Thursday, March 6, 2008

Reform Led Zeppelin? Put yourself in Robert Plant's shoes

If the world is crying out for a Led Zeppelin tour, it could in fact turn out that the only person opposed to it is that band's singer.

We assume at least three-quarters of the group would are amenable to giving it another go in the 21st century, never mind the ages slipping further into the 60s.

If that is the case, Robert Plant could very well emerge as the lone holdout, effectively telling the rest of the world there would be no Led Zeppelin.

Since 1980, there has been an unequivocal rally cry demanding more Led Zeppelin activity despite the death of one equal part of four. The loss of John Bonham ended the band, and it was never to resurface without that essential element being present.

For longer than a quarter of a century, the only times all three surviving members made music together on live stages were marred by incongruities and unpreparedness. It made some question whether those individuals were capable at all of recapturing any of their former glory.

A series of secret rehearsals in 2007, leading up to the one-off live performance at year's end, showed that life could continue for Led Zeppelin. With Jason Bonham filling his late father's place, and with Page, Plant and Jones all exceeding expectations, it seemed possible once more that the airship could fly again.

And the strategy for fans was to wait and see. Decisions have yet to be made, we were told, and would not be made until September.

If the story published in London this weekend is true -- that Robert Plant has nixed an offer for a Led Zeppelin tour -- fans may have already received their answer. No Led Zeppelin tour, even with an offer equivalent to $200 million.

For one thing, the story may not be true at all. It's based on an unnamed source. There's been no official indication over the past few days as to whether or not this is accurate.

For another thing, it is possible that Plant would turn down an offer today knowing that another offer is just around the corner. Now is not the time to be making decisions. Let the decisions be made later. Offers have been around for decades. They can wait another half a year. With this assurance, I could see Plant turning down offers left and right and considering better offers later.

After his current touring commitments with Alison Krauss lapse, say around September, perhaps he will be in a better position to plan his next move. And of course the offer would be re-extended to him at that time to reunite Led Zeppelin.

But on the other hand, what if Robert Plant has turned down the offer because it's not something he would ever consider doing again? This seems to be what many folks believe has happened. But many of those people are bitter and angry at Plant for, assumedly, making this decision.

They can't put themselves into the singer's shoes and figure out why he would have come to such a conclusion, if he did.

Without egregiously rehashing remarks I made last September, months before Led Zeppelin's one-off concert, I would like to call attention to some of the circumstances that may prevent Robert Plant from agreeing to invoke the Led Zeppelin name yet again and take it on the road.

Plant has had a long and enduring musical career since Led Zeppelin's era. He has released more albums and performed more concerts under his name than his Led Zeppelin counterparts have done under their names. More than that, his own music has appealed to many different audiences, expanding his impact as he continues to branch out stylistically.

Not every one of Plant's career moves aims to please the same audience that was spinning "The Rain Song" back in 1973. Not every career move is made with the intention of having it applauded unanimously by the fans of his '70s rock outfit.

Plant's albums of the early '80s carried a sound that had nothing to do with Led Zeppelin, and his concerts at the time reflected that. He has made and remade "No Quarter" and other Zep songs a handful of times over the years, sometimes performing with Jimmy Page and other times with various lineups.

Plant often alienates many of his established fans, but he just as often wins them back -- and gains others -- when he introduces another career move or musical style.

He likes to believe his appeal spans far wider than Led Zeppelin's. And who's to say he's wrong? As we saw a few months ago, one Zeppelin concert means hundreds of millions of people all at once would be clamoring to be part of it. But a lifetime of continually expanding draws in many others who otherwise would never have cared to listen to Robert Plant. He opened new eyes with "Burning Down One Side," more new eyes with "Sea of Love," more new eyes with "Tall Cool One," more new eyes with "29 Palms," more new eyes with "Most High," more new eyes with "Shine It All Around," more new eyes with "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)." And if in continuing to progress he tries something new tomorrow, he may open new eyes then too.

Why should we spend our days desiring more of the rehashed Led Zeppelin when Plant is content and comfortable trying new things? We needn't like every note he sings. In fact, we needn't ever pay attention to him ever again! He'll still be out there entertaining folks as he always has.

As for Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, I hope they would be able to move on and continue their own careers in a dignified manner if this tour thing doesn't come to fruition. My hope is that they could carry on in whatever capacities makes them happy.

If all this is speculation and there still remains a chance of these guys working with Plant someday but that someday is merely on a necessary hold, then that is fine with me. I am a fan of Plant's work both within and separate from Led Zeppelin; I suspect I will continue to be when his mind is made up and a decision is officially announced.

