President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and a host of celebrities, elected officials, dignitaries and major donors gathered on Sunday night for the 35th Kennedy Center Honors. Among the celebrities honored (David Letterman! Buddy Guy! Dustin Hoffman! Natalia Makarova!), the Led Zeppelin segment tore the roof off. Our Weeping Elvis music bloggers captured the scene — here’s a terrific excerpt from their piece:
Following a biographic review of the Brit band’s rise to stardom, the screen lifted to reveal an elaborate set that suggested a medieval castle and moat. Reminiscent of their famous Wembley Stadium performance featuring Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (with Dave Grohl pounding out time on the skins and drummer Taylor Hawkins wailing on lead vocals), the Foo Fighters took the stage and threw down with the Zep classic, “Rock and Roll.”
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Strangely, they were followed by Kid Rock, who offered up barely serviceable renditions of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Ramble On.” (One wondered what the three surviving members must have been thinking during that performance, and what the Foos thought of opening for Bob Ritchie). One staging note -– whoever at the Kennedy Center thought that pointing half a dozen massive strobe lights directly into the audience and timing them to the beat should be forever banned from ever going near another live event. While I’m all for taking an audience out of their comfort zone, sending them (not to mention the Secret Service) into epileptic fits is a bit much.
Lenny Kravitz then appeared and electrified the crowd with a bone-crushing rendition of “Whole Lotta Love.” For the grand finale, Jason Bonham, son of original Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, was joined onstage by Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson for a soaring, angelic version of “Stairway to Heaven,” aided by not one, but two (!), choirs. It was a night for the ages, one made all the more special because it occurred five years to the week that Zeppelin played their solitary reunion concert at London’s O2 Arena. (This Weeping Elvis correspondent had the good fortune to attend that show).
As the evening transitioned into an elegant dinner, (in The Great Hall of The Kennedy Center, under the oversize bust of President John F. Kennedy), your correspondent found himself climbing a stairway as John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page descended from up on high. Making eye contact and continuing apace, I nodded and offered up my congratulations as The Golden God acknowledged the moment with a corresponding nod back and smile.
A “Stairway to Heaven,” indeed.
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