They may have claimed they came from "the land of ice and snow" in Immigrant Song, but Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page prefer a rather warmer clime if this DVD is anything to go by - north Africa to be exact. For No Quarter: Unledded is set in the terracotta heat of Morocco and the cool nights of Egypt. Not only can we delight in seeing Page and Plant playing in the noisy colourful streets but also see them perform Led Zep songs with local musicians both outside and on stage.
But before we come to all that we have to deal with their's and the director's decision to include a country that ruins the North African theme somewhat - Wales. Yes, the DVD opens with soaring helicopter shots of verdant valleys and endless forests. Within an autumnal glade the camera zooms in on what looks like an aging bohemian tinker with a thin orange cape and beaded necklace - that'll be Plant then. While Page looks like a mature hippy version of the white-suited man from Delmonte - and he says yes!
How can you say no to hearing an acoustic No Quarter anyway? It's impossible. In fact, the whole DVD is becoming mesmeric to watch already, for from the second track Thank You until the fifth Gallow's Pole - the curly-haired duo perform at a venue in Egypt with studio perfection but using a mix of Western and native instruments and musicians - giving each song an organic fresh quality. Later on in the DVD we come back to the stage to experience a staggering blend of two cultures.
For starters we have the hurdy gurdy, the mandolin, the bodhran, and an Egyptian ensemble on the audience's right playing the Egyptian bamboo flute, the duf, the bendir, the merwas and finger cymbals. Then mix that with the Hammond organ, acoustic and electric guitars and the string section of the London Metropolitan Orchestra on the left, and you transport epic Led Zeppelin songs onto a once unimaginable plane.
The arab drum loops and Egyptian counter rhythms on songs such as Wonderful One, The Rain Song, Four Sticks and Kashmir give the them an exotic and entrancing edge - a shot of Plant almost hypnotised by an Egyptian violinist's solo typifies it all. Not only is it a treat for us but also for them.
The pair clearly bonded deeply with the cultures they encountered and it's a chance to see them not as rock gods but as people humbled and appreciative of other musicians. One song, called Wah Wah, is one they penned with a Marrakech troupe The Ganowa, and we see them and the band perform it within a paint-flaked cream courtyard in the baking heat. There sits Plant in the sand, barefoot in a thin white smock as he wails away. Page is on the other side with large guitar, while five men sit between them in long robes and colourful hats playing their instruments. It's a sight to behold.
Another scene is in the bustling marketplace in the dusk, Page and Plant are rocking out to one of the few electric renditions of a song on this DVD - The Truth Explodes. The camera films astonished but happy crowds blithely clapping and jumping on the spot. When the scene cuts to Wales, where Page, Plant and their merry band of musicians perform When The Levee Breaks on a slate mountain, the theme crumbles but still, the scenery is stunning and awe-inspiring.
Complete with bonus tracks and an interview, this DVD is just brilliant. It may omit Stairway To Heaven, but we've all heard that enough times anyway. What a breath of fresh air this half musical travelogue, half live concert DVD is. Not only are there stunning fresh versions of vintage songs but the DVD is unusual and also beautifully shot. A definite winner.