In this Led Zeppelin Celebration Day review, I tell you everything you want to know about one of the most anticipated reunion concerts of all time. 20 million people entered a worldwide lottery to apply for a total of only 18,000 available seats!
I am specifically reviewing the concert Blu Ray, but the songs on the two audio CDs are identical to the video.
Get the low-down on all of Jimmy and John Pauls’s guitars, amps, and effects.
Here is the music that takes you back to a time when guitar gods first roamed the earth in their own private jets. This band changed the face of rock and roll as we know it today.
If you ever “got the led out” by listening to a musical marathon of all 10 Zeppelin albums (in order), then I know you will enjoy this article.
Celebration Day – Blu Ray Snapshot
- Release Date: October 17, 2012 (recorded on December 10, 2007)
- Concert Length: 2 Hours & 4 Minutes
- Video Format: Widescreen
- Starring: Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jason Bonham
- Producer: Dick Carruthers and Jim Parsons
- Director: Dick Carruthers
Main Blu Ray Disk Menu:
- Start Concert
- Audio (Stereo PCM and DTS-HD 5.1)
The “standard” Blu Ray package contains the Blu-Ray plus two audio CDs.
If you would like to go directly to the nitty-gritty of the musical equipment info, then see Musical Equipment: Guitars, Amps, And Effects.
This concert was the main act for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert on December 10, 2007, at the O2 Arena in London, England. Ticket sales for the show were by worldwide lottery, during which 20 million people applied for a total of 18,000 available seats!
After the show, Led Zeppelin released the recorded version in its entirety for 3 days on their YouTube channel so that everyone could see it. Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were eventually able to orchestrate its limited appearance in theaters in October 2012.
The concert’s theatrical appearance was seen at over 1,500 screens in 40 countries, grossing over 2 million US Dollars. Commercial versions of the show were released on several home audio and video formats on November 19, 2012.
In 2013, the film Celebration Day won a Classic Rock And Roll Honors Award for Film of the Year.
Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, with one-off reunions in 1985, 1988, and 1995. Their last concert tour was their “Tour Over Europe,” which ran from June 17th to July 7th, 1980.
Fans waited 27 years for this reunion to happen and another 5 years for the home commercial release I am reviewing!
Blu Ray Cover
Recordings of this concert come in a variety of formats. I am reviewing the Blu-Ray video with two audio CDs package.
The cover comes from an artwork that depicts London with a zeppelin flying above it and highlighted by spotlights, which were added as an afterthought.
The case is a three-disk Digipak for the two CDs and Blu Ray.
There is a brochure that contains a photo of each band member with a short commentary. The last two pages contain the tracklist with some additional brief information about each song.
An abbreviated version of the tracklist is repeated on the rear cover.
Songs And Artists
- Good Times Bad Times
- Ramble On
- Black Dog
- In My Time of Dying
- For Your Life
- Trampled Under Foot
- Nobody’s Fault but Mine
- No Quarter
- Since I’ve Been Loving You
- Dazed and Confused
- Stairway to Heaven
- The Song Remains the Same
- Misty Mountain Hop
- Whole Lotta Love (Encore 1)
- Rock and Roll (Encore 2)
- Jimmy Page – Guitar
- John Paul Jones – Bass Guitar and Keyboards
- Robert Plant – Vocals, Tambourine, and Harmonica
- Jason Bonham – Drums, Percussion, and Backing Vocals
A Very Cool News Flashback To Start The Show
The concert begins with an amusing retro news clip from “Pulse News” from a show that Zeppelin did in Tampa, Florida, on May 5, 1973. It was narrated by Scott Schuster and reported on by John Jones.
Zeppelin was the first band to beat the Beatles concert attendance record at Shea Stadium in 1965. The Tampa concert sold 49,239 tickets, making it the biggest live attendance for a single show of the time!
Musical Performance Highlights
Here are my thoughts on the band’s performance for the show. See the section on “My Favorite Moments” for more info.
Good Times Bad Times
This is the tune that Zeppelin uses to open the show, which was an excellent choice and will instantly bring back memories of the power and dynamics of this band in a live situation.
