Robert Plant Newcastle Academy 18th Nov 2014
You just know that Robert Plant is enjoying himself.
The Newcastle Academy was completely packed last night; packed to the walls, so you couldn’t move at all; probably the fullest I’ve ever seen it. I was right down at the front crammed close to the stage, and there were lots of Zeppelin veterans around, everyone talking about their memories of that legendary band. One guy was relating stories of Zeppelin gigs at the Mayfair and an early City Hall show in 1970. Two other guys were talking about Earls Court and Knebworth. The respect for Plant remains solid, immovable, deep and immense. But a Plant performance these days isn’t simply a Zeppelin tribute act; far from it, The Sensational Space Shifters are a band, and each of the members are great musicians in their own right. The set is a mix of tracks from the new album, blues, folk (“there is lots of folk music tonight”) and Zeppelin classics reworked (a little, but not too much). Shape Shifter music is an eclectic mix: the world music side is clear and exemplified by Gambian Juldeh Camara’s contribution to the performance on the “riti” (a single-string fiddle) and Robert and the others playing those large tambourine-like instruments (are they called a “daf”?), but it isn’t as simple as combining african instruments and rhythms with rock. There is also rockabilly, particularly from crazy rock-out guitarist Justin Adams, psych, and the blues runs through everything, and screams from Liam “Skin” Tyson’s guitar. Oh, and of course, those familiar Zeppelin rock riffs come thundering through every now and then, as if we needed to be reminded where this guy’s roots lie. Plant looks great, his lion’s mane of hair intact and swaying, his voice as soulful, powerful and gentle as ever. You can feel that he is enjoying life and the music; he smiles and chats and jokes with the crowd, who give the band a roaring reception. The Sensational Shape Shifters give Plant the freedom, opportunity and space to safely bend the blues, rock, world music, mix it with excerpts from his back catalogue, and throw in all of the other musical influences which obviously run through his head, within a safe environment. The crowd know what to expect, and love it. We even get a snippet of House of the Rising Sun which prompts a massive singalong from the Geordie crowd. Amazing. Possibly the best time I’ve seen Plant in recent years.
Setlist was something like this: Friends; Spoonful; Turn It Up; Going to California; Embrace Another Fall; Rainbow; What Is and What Should Never Be; No Place to Go; Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You; Little Maggie; Fixin’ to Die; House of the Rising Sun; I Just Want to Make Love to You / Whole Lotta Love. Encore: Rock and Roll
Archive for the ‘Robert Plant’ Category
Robert Plant Newcastle Academy 18th Nov 2014
Robert Plant Strange Sensation Sage Gateshead 30th October 2005 My next encounter with Robert Plant in concert was at the Sage Gateshead in 2005. The band was Strange Sensation and they were promoting Mighty ReArranger, which was Plant’s 8th solo album. The setlist consisted of songs from the new album, plus some oldies and was as follows: Tin Pan Valley; Shine It All Around; Black Dog; Freedom Fries; 7 and 7 Is; Win My Train Fare Home (If I Ever Get Lucky); Going to California; Another Tribe; Thank You; Hey Joe; Four Sticks; Gallows Pole. Encore: The Enchanter; Boogie Chillen’; Whole Lotta Love. Another good show, with the Eastern and psych influences showing through even more strongly; to the extent that the reworkings of Zep classics had moved even further from the originals. I saw Plant once more, at the Sage again in 2010, and blogged about that show at the time. I have yet to see his latest band, something which I intend to put right this year if I can. This concludes my reflections on Mr Plant; I have one Jimmy Page concert to write about, and will do so tomorrow.
Robert Plant Strange Sensation 21st October Newcastle City Hall 2002
A couple of years after his Priory and Brion outing came to Whitley Bay, Plant was back at Newcastle City Hall with his new band Strange Sensation. The band this time consisted of Plant (vocals), Justin Adams (guitars, gimbri, darbuka), John Baggott (keyboards), Clive Deamer (drums, percussion), Charlie Jones (bass) and ‘Skin” (guitar). Robert had just released his 7th album “Dreamland”, which featured him and Strange Sensation performing covers of blues and rock songs, several of which had been played during the Priory of Brion tour. The album was well received by fans and critics alike and was nominated for two Grammys in 2002 for The Best Rock Album and The Best Male Rock Performance. The programme sums up Plant’s influences: “Plant’s attraction to and affection for the music of Morocco, the Atlas region and beyond, as well as his lifelong leaning towards the psychedelic indo-rock of West Coast USA led to his new collision of styles and colours. The music draws together talent from a broad spectrum of renowned and respected UK musicians, now working together with Plant as the band ‘Strange Sensation.'” Reviews of the time were extremely positive: Hugh Davies wrote (in the Daily Telegraph) of his performance at Glastonbury 2002: “Of the 60 bands performing over the weekend, plant emerged as the most charismatic act”, and Steve Jelbert (the Independent) reviewed a concert at London Astoria: “Best of all is the sincerity of the performance….these are songs he obviously loves and he’s not selling them but sharing them….a refreshing display from a man with nothing to prove.” The set at Newcastle was an excellent mix of reworked Zeppelin classics, covers of 60s psych, rock and blues and a smattering of Plant’s recent solo tracks. By the point, almost 20 years into his solo career, Plant was clearly enjoying himself; he had come to terms with his Zeppelin legacy, and wasn’t afraid of reworking those songs that mean so much to us all; he could play some of the songs which influenced him when he was starting out, and he had a respectable catalogue of recent solo material to draw from. Another great concert. Support came from the ever-crazy, and irrepressible, God of Hell Fire, Arthur Brown; another hero of mine whose performance and amazingly strong voice never fails to impress. Setlist: Hey Joe; Four Sticks; Down to the Sea; Morning Dew; Going to California; Hey Hey What Can I Do; Girl from the North County; In the Mood; Celebration Day; Funny In My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ To Die); A House is not a Motel; Tall Cool One; Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. Encore 1: Darkness Darkness; Whole lotta love. Encore 2 : Song To The Siren
