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LED ZEPPELIN 02 REUNION FOR AHMET ERTEGUN – IT WAS TEN YEARS AGO TODAY…

10 December 2017 1,176 views 5 Comments

IT’S THE 02 REUNION TEN YEARS GONE WEEK ON TBL WEB – MORE DECEMBER 10 2007 MEMORIES:

It was ten years ago today…

Ten years ago today on December 10, 2007, thousands of lucky fans converged on the O2 Arena in London to witness the live return of Led Zeppelin for one night only – in memory of Ahmet Ertegun. Millions more across the world tracked the unfolding events via texts and online reports.

It remains perhaps the most significant night in their history, as fans young and old were able to see and understand – either by being lucky enough to be there, or via the footage that was captured on the night – just exactly why this unique band of musicians meant so much to so many.

 

Aside from those lucky enough to be there on the night, the 2012 release of the Celebration Day film allowed every fan to share in the magic of that glorious night.

And what a night it was.

I’ve noted before that the whole Zeppelin O2 experience has an aura of complete surrealism about it all – as if it was all some dream – and goodness knows I’d dreamt about such a thing happening for so long. But it did happen and it happened in such a way that it lingers large in millions of fans minds – again, a fact emphasized by the release of the Celebration Day film.

I and many others have so many lasting memories of the event. The wonderful camaraderie of fans that extended from the queues for tickets and merchandise, to meeting fans from all over the world at the Pilot Inn pub, which really was a real ‘TBL Comes Alive’ occasion. So many people, who came so far on another blind date.

And yes seeing was believing. Again.

The lavish stage set and back production, the ecstatic crowd – drawn from over 50 countries, the Tampa news report intro, the balanced set list, and ultimately the performances of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham in recreating the magic and chemistry of Led Zeppelin.

Jonesy was as ever the consummate master musician. Jason was simply amazing and Jimmy at last got his wish to get HIS band back together, to play the music he had so lovingly crafted – and he played it that night with all the verve and swagger of the glory years. As for Robert, for me, he was perhaps the star of the evening. Prior to the show, the rehearsal reports had all been very favourable, as had the interview quotes from all four, but for it to really work, it required Robert to really believe in it all. As he told Uncut magazine in an interview before the show – ”We need to do one more great gig”.

From the first beats of Good Times Bad Times, it was plainly evident that Robert Plant genuinely wanted to believe in Led Zeppelin again.

This was a man living the Led Zeppelin dream again and revelling in every minute of it.

As they all were…

Yes, it would have been fantastic had they extended it to more than one night of glory… but it was not to be. However, we do have it all brilliantly preserved on the Celebration Day film – and the hours of fan footage – some of which will be screened today.

It remains one night, one moment, one event… and exactly ten years on, the memories shine ever brightly…

Ahmet they did it…

Today, we look forward to celebrating that fact all over again…

Countless fans across the globe will be remembering where they were on that night of nights now ten years gone….

The were, are and always will be the best…that night at the 02 Arena proved it conclusively…

Dave Lewis – December

………………………….

And finally….

’Hey Ahmet, we did it ‘’ The Led Zeppelin 02 reunion for Ahmet Ertugen ten years gone…

Dave Lewis looks back to that night of nights

Ten years ago on December 10, 2007 thousands of lucky fans converged on to the 02 Arena in London to witness the live return of Led Zeppelin for one night only in memory of Ahmet Ertegun. Millions more across the world tracked the unfolding events via texts and online reports.

It remains perhaps the most significant night in their history as fans young and old were able to see and understand either by being lucky enough to be there, or via the many you tube clips that surfaced immediately after – just exactly why this unique chemistry of musicians meant so much to so many.

For me personally it was a quite overwhelming experience not to say exhausting. I can honestly say it took months to fully get back on track –in fact for many reasons things were never quite the same around here –in much the way things were never going to be the same after I witnessed my first Led Zeppelin live concert 40 years ago.

