LONDON (Reuters) - Led Zeppelin had a lot to live up to after the hype surrounding their reunion gig on Monday night, but the British rockers pulled it off so successfully that critics and fans are begging for a world tour.
Reviewers were virtually unanimous in their praise of the band, which has played together only a handful of times since the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 after a drinking binge.
“Simply blown away by the world’s greatest band”, the Telegraph’s critic David Cheal wrote.
“Bizarre, beguiling and better than ever,” was Guardian music writer Alexis Petridis’ headline above a five-star review.
There was praise for all three original members, whose average age is 61, and for Bonham’s son Jason who acted as drummer for the night.
At 59, Robert Plant may have strained for some of the higher notes, but his performance through a 16-song set lasting just over two hours was better than some had dared to expect.
“Older equipment may take a while to get going, but once the requisite valves heat up, the quality is unmistakable,” wrote Pete Paphides in the Times.
Jimmy Page, 63, drew some of the biggest cheers for his power chords and improvisation, including a trademark turn with a violin bow across his guitar strings, while John Paul Jones, 61, won plaudits for providing a rhythmic bedrock on bass.
Jason Bonham did his father justice on drums, adding a funk element not there in the original lineup “which kicks the songs along with more elan,” according to the Independent.
For several reviewers, two of the night’s highlights were “Black Dog”, the third song performed, and “Kashmir” towards the end of the setlist.
“The moment Page and Bonham locked into ‘Kashmir’ something transcendent took hold,” said the Times’ Paphides.
For the more casual Zeppelin fan among the 20,000 who crammed the O2 Arena in London, “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock and Roll” were a fitting way to end a night billed as one of the biggest concerts in years.
Led Zeppelin showed their range of styles with the blues-inspired “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and the funk-rock fusion of “Trampled Under Foot”.
Speculation has been rife that Led Zeppelin will follow in the footsteps of other ageing rock acts by launching a lucrative world tour.
There were few clues on Monday as to whether it would happen, with Plant, pursuing a successful solo career, widely seen as the least willing band member to agree.
But there is little doubt as to the appetite for a full Led Zeppelin comeback.
“And so, was it all for a one-off show in memory of their label boss Ahmet Ertegun?” asked the Times. “Come on. With a synergy like this going on, it would be an act of cosmic perversity to stop now.”
The Daily Mirror tabloid put it more succinctly in a brief editorial: “Come on, lads - please play again.”