The Priory of Brion (Robert Plant) Whitley Bay Dome 8th April 2000
Whitley Bay is a seaside resort just outside Newcastle, and the Dome was a disused building in an old amusement funpark; so named because of its domed roof. The Dome played host to a number of concerts around this time. When we heard that Plant was playing there with his band The Priory of Brion, as part of a “secret” club tour, we scrambled to make sure that we got tickets. The place was rammed and Plant and his band were just amazing. It was great to see him so close up in such an intimate setting. The concert consisted of Robert singing some of his favourite old tunes including ’60s classics like Morning Dew, If I Were A Carpenter, and Gloria. The highlights for me were Darkness, Darkness (the classic song from Jesse Colin Young in his days with the Youngbloods) and Donovan’s Season Of The Witch; both of which are among my favourites songs anyway. An amazing night. Perhaps the best time I have seen Plant as a solo artist. The tickets says “Whitley Bay Dome…proudly presents music at its very best..” and it ain’t far wrong. Setlist: Morning Dew, A House is Not A Hotel, If I Were A Carpenter, Darkness, Darkness, Bluebird, Early In The Morning, Think, We’re Gonna Groove, Baby Please Don’t Go, No Regrets, Gloria, Bummer In The Summer, Season of the Witch, Trouble in Mind
Robert Plant Newcastle City Hall 12th December 1990
I next saw Robert Plant at Newcastle City Hall in December 1990. This tour was to promote his fifth solo album Manic Nirvana. By now Plant was back into a full-on heavy rock groove, and this album gained mixed reviews at the time; with some critics loving it because it seemed to take him back to his Zep rock roots, and others dissing it for the same reason. The tour programme followed a similar theme, with lots of pictures of Plant the rock god, and Plant the bluesman, and heavy trippy use of psychedelic eastern-influenced graphics and fonts. The programme contains the lyrics to the songs from the new album and an extract (not sure where it is taken from) which talks about bluesman Tommy Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads.
“He said the reason he knowed so much, said he sold hisself to the Devil..I asked him how. He said, ‘If you want to learn how to play anything you want to play and learn how to make songs yourself you take your guitar and you go to where a road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Get there, be sure to get there just a little ‘fore twelve a clock that night so you’ll know you’ll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece sitting there by yourself. You have to go by yourself and be sitting there playing a piece. A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar, and he’ll tune it. And then he’ll play a piece and hand it back to you. That’s the way I learned how to play anything I want.”
Plant’s live performances continued to be impressive occasions and this show at the City Hall was no exception. Along with tracks from his solo albums, Robert also played Nobody’s Fault but Mine, Ramble On, Immigrant Song, and Living Loving Maid from Zeppelin days. Great stuff!
Setlist: Watching You; Nobody’s Fault but Mine; Billy’s Revenge; Tie Dye on the Highway; Anniversary; In the Mood; Liars Dance; Ramble On; Mirror in the Bathroom (The Beat cover 🙂 ); Nirvana; Immigrant Song; Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes on You); Ship of Fools; Living Loving Maid; Tall Cool One
Robert Plant (& Jimmy Page) Knebworth 30th June 1990
I next saw Robert Plant as part of a multi-act bill at a massive show at Knebworth Park in 1990. This was the Silver Clef Award Winners Concert and had an amazing line-up including Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Tears for Fears, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Elton John, Genesis and Status Quo. Pretty strong bill! I won a pair of free tickets in a competition (with KitKat 🙂 ) and Marie and I went down for the weekend. This was a great concert, which deserves a blog post of its own. I’ll save that for another day, and limit my reflections today to Plant’s part of the event. Plant was by now regularly featuring Zeppelin classics as part of his set, alongside his excellent solo material. He played mid-afternoon and was one of the highlights of the day for me, not least because of the venue, which was brought back memories of the last time I had been in that field; for one of the historic Zeppelin gigs, and the surprise appearance of Jimmy Page for the last two songs of Plant’s set. “Eleven years after Led Zeppelin’s historic two-night stand at Knebworth in England, Robert Plant returned to the concert grounds for a massive festival that featured sets by Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Genesis, Elton John and Eric Clapton. For his final two songs surprise guest Jimmy Page came out to join Plant on “Wearing and Tearing” and “Rock and Roll.” It was very well received, and a sign of things to come” (Rolling Stone magazine). Setlist: Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes on You); Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin); Tie Dye on the Highway; Liars Dance; Going to California (Led Zeppelin); Nirvana; Tall Cool One; Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zeppelin); Wearing and Tearing (Led Zeppelin; with Jimmy Page); Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin; with Jimmy Page)
Thanks to John for the image of his signed Page and Plant programme which comes from the 1995 US tour.