Led Zeppelin , it turns out, still has the ability to shock. As Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters ripped into the sexually-charged “Black Dog” — guitars wailing, strobes flashing, honey dripping — we saw several elderly patrons shrink towards the exits. Clearly, no one had warned them: Hard rock had finally come to the Kennedy Center Honors. (*see also: Why Grohl played drums for Zep tribute)
And just in time! Because the men of LedZep proved to be the most accessible rock gods the event has seen in years. They may have left the older folks dazed and confused (“I met Mr. Zeppelin last night,” Aretha Franklin told reporters on the red carpet), but younger guests flocked to the three grizzled Englishmen at the post-show dinner in the center’s Grand Foyer.
Jimmy Page — looking like the Quaker Oats guy these days, with that snow-white hair and beatific glow — smiled warmly, seemingly genuinely touched as one fan after another (usually a 35-to-50 year-old dude) told him oh my god you changed my life. “I’m a jazz musician,” began one, urgently unloading all the things one needs to tell Jimmy Page (“when I listen to Miles or Coltrane. . . I saw Blind Faith in Japan. . . ”).
Producer George Stevens Jr. seemed somewhat embarrassed by the mob blocking the guitar hero from his meal. “Are you the escort for these people?” he hissed to a volunteer assisting Page’s posse. “Take them to their table!” Sorry, Mr. Stevens — Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s gotta get her photo with him first.
But here was a moment, shared with us by NBC’s David Gregory: Kid Rock meeting President Obama at the White House pre-show reception. Joked POTUS to the rocker, who was one of Mitt Romney’s most vocal celebvocates, “I’m still here.” No hard feelings, apparently.
Fighting our way through the fanboys, we asked Robert Plant, Zeppelin’s howling lead singer, if he was surprised his music still had the power to rattle the gentry.
Hardly. “I played MerleFest in North Carolina last year with my true love Patty Griffin” — the fetching singer-songwriter on his arm Sunday night — “and we cleared half the crowd.” He sounded rather pleased.
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