Tuesday, 11 December 2007

THE DINOSAURS ARE BACK


Last night, the legendary Led Zeppelin played what may or may not be a one-off gig at London's o2 arena. The concert was a charity event for Ahmet Ertegun - music promoter and record mogul - who died last year. Such was the interest in this reunion that the 20,000 tickets had over 20 million applications, with tickets costing the princely sum of £135 each. By all accounts, LZ played a blinder, with a set lasting 125 minutes and containing the following numbers:

Good Times Bad Times
Ramble On
Black Dog
In My Time Of Dying
For Your Life
Trampled Under Foot
Nobody's Fault But Mine
No Quarter
Since I've Been Loving You
Dazed and Confused
Stairway To Heaven
The Song Remains The Same
Misty Mountain Hop
Kashmir
Whole Lotta Love
Rock And Roll
For their legions of fans, last night's gig raised hopes that their favourite band may well reform for more concerts, though band members were tight lipped about any such possibility. My first encounter with LZ came about through a friends record collection with the Four Symbols album and the Physical Graffiti double getting a spin or two on my record deck. The release of the album Presence in 1976 drew great excitement from a lot of my friends but, by then, things had moved on. It was time to open the window and throw out the old guard as a certain J. Lydon entered the fray and told us to junk all the crap and join in something a lot more exciting than rubbing violin bows over guitar strings (yes, Page did that little trick again last night). The rest, as they say, is history but things are coming full circle again with the likes of Genesis reforming while The Stones just keep on trucking. Now we have Zep back: a band with more than their fair share of baggage. Tales of extreme groupie abuse, the trashing of hotel rooms and a possible curse relating to Jimmy Page's interest in The Black Arts are the stuff of legends, and their concerts and recordings are still revered by old die-hards. Last night, fans of long standing were well represented but reports also indicate that a percentage of the audience was made up of people who weren't even alive when Plant and co were in their prime. Such was the demand for tickets that the concert was attended by people from all over the world, though it would have been somewhat galling for true fans to see reports of some of the lucky ones who did get tickets: Noel and Liam Gallagher from the wonderful Oasis, Naomi Campbell, Lisa-Marie Presley, Kate Moss and The Spice Girls being just a few of those who got tickets in preference to the 'common people'. Par for the course for this kind of event, but still bloody annoying for those who spent time and effort trying to secure their place.
On BBC radio this morning, the daily phone-in veered away from normal political matters, and devoted an hour to the Led Zep phenomenon, asking should these old bands reform or simply grow old gracefully? The result seemed to be a 50/50 split between those who welcomed a comeback and others who denounce Zep as ageing dinosaurs who should have been put out to grass for all time. I'd agree with the former camp. If bands wish to reform and folks want to see them, that's fine. Many people were either too young or not even born when some of these groups were recording and playing live. Personally, I was pleased some of my top bands like The Jam never got round to reforming. I prefer my memories to consist of bands that went out on or very close to the top of their game, rather than trying to recreate a moment that lies in the past. Perhaps the re-emergence of Led Zeppelin and other old-timers tells us a lot about today's music scene and, perhaps, it tells us a lot about ourselves too.


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