I’ve noted before that the whole Zeppelin 02 experience has an aura of complete surrealism about it all –as if it was all some dream – and goodness knows I’d dreamed about such a thing happening for so long. But it did happen and it happened in such a way that it lingers large in millions of fans minds – not just those that were there – it‘s a moment in their history to be celebrated and enjoyed again and again for what it represented and delivered so spectacularly.

The fact that Led Zeppelin were, are and always will be the best…

For this tenth anniversary I have dug back into the TBL archive to represent the impassioned piece I wrote in the days following the 02 arena reunion. As mentioned before I do have a bank of material including first hand ‘I was there views submitted by fans who were lucky enough to be there and I do intend to use that in some format ahead.

Meanwhile, let’s go back to that night of nights on Monday December 10, 2007 ten years gone…

Welcome To Planet Zeppelin…

Led Zeppelin’s return to the stage on December 10 2007 displayed all the integrity, emotion and power that characterised their glory days…and this might just be their most glorious day ever…

Dave Lewis reports on an astonishing event.

This is the moment that crystallises the enormity of it all.

Jimmy, Jonesy and Jason crunch down on that oh so familiar riff, Robert spits out the opening lyrics and then get’s to the

line ‘’You didn’t plan it, you overran it” and telepathically they all click in gear to the repeated riff phrase

‘’Do it, do it, do it, do it when you wanna…”’

God they are doing it right…and it’s hallelujah and they are back.

Back alright and reclaiming they’re crown as the biggest live attraction in the world with every passing minute.

For here I am inside the 02 Arena London watching Led Zeppelin perform For Your Life live on stage in 2007.

…… ……. ……

You really could not make it up.

So how on earth did all this happen?

 

 

The DL 02 Diary:

Sunday Midday – December 9,2007

The ticket connection for me has been made. From a rather plush hotel in Marylebone – Shelley from SLO the company handling the tickets tells me she once worked for Bill Graham and saw them in 1971 at the Garden and later at Oakland in ‘77.

The Dockland Light railway has engineering works so it’s a bus drive on a grey Sunday lunchtime around the rather bleak backwaters of Newham. The hotel though is comfortable clean and friendly. A taxi to the 02 is slightly fraught -there’s been a shooting incident apparently and the main road to the Dome is closed.

Around 3pm I reach the concourse – there emblazoned on a fencing is the following lyric. ‘’They talk of days of which they sit and wait when all be revealed -Kashmir Led Zeppelin.’’

This is the welcome to Planet Zeppelin…

Inside the queues are very long for ticket pick up and similar for the merchandise. It’s then that I get the first whiff of the international flavour of this event. There are countless Americans here, Australians, Europeans – as Robert would inform us tomorrow night – people form over 50 countries.

This is truly a global happening here in North Greenwich.

A meet with Graham H and ABC dictates the next few startling hours. It’s to the queue for the rehearsal due to be staged around 4pm. Acess is being allowed for competition winners worldwide and guests. After a two hour wait we can hear them on stage. Mike W of the Thinkfarm video production team is inside the venue and calls me – I can hear Jimmy tuning up in the background.

Blimey this is exciting.

Eventually we are let through and handed laminates stating ‘’Regarasal Acesss 09 12 07’’ – I catch a quick word with Harvey Goldsmith as I go in – ‘’Hurry they won’t be on long’’ he informs me.

We stride manfully into the arena and there before our eyes is Led Zeppelin on stage rehearsing In My Time of Dying.

The effect is quite shattering.

Jimmy has the new Gretch guitar swaggering in mid length coat like the true lord of the string he is.

First impressions: Robert ’s voice is all there – all the high notes intact ’’Honey bee honey bee’’ he teases in the ‘’Oh My Jesus’’ refrain, Jason sounds incredibly powerful and JPJ fretless bass jigging those note around this oh so glorious noise. Jimmy is just owning the stage ..all the struts – the hand signals..in between drinking Red Bull. It’s a wonderful sight to behold.

Folks the 2007 Led Zeppelin is alive and well

‘’Where did you lot come from’’ shouts Plant up to the lucky few gathered. ‘’You must be Americans….where’ s the Children In Need people -hey we need to see you’’ a nod to the guy and family who bid 80,000 for the tickets in the BBC’s annual appeal.

