Led Zeppelin gives an extraordinary performance 27 years in the making

Justin Rodstrom

By Justin Rodstrom

Staff Reporter

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this … so I won’t. Someone pinch me. The announcement came at a press conference last Wednesday that on Nov. 26, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones would, for one two-hour tribute, come together for the last time under the near mythic banner of Led Zeppelin. With the help of heir apparent to the Bonham legacy – Jason Bonham – the mammoth statue that was Led Zeppelin will once again come to life, animated by gratitude and rearranged by the wearing and tearing of time.

It would seem to be the na’ve desires of some misled and probably misspent afterlives of former golden gods. It would seem to be a resurrection of impossible magnitude, long past the dawning of their fame. It would seem this way to the untrained eye.

These are the men that staved off reunion for 27 years, surrounded by rumors; heartfelt and often overzealous pleading of fans; and the millions and perhaps billions of dollars, or pounds, thrown at them in contracts, promotions and possibilities. If these men have shown anything, it’s that they have patience.

Led Zeppelin is one of the few groups with the grace to handle its own legacy and mythology with white gloves. It has quietly become the shining beacon of everything beautiful and admirable about the Western art form known as rock. The members are slow to add to their catalogue, conservatively releasing a new live album once every eight to 10 years. If they are getting back together, I have faith that they know exactly what they are doing.

The members of the band have handled their post-Zeppelin fame much in the same way they have dealt with their fame during their careers – by staying out of the limelight, staying humble and letting their fans do the proselytizing, mythologizing and, up till now, eulogizing. It is awe-inspiring and notably even more impressive that a group that has been off the musical radar for over a quarter century still shakes up the world more than any current group with the slightest inkling of an announcement they make in hopes of a reunion, let alone an actual reunion being held. Here is another provocative piece of information: Before getting together for rehearsals, the former members of Led Zeppelin were toying with the idea of doing a half-hour set as part of a larger tribute, including musical greats like Pete Townshend of The Who, among others. They didn’t know if they had anything left in the tank to offer, so they went into rehearsals with a certain curiosity of the unknown. After getting together for its first band practice in more than my lifetime, Led Zeppelin told concert promoters that it was ready and willing to commit to a two-hour set of material.

As the members of Led Zeppelin must certainly be aware, there is much more at stake here than honoring the legacy of the founder of Atlantic Records. There is the legacy that has thus far been preserved behind the red velvet ropes of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, behind the red velvet ropes of time in an ageless, romantic ideal of the Fathers of Rock.

Then as it was, then again it will be … or so we can dream.