Now this is what Led Zeppelin fans — in the continued and unavoidable absence of the real thing — have been waiting for. Singer Robert Plant (still long-haired) and guitarist Jimmy Page (still swaggering) have thankfully shed all the excess instrumental baggage that hampered 1995’s experimental “Unledded” tour and are revisiting with distinct gusto the trusty Zep catalog, reflecting the realization that there’s no point in running from their glorious past.
The duo, both now past 50, hit the Bowl stage (backed by three younger musicians on bass, drums and keys) and launched into a powerful medley of “The Wanton Song,” “Bring It on Home” and “Heartbreaker” that sent the packed house to Classic Rock heaven.
The show, which included plenty of close-ups on two large video screens, was a good mix of well-known, straight-ahead tracks like “Whole Lotta Love,” which featured Page playing an odd instrument call a theramin, and more obscure cuts like “Tangerine” and “Gallow’s Pole.”
Played-out numbers like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir” are being given a rest on this tour, which bowed on the East Coast in May, though Page did play a tease of the “Stairway” intro during one of his many psychedelic guitar jams.
There’s also the business of their new Atlantic album, “Walking to Clarksdale,” the first album of new Page-Plant compositions since 1980’s “In Through the Out Door,” which provided three songs to the two-hour program highlighted by the title track, a song that attempts to bridge the gap between Zep’s glory days and today.
Concert peaked mid-set, during a long reading of the bluesy “How Many More Times,” from Zeppelin’s first album in 1969, that wrapped around the tour’s first-ever perf of “I Can’t Quit You Babe.”
Plant noted, before a sweet reading of “Going to California,” which was included in a short acoustic portion, that playing the Bowl again brought back many happy memories from Zep’s (infamous) time spent in L.A. in the ’70s.
A hurried version of the otherwise slow and moody “No Quarter,” which is heavily associated with estranged Led Zep bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones, left one wondering how good this show would have been if Jones had been included.