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Led Zeppelin -Live At Knebworth 79 dvd


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Led Zeppelins power as a live act is nothing short of legendary. The Knebworth 79 dvd captures the band at one major concert. The buyer however should be aware that its a late seventies rock recording taken from a professionally recording for projection on the stage monitors. The material here fluctuates between fuzzy, washed out colours and fairly decent clarity. Robert Plant frequently appears to be emerging from a pink cloud. At other points, you could see the beads of sweat dripping off Jimmy Page’s agonizingly pale forehead. The audio is a decent soundboard recording. So dont expect modern dvd or blu-ray quality but a true testament and a real treat to have a record of the whole concert. The band had not performed regularly for some time leading up to these major comeback shows. Plant’s onstage banter between songs sounds more like anxiety than bravado. Nervous humour to conceal a lack of confidence. The all-conquering hard rock band had been through some tough times and was trying to navigate their way back to relevance in the English rock scene. John Paul Jones and John Bonham were the ever reliable rhythm section but Page and Plant were often struggling to keep up. Plant laboured to hit and sustain the right notes while Page was all over the place, despite a very workmanlike effort to pull this thing off. A band in decline or just trying to regain its chops, I’m not sure, but way off the once mighty Led Zeppelin peak regardless. The set list was curiously paced as well. They came out with a half hour or so of rocking numbers to get the crowd going, peaking with a jubilant version of Misty Mountain Hop. The band then launched into almost an hour of slow to mid-tempo numbers including Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter (with lengthy Jones organ musings), Ten Years Gone, Rain Song and Page’s guitar piece White Summer. All great songs in their own right but a bit of a drag when played back to back through the middle of the set. The only upbeat respite was the brand new, novelty hoe-down Hot Dog during which the band loosened up and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. From there, we move onto an epic Kashmir that was hindered more than any other song in the set by the dubious sound quality. The massive orchestral keyboard and guitar parts sound too tinny and shrill. A raucous Trampled Underfoot is probably the high point of the show followed by a crunching Sick Again and somewhat ragged Achilles Last Stand, perhaps again suffering from the unbalanced audio. Next stop, a sloppy Page guitar solo including fingernails-on-the-chalkboard violin bow section leading into a less-than-stellar take on In The Evening. By this point, you can hear the crowd begging the band to just play Stairway to Heaven and the band complied with an off-kilter, out-of-sync rendition to close the set. At least, Plant remembered the words, unlike his infamous flub at the Atlantic Records anniversary reunion. The really odd thing about watching the dvd is that you forget about the massive audience through much of the show. You would almost think that they were performing in some dark soundstage in front of about 50 people. As the camera pans through the crowd following the main set, you are reminded that this is obviously not the case. The band returned to the stage with show-saving encores of Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love and Heartbreaker, finally seeming to hit their stride. The dvd represents an amazing opportunity to see Led Zeppelin beginning their own Swan Song in front of a festival crowd. So much heart and effort to live up to that legendary status but oh so rusty. The production makes for a satisfactory viewing experience, certainly better most concert bootlegs from that era. Despite the questionable pacing of the set and the decidedly lacklustre performance of the band, it is 3 hours of Led Zeppelin that every fan of the band should be compelled to see. I can’t decide if the show, at that time, would have been more a recap of an amazing decade-long run or a glimmering hope for new beginnings. Either way, we all know that the band would cease to exist one year later under tragic but predictable circumstances. As another reviewer noted, the pathos of watching the concert with 20/20 hindsight will weigh heavily on the hard-core fans. Led Zeppelin fans should definitely own this dvd but it will not serve as evidence to convert any skeptical non-believers.

Track list:
1. The Song Remains The Same
2. Celebration Day
3. Black Dog
4. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
5. Over The Hills And Far Away
6. Misty Mountain Hop
7. Since I’ve Been Loving You
8. No Quarter
9. Ten Years Gone
10. Hot Dog
11. Rain Song
12. White Summer / Black Mountainside
13. Kashmir
14. Trampled Under Foot
15. Sick Again
16. Achilles Last Stand
17. Jimmy Page Solo
18. In The Evening

Additional information


Showtime Entertainment

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