Originally published in Hollywood Reporter–September 16, 2002
Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, Sept. 12, 2002
Concert review by Daina Darzin Manning
“Let’s be masters of the new nostalgia.” That was Robert Plant’s invitation to a multigenerational, enthusiastic crowd — and he wasn’t kidding.
The legendary Led Zeppelin frontman took his fans on a sonic magical mystery tour ranging from somber, Doors-y psychedelia to folksy ballads to dark Middle Eastern melodies that twined around in the evening breeze. As he does on his new cover-heavy Universal disc, “Dreamland,” Plant paid sincere homage to his various influences, as well as sampling moments from his own career.
Unlike some veteran artists, Plant has the Aging Gracefully Rock God thing down pat. Relaxed, charming and comfortable with his wrinkles, he still looks and sounds great. He reminisced about his youth and dreaming about playing L.A.’s Sunset Strip, paying tribute to his early heroes, ’60s cult band Love, with a dreamy, imaginative take on “A House Is Not a Motel.” Other highlights included the Cajun-flavored, sharply percussive “Funny in My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ to Die)” and a solemn, thoughtful reading of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren.”
But the biggest cheers of the evening were reserved for old Zep material — and Plant indulged his fans with “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Going to California” and a stellar, blistering rendition of “Whole Lotta Love,” which included an intense star turn by Lil Haydn on electric violin.
Overall, Plant proved that, just like the music he admires, he’s a classic who will always sound cool.