Jimmy plays his “No 1” 1959 Les Paul with the black coverless bridge pickup and really nails the solo! He seems a little nervous but it’s “been a long time since he “rock and rolled.” It doesn’t take him long to lay back and enjoy the ride.
This was the first Zeppelin song I ever heard. I came home one day, and my brother had it blasting away on his McIntosh stereo. The power of this song filled every room in the house with sound. He just smiled and held up the Led Zeppelin I album cover. I spent the next two weeks learning guitar licks off of this album.
Moving on to the Led Zeppelin II album, the boys did a masterful performance of this mellow tune.
I think Jimmy’s solo in the middle of the song had a little too much chorus effect, but it still sounded great.
It was influenced by The Lord Of The Rings, with a lyrical reference to the dark land of Mordor. “When magic filled the air ‘T was in the darkest depths of Mordor.”
I bought this album the day it came out at “Warwick Shopper’s World,” the first department store in my area to sell records. It was the beginning of the end for mom and pop record stores.
Remember the “untitled” (fourth) Led Zeppelin album with the old guy carrying a large and heavy-looking bundle of sticks tied to his back on the front cover? That’s where this powerhouse tune originates from.
The band played a very tight version, and the solo is almost note-for-note, compared to the original studio version from 1971.
It has an opening lick that really grabs you and pulls you into the song.
For a review of an excellent album with a Jazz Fusion version of Black Dog, see Crossover By Jorge Garcia -Jazz’s Answer To Classic Rock!
In My Time Of Dying
In this Blind Willie Johnson cover tune from the Physical Graffiti album, Jimmy cranked out his trademark wicked-slide riffs on his 2006 Gibson Custom Shop ES-350 with open G tuning.
John Paul pulled out his Fender Fretless Precision Bass and made the bass lines really come alive.
If you like blues-based slide guitar then check it out!
For Your Life
This was the first time Zeppelin did this tune from their Presence album live on stage, which I didn’t know, but it didn’t really surprise me.
Jimmy used his Master Built Les Paul Custom Shop signature model, modified with a Bigsby Tremolo, which he uses to sneak in some subtle dives at just the right time, and a six-way rotary switch.
It is such an awesome-sounding guitar with the ultra-cool 3-humbucker “Black Beauty” vintage vibe!
This guitar was designed for Jimmy at his request to replace the one he originally bought from a Gibson catalog and used as a studio musician from 1962 to 1970 and during the first few years in Led Zeppelin.
Jimmy’s original 1960 Black Beauty was stolen at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul airport in April 1970 while on a US tour.
It was being used in a punk rock band and had it’s Bigsby tremolo unit removed in favor of a hardtail ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge setup.
The guitar was returned to Jimmy on November 12, 2015, and briefly displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” exhibition.
Trampled Under Foot
Another gem from the Physical Graffiti album. Robert Planted introduces it as a rearrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues.”
Jimmy Page modernizes the tune with his Digitech Whammy Pedal solo but also throws in some standard wah-wah pedal lines for good measure.
John Paul keeps things moving right along on his Korg OASYS. The keyboard parts really drive the song!
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
This is another Blind Willie Johnson cover from the Presence album. You know, it’s the one with Jimmy’s famous wah-wah pedal opening.
As you would expect, Robert Plant pulls off some absolutely killer lines on his harmonica.
Check out Jone Paul Jones’s TEN string Manson JP10 custom-made stereo E-Bass! (More about that guitar later). It really steals the show! You have to see it and hear it to believe it!
Since I’ve Been Loving You
Anyone that loves the blues probably knows this song, which is from the Led Zeppelin III album!
Remember the album cover with the crazy pictures and photos of the band members that move on a revolving wheel (volvelle)?
My friends played with the wheel every time we listened to Zeppelin III until it finally broke.
Anyway, Jimmy pulls out every blues riff in the book and then adds his own to the mix. Masterfully played and not to be missed!
The Song Remains The Same
This is the first song on the Houses Of The Holy album and the only Zeppelin song my sister ever liked (I know, it’s hard to believe).
The entire song is played on 12 string guitar, which is what makes the sound so “big.”
