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MUCH NEEDED NIRVANA IN THE WEST COUNTRY

30 June 2007 1,864 views No Comment

To Bristol on a very wet and dull June Friday for Robert’s Plant’s opening date of his Strange Sensation summer extravaganza.
This one was always an attractive proposition although as usual the logistics to fit it it all in were of military precision – not least the not inconsequential taks of working a massive shift over Wednesday night to install the Virgin Megastore new sale offer (Price Blitz to you and full of great bargains you should investigate as soon as!).
With that task signed off, I hooked up with Mr Foy at Paddington Station for the trip into the west country. The rain luckily held off early evening and it was a great feeling to be ensconsed in the nearby Louisianna bar discussing the merits of recent Zep related topics and meeting up with long time TBL associate Gary Woollard who relayed a great tale about turning up at a certain Zep related wedding a decade or so back.

The venue itself was tiny holding just over 400 – one of the smallest venues Robert has performed in the UK outside of the Priory days.
The support band Aura down from the Midlands with Plant junior Jessie on drums, gave a fine account of themselves. With a sound rooted in the foundations of west coast rock they delighted with versions of the Airplane’s Somebody To Love and Neil Young’s Old Man. In doing so lead singer Dave Small displayed a confidence way beyone his years.

Now I’ve been close the action on a number of Plant gigs but with it’s low stage the Fiddlers Club set up brought me in closer proximity to the singer than any previous gig outside of the ’93 Kings Head warm ups. So much so I could have easily helped him turn the pages of his book of lyrics that laid under the monitor.
Such a tactic of course indicated some long time no play selections. Pleasingly that’s the way it was.
Kicking off with Song To The Siren, the set quickly gained pace with Mighty Rearranger’s Shine It All Around and Takamba. Zep 3”s Friends was a very welcome early insersion as was the ferocious Tin Pan Valley and the slowed down 29 Palms with lines from Come Into My Life thrown in at the end. A surprise jugband delivery of Misty Mountain Hop led into Four Sticks (how long has it been since Robert performed two Zep 4 tracks back to back in or out of Zep?).

Two delightful selections from the backwaters of his solo catalogue followed: a punchy Nirvana with Skin supplying the slashing riff and Plant playfully chorusing with the words Bedminster (a nod to the locality we were in) in place of the obvious title. Slow Dancer revived memories of 25 years gone and into the home straight Freedom Fries (confirming my belief that this is the best Strange Sensation composition bar none), Black Dog and the always dramatic Gallows Pole closed the main set. They were back for Love’s Seven And Seven performed with an intensity few of the 200 or so bands playing down the road at Glastonbury will match over the weekend.
The customary romp through Whole Lotta Love ended gig one of this summer affair.

There will be slicker Strange Sensation shows along the way in the next few months and maybe less need for lyric prompts. But this opening night in the tiny confines of the Bristol Fiddlers Club had a laid back charm and looseness all of it’s own. Once again it was an absolute privilege to be right there where the action unfolded.

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