Review: Robert Plant

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 12:51 10/04/2013

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REVIEW: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

TSB Bank Arena, Tuesday, April 9

In the 30 years since Led Zeppelin called it a day nobody has worked harder at honouring the legacy whilst creating distance from it - and attempting new runs on the board - than the voice of the band, Mr Robert Plant. 

And if it is hard for some audience members to fathom that Plant had a career pre- and post-Zep then it seems the erstwhile Golden God, now a contemporary artist offering up his own twisted take on where folk and blues musics bisect with rock, has his past fully reconciled.

And by the sound of tonight his future will in fact reference his past more than has previously been the case.

So it was to a Led Zeppelin-heavy set but with see-if-you-can-spot-this versions of Black Dog and Four Sticks and Whole Lotta Love as Plant found new ways to tunnel into the blues. 

It was an amazing performance, with standards recast to show that the evening was as much about where Led Zeppelin songs had come from as it was an act of seeing where exactly they could go. 

An almost terrifying transmogrification of the Willie Dixon-penned Spoonful was an early highlight and later with Fixin’ To Die Plant paid tribute to his early career, pre-Zep.

There were new songs and pieces that existed away from the Zeppelin canon but it was those heavy metal moments that people kept calling for.

Even if one over-zealous fan screamed hoarse for When The Levee Breaks and was told by Plant to get his voice checked out; he was concerned someone was choking the wannabe-heckler.

Lead guitarist and bandleader Justin Adams bent country licks into a rockabilly feel, swooping and rocking, pulling at his guitar to create new psychedelic blues clothes for the bodies of old tunes. 

Ramble On rode in on a subverted samba groove but its chorus was faithful.

Going To California and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp were more instantly recognisable as coming straight from the source material.

Encore versions of What Is And What Should Never Be and Rock’n’Roll were further highlights. 

Returning blues to its African routes via oscillating keyboard textures and a creeping future-funk feel, Plant’s new set of found sounds made for an amazing recontextualisation.

One of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. 

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- The Dominion Post

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