Led Zeppelin’s time has come again
LONDON – Led Zeppelin’s time is coming again.
When the diviners of rock ‘n’ roll classics “Stairway to Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love” and “Your Time is Gonna Come” reunite for their first full concert in almost three decades, the question on everyone’s mind is sure to be: How many more times?
Monday’s reunion in London has quickly become one of the most anticipated concerts of all time. Whether a larger tour will follow could depend on how well Zeppelin’s members ó singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones and the late drummer John Bonham’s son Jason ó perform in front of a frenzied audience.
“I’ve got to go through it, see how I feel,” Jones told Rolling Stone magazine in its December issue.
If the result of the band’s early rehearsals is any indication, Zeppelin fans have reason to be hopeful. Bonham told Rolling Stone that the band clicked immediately, right from the opening notes of the first song they tried: the haunting dirge “No Quarter.”
“When the riff came in, there was this look that went around. It was brilliant.” After blasting through “Kashmir” next, Bonham told the magazine that the band stopped and Page said, “‘Can you give me a hug?’ And Robert (Plant) shouted, ‘Yeah, sons of thunder!'”
The 63-year-old Page echoed those sentiments to Q music magazine, saying the initial get-together was “so exhilarating and fun that I did feel I would like to do more.”
Despite rumors that the 59-year-old Plant can no longer hit the high notes, the singer’s latest album, with bluegrass star Alison Krauss, seems to show that he’s still in good voice. On “Raising Sand,” one of this year’s surprise hits, Plant still has that otherworldly feel.
Besides, he rarely was able to conjure the same piercing vocals from Zeppelin’s studio albums when onstage in the band’s heyday.
Led Zeppelin formed in 1968, but disbanded in late 1980 when Bonham choked to death on his own vomit after a drinking binge. In their 12 years, the group evolved from a rhythm and blues band first known as “The New Yardbirds” to become the standard for guitar-driven hard rock and the precursors of heavy metal.
Plant’s caterwauling vocals and curly blond locks combined with Page’s ragged riffs to give the band an identity that became instantly recognizable, but Bonham’s death robbed the group of its heart-pounding pulse. Led Zeppelin disbanded on Dec. 4 of that year after a career of hard-living success that saw it fly around the world on a private jumbo jet to play sold-out concerts just about everywhere.
In the years since their breakup, Led Zeppelin’s eight studio albums are still in heavy rotation on classic rock radio, with millions of fans still listening to classics like “Kashmir,” “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll” and “Hey Hey What Can I Do.” And the opening notes of “Stairway to Heaven” have commonly become the first thing just about any aspiring rock star learns to play when first picking up a guitar.
The sold-out crowd at the O2 Arena in east London will surely hear Page picking away at his double-necked guitar on the band’s staple song ó and maybe even get a glimpse of his cello bow for the solo in “Dazed and Confused.”
Zep’s surviving members have all stayed involved in music since they broke up, with Plant and Page even working together in the mid-1980s and ’90s. With The Honeydrippers, they produced a hit with a cover of the ’50s classic “Sea of Love.”
Jones, however, was mostly left out, which he wryly noted at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995: “Thank you, my friends,” he said, “for finally remembering my phone number.”
Monday’s concert won’t be the first Led Zeppelin reunion, but it will be the biggest. The band played together in 1985 at Live Aid, and joined forces again three years later ó with Jason Bonham on drums ó to play at the 40th anniversary concert for Atlantic Records.
At their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, they teamed with other musicians for another short set. This time, they have promised to play a two-hour concert, and not even that will be enough for the thousands of fans making their way to London from countries around the world.
The latest show is dedicated to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, who died last year. Proceeds from the show are to go to the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, which provides scholarships to universities in the United States, Britain and Turkey.
The Who guitarist Pete Townsend, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and one-time Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers are also scheduled to perform.
Besides the concert, Led Zeppelin also released a greatest hits double-CD called “Mothership” and an updated version of “The Song Remains the Same” DVD in November. The DVD, which features scenes from three concerts in New York in 1973, includes 40 minutes of extra footage.
When the reunion show was announced Sept. 12, tickets were made available by ballot only “due to the anticipated overwhelming demand for this concert,” according to the Web site.
Priced at about $250, tickets have been selling on the internet for $2,000 or more. The show was originally scheduled for Nov. 26, but was postponed until Monday because Page injured the little finger on his left hand.
Hey hey, what can you do?
Led Zeppelin’s time has come again