Robert Plant Performs “Stairway To Heaven” After 16 Long Years
via Robert Plant/YouTube
The Moment All Led Zeppelin Fans Are Waiting For
Robert Plant temporarily set aside his longstanding reservations about performing “Stairway to Heaven,” a song that has been one of his greatest adversaries. He took the stage to perform the Led Zeppelin classic at a benefit concert organized by Andy Taylor of Duran Duran, marking the first time in 16 years that he had done so.
The previous instance when Plant played “Stairway to Heaven” was on December 10, 2007, during a one-night-only Led Zeppelin reunion with surviving members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, which was part of an Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert in London. During that event, Jason Bonham, son of the late John Bonham, joined them on drums. Since then, Plant has been active in live performances, including a repertoire of Zeppelin classics like “Going to California,” “Black Dog,” and “Whole Lotta Love.” However, he had consistently avoided playing “Stairway” and openly expressed his somewhat conflicted feelings about the song in interviews.
It’s unclear whether Plant’s change of heart toward the song was due to nostalgia, the years spent in copyright disputes related to it, or simply a desire to perform it for a special event benefiting the Cancer Awareness Trust. Regardless, Plant enthusiastically delivered the song, with Andy Taylor joining him on guitar.
While Plant may not have attempted to hit the powerful high notes as in the original recording, he still brought the song the weight and significance it warranted. Remarkably, after 16 years, he remembered every single lyric, a feat many of us can relate to.
Although Plant has never outright rejected “Stairway to Heaven,” he has been candid about his complex feelings, particularly regarding its lyrics. In a Rolling Stone interview from the previous year, he commented, “When I hear it in isolation, I feel overwhelmed for every imaginable reason. It reflects a time and an atmosphere of trying to navigate a world that was vastly different. The aftermath of the Vietnam War and the recurring issues of political corruption left everyone in a state of disbelief. There were more articulate voices that conveyed these concerns in a less visual manner and did a superior job of making those points. But I am who I am, and as my grandfather once said, ‘I can’t be more of what I am.'”