8 comments:

  1. Rehashed Led Zeppelin. I'm the biggest Zeppelin fan in the world and would love to see them live again. Saw 'em in '73 and '75. If I were to be lucky enough to watch them perform one more time, I would surely enjoy hearing some new music coming forth from the stage. That is one subject I have yet to hear one word about from either the band or the many Zep blogs amongst all their discussions. What about the band going back into the studio? I would think that if anything would spur Robert into doing a Led Zeppelin project, it would be to 'turn another page' (no pun intended) and do something unpredictable and different with the band. Something more (I hate to use the words 'mature' or 'adult', but maybe, something more adventurous and appropriate for guys their age. Music in the vein of 'UnLedded'. Nothing mainstream at all, ya know wot i mean? Thanks, Randy

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  2. A standard tour, as we know it, plays in venues that can hold only a limited capacity. No matter how big the venues are, or how many dates can be played, fans will be left behind. It might be you, Randy. You tried as hard as everybody else but just couldn't glean any tickets. There would always be somebody unsatisfied.

    They could so much more handily give us something revolutionary, on the other hand, such as showing in theaters a 3D film with state-of-the-art audio, recreating that 2007 concert. That's my solution if they don't want to tour but want to satisfy people.

    Now throw in the part about making new music. That certainly can't satisfy everybody either. Sure, you might like it and I might like it and tons of other people might like it. But you and I know there will be many more who won't understand that because this is Led Zeppelin of an advanced age, and because of the time we're in, we shouldn't expect music that would forge the rock world in the same way Led Zeppelin II did. They'd lambast any new music for lacking the high squeals of Robert Plant in 1969. Basically, all the popular criticisms of Led Zeppelin III upon its release in 1970 would resurface for this new album. Would they really care to endure all that over again?

    To forego this, they could let sleeping dogs of doom lie and leave the legacy of the band's nine original albums untouched.

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  3. I really don't believe they would be concerned in the least about satisfying the majority or meeting everyone's expectations or even concerned about people's criticism of how their new music would relate to the past Led Zeppelin sound. You know as well as I do that they've always been about change, and never staying stagnant and predictable. I'm just saying that if Plant was inclined to do another project as Led Zeppelin, he would want the band/music to move forward and not recycle another Led Zep II, as I'm sure the other members would want as well. Hey, I know! If they did put out a new album, they could not put their name on it and just adorn it with some funky symbols or something! Thanks Steve, keep up the great work. Randy

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  4. I can't see Plant agreeing to go on an extended tour. However, I can see and hope that he would consider playing a few shows here and there. This way he gets the best of both worlds, maintain his solo identity and placate his bands mates and fans.
    The other point is that why would he announce a Zeppelin tour before he's embarking on his current project. Most people would probably consider not going to these shows if they knew they could see him in Zeppelin.
    Glen H.

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  5. Oh wow, Randy. I like that idea of yours!

    Is this 3D Glen, by any chance? At this point, I think Plant may someday consent to a few dates here and there, but he would prefer small venues. Just my guesses anyway.

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  6. Hey Steve,

    Yep it's 3-D Glen. I have to admit I totally respect Robert for his refusal to rest on his laurels. However, from a selfish point of view, I would still love to see them perform a few shows in the states.

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  7. How about a Friggin victory lap before someone dies.

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  8. Rich from Hicksville, New YorkApril 20, 2008 at 7:40 AM

    Steve,

    You and I have had many conversations over the years on this. I'm one of the lucky one's; My first concert Led Zeppelin 7/73 at MSG, all three shows in 1975, The World Premier in 10/76 waited 8 hours in front of cinema 1on 61st and 3rd. Shook Bonzo's hand( what a moment at age 16) Jummy gave me his empty bottle of napeloen congnac) and that bottle stands on shelf in my office. All 6 six nights in 77 ( 4 nights in the first 6 rows)

    After the death of Bonzo and the years passing by, The only way Led Zeppelin could reform would be with Jason. As the years turned to decades and then it was confirmed the reunion is set November 27th 2007, a few days after my 30th High School reunion, I said to myself what could be better. Well, my reunion sucked, walked out after an hour. The concert was pushed back to December.

    That night waiting to see the set list, etc. and then a few weeks later getting a DVD of the show I was so to speak back to the days of my youth. The show was great, it could have been super, except for all that bloody feedback..

    After the show and the rumors flying around of tour of the states, I was ready to take the kids college funds and take the family to one of the shows. But then Robert Plant pulled off one his classics BS of ..it worked for one night and LETs MOVE ON...

    Then I said.. You know he's right.. For all of us who grew up in the 70's with LED ZEPPELIN what a time, 30 years later and the magic is captured on my DVD's, CD's .

    Iknow now that the dream I was waiting for to see live and re-live the days of my youth, won't be exactly the way I've been dreaming of. So I move on and it's time to put the DVD of Earls Court for my morning workout.

    As for Robert he plays both kinds of music now:
    Country and Western)* Blues Brothers Movie)

    Rich from Long Island

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