They do a classy instrumental rendering of No quarter with Robert off stage watching the action out front talking to production people and smiling away. Jason guides them through the chorus on vocals Ross Halfin shoots furiously throughout and the regroup around Jason to work on a link for Nobody’s Fault But Mine – the part where Plant pulls out the harmonica. A couple of attempts break down in laughter. Jimmy takes his coat off to reveal a white shirt – it’s so evident that he has his band back again….and is so damn proud of the fact.

Jimmy and Robert leave the stage…JPJ and Jason jam around on the intro of Dazed. Behind them the giant video screen flickers a few animated images. It’s not in use yet but my it’s going to be mighty impressive tomorrow.

We shuffle out shocked and stunned.

On a bare stage with production people aplenty, Led Zeppelin have cooked up a storm. It’s now 6.35 on a Sunday night.

I’ve seen it…and judging by that 50 minute rehearsal we are in for the experience of a lifetime tomorrow night.

It’s over to the Pilot Inn to meet and greet so many people who’ve come so far. Jose from Ecuador, Terry and Mark and countless Americans, Christophe and the French contingent and nearer home so many familiar faces such as Welsh wizard Pat Lyons, Paul A, Ian A , Steve and Jan ,Dave ,Rudi etc. This really is Tight But Loose come alive as all these people gather here for the same reason

This is band is part of their lives and tomorrow it will live again.

As I scan the gathering, I have a flashback of wet afternoons rattling out TBL text in the solitary confinement of the Totnes office. We all have to go back to our dens eventually….but tonight we are out of our dens and it feels so good.

My resolve to keep it steady for the big day fails a little in the company of the Irish lads – beers are drunk, lyric questions answered and then its back to the hotel for sleep, though not much. The nerves, like before Knebworth all those years back are kicking in.

Monday December 10,2007:

So finally the day is here. A big cooked breakfast the only meal I get time for all day for the second day running inspires me into action and it’s over to the 02 for a meet with the that celebrated collector Brian Knapp. The queue for the standing area is already lengthening with many camped out overnight. A fantastic atmosphere prevails this really is Planet Zeppelin.

We‘ve all landed in a little bit of heaven.

The day flashed by for me with interview for BBC Online, BBC News 24 Live and BBC News. It’s over to the Pilot around 4 for much needed refreshment. Again it’s packed with so many people I’ve been in contact with for years. Too many to mention – – this ad hoc gathering is truly the best type of Zep Convention for in a few hours the real thing will be before our eyes.

Take a deep breath…for tonight is a special one. Very special.

The atmosphere is electric as we queue to go in. A call from home reveals I’d been on the BBC 6 o’clock News being interviewed in the build up. It’s all happening.

We take out seats – we are situated near Robert’s family and friends. Maureen, Carmen and Logan are in front of us along with Kevyn Gammond. The Bonham family with Debbie, Pat and mum Joan are also near us – so excited. so proud.

We sit patiently as Bill Wyman’s band and assorted guests do their thing. It’s nice to see Maggie Bell on stage – I once shared a rather long cigarette with her in the Swan Song office decades back. ‘’Go Maggie!’’ shouts Debbie B near me.

Despite the good intentions of the likes of Keith Emerson, Paul Rodgers etc the hall is half filled for the support acts. It’s the real deal everybody wants to see.

Then the time is right. Roadies clear the stage and it’s a massive stage it has to be said – I always said Led Zeppelin lends itself to the bigger stage best so it’s a good omen. Jimmy’s symbol has also returned to the amp,by my reckoning for the first time since the pre Knebworth Copenhagen warm ups in July 1979.

And as the lights go down. A TV screen illuminates behind on the giant screen. It’s the Tampa ’73 news story from the new Song DVD. The place is in hysteria – that’s the only word for it as Jimmy, Robert, JP and Jason appear out of the drkness to perform Good Times Bad Times.

And in the light is Led Zeppelin

Initial reaction: They are on the fucking stage!

