With the possible exceptions of The Beatles and Pink Floyd, no other band reunion could excite the fervour prompted by Led Zeppelin's appearance at the Dome, their first full-length concert since John Bonham's death in 1980.
Zeppelin's headline segment opened with the familiar chords of "Good Times Bad Times". Here, and on "Ramble On", it became immediately apparent that Jason Bonham makes a more than merely able replacement for his father on drums: indeed, there's a stronger funk element to his playing that kicks the songs along with more lan, particularly on "Trampled Underfoot", where it lays a tight bed beneath John Paul Jones's funky clavinet riff.
The sound early on was somewhat murky, a clangour through which Jimmy Page's guitar solos cut like razors. But by "Black Dog", things had settled down, the riff's tricky curlicues coming through more clearly; and Plant's jousting with the crowd on the "uhh-uhh/uhh-uhh" mid-song breakdown was one of the night's more engaging moments. It was followed by the blowsy slide-guitar blues of "In My Time of Dying", on which Page's climactic blizzard of notes seemed to congeal like molten lead. That was succeeded by "For Your Life", the most puzzling piece in the set. "This is our first live adventure with this song," said Plant and no wonder, one thought, listening to this routine rifferama.
"Trampled Underfoot" was a distinct improvement, but its impact was dissipated by a section of downbeat blues-rock, starting with "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and incorporating "Since I've Been Loving You" and "Dazed and Confused", with only the heavily-vibrato'd keyboard and vocals of "No Quarter" as respite. Which, being the closest the band came to the dreaded jazz-rock fusion, was no respite at all. It all seemed rather sluggish, an impression not dispelled when Page strapped on his emblematic double-necked guitar for "Stairway to Heaven".
The high point came with "Kashmir", whose Middle Eastern-toned riff has a golem tread that makes it the song best equipped to withstand the arena's questionable acoustics.
Encores of "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock and Roll" brought the evening to a close, the former given the full-on laser and dry-ice treatment for Page's celebrated mid-song breakdown section of guitar and theremin. One couldn't help feeling, however, that these big, uptempo rockers would have been better placed in the middle of the set. But for those happy punters departing Greenwich in a state of mild euphoria, just to be here was clearly enough.
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