fell silent; the combined effect of all their creative geniuses was essential to sustain the whole and suddenly that unity was lost, but their extraordinary legacy was alive for us this week on the big screen, four decades and a lifetime after its inception, and for that we are very grateful indeed.