It Follows “Starway To Heaven” in the concert since Jimmy uses his Gibson ES-1275 double neck SG guitar for both tunes.
Check out Jason Bonham’s phenomenal drum parts!
Misty Mountain Hop
This is another great song from the untiled Led Zeppelin IV album. It starts with John Paul’s signature keyboard opening, which carries the entire tune.
It has a totally different feel from the studio version whenever Zeppelin plays it live, which shows just how dynamic the band is.
The song features Jason Bonham on vocals, who shares lyrics with Robert Plant. Their voices mix really well together.
Rock And Roll
Still from Led Zeppelin IV, this fan-favorite is the second encore of the concert and was commonly used as an encore in their shows.
Jimmy Page steps up to the microphone and says, “Hey, thanks so much. It’s really been an amazing night for all of us.”
The drum parts were absolutely awesome. Jason’s dad, the original drummer, could not have played it better himself!
Interviews And Backstage Footage
Sadly, the Blu-Ray edition of the video does not contain any interviews, backstage footage, or bonus features of any type.
Long-time fans of Led Zeppelin would have really appreciated a little informational update after all these years!
The $250 (US) deluxe edition of the concert does come with a bonus DVD with the Shepperton rehearsals and some news footage from the BBC. There is more information about the bonus features later on in this article.
Stage Appearance, Backdrop, And Special Effects
The stage was high-tech, but the musical equipment was present and arranged in typical Zeppelin fashion, the way they did it back in their touring days.
You just gotta love Jimmy’s “ZOSO” speaker cabinet and the Led Zeppelin I album cover graphic on Jason’s bass drum!
The backdrop was a giant LCD screen that graphically processed shots of the band and the audience.
Images were displayed in black and white (literally 2 colors), grayscale, color, and a hybrid mixture of color, black and white, grayscale, or wireframe.
The overall effect was impressive but not so intrusive that it interfered with the audience’s ability to enjoy the music.
Spotlights and lasers were used to compliment the backdrop, or more aggressively when the backdrop was dark, like during parts of the song “Whole Lotta Love.”
Musical Equipment: Guitars, Amps, And Effects
Jimmy used the following guitars at various times in the show. They have all made appearances in the past.
- Vintage “No 1” 1959 Les paul
- Master Built Jimmy Page Les Paul “Black Beauty” with Bigsby
- Gibson Custom Shop ES-350
- 1969-70 Cherry Les Paul With B-Bender (installed in the mid-1980s)
- ES-1275 Double Neck SG
- 1990 Les Paul “TransPerformance” Gold Top
Jimmy used his vintage “No 1” 1959 Les Paul for the majority of the show, which was modified with push-pull pots to tap his humbuckers down to single-coil configuration.
Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck are two of just a handful of big artists that still plug their guitar directly into their rig instead of going wireless. Can these guitar gods really hear the difference, or are they simply old-school? They both have my vote for the guitar cable.
To learn more about Jeff Beck see Jeff Beck’s Guitar Style – The Guitar Player’s Guitarist!
Robert Plant still loves his wired mic, but John Paul has apparently taken the wireless plunge and still sounds great!
The backline of amps included some of Jimmy’s favorites and conjured up memories of Zeppelin concerts past. He had a 4-stack wall with double heads sitting on one 4X12 cabinet.
From left (audience’s stage view) to right, the setup was:
- Two Orange AD50 heads on an ENGL cabinet
- Two Petersburg JP-100 Heads on an unidentified cabinet
- Two Marshall Custom 100JH (Jimi Hendrix) Heads on a Marshal “ZOSO” cabinet
- Two Orange OR50 Heads on an ENGL cabinet
Page started using the JP-100 amps in the mid-90s.
Seeing the “ZOSO” cabinet again is enough to send a vintage chill down your spine! Ah, the old days of rock and roll.
Jimmy’s pedalboard was custom built in 2008 by Peter Cornish, who provided the list of effects:
- Two DigiTech Modified Whammy Pedals, each set to different parameters
- A modified Jen Cry Baby Wah-Wah Pedal (Jen Elettronica)
- An MXR Phase 90
- A Yamaha CH-10Mk II chorus
- A Boss CE-2 chorus
The pedalboard has a send/return loop to a modified Echoplex EP-3
To learn more about effects and stomp boxes, see What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing.
