Originally appeared in The National (UAE)
ABU DHABI // As a young performer he belted out some of music’s hardest blues rock. Now 61, the former Led Zeppelin singer, Robert Plant, proved last night he remains a crowd pleaser with a performance full of mystical energy.
Accompanied by Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara, the singer performed to packed crowds on the Corniche last night as a headline act for the capital’s first Womad international music festival.
Plant had been rehearsing for the concert in the heart of the English countryside since he was signed as a last-minute surprise just days ago, putting together a melodic and mystical show for the grand finale: violin melodies mixed with African drum beats to be topped off with Plant’s unique vocal sound.
Before the set Paulo Silva, a banker who has lived in Abu Dhabi for two years, said he had been looking forward to hearing some new material from Plant.
“I’ve always known Led Zeppelin’s classic tracks like Stairway to Heaven but don’t really know Plant’s solo stuff so it’ll be fun to see him here,” he said.
Organisers estimated between 25,000 and 30,000 people attended the final day of the festival.
Plant says he became interested in non-western music long before the term “world music” was even coined, incorporating the rhythms and scales of India and North Africa into his songwriting with Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin.
Since then, Moroccan traditional music has frequently been cited by the world-famous singer as a particular source of inspiration.
Also performing at last night’s event were Trilok Gurtu from India, famous for his fusion of eastern and western beats, and Los De Abajo from Mexico mixing reggae and Latin sounds. Reggae-inspired Nubian-Egyptian musician Mohamed Mounir closed the evening’s festivities.