It's been a long time since they've rock and rolled, but the surviving members of Led Zeppelin proved they still have what it takes.
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham's son, Jason, came together Monday night for their much-anticipated tribute to Atlantic Records exec Ahmet Ertegun.
Following a video montage of the band's glory days, the rockers kicked off the reunion with "Good Times, Bad Times," much to the delight of fans packed into London's O2 Arena.
"In the days of my youth, I was told what it was to be a man/ Now I've reached the age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can/ No matter how I try, I find my way to do the same old jam," Plant, 59, shrieked, as the audience seemed to simultaneously cheer and sing along.
From there, they launched into a bluesy version of "Ramble On," followed by "Black Dog."
The two-hour-plus, 16-song set included usual suspects like "Kashmir," "The Song Remains the Same" and extended versions of "Dazed and Confused" and "Stairway to Heaven," before ending with a one-two punch of "Whole Lotta Love" (which Page dedicated to Ertegun) and "Rock and Roll."
Plant's whine was in full force. Jones, 61, and the younger Bonham, 41, ably held down the bottom line. And Page, 63, showed no ill effects from the finger injury that forced the band to postpone the show from its original date of Nov. 26.
"What they have done here tonight is prove they can still perform to the level that originally earned them their legendary reputation," Britain's New Musical Express proclaimed in its postconcert review. "We can only hope this isn't the last we see of them."
The show was the band's first all-out concert since John Bonham died in 1980. Page, Plant and Jones reunited with the younger Bonham for short sets at Live Aid in 1985 and Atlantic Records' 40th anniversary concert in 1988. The three original members last performed together at the band's 1995 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
There have been rampant rumors the band would use the reunion show as a platform from which to launch a full-scale tour; however, Plant, in particular, has repeatedly denied such a tour is in the works.
"The whole idea of being on a cavalcade of merciless repetition is not what it's all about," he told London's Sunday Times.
Likewise, popular speculation that the band will be the headlining act at this summer's Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee remains just a pipe dream at this point.
"It's just a rumor, none of that is real," Randy Phillips, CEO of concert promotion company AEG Live, told the Los Angeles Times.
"The reality is Zeppelin has not agreed to a tour," Phillips added. "They want to play this show and see how it goes, how it feels, and then go from there. There's nothing firm yet, but maybe afterward."
The band certainly has the fan base to ensure that any reunion tour would be an instant sellout. Some 20 million would-be concertgoers applied for tickets to the Ertegun tribute, for which only 16,000 seats were available, according to event organizers.
The tickets were priced at a face value of $250, but sold upwards of $2,000 online. One fan, 25-year-old Glaswegian Kenneth Donnell, paid $168,500 for his tickets in a BBC charity auction.
Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, Foreigner and Paolo Nutini were also the bill, effectively serving as Zeppelin's opening acts.
Despite his apparent aversion to returning to the tour circuit, even Plant hasn't completely ruled out the idea of hitting the road with his bandmates at some time in the future.
"It wouldn't be such a bad idea to play together from time to time," he admitted to the Sunday Times. Sarah Hall, Los Angeles (E! Online)