Led Zeppelin clashed with reporters at a press conference this afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art while promoting Celebration Day, an upcoming film capturing their 2007 reunion concert at London’s O2 arena. The conference started out as congenial, with Plant jokingly singing lines from Elvis Presley’s “Love Me” into the microphone, but turned contentious when an Associated Press reporter asked if the new film will possibly anticipate something bigger from the band. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham became uncomfortably silent. “I mean, we’ve been thinking about all sorts of things,” Plant said. “And then we can’t remember what we were thinking of. Schmuck.”
From the beginning, Plant seemed uncomfortable. “There are some people in here who are not journalists,” he said early on. “There’s a masseuse in here who’s not a journalist. I think that’s ever so exciting.” The room erupted in uncomfortable laughter.
Minutes later, a radio host praised the film but added, “I don’t know if it’s going to quench the thirst of those who wished to see you in the flesh.” Again, the band was silent until Plant said simply: “Sorry!”
Later, Plant clarified himself. “We were so happy we were getting it right and taking it beyond what we thought we were about that night,” he said of the O2 gig. “There were moments where we took off … But the responsibility of doing that four nights a week for the rest of time is a different thing. We’re pretty good at what we do but the tail should never wag the dog, really. If we’re capable of doing something, in our own time, that will be what will happen. So any inane questions from people who are from syndicated outlets, you should just really think about what it takes to answer a question like that in one second. We know what we’ve got, you know.”
Instead of looking ahead, the band looked back fondly of the reunion and its rehearsals, praising Jason Bonham and Ahmet Ertegun – and discussed current rock music. “I love Mumford & Sons,” Plant said.
Page explained he felt the band still had unfinished business after previous reunions at Live Aid and Atlantic Records’ 40th Anniversary concert. “I think if we had the opportunity to get back together again, which is what we had there to do the O2, things had left us a little uncomfortable like Live Aid and the Atlantic 40th, etc. We just really wanted to get it right and go out and play to people who maybe never heard us, who had heard about this reputation and what we were about, and basically stand up and be counted for what we were. That’s my feeling, anyway.”
Plant added, “I think expectations are a horrific thing. If you go off and play in North Africa, you know you’re going to have a good time and work with people and there’s nothing else about it. That’s how we started in a room with Jason’s dad all that time ago. So to do anything at all together is such a kind of incredible weight, because sometimes we were fucking awful. And sometimes we were stunning and a couple of times we tried to get together in the meantime. I think we were really propelled by Jason [Bonham] and his enthusiasm and his dark glasses. He really brought the atmosphere and expectation because he knows far more about us than we do. He’s got all the bootlegs, and he’s in touch with the people who make the bootlegs. “