Excitement built Monday as fans of rock legends Led Zeppelin gathered for the band's long-awaited one-off reunion concert in London, seeking to relive memories of their hell-raising 1970s heyday.
The three surviving members of the iconic group - singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones - were to be joined on stage by their late drummer John Bohnam's son Jason for the spectacular two-hour gig. "I have not been able to sleep for days," said fan Geoff Jones, among thousands queuing for hours to get their precious tickets, only issued 36 hours before the concert in a bit to prevent touts cashing in on re-sales.
"For me it's kind of like that Christmas feeling where you know Santa Claus is coming and you're like a child waiting for the biggest present you've ever waited for in your whole life," he told the BBC. Nearly two decades after they last took the stage, the group promised to pull out all the stops at London's O2 Arena, vowing to play all their classics including era-defining hits "Stairway to Heaven" and "Whole Lotta Love."
To coincide with the concert the band has released a greatest hits album and a special DVD set of "The Song Remains the Same," the 1976 film which documented their explosive live act.
The London concert, a tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, was originally scheduled for November 26, but was put back by two weeks after Page injured his left little finger stumbling over in his garden. The band, formed by Page in 1968 from the ashes of The Yardbirds, are credited by some as having single-handedly created the cliche of the television-defenestrating, groupie-consumed rock band.
Their name came from a joke by The Who's drummer Keith Moon - a rock wildman himself - who forecast they would go down like a metallic version of the infamous airship.
The "a" was removed in case US fans mispronounced it. But they defied that prediction, and went on to sell more than 300 million albums over the decades, their records remaining rock staples despite Bonham's untimely death after choking on his own vomit in 1980.
Most fans had assumed they would never take the stage together again, but then in September they unexpectedly announced the reunion for the tribute to Ertegun, who signed the band four decades ago and died last year. Reflecting the excitement around the reunion - even amid recent comebacks by bands like Genesis and The Police -- over a million people applied for the 20,000 tickets, awarded by ballot, at 125 pounds (255 dollars, 175 euros) each. Feminist icon Germaine Greer has even voiced her passion for the band.
"I love Led Zep to this day," she wrote in the Daily Telegraph Monday. "Led Zeppelin used discipline and concentration to become the Wagner of rock and roll," she said, adding that, when she saw them at London's Royal Albert Hall: "I couldn't believe the transcendental noise I was hearing."
The gig is the first time the three men have played together in public for 19 years: they did a benefit gig in 1988, and three years before that played at Live Aid. But Page -- famous for his visceral guitar solos and occasional use of violin bows -- said both those performances were "shambolic," with drummers who did not know the songs and little or no rehearsals.
Monday's concert will be different, he has vowed. In theory the gig is a one-off -- singer Plant has talked about doing "one last, great show" and has insisted it will not be followed by a tour.
"But Page and bassist Paul Jones dropped hints last week that there could be more. Even Plant - reportedly the most reluctant to do more - fuelled the rumours, telling a weekend newspaper: "It wouldn't be such a bad idea to play together from time to time."