Led Zeppelin At The O2

I’m trying to figure out why this Led Zeppelin reunion is creepy.

I’m not saying it wasn’t a good time, that I wouldn’t want to have been there and experience it. But it just doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe because I don’t buy this hogwash that it’s a one-off.

All my sources tell me there’s going to be a tour. No one will CONFIRM a tour, but it’s a well-known fact that they’re going to go on the road. As for Ashley Capps and Bonnaroo…when he contacted me to correct that e-mail I printed, saying it was false, I replied that I would if he guaranteed in writing that Zeppelin absolutely wouldn’t play Bonnaroo. I got no response.

Hell, the band’s entitled to make a living. If they want to go on the road and people want to pay, I understand it. But it just doesn’t feel good. It’s kind of like going to the museum.

That’s one of the reasons I didn’t go see the Police. I remember first hearing "Walking On The Moon", decades ago. That experience is frozen in time. I’m not sure I want to relive it, certainly not with the people in attendance, those now decades older or those too young to be into it the first time around, maybe not even born.

As for Genesis… You wanted to shake the stink from your shoulders. Talk to anybody that went. Genesis used to mean something, even after Peter Gabriel left. I saw them at the Forum, they weren’t just a hits act, they carried on the tradition. Now, Phil Collins is leading cheers, he’s playing the role of rock star on stage.

Maybe that’s the problem… Robert and Jimmy, John Paul Jones and Bonzo…THESE WERE THE GUYS! Who raped and pillaged, who we wanted to be, or fuck, or both. Now they’re old men. I was next to a besuited Jimmy Page one evening and I didn’t even bother to say hello, I didn’t want to mess with my memories.

It’s no crime to get old. It’s more of badge of honor than o/d’ing at a young age. But to go out and play the role of a young man, that’s what’s truly weird.

We revere retired baseball players, but we don’t want to see them take the field and play nine innings. We don’t want our memories fucked with.

And it’s not like there’s any new music. And, even if there were, would anybody want to hear it?

I guess the show seems to be nostalgia, trying to bring us back to the way things used to be. But those days are through. But they live on in my memory. Inviolate, unchanged. Just like the records. That’s one of the great things about music, every time I play the Zeppelin catalog, the songs remain the same.

If it’s truly a one-off, then I take it all back. It’s about honoring Ahmet. But, unlike Pink Floyd, I don’t hear the band members protesting, saying that they’re definitely not hitting the road again. I see them collecting e-mail addresses, saying we’ll see. "We’ll see" in rock and roll means it’s gonna happen. Unless the band members get into an awful fight. Like Van Halen back in ’96, at the VMAs. Still, the band eventually got together. And as much as I enjoyed it, the show was ultimately meaningless. It brought you back, but it didn’t stand for anything. Hell, I don’t even imagine there were groupies backstage. And, if there were, I bet David Lee Roth didn’t want to fuck most of them.

But Van Halen was about fun. Led Zeppelin was something different. Led Zeppelin was about testing limits. Not playing by the rules. And if they go on the road now, they’re just like every other classic rock band trying to make an extra buck.

I guess what I truly lament is the passing of the years, from the days when music was a dividing line, between us and them, to now, when those in charge, who were on the right side then, are now all about the bucks.

In the seventies you listened to the record to know which way the wind blew. Music was the ultimate art form. Hipper than movies, TV paled in comparison. And the profits on records were greater than those on films. Music built the Warner empire.

If Ahmet had known this, he would have waited a few years to sell Atlantic, he would have gotten more money for the company. And believe me, Ahmet liked money, just ask all those who were screwed on royalties. But Ahmet didn’t know it was going to continue. He’d had Cream, never mind all the earlier R&B greats. What could come next?

Led Zeppelin. Decades of triumphant acts.

But Ahmet was primarily about the music. He took some money off the table and continued to play. Today’s executives want to take ALL the money off the table, and they want the acts to be subservient to them.

You couldn’t tell Led Zeppelin what to do. You can tell ANY ACT ON A MAJOR LABEL WHAT TO DO TODAY! So, when everybody in the business is in London tonight rejoicing, my head is spinning. Are these the same guys fucking the business up? Who feel they’ve got no option but to rape and pillage themselves?