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones plays the following three guitars during the concert:
- Manson JP10 custom-made E-Bass. Hugh Manson made this guitar. It has a Badass II bridge, Hipshot D-tuner, and active EMG pickups. It is a 10-string bass (5 doubled strings) with stereo output
- Fender Precision fretless bass
- Manson Guitar Works Signature E-Bass with his famous “triquetra” symbol engraved on the truss rod cover
Here are the Signature E Bass specs for all you bottom-end fans and freaks:
- Color: Aged vintage cherry sunburst
- Body: Mahogany with a quilted maple top and gloss finish
- Neck: Maple, three-piece laminate with a gloss finish and matching headstock
- Scale and string spacing: 34” scale with 19mm adjustable spacing
- Neck Joint: Neck-through the body
- Nut Width: 40mm
- Fingerboard: Rosewood
- Frets: 24
- Pickups: Two Aguilar DCB humbuckers with an active EQ system
- Electronics: Aguilar OBP-2, 9-volt, 2-band EQ
- Controls: Volume, pickup pan control with a stacked bass, and treble cut/boost
- Hardware: Gotoh machine heads and a Hipshot Kickass 3D bridge
It’s not easy to accurately make out the mix of bass amps that John Paul uses on the video, but here’s my best guess.
It looks like John Paul is using a mixture of Marshal, SWR, and TC Electronic gear. He has endorsed TC Electronic bass equipment, including their RH750 amp head and RS210 and RS212 cabinets.
Jones gets his synth effects through his keyboards. He played most of his keyboard parts on a Korg OASYS synthesizer and also used a Korg X50.
Audio Specs And Quality
The Blu Ray comes with a high definition DTS-HD 5.1 and a stereo PCM soundtrack.
On my Bose 5.1 theater system, the DTS HD 5.1 mix attenuates the perception of the power of Joh Paul Jones’s bass guitar, making his bass lines sound a little “thin,” and puts most of the sound mix in the surround channels.
I was able to get a more balanced sound on my state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos/DTS-X theater system but still not what I expected when I purchased the concert. It’s a lot easier to make John Pauls’s bass lines sound bigger when you’re running 400 Watts of dual subwoofers!
The Stereo PCM audio sounded great with excellent clarity and sound balance. I think that overall, it is the more balanced and better-sounding audio codec of the two. This is the audio option I select whenever I watch the show.
The audio on the 2 CDs that came with the Blu Ray is standard 16-bit LPCM sampled at 44,100 Hz. The concert played from the CDs sounds as good as the stereo soundtrack on the Blu Ray and is likely the same audio info converted to video format.
Video Specs And Quality
The overall video quality of the concert is excellent. It was pro-shot with 16 cameras.
The video is an AVC Encoded Blu-Ray (1080i) transfer using a MPEG-4 19.90 Mbps Codec.
The aspect ratio is a 1.78:1 Widescreen format.
My Favorite Moments
Here are the songs that I thought really made the concert exceptional. These five songs were all played during the second half or end of the show.
Perhaps things just became more familiar as they continued to play together.
You can really see them all begin to loosen up and start to enjoy themselves, especially Jimmy, who begins to smile and assume various guitar poses and power stances. Jason was understandably a little apprehensive about representing his dad in the band, but he did a fabulous job.
Expectations were high, and none of them really knew how it would turn out, even though the rehearsal went well. Near the end of the show, Robert plant says, “Hey Dick (Carruthers -director & producer), we did it!”
No Quarter has always been one of my favorites on Houses Of The Holy. They all played this rendition so methodically and got every little thing perfect.
It’s always performed a little differently live with such interesting keyboard improvisations.
John Paul plays a “haunting” solo on his Korg OASYS that fits perfectly with Jimmy’s wah-wah powered riffs and brief touches of the theremin.
It was played in the key of C minor, which is a little unusual but nonetheless dazzling.
