Originally published in Edmonton Sun
Review of September 19, 2005 show at Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB, Canada
By FISH GRIWKOWSKY, EDMONTON SUN FREELANCE
Yup, there was the old Led Zep stuff but remakes made show spectacular
The big question, academic. Was Robert Plant going to shake the hair off our heads like he did in the heavy rock days of Now & Zen (not to mention, uh, Led Zeppelin), or was he going to sit perched with watery eyes on his “misty mountain?”
The proto-banger or the flowery hippy?
Well, enough of both, it turns out. You had faith, didn’t you?
Plant was charming and self-conscious last night at the Oiler rink, stretched out tall and thin like an angelic Joey Ramone.
It’s hard to believe that Plant’s younger at age 57 than David Bowie, if only slightly, though the tall cool one is more contemporary in his approach to his karaoke material than Eddy Vedder, also tapping a deeper vein of emotional metal.
When Plant barks out chorus lines he used to stretch out luxuriously on like some sunbaked cat, the entire song has been altered to reflect the trim. His changes - unlike, say, Bob Dylan live - almost always benefit the show via sideways tweaking.
Black Dog done as a singalong isn’t perhaps the best example, and even he seemed disappointed, saying, “What the f— was that?” when Edmonton buggered its “ah ah ah ah ahhhhhs.”
Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe, on the other hand, is why I brought up Bowie back there - it was empassioned, electronic, remixed and entirely impossible to imagine played that way in the ’60s. In short, a killer remix.
He followed this with Girl from the North Country, teasing Dylan, saying the song had to be traditional to be this well written, dancing like a little bolt of light, bowling sound into the crowd.
As he analysed his own set list on stage: “Traditional, progressive. Traditional, progressive. Traditional, progressive. Keep going till you have nothing left to say.”
The Trews, who opened, took this to heart doing a fine job of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
I’m a big fan of the new Robert Plant album, Mighty Rearranger, so fresh songs like Freedom Fries and Shine it all Around, and especially the electronic Tin Pan Valley felt nothing like shallow filling between hits to me.
If you like Led Zep, Plant - any of that - buy this album. The tunes are sweet, atraditional life forms with no nostalgic umbilical cord.
But when Robert Plant is there a few dozen feet in front of you singing No Quarter or That’s the Way, with that fine line “all that lives is born to die” and massive incense sticks are burning centre stage, you’re certainly brought back to the first time you got into the band in whatever basement.
Close your eyes and think about how many times you played Stairway to Heaven in the dark. During these embryonic moments, the scent at Rexall shifted noticeably, and new mandolin highlights served Plant well as he briefly wore a tambourine on his frizzy head, aware of his royal status in the underpopulated bowl.
How many more people saw Norah Jones at the folk fest? It’s a disgusting waste!
He would make a perfect headliner on the hill, even saying “sounds quite folky,” as he introduced the sinister, kickass Gallows Pole, which he’d referenced earlier in Hey Joe.
Plant, like Bowie, has worn his years well, and somehow found a creative place to dwell. He still writes beautiful, as he put it, “songs that try to deal with misplaced love and infidelity - all that stuff that goes on backstage.”
All of my love to you.
Posted in sr2005 |