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Can Led Zeppelin still rock?

  • Story Highlights
  • Led Zeppelin to play one-off comeback gig on December 10
  • More than 11 million people signed up to buy tickets
  • Legendary rock act has sold more than 300 million records worldwide
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By CNN's Peter Sorel-Cameron
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- They have been described by critics as the definitive heavy metal band, they released eight studio albums in just 10 years and have sold more than 300 million records worldwide. And now, one of the best rock acts of all time is back.

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Robert Plant will play to a capacity crowd of 20,000, but can he still rock?

After the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, Led Zeppelin split up and, aside from occasional appearances at one-off gigs and a brief return by guitarist Jimmy Page and lead singer Robert Plant in the late 1990s, the band has stayed away from the limelight.

Monday, December 10, will see the surviving members of the band take to the stage again, in London's O2 Arena. They will be joined by Bonham's son Jason, for what is one of the most eagerly anticipated comeback gigs in recent memory.

The venue has a capacity of 20,000, but as soon as the tickets went on sale -- for a cool £125 ($253.50) -- fans rushed to get their hands on one. In total 11 million people signed up for the chance to see the reunion gig, officially announced as a one-off performance by the band.

But will it be worth it? The band were known for giving standout performances, and for having incredibly high standards -- their set at the Live Aid concert in 1985 upset them so much they refused to allow it to be added to the DVD released to commemorate the star-driven charity event. I-Report: Led Zeppelin can still "rock the joint"

In their heyday they were known for great performances on stage, and a wild and crazy life off, getting a reputation for partying as hard as they rocked. Stories of the band destroying hotel rooms and committing lewd acts with groupies have become the stuff of rock legend.

DISCOGRAPHY

1969 -- Led Zeppelin
1969 -- Led Zeppelin II
1970 -- Led Zeppelin III
1971 -- Led Zeppelin IV
1973 -- Houses of the Holy
1975 -- Physical Graffiti
1976 -- Presence
1979 -- In Through the Out Door

Source: ledzeppelin.com

The gig on Monday will take place 27 years since the group broke up and more than 20 years since their last live performance and, besides the fact they may be a little rusty, the youngest member of the original line-up, Plant, will be 60 next year. Can they live up to their wild reputation and satisfy the hard rock fans when they are pushing retirement age?

The gig has already had to be delayed after Page broke his finger, hinting at the kind of frailty that would prevent anyone throwing a television out of a hotel window.

With an average age of 61, the band certainly isn't the oldest act still in the business. The Rolling Stones continue to delight sellout crowds at a mean age of 63.25, and of course there's Bob Dylan, who has been playing an exhausting 100 dates a year over the last two decades, and will turn 67 in 2008.

The problem, though, is that neither Dylan nor the Stones have the same reputation for creating a huge, powerful sound. Led Zeppelin have been credited as the first heavy metal band, and that is quite a title to live up to, especially if you are past your best.

There is a great deal of speculation about how the band will perform, and in many ways they have cursed themselves, simply by waiting so long to make music, and by being so mind-blowing in the first place -- they have become victims of their own hype.

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But there is always hope, knowing that the crowd will be treated to the classics, rather than the host of new material that many comeback tours are riddled with. This gig is billed as a one-off and the band have only been playing together to prepare for this show.

So the jury is out really. They have all the ingredients to make a great performance and they have a dedicated fan-base, but with this much of a break and with so much to live up to, can they really fulfill the expectations?

And that is the wonderful mystery of attending this gig, and must be a key reason for its selling out so quickly -- nobody has seen these three men play together publicly since 1985. No one really knows what to expect, apart from three legends of heavy rock playing some of the best music in the genre. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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