If there was ever a song written especially for a fog machine, this is it, and a multicolored fog slowly made its way across the stage, just like in the old days.
Dazed And Confused
This Led Zeppelin I song is, as Robert Plant announces, another “must-play” number. I don’t think the audience would believe the show was over without it.
Everyone always seems to recognize it after John Paul plays the first two opening notes on his bass guitar, and the crowd goes wild.
Jimmy’s opening wah-wah pedal-fueled lick with the note bends behind the nut never seems to get old no matter how many times I hear it.
This is just a prelude to what we all know is coming when Jimmy whips out the violin bow and switches on the Echoplex to create an unbelievable guitar solo, backed up by a fantastic laser light show!
Dazed And Confused was actually written by and first performed by Jake Holmes. The Yardbirds did a rearrangement of it in 1967 and recorded it in 1968.
Led Zeppelin re-recorded it in 1969, under Jimmy’s direction, for their debut album with new lyrics.
Holmes sued Led Zeppelin in June 2010 in the US District Court. He alleged that Zeppelin and particularly Jimmy Page, a former Yardbirds member, committed copyright infringement.
The case was “dismissed with prejudice” on January 17, 2012, after Page and Holmes reached an undisclosed settlement.
Still, “Dazed And Confused” is considered to be one of Led Zeppelin’s great hits of all time.
Stairway To Heaven
This perfect musical blending of folk-rock and hard-rock from the Led Zeppelin IV album is undoubtedly the most recognized Zeppelin song in the world and a centerpiece of any show.
It was written to be played on both 6 and 12 string guitar.
It’s fun to watch Jimmy pull off each part of the song by switching between the 6 and 12 string necks on his Cherry Red Gibson ES-1275, which is essentially a double-neck SG guitar.
It’s the combination of John Paul’s keyboard, Jimmy’s guitar, and Robert Plant’s lyrics that make this tune magical. Not to diminish Jason’s drums, which blend in beautifully.
Every budding rock guitar player tries to learn the opening riff and practices it so excessively that it is practically illegal to play in any music store without being asked to leave. If you don’t believe me, then give it a try and see for yourself! ?
If you want to have some fun, check out my article on Why Can’t Guitarists Play Stairway To Heaven In Music Stores?
The Physical Graffiti album is home to Kashmir, which is played in the D-A-D-G-A-D open tuning. The song is written in complex meters and was inspired during Robert Plant’s trip to Morocco.
Each part of this song is difficult to play in proper rhythmic time on every instrument, but it makes such a powerful musical statement.
It was great to see Jimmy use his B-Bender Les Paul for this tune, which he has also used for “All Of My Love” on the album “In Through The Out Door.”
The version of Kashmir they played at the Celebration Day concert was nominated at the 2014 56th Grammy awards for Best Rock Performance.
Did you know that Jimmy Page worked with American rapper Puff Daddy to create a rearrangement of Kashmir renamed “Come With Me” for the 1998 movie Godzilla?
Jimmy and Tom Morello supplied the guitar parts and added orchestral elements.
This awesome rendition of the song was used over the movie’s end credits. It’s the only movie that I let continue to play (unless there’s a secret ending) to be able to hear the song in its entirety.
“Come With Me” is so infectious that you won’t be able to stop humming it. If you haven’t heard it or seen the movie, then buy or stream it immediately, if not sooner!
Here is a video of Zeppelin performing “Kashmir” at the O2 arena. You be the judge.
Whole Lotta Love
If you’re a rock guitar player, then you probably learned the solo to “Whole Lotta Love” or at least gave it a try at some point. When I was in high school, I played it whenever I got the chance and never got tired of its flashy hammer-ons and big bends.
Whole Lotta Love is the first encore of the show. It is always a Zeppelin crowd-pleaser with all the usual tastefully overdone on-stage antics. This song featured incredible lighting and laser effects with LCD screen images that pulled it all together visually.
No performance would be complete without Jimmy’s “theremin fest,” which hails back to the 1970s and is still every bit as awesome today!
This gadget has become a part of the song, and you really wouldn’t be able to pull the tune off properly without it.