It’s only about the money now. Except if you’re young. That’s why the youngsters have glommed on to Zeppelin. They SENSE that this was something different, a band that played by its own rules, that wasn’t afraid to test limits. I only hope that some of the band’s fans will be inspired and create or steward equally challenging quality music to the public.

The people who are gonna change the world musically were not in London this evening. They can’t afford the buy-in. They’re not connected enough to get a ticket. Music has gone from being inclusive to exclusive. Instead of love your brother, we all belong, it’s I’m richer than you, FUCK YOU! The best seats aren’t even ever sold. And acts and promoters complain that scalpers are making all the money…the fan doesn’t count. The fan will pony up the bucks, right?


Used to be the ONLY problem was getting a ticket. NOTHING was overpriced. You went to the gig constantly, it was a way of life, it was a religion. You listened to FM radio to know what to buy, you bought it and went to the show. FREQUENTLY! You had to buy the record before the band hit your town, you wanted to be familiar with the new material, which they were going to play! Don’t see them this tour and you might NEVER hear it live, because they’ll be on to NEW STUFF!

Now tours are the greatest hits, all the time. Give the public what it wants. But musicians used to LEAD the public, which doesn’t really know what it wants. But labels are only interested in the easy sell. And acts are afraid of pissing off their fans. But Neil Young and Bob Dylan can still tour BECAUSE they piss off their fans, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Therefore, only fans go, and the fans respect them for following their muse.

I don’t want to rain on the parade. Anybody who hears music and enjoys it gets a pat on the back from me. Even if I don’t like the act to begin with. Music is the grease that makes life worth living.

But the reason I got into music was because of the notes, the performance, the music itself. The trappings came after. Now the trappings are primary.

I guess I do want a return to the old days. When music was religion.

I know it’s a religion to some, but it used to be for everybody.

Except the man. The parents. The establishment. They just didn’t get it. And that’s why we didn’t do endorsements, didn’t do commercials, because we didn’t want to be associated with THOSE PEOPLE! It was AGAINST OUR PRINCIPLES!

But now we’ve got no principles. Just a guiding light. And that light is money.

And what I smell in this O2 show is money. Not the amount raised for charity, but the vast quantity Zeppelin is going to make on the road. The cost for all the Americans who flew over there. Whereas it used to be you didn’t even have to leave town to be a fan. Like that guy in Harry Chapin’s "Taxi", you could be stoned in your automobile, grooving to the radio, feeling completely connected with the tunes that emanated from it.

But now you can’t listen to terrestrial radio. You don’t even know where to start musically. Like that old Stealer’s Wheel song said, we’ve got clowns to the left of us and jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

And I hope you are stuck here with me. You love the old tunes, but you want music that meaningful again. And it’s got to be at least as good as the old stuff. Sure, Sarah McLachlan is tasty, but she’s not even in the same LEAGUE as Joni Mitchell. We all love Dave Grohl, but if you mention Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin in the same sentence, I’m laughing.

What was in the water then? Can those days return, or did we live through the Renaissance, no different from the one that took place in Italy centuries ago. Artists have painted since, but there was only one time when it all came together, when art ruled.

I don’t want to watch Michelangelo paint. And if he came back, he’d be hundreds of years old, what he produced would probably be shit. Hell, his legend would inhibit him, he’d probably be UNABLE to paint.

If somehow we could return to the seventies, when each new album was eagerly anticipated and digested, when we were surprised by "Physical Graffiti" and the fact that "Presence" came so soon thereafter, that would be great.

But we can’t.

To try to bring back alive that which is already gone… It’s impossible. You can try something new, like Plant did with Alison Krauss, but you can’t breathe new life into something dead. Led Zeppelin is dead. And one of the reasons it’s so revered is that the band didn’t carry on after Bonham died, which utterly stunned us. There’s no time for carrying on now. Give it a rest. Sell the DVD. Allow those in attendance their badge of honor and their memories. Please don’t tarnish the image, the legend. We’ve whored out rock and roll too much already. It’s as if Jesus sold Cadillacs.

What would Jesus do? Well, he’s NEVER come back. Maybe that’s why people still revere him so!

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