Throughout the screening, the assembled web, print and radio journalists shouted as if it were a real concert. ("Whoo!" "Yeah!" "Turn it up!") They clapped and hooted after every song. During "Stairway to Heaven," thousands of onscreen audience members whipped out their camera phones to record it. When someone at MoMA tried to do the same, a security guard snapped at him and he quickly turned it off.
The film's track list features 16 immortal Zeppelin hits, including "Since I've Been Loving You," "Black Dog," "Misty Mountain Top" and "Kashmir." Plant, wearing loose blue pants and no longer able to hit the banshee octaves of old, still made expert use of his harmonica in "Nobody's Fault But Mine." Page, white-haired and pouring sweat, brought out his Gibson double neck for "Stairway" and brandished his violin bow for "Dazed and Confused." Sitting at the drum kit in a tight black t-shirt bedazzled with rhinestones crosses, Jason Bonham looked less like his longhaired dad than a heavyweight UFC fighter whose confidence in himself outweighs his abilities, but he performed flawlessly. (The absence of "Moby Dick" on the set list relieved him of having to live up to The Beast's six-minute drum solos.)
After the screening, the assembled press was herded into the press conference. Every news outlet in New York seemed to be there. As the band walked on stage, someone said, "Holy shit, it's Led Zeppelin!"
At a press conference for the film in London last month, the band had evaded the question of whether they will reunite for a reunion tour. But that didn't stop journalists at MoMA from asking the same question in a variety of ways.
The Associated Press wondered whether the film got them thinking about, you know, something bigger for the band?
"We've been thinking about all sorts of things," Plant said. "We just can't remember what they were. Schmuck."
A radio host tried buttering them up ("You sound great, you look great") before suggesting that the film won't quench the thirst of those craving to see the band in the flesh. "What do you say to them?" he tried.
A lengthy silence ensued.
"Is anybody going to say anything?" the moderator said.
Later, when a reporter for CNN cut the preamble and went for it ("Why is it so hard to come together again?") he was met with even stonier silence. Another reporter, in if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em mode, piped up in the rockers' defense: "It's been answered a million times, sir!"
Plant came closest to offering an answer when he said, in response to a different question: "If we're capable of doing something, in our own time, that will be what will happen. So any inane questions from people who are from syndicated outlets, you should just really think about what it takes to answer a question like that in one second. We know what we've got, you know."