A whole lotta thrills on Led Zeppelin's big night

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The Independent Culture

They were driven apart by personal tragedy and bitter recriminations for decades but yesterday, for one night only, the band that defined the spirit of Seventies heavy rock were back.

For tens of thousands of ageing rockers, Led Zeppelin's reunion concert at the O2 Arena was the culmination of months of nervous anticipation, not to mention years of frustrated, and often ridiculed, devotion.

But as the singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones prepared to take to a stage together for the first time in 19 years, the passion of their fans remained the same.

Among the early arrivals queueing to collect one of the 20,000 precious tickets, issued only 36 hours before the concert to prevent touts cashing in, was Jeffrey Jones. The 43-year-old Canadian stood patiently in the cold, clasping the Led Zeppelin flag that has been on his bedroom wall since he was 15. "I was 10 years old when I bought their first album and I've pretty much never listened to anything else," he said. "For me, it's like that Christmas feeling where you know Santa Claus is coming and you're like a child waiting for the biggest present you've ever waited for in your whole life."

Alistair Trew, 51, from Worthing, West Sussex, was dressed in the obligatory black Led Zep T-shirt but sat in a semi-circle of picnic chairs with his wife and daughter. "You've got to make yourselves at home," he said.

Amy and Rich Heidenfellder, meanwhile, had flown in from San Diego, California, with their one-year-old daughter Ainslee in tow. "She's a seasoned concert-goer", explained Mrs Heidenfellder. "She has already seen the Stones and Bob Dylan."