Dario Cantatore / AP
Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham at the "Celebration Day" premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
The news that emerged from Led Zeppelin’s New York news conference last week was so focused on whether the legendary rock band would or wouldn’t reunite that few writers focused on the reason for the conference to begin with. And that’s the theatrical release of the group’s concert film "Celebration Day" today.
The film captures the band at a 2007 reunion concert at London’s O2 Arena and will be shown on 1,500 screens in select cities (the band’s web site lets you search for one near you). Here are five reasons to go see the film.
1. It has a hella good set list
Rather than use their reunion as an excuse to hawk new material that could possibly taint their legacy, Led Zep broke out a set list of classics most fans will want to hear -- and see. Songs run the gamut from early favorites like "Good Times Bad Times" and "Dazed and Confused" to rock staples like "No Quarter," "Black Dog," and "Rock and Roll."
2. They played 'Stairway'
Yes, "Stairway to Heaven" is a tried-and-true warhorse that everyone’s tired of. Even the film "Wayne’s World" joked about how tired people were of it and that was back in 1992. But what band in its right mind would create such a classic, then ignore it in front of thousands of fans at a reunion gig? When it was played on Dec. 10, 2007, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham (filling in for his deceased father John) gave fans the experience of a lifetime hearing the song in the flesh.
3. It was for a good cause
A lot of reunions are cash-ins, but Zep played to benefit the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund. Ertegun was the founder and president of Atlantic Records, a pioneering American label that helped bring rhythm and blues artists like Ray Charles and Ruth Brown to the masses before Zeppelin came aboard in 1968. Accordingly, Ertegun’s charity is dedicated to helping gifted children to "reach their highest creative potential."
4. It won’t be 'round for long
According to news releases, "Celebration Day" will hit theaters for a "strictly limited engagement." In most places, that will mean two days: today and Thursday. A spokesperson from the Gorgeous Media Group, which is promoting the film in the Washington, D.C., region, says some theaters will be adding extra days, but also notes that "the band wanted the screening of the film to be a one-time event." So if you don’t catch it this week, you’ll have to wait for the Nov. 19 DVD release.
5. It’ll send you back ...
... even if you weren’t around to begin with when Zep ruled the world. Led Zeppelin’s back catalog is one of rock’s best and it’s worth exploring again from the original eight studio albums to the band’s 1974 concert film, "The Song Remains the Same" to the two-disc set "Led Zeppelin DVD," a 2003 release of live performances spanning 1969 to 1979. They call this stuff classic rock for a reason, after all.
Will you check out "Celebration Day"? Tell us if you're a Led Zeppelin fan and what your favorite song is on our Facebook page.
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Tony Sclafani’s writing can be seen at www.tonysclafani.com.