Diana West

I've learned a lot about Led Zeppelin lately. For instance, it wasn't just any concert the rock band played in London this week for the first time since breaking up 27 years ago after the 1980 death of drummer John Bonham (a death Rolling Stone magazine notes was caused by his ingesting "forty measures of vodka"). In the words of the Financial Times, the concert was a "heritage rock event." This is another way to describe an onstage reunion of rockers who qualify for AARP membership.

But fear not. 59-year-old Robert Plant has "an impressively taut backside," the FT assures us, even if 61-year-old John Paul Jones wears his hair short and looks, according to The Spectator magazine, like a "bank manager," and 63-year-old Jimmy Page delayed the concert's -- sorry, the heritage rock event's -- play date for some weeks by breaking his finger, according to Timesonline.com, "falling over in his garden."

But back to the, er, bottom line in the Financial Times: "There aren't many heritage rock events where the shape of one's bottom matters. But Led Zeppelin is different. If sex is one of rock and roll's prime motivating factors, then no band has managed to sound as horny as them (sick -- I mean, sic). Their groupie-chasing days may be long gone, but they still manage to convey magnificently the roiling, hormonal urgency of their songs."

"Magnificently" or not, is this a good thing? Not in the Gershwin world of "We may never, never meet again on the bumpy road to love." But in the Zeppelin world of "Way down inside, woman, you need it!" there is no higher compliment. And no matter how old and grizzled these rockers (and others like them) get, we live in a Zeppelin world.

Not that Zep is merely "Still Sexy After All These Years," as the FT titled its review. Amid the decibels, The New York Times detected what it saw fit to describe as a "loud serenity." As in: "There was a kind of loud serenity about Led Zeppelin's set." Hmm. As for Mr. Plant himself, The New York Times said: "He was authoritative; he was dignified."

OK. I'll pretend I haven't seen concert pictures of Mr. Plant, his face contorted over his hand-held microphone and under his disheveled perm. In fact, maybe "authoritative" works, at least in the way a street person yelling at a bus is authoritative. But "dignified"?


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).