These are strange times. It used to be that when a band broke up, you could no longer see them live. These days, however, it seems every rock band that has ever existed, from the biggest names in rock to the most obscure of punk groups, is back on the road. Outside of a few, poorly-executed one-offs, 70s hard rock giants Led Zeppelin are on the short list of bands who have not taken the big paycheck to put on a reunion tour, thus when word spread in 2007 they would take the stage at London’s 02 Arena to headline a tribute concert for legendary Atlantic Records’ founder Ahmet Ertegun, it was greeted as the second coming and set the stage for a full-fledged reunion tour.
The dead have risen from their graves.
The concert itself was received rapturously. Everyone from classic rock royalty to the band’s old nemesis, Rolling Stone, proclaimed its greatness. The masses awaited for tickets to go on sale, credit cards in hand, bedecked in new-vintage Urban Outfitters 1977 tour shirts. And then the greatest rock n’ roll reunion tour of all time didn’t happen. Singer Robert Plant went on tour with Allison Krauss, bassist John Paul Jones formed a new band with Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and guitarist Jimmy Page did a movie with Jack White. Five years later, a suitably mysterious countdown clock on the Led Zeppelin website and Facebook page built up anticipation once again that the band were finally announcing the release of Celebration Day, the concert film of the band’s 2007 performance.
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.”