Friday, December 14, 2007

So Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will tour, but what about Led Zeppelin?

A celebratory worldwide reception to the Led Zeppelin reunion concert on Monday -- the first such event of the 21st century, and featuring a fully capable Jason Bonham on drums in place of his late father -- gave fuel to the old will-they-won't-they question that has plagued the band ever since the cruel hand of fate took away one of them.

For perhaps the first time, the question has an answer other than definitely not. They've just appeared onstage and were overwhelmingly successful in recapturing the spirit and the magic of their original incarnation. Each one of them has been quoted, separately, saying the band is playing well and that the future of playing together is possible. So, what's the deal? No official announcement? Have they even made up their own minds yet? Why not keep the momentum going and see what else can be done at this point in time?

The answer is be patient; just wait and see.

One thing that might hold it back -- and this is certainly not the only factor -- is that Robert Plant is too versatile a musician to stick with just one project. The perennial troubadour already has at least one other project on his plate for 2008. Remember, when Led Zeppelin confirmed rumors that it was going to play one show in London to pay tribute to their late mentor, Ahmet Erteg√ľn, it was less than three weeks away from the album release date that introduced the public to the next phase of Plant's career. Indeed, his partnership with Alison Krauss is one he intends to extend beyond only their existing album. Not only will they take their Raising Sand material on the road, as they announced yesterday, but Plant at least once hinted that he and Krauss could be making more studio dates to record a second album together, perhaps next month even.

Already, they are set to spend the month of May touring the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. From this, the logical assumption is that further dates will be in store in the United States, the obvious choice for a bluegrass tour as the music was developed on the American homeland. So, would those shows be in the early spring, or just after the European tour, or some other time? Whatever is implicit here merely puts a temporary limit on the openness of Plant's calendar for outside musical activities.

If only Led Zeppelin didn't have such a versatile singer; he wouldn't be in such high demand! But the simple fact is, folks, he is a versatile singer who, with Alison Krauss, is being energized by a style of music he has heretofore overlooked and performing songs with an approach that is unique in his career. The album came off remarkably well; Raising Sand has been certified Gold by the RIAA and remains high up on Billboard's charts. For a few weeks, it was all I was listening to.

Robert Plant has seldom shied away from a challenge. And he surely realizes bluegrass is not the only possible musical challenge he could be taking on next year. Being the Led Zeppelin singer at the age of 59 is another, a challenge he met head-on for a few hours on Monday.

This development in no way diminishes any chance there is for Led Zeppelin to fly again before audiences in America and elsewhere in 2008 and/or perhaps beyond. In fact, of the rumored concert dates for Led Zeppelin that have been mentioned, the most credible one seems to be the rumored upcoming appearance at the Bonnaroo festival, which takes place this June in Tennessee.

Tacked onto this rumor is the report of Metallica also appearing on the bill, perhaps headlining as one report suggests. (Management for both bands said the report was inaccurate, but it wasn't clear whether they meant the whole thing was or just a minor detail was.) But come on, would Led Zeppelin be playing a festival it wasn't headlining? My opinion: Not in this century! Led Zeppelin might play the festival, but Metallica will not be headlining over Led Zeppelin.

It's interesting to note that the October 2007 "Guitar Heroes" special issue of Q magazine quotes Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett about his appreciation for the live version of "Dazed and Confused" from The Song Remains the Same. "I used to listen to it every day when I was learning how to play guitar," he said. "That's a total guitar wankathon." The magazine ranked it track the second-greatest guitar track of all time, just under the studio version of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Hammett continues, "Jimmy Page cycles through so many moods and levels of intensity, then he breaks out the violin bow."

Hammett then shifts into a story about the group that took place when he was 14 years old and another six years away from joining Metallica. "I saw Zeppelin in 1977 at the Day On The Green [in Oakland, California]. It was the show where [promoter] Bill Graham threatened to throw the Zeppelin guys in jail and there was a big argument before they went on. I remember sitting in the crowd for an hour and a half. Someone came onstage and said, Sorry for the delay, something's wrong with Jimmy's double neck guitar. The funny thing is, I could see it off to the side of the stage. I was thinking, Well, there it is. I wonder what's wrong with it?"

Bonnaroo aside, Led Zeppelin dates at Wembley Stadium in London, Madison Square Garden in New York, and Olympic Stadium in Montreal have also been rumored to be booked, in the works or, at the very least, being contemplated. There is certainly a buzz about the chances of Led Zeppelin performing live again in 2008. Just be patient. We must wait and see.

4 comments:

  1. The emphasis has been on whether Zep would tour again, but of course it's possible they have a future doing one-offs & festivals. That might suit Plant better. Even Page said the other day that he didn't want to get into too much repetition.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Led Zeppelin concert is a big event. It's very difficult to pull off 30 or 40 big events. I agree they'd probably all rather pull off five or so total -- as long as it's fun, Plant insists.

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  3. Rolling Stone says it will disseminate to Led Zeppelin's management any fan-supplied comments on why the group ought to play more shows. Users can submit their comments here:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2007/12/13/the-led-zeppelin-tour-a-call-to-arms/

    or just http://tinyurl.com/3akvb2

    Here's what I wrote and submitted:

    "Why don't you take a good look at yourself and describe what you
    see?" -Misty Mountain Hop

    "Oh baby baby, how do you feel?" -Four Sticks

    "Oh! So GOOD!" -The Ocean

    "If it feels good, do it!" -Conventional wisdom

    ReplyDelete
  4. personally i think they would be stupid not to tour, at least on a whittled down list of cities. the band has proved they still got it. there is a pent up fan base that is dying to see them again. that includes the younger fans that never saw them(like my kids)and us old rockers that always continued to listen to zeppelin records through the years....still have my old vinyl. i love the rolling stones, at least they've kept up with their fans. i hope they consider a tour. nows the time!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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