For the next two hours and ten minutes Planet Zeppelin now really is in seventh heaven

Highlights? So many…

After the opening burst they go into a delightful Ramble On complete with the What Is And What Should ending as per the 95 P and P arrangement. Black Dog follows with an unnerving confidence. Christ they are so on it.. In My Time Of Dying is absolute pure bottleneck banshee Earls Court relived with Jason’s incredibly powerful bass drum kicks and Jimmy on the sandalwood Gretch – how good can this get.

Even better is the answer: For Your Life is an absolutely outstanding performance – one of my all time fave tracks finally given the live treatment it so deserves. Page, Jonesy and Jason grooving incessantly down on that plangent riff. Robert with mic off strutting as if it was..well any era you want to name. Trampled Underfoot – alterted slightly to bring out the groove and a scintillating wah wah run from Jimmy.

Lost it? This man? No way Jose….

Then there’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine with all the stop start dynamism of the original and what an intro….

An exquisite No Quarter follows performed with a dignity that only JPJ could bring to it. Jimmy adds a stately solo and does those hand signals on the theremin. The dry ice takes us back to MSG 1973.

Since I’ve Been Loving You – yes the hits keep on coming and Jimmy is once again the star here delivering a solo of rich dexterity.

One number that Robert explains just had to be in is Dazed And Confused – thie delivery is compact and concise and the revolving lasers during the bow episode reviving memories of Knebworth. I’m running out of superlatives now. There’s a great moment when Jimmy zips down the fret ala Supershow 1969 behind Robert’s preenings. Jason too is outstanding on the outro with all the fills that are required. Nothing is overplayed. There’s a mesmerising return to the chorus and then they nail the ending totally.

Stairway To Heaven …I have to say I completely lost it at that point and tears streamed down my face all the way through this and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one

I mean come on – Led Zeppelin performing their most famous song on a Uk stage for the first time since 1979, it’s certainly too much for this man to take on board…

‘’Hey Ahmet…we did it ’’ is Robert’s moving comment at the close which starts me off again…

Then it all lifts again with The Song Remains The Same which is magnificent. As I’m watching I have an identical view to that cine film of Birmingham Alabama in 1977. It would be hard to tell the difference such is the intensity out there. The screen effects behind them are absolutely fantastic.

Misty Mountain Hop follows before which Jason sings opening lines of I Cant Quit You Baby.

‘’There’s people here from 50 countries….this is the 51st country’’

Four strikes of the hi hat and then then blam! A version of Kashmir that engulfs the entire dome. The undoubted pride of Zeppelin . Did any of us ever dream this performance could be this good. Not just good – absolutely astonishing with Robert giving the vocal performance of a lifetime and Jimmy captured smiling on the big screen as he stomps out that riff. In front of me Logan, Carmen and Maureen are up and dancing thoughout. That will be an unforgettable memory for me.

As Noel Gallagher said to me afterwards ‘’Fookin’ awesome!’’

They leave the stage.

They were back for a theremin fuelled Whole Lotta Love

Before it Robert comments ‘’What do you think Dave?’’ a reference to his long time dear Midlands pal Big Dave Hodges – sadly very ill right now but in attendance as he has been at so many shows during the singer’s career.

Then again a rousing (can it be anything else?) Rock And Roll before which Jimmy thanks everyone for an amazing night. Plant preens over to the left of the stage to grin and acknowledge the presence of the dancing families around me.

At the end of it all Plant throws down the mic, they take a final bow and this utterly immortal night is over. They leave the stage as a stunning giant Led Zeppelin logo fills the screen.

Thank you Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham for an amazing night..

I look around the arena so many smiles …next minute I’m hugging Bob Harris. ’’ How about that!’’ says the not so whispering Bob. Embracing the man I used to wait with bated breath to introduce the rare times Zep were on Whistle Test at the end of this barely believable reunion is perhaps a fitting end to it all.

Not that it’s quite the end. Although I endure some stress immediately after when my mobile dies and after saying fond farewells to people outside I have the devil of a job getting back into the 02 ‘’Don’t you know who I am? I’m on the six o clock news godamnnyou!‘’ got me nowhere.

