When noted concert film director Dick Carruthers worked with Led Zeppelin nearly ten years ago in putting together the DVD How the West Was Won, he and guitarist Jimmy Page sorted through hours of footage that had been locked away in the vaults for years. So when footage of the band’s 2007 reunion concert remained out of sight, he wasn’t at all surprised. “That’s just the way Zeppelin are,” says Carruthers, who shot the footage of the concert which has become the film Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day. It will show in area theaters on Wednesday, October 17.
“I was entirely prepared for it never to be mentioned again. The band will sit on something if they want to, despite how many fans want it. Those pressures don’t apply. I knew that. After the fantastic gig, everyone would ask me when that stuff was coming out and I would say, ‘Don’t hold your breath.’ People would ask me if I rang them and I said, ‘I’m sure they’ll ring me when they want to.’ Sure enough, three or four years later, I got a call from one of the offices and they literally said, ‘Shall we have a look at it then.’”
When Carruthers and crew finally got to see the footage from the concert, which featured original members Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and replacement drummer Jason Bonham (the son of original drummer John Bonham), they were definitely pleased with the results.
“Everyone was blown away, and it was better than we dare hoped,” he says.
The concert, which begins with a rather tepid rendition of “Good Times, Bad Times,” quickly picks up the pace with “Ramble On” and then cruises to a grand finale featuring “Kashmir,” “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock and Roll.” Carruthers used a variety of cameras and filmed from an assortment angles (he even stuck two “robotic mini cameras” on the drum riser) to capture the show’s excitement.
“I’m biased but it doesn’t disappoint,” he says. “It is quite an arc. The beginning is fever pitch excitement and the first couple of songs are brilliant but them finding their feet and you hit ‘In My Time of Dying’ and you get through the question mark of what’s it going to look like and sound like. They do this incredible song that they’ve never played live before, which is ‘For Your Life.’ It’s a real visual and it’s so staccato and bright. It’s absolutely knocks you for six. And then it goes up a level to ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and then up another level and they hit ‘Kashmir’ and then it goes up yet another level in the last couple of songs. So take some water with you.”