Yesterday, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin (plus honorary member Jason Bonham, son of late drummer John) pulled back the curtain on Celebration Day, the concert film that captures the group’s sorta-reunion performance at the O2 Arena in London in 2007.
(The “sorta” is because of Bonham—sure, he’s the son of the original drummer, but nobody would have allowed Sean Lennon to front the other three Beatles and still call it the Beatles.)
The film will be in theaters for one night only next Wednesday, October 17, and will follow with an album/DVD/Blu-ray release on November 19. If there’s one thing the band wants to drive home with this release, it’s that this is most likely the last time you’ll be seeing them together, at least for now.
At the post-screening press conference at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the question of a reunion kept coming up, and the band’s responses ranged from politely terse (John Paul Jones simply said “Sorry”) to cheekily hostile (Robert Plant called one inquirer a “schmuck”).
Later, guitarist Jimmy Page was a little more definitive. “It’s disappointing for people when the answer is no,” he said. “But that’s what it is now.”
Of course, some people have taken that addendum to mean that it’s still a possibility later. Honestly, yesterday’s press conference felt like this scene from Dumb & Dumber played ad infinitum. Can we just allow that the guys are sort of old and tired, and that they’re not particularly interested in these songs very much any more?
In fact, as far as new music goes, Page does next to nothing, and maybe he’s a 68-year-old guy who would rather enjoy his autumn years relaxing and looking like Robert Evans than playing the riff to “Kashmir” in front of a bunch of dudes who can’t let go of the past? Because it certainly feels that way.
As for the movie, it’s a mess. The 18,000 people who were at that tribute show for late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun will tell you it was the best concert in rock history, but Celebration Day is not a good concert film. It’s little more than two hours of shots of the band playing, presented without narrative or context. If you had no idea what Led Zeppelin was (or even who Ahmet Ertegun was) there’s no way it would be at all meaningful. Plant’s voice sounds exceptionally rough in places, and the set list too often chooses Phish-y jamming over Jurassic thud.
So let’s leave Led Zeppelin alone, shall we? Can anybody really make an argument against their wishes not to do a reunion tour? If you can, feel free to leave it in the comments.