Eventually I do make it to the backstage bar where again it’s amazing to see so many faces from afar: Frank Melfi, Danny Cole, Billy and Alison, Simon,P, Ross, Carolyn – all people I’ve come into contact with these past 30 years plus in the name of chronicling this band.

Amongst the famous there’s Dave Grohl, Noel Gallagher, Lulu, Dave Gilmour and countless other A and B listers. Richard Cole is also hanging out still talking in that slightly menacing London drawl that so scared me when he came into the Swan Song offices all those years ago.,

Beers are drunk, toasts made, bonds formed, fond farewells uttered… eventually it’s an hour wait for the taxi. I bump into Robin Wealleans who did out screen for us at the April 27 London gathering – my how events have evolved since then.

Absolutely finally it’s to the hotel but not to bed ….more beers with the esteemed Gary D, Lee Henley and Midlands crew. We laugh in relief in celebration and in plain wonderment…nobody wants this to end but finally it’s to bed after 5pm

On the way back to Bedford there’s time to check the papers. The reaction is sstunning. John Aizlewood in the Evening Standard says it all with his testament:

‘’It was breathtaking and spine tingling – as good as popular music gets’’

Aftermath: Tuesday afternoon December 11,2007

If you really want to analyse it ,well yes the sound mix took a while to settle in, and a few cues got missed notable in Since I’ve Been Loving You, but hey they were, are and always will be tight but loose.

Suffice to say this was one of the greatest nights of my life and probably thousands of others in the 02 Arena.

And right now Led Zeppelin must be the most popular band in the world.

Final thoughts: Jason throughout was exemplary capturing all the full throttle thwack required to support the power that surged from the stage JPJ was typically JPJ, diligent in all his playing but totally unmissable. The back drop screen projections – absolutely stunning.

Thanks to so many fans who came from all parts of the globe and considerably enhanced this experience of a lifetime for me – in particular Brian K, the two Gary’s, Jose, Graeme H, JR, Paul H, Pam so many more.

It’s back to reality and retail frenzy in the morning.

So yesterday they were Led Zeppelin. Now today they are once again Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham.

Tomorrow and beyond… who knows ?

One things for certain – their performance at the 02 Arena on December 10 2007 has created rock history.

And Finally – the last word December 18,2007

So unless they decide otherwise yes this could be the final fitting closure. If that’s to be, it would certainly be a magnificent swan song.

This was a performance that was full of the integrity, humility, emotion and power that characterised their glory days. And this just might have been their most glorious day ever.

To paraphrase my final words on Knebworth in TBL 2…

In delivering on that glorious tenth day of December they created a little bit of heaven for us all to share.

And after 28 years they can still do that.

So thank you dear Ahmet for believing in them

And thank you Jimmy, Robert, JPJ and Jason for believing in themselves.

At the 02 Arena on December 10 2007 they did justice and so much more to the legacy of Led Zeppelin.

And right now the world is such a better place for it……

Dave Lewis – December 18, 2007.  

……………………………………………..

Until next time, have a great weekend

Dave Lewis  – 2017  

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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YouTube clip:

Dave Lewis Interview for BBC Six O Clock News:

 

Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven:

Led Zeppelin – Kashmir:

 

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5 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks mark!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    thanks pete!

  • Pete said:

    So many great memories of that day Dave and no one else describes them as well as you do. You may remember my brother and I met you as we were trying to find The Pilot that afternoon and we walked there together. It was great to meet and chat with you and other TBL acquaintances in there before that momentous night.

    Where have those 10 years gone eh?

    Keep up the great work Dave.

    Pete

  • Mark Williams said:

    Great write-up there Dave.Well it’ll be 50 years of Zeppelin in 2018. Whilst agree the O2 might have been the ultimate swan song, I do still wonder if Robert might just find some space in that diary after current tour commitments wrap up in April. Clearly all four still ‘have it’. No big tour,just a few choice dates to bring cheer to this increasingly problematic world !

  • Steve Riley said:

    I was lucky to be there it was amazing gig,my gig of a lifetime life long Zepp fan.I pressed 2 stars by mistake it was 5 star all the way.

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