So word has it that the mighty Zepp is set to tour again! One small problem, or at the very least some assured controversy: minus iconic frontman Robert Plant.
I spent some time yesterday reading a few blog posts, but focused mostly on the voluminous fan commentary. The overwhelming consensus was NEGATIVE, but for different reasons. Many accused Jimmy Page of “selling out” whilst others accused Robert Plant of being “callous”… as if rejoining was obligatory? Amazing… Many aficionados argued that Led Zeppelin died with John Bonham (1980), or that Robert Plant was no longer capable of delivering the demanding vocal range. Of course, many pointed out the less than stellar prior Zeppelin reunions, even calling into question Plant’s performance at the 2007 London 02 tribute concert for Atlantic Records Chairman Ahmet Ertegün.
First, I must acknowledge that experiencing Led Zeppelin “live” was way up there on my bucket list because I was too young to see them in their prime. When the London 02 concert was announced, I knew I was going to attend, regardless of cost – and I did! I figured the likelihood of an immediate follow-up tour was fairly low, and that a lot could happen during ensuing years including looming senior citizen status for a few of the gents. Today, my decision to attend continues to appear more like an investment than an expenditure!
By all accounts, the London 02 show was a brilliant performance, but I can tell you first hand that it was an even more powerful experience. As for Robert Plant singing out of key… rubbish. Not only is pitch correctable with technology – employed by nearly all live artists – but the acoustics in that size of auditorium makes it indiscernible to human ears.
Live performance creates a unique experience – it is a real-time interaction between the band and its audience. For Zeppelin, the persona and presence of Robert Plant is an immutable part of the equation – the song remains the same, but the experience does not. Fact is everyone is entitled to their opinion on this, but speaking for myself, I had the same reaction with the Paul Rodgers/Queen team-up… Sure, they played Queen’s music, but it wasn’t Queen without Freddie. And it’s not just limited to rock bands: talk to anyone who experienced The Phantom of the Opera with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman.
For whatever reason, it appears Robert Plant will not be a part of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour, and I would encourage people to give him some benefit of doubt on this one. Perhaps he shares the opinion of world renowned marketing guru, Seth Godin: “Be Exceptional or Quit“… Whatever his reason, I not only admire his resolve, but also respect it.
That said, I really really hope the London O2 show eventually gets pressed into a DVD! It was an amazing EXPERIENCE, and oh yeah, the music was pretty f*cking good too!