"As soon as I heard John Bonham play,” John Paul Jones later said, “I knew this was going to be great. We locked together as a team immediately.” And the band was locked together that night as well, in an organic, often loosely spontaneous way, but it was like they could read each other’s minds. Page’s long solo on “Dazed and Confused” was appropriately jaw dropping, playing with a violin bow, getting sound and feedback that was as radical as anyone had heard since Hendrix. Page’s guitar playing was obviously rooted in the blues and was light years beyond most of the solo guitarists of the hippie type bands, who tended to be self-indulgent and noodled endlessly when they soloed.
This was different, his solos were as well constructed as a bluesman’s while at the same time full of room for improvisation and letting the spirit take over. Whatever spirit that happened to be. His guitar playing was rife with power that seemed to come from some elemental source, some ancient time of pre-history, drawing up volcanic turbulence, witches’ wails, storms from the mystic.
They did a stunning “You Shook Me,” showcasing the acrobatic, elastic voice of Plant. Here was another reason to absolutely love this band, the guy could hit notes that weren’t even written. They did “Communication Breakdown,” which was stunning, which we cheered for because we’d heard it on the radio already. The rhythm section of Jones and Bonham was crunching and fat, that metal sound of deep base and drums like thundering hooves.
The second set included the acoustic style guitar work of “White Summer” and the heavy metal meets folk “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Ending out on “How Many More Times,” leaving the audience gasping, wanting more but no encore, wondering what the hell we’d just seen, exactly. To repeat Jon Landau before he’d said it, we’d seen the future of rock and roll. Music got heavier, hundreds of bands tried but never came all that close to doing what Zep did.
The next records, Led Zepplin ll, Led Zepplin lll, Led Zepplin lV, came out one after the other in the following two years and created widespread popularity for the group, cementing Zep’s status as the biggest band in the world, with hits like “Whole Lotta Love,” “Heartbreaker,” “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll,” and the ubiquitous “Stairway to Heaven.” They toured the world in the Led Zeppelin jet, created ‘arena rock,’ became infamous for their excessive lifestyle. Jimmy Page became known as an advocate of the occult and philosophical disciple of Satanist Alestair Crowley, the band toured on, made more records, less influential records, eventually becoming so much of an institution that in recent years the song “Rock and Roll” was used in Cadillac commercials. And even there it sounded as fresh and raw and great as it did when it first same out. That’s what’s called classic.