Jimmy used his 1990 Les Paul “TransPerformance” Gold Top to play the song, which I’m sure made most of the guitar players in the audience wonder, “what’s that?”
It has a TransPerformance bridge and a digital self-tuning system. You can see the controls and digital display, which are mounted on the upper bout.
Jimmy was the first to endorse the TransPerformance Tuning System on guitar used it on the 1993 Coverdale-Page and 1995 Page-Plant tours.
It is designed and manufactured by AxCent Tuning Systems LLC.
The newer models can instantly switch to several of hundreds of available alternate tunings with the push of a button while you play.
Joe Perry, Mick Fleetwood, Eddie Van Halen, and Pete Townshend have all used the TransPerformance Tuning System.
What I didn’t Like
All in all, the Blu Ray was really well done, and you definitely get what you pay for.
For the vast majority of us that didn’t get to see the concert live, this video was a Godsend!
However, there are a few things that I think could have been done differently.
Surround Sound Could Be Better
The surround soundtrack does offer a “live-sounding” experience but had the audio limitations I listed above in the section on “Audio Specs And Quality.”
I realize that the concert was filmed in 2007, but a remixed DTS 5.1 audio codec on the Blu Ray edition with more attention to sound field detail would have been nice for those that appreciate a true home theater experience.
The stereo soundtrack on the Blu Ray, which I prefer to listen to, is an excellent and welcome option.
No Extras Included On The Blu Ray
No extras are included unless you purchase the $250 (US) deluxe edition, which has an additional bonus DVD that contains the “Shepperton Rehearsal,” the “Zeppelin Media Moment,” and the “Tampa Opening Film.”
The Shepperton Rehearsal
The Shepperton rehearsal is almost 2 hours long and includes the entire setlist for the show. The video is of low quality because it was shot with only 1 camera from the far end of the studio, so the band members are difficult to see clearly. The audio is uncompressed LPCM 2.0, which sounds ok for non-high def sound.
The Zeppelin Media Moment
The Zeppelin media moment is just that, less than 4 minutes of British news reports about the concert.
The Tampa Opening Film
The Tampa opening film is actually shown at the show’s start on the O2 Arena recording, as mentioned above in “A Very Cool News Flashback To Start The Show.” It has been cropped to put it in the 1.78:1 Widescreen aspect ratio, although it was originally filmed in 4:3 fullscreen in 1973.
An Alternate Option
I can understand that they saved the extras for a deluxe edition to make more money, but most people cannot afford to pay $250 (US)! This was such a historical rock event that they should have made them available to everyone who bought the concert video.
An alternative marketing approach would have been to place a conspicuous warning on the DVD and Blu Ray editions, to inform fans that only the deluxe edition contains the extra disk with the bonus features.
The Shepperton rehearsal can now be viewed in its entirely on YouTube.
Final Thoughts For Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Review
This concert was a phenomenal opportunity to hear Led Zeppelin play live once again after their 27-year absence, despite their drummer’s untimely death.
John Bonham’s son, Jason, really did an amazing job recreating the classic Zeppelin vibe with his own personal style, and he could have easily allowed Zeppelin to book other tour dates.
Apparently, Jimmy Page was open to the idea of getting the band back together or at least doing a second night of the 2007 concert but neither ever happened for a variety of reasons.
For the 18,000 fans that were lucky enough to see this concert in person, I’m sure it must live vividly in their minds, even after all these years! We have been gifted with a 16 camera pro-shot video and audio recording to capture the moment for the rest of us.
Having seen Led Zeppelin perform live three times, I can say that this concert captured the band’s raw power, which really can’t be fully appreciated in a studio recording.
If you’ve never seen this concert, please put that at the top of your musical to-do list! It’s an enjoyable experience with a phenomenal show, and Jimmy and John Paul’s guitars look and sound amazing.
Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995. For more info, see Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – The Killer Guitar Players!
Tell Me What You Think
Please let me know what’s on your mind in the comment section or anything I can help you with.
- Have you seen Celebration Day?
- Did you see it at home or were you at the concert?
- What did you think of it?
- Which songs did you like most?
- Would you buy this Blu Ray after reading this article?