Memo to rock journalists looking to score a big scoop by getting the surviving members of Led Zeppelin —from left to right above, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant— to comment on whether or not the band will reunite for an extended concert tour: A direct line of questioning is most certainly NOT your best bet to get them to address the issue that is on everyone’s mind. No less than three journalists were met with glares of steely silence by Led Zeppelin in a press conference held at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art earlier this afternoon, but an indirect question about the band’s onstage vibe during the December 2007 performance at London’s O2 Arena that is the basis for their upcoming concert film Celebration Day resulted in the closest thing to an answer that the band would give on whether we’ll ever see any more Zeppelin shows.
“That night, back then, we were just hangin’ on for dear life,” Robert Plant told the crowd of 150 journalists or so. “We were just watching each other, we were so happy we were getting it right. There were moments in it where we just took off, pushed off into some place. The responsibility of doing that four nights of week for the rest of time is a different thing. We’re pretty good at what we do, but the tail should never wag the dog. If we’re capable of doing something in our own time, that will be what will happen. So any inane questions from people from syndicated outlets, you should just really think about what it takes to answer a question like that in one second. We know what we’ve got.”
So, what the members of Led Zeppelin are trying to say is this: Go see Celebration Day next week, on either October 17 or 18, when it premieres in movie theaters nationwide —check FathomEvents.com for a showtime near you— because it will likely be the last time that the guys perform together in concert. The film, which was recorded on December 10, 2007 when the band got together to headline a tribute concert to the legendary Atlantic Records chairman Ahmet Ertegun, captures a 16-song, powerhouse performance by the surviving members of the band, plus Jason Bonham on drums. The film is unique in that it’s truly a concert film — there are no sidebars featuring interviews with the band, music journalists or other such talking heads. Rather, it’s just four guys “playing their heart out,” as Jimmy Page attested during today’s press conference.
“In every rehearsal leading up to (the reunion concert), Jason [Bonham] really played his heart out. We all played our hearts out, to be honest.”
The film starts out with “Good Times, Bad Times,” which Zeppelin superfans will recognize as the first track off the band’s very first album, Led Zeppelin. “In this concert, we had a real chance to do a retrospective of our career,” John Paul Jones explained. “That’s why we arrived at the first number being ‘Good Times, Bad Times,’ then we’ll see what goes on from there. I think we made a pretty good choice right across the board. The pacing of the set was interesting, because with no warm-up gig, we had to get it right.”
That said, the band definitely felt the pressure to make up for previous reunions (Live Aid, the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Party), which were not so kindly received by either critics or fans. “I think expectations are horrific things,” Robert Plant confessed. “To actually do anything together is such an incredible weight, because sometimes we were f***in’ awful, and sometimes we were stunning. A couple of times we tried to get together, but this time around, we were really propelled along by Jason and his enthusiasm.”
If you miss the film during its short run in theaters on October 17 and 18, don’t fret. The film will soon be released as an album on vinyl and CD, as well as on DVD and Blu-Ray. The concert will also be available in digital form, but vinyl purist Jimmy Page would prefer that you experience the magical reunion in a more old school format. “I would recommend that you don’t listen to Led Zeppelin on MP3, that’s for sure!”
[Photos: Getty Images]