The headline may seem a bit disjointed – okay, maybe very disjointed, but the whole Super Bowl thing featuring what’s left of The Who got me thinking about some of our favorite aging rockers and whether or not they should still be rocking, or in the case of The Who, attempting to rock.
Before I continue, let me pay homage to The Who. Yeah, I may have ripped on their Super Bowl gig, but despite any protestations from dedicated “Whooligans,” it really was a lackluster performance, and may just be the wakeup call that the NFL needed.
Yeah, you bet your ass I’m a classic rock fan, but the NFL should stick with the ones that can still put on a decent show for a high profile gig like the Super Bowl. That’s one seriously large audience.
Anyway, having already stated that I’ve never been a fan of The Who, there is no denying their legacy and their place among the most influential classic rock groups. I never cared much for their songwriting, but the boys could play. Their shows were probably some of the most dynamic and energetic of their era. And that’s exactly why they should not have tried to recapture their past by agreeing to perform at the Super Bowl.
There simply are some things you can no longer pull off at the age of 65 (note for nitpickers: I know Townshend is not quite 65 yet, but give him about 3 months), and as a performer, you should be aware of that. How can one possibly capture the energy that was poured into the kind of show that The Who was known for when one is eligible for Social Security, or in this case, considered a “pensioner.” Obviously, one cannot.
That brings me to Led Zeppelin. More specifically to Robert Plant. There was a lot of anticipation prior to their show at the O2 in London at the end of 2007. Many fans wondered if it would be the start if something big. Would the remaining members of the group reunite for a world tour? Would they record again? Was this it?
Following the O2 show — which by most accounts was a great success — the rumors and speculation intensified. Stories of Led Zeppelin products being cranked out at manufacturing facilities in Asia, and media reports indicating that the band was preparing for a tour had many people convinced that we were on the brink of the long-awaited Led Zeppelin reunion.
Looking back, it appears that Robert Plant may simply be too smart to play along. As much as guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones may want to relive their past, they would not be facing the same kind of pressure Plant would be dealing with.
Sure, it may not be a cake walk to tour when you are in your sixties, but it’s got to be much less physically demanding to stand on stage and play guitar or bass than it would be to belt out “Heartbreaker” for the world to see.
Although many felt that the success of the O2 show may have signaled a green light for a Led Zeppelin reunion, it may have signaled something entirely different for Robert Plant. Perhaps something along the lines of, “Good Lord, I’m glad I don’t have to do that every day.”
We’re all in the same boat, I’m afraid. While we may be able to stay up and party all night when we are in our teens, twenties or thirties, for the vast majority of us, that becomes less possible as we start easing into out fifties and sixties. We age and there’s no way to stop it, save for one, but few of us care to entertain that option.
What’s been preventing Robert Plant from agreeing to a reunion? Probably common sense, and a good understanding of his own physical limitations. He’s obviously enjoyed working with Alison Krauss, and they have had great success, even earning themselves five Grammy Awards.
He’s having a good time, he’s still singing, and he probably doesn’t need the money that he’d take in from a Led Zeppelin tour. He’s still Robert Plant – front man for one of the world’s best-known rock bands of all time. Why risk tarnishing his reputation by hitting the road and trying to recapture his youth?
I think there’s a good chance that Plant has made up his mind that he’s not willing to take that risk. And if he saw the Super Bowl half time show, he’s probably more convinced than ever.