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TBL Countdown to the new Robert Plant album 1 day to go and counting….so it’s Robert Plant week on TBL..

To celebrate the release Robert Plant’s forthcoming album Carry Fire this Friday, over the next few days leading up to the release date, it’s Robert Plant week on TBL – with daily archive postings.

Here’s a round up of live reviews from The Band Of Joy through to The Sensational Space Shifters  – and some personal reflections on my 100 plus nights in the company of Robert Plant on vocals…

Robert Plant And The Band Of Joy – HMV Forum London September 2, 2010


Set List:Down To The Sea, Monkey, House of Cards, Please Read the Letter, Misty Mountain Hop, Rich Woman, Twelve Gates To The City/Wade In The Water, Trouble Don’t Go, All The Kings Horses, Satisfied Mind, Move On Up In Glory, Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, Central Two O’ Nine, Houses Of The Holy, Tall Cool One, Over The Hills And Far Away, Gallows Pole, Encore: Harm’s Swift Way, Rock and Roll, I Bid You Goodnight.

Robert Plant and The Band Of Joy made a triumphant debut at London’s HMV Forum last night. The London audience were hugely receptive from the moment he kicked in with a driving Down To The Sea. The balanced set list included plenty of crown pleasing moments. Highlights: An effective Clarksdale arrangement of Please Read The Letter, a majestic House of Cards, a delicate stroll through All The Kings Horses and a delightful Angel Dance. The Zep injections were rapturously received- Misty Mountain Hop and Houses of The Holy had the audience singing along and it was emotional to hear the opening lines from Over The Hills And Far Away sung live in the UK for the first time since Cafe De Paris. Throughout the set, the individual strengths of the band shone through. Buddy was awesome on Monkey, and Patty supplemented Plant’s vocals perfectly. Darrell Scott’s multi instrumental talents added invention to every performance and collectively their voices blended at the right times to add substance to the arrangements. The move away from straight rock may be beguiling to some but judging by the reaction here, those with open ears are finding much to admire in this new set up.

On the home straight Tall Cool One and Gallows Pole hit the mark. Just before Rock And Roll a lady next to me exclaimed ‘’I love you Robert’ . A sentiment that seemed to sum up the wave of goodwill that echoed throughout the Forum.

‘’Oh to be in England…’’ commented Robert towards the end. Judging by the reaction to this London showcase, fans across the country will be well pleased that Robert and The Band Of Joy will be back in the homeland come October.

Robert Plant and The Band Of Joy – Symphony Hall,Birmingham, October  27, 2010



Set List: Down To The Sea/ Angel Dance/ House Of Cards/ Please Read The Letter/ Misty Mountain Hop/ Twelve Gates/ Tangerine/ Somewhere Trouble/ Satisfied Mind/ Move Up/ Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down/ Central 209/ Monkey/ Houses Of The Holy/ You Cant Buy Me Love/ Tall Cool One/ Gallows Pole/ Harms Swift Way/ Rock And Roll/ I Bid You Goodnight

Following a well received set by Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara, Robert Plant with The Band Of Joy took to the stage for a triumphant return to his Midlands homeland.

‘’Welcome to another peculiar evening with The Band Of Joy in the second city’’ he told the enthusiastic if slightly sedate audience in the plush Symphony Hall. An early saunter through Angel Dance set the scene for a relaxed but captivating performance. House of Cards was an early stand out –the touching folk lament sung with a forlorn vulnerability that only heightened the sheer class of his vocal. Robert unfolded a tale of seeing some of his blues legend heroes at Birmingham Town Hall brought over by promoter Fritz Rau (who later would handle Zep’s Over Europe tour in 1980) before moving into the Twelve Gates To The City medley.

Tangerine was an absolute peerless performance sparking emotional Earls Court retro thoughts for this particular writer. For Darrell Scott’s solo piece Robert was content to move to the back chiming in some effective backing vocals. Monkey carried all the intensity that has made it such a stand out number on the tour with party a perfect vocal foil and Buddy grinding out a quite ferocious noise. Houses of The Holy was a total joy and You Can’t Buy My Love was preceded by an oblique Radio Two reference at Ken Bruce. Main set closer Gallows Pole was an exercise in tension building restraint. The encores of Harm’s Swift Way and Rock And Roll brought the audience to its feet. –Robert even inserted a tongue in cheek cry of ‘’Suck it’’ at the finale. It was evident throughout how the show has moved on from a few weeks back – it now seems a more cohesive collective, with each musician more aware of the respective role they play.

In the crowd there was plenty of Robert’s family and friends including Deborah Bonham with mum Joan, ex wife Maureen and original Band Of Joy guitarist Kevyn Gammond.

To summarise: it’s actually quite difficult to define exactly what The Band Of Joy posses that makes them so special, but it’s undeniable that they have it. It just works on so many levels – from the tight collective harmonies through to the democratic strategy that lets all the musicians shine.

And at the centre of it all is Robert Plant. Totally at one with himself and his music, as demonstrated tonight with a vocal performance of absolute class.  On a number levels, my 103rd occasion of staring up at that Shure microphone  was an appropriately life affirming occasion.

A simply wonderful night.

Dave Lewis  –  October 28 2010




Set List: Down To The Sea/ Angel Dance/ House Of Cards/ Please Read The Letter/ Misty Mountain Hop/ Somewhere Trouble/ Satisfied Mind/ Move Up/ Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down/ Tangerine/ Central 209/ Monkey/ Houses Of The Holy/ You Cant Buy Me Love/ Tall Cool One/ Gallows Pole/ Harms Swift Way/ Rock And Roll/ I Twelve Gates medley/ Bid You Goodnight

As millions would have heard last night on the live broadcast, Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy produced a performance to match the unique occasion of this prestigious BBC Radio 2 Electric Proms event.

And it really did feel like an event. Jo Whiley’s introduction of ‘’Robert Plant’’ was quickly amended by the singer himself to ‘’and the Band Of Joy…’’ and if ever a band lived up to their name, well it was this amazing unit.

From a storming Down To The Sea through to the emotional finale with the London Oriana Choir this was a magical evening.

So many highlight along the way. Robert’s acknowledging the heritage of this wonderful Roundhouse venue….recalling his appearance supporting Fairport in ’68 and then going on to perform a mesmerising House of Cards….the loud scream from somebody in the audience that greeted Tangerine…Monkey again an absolute stand out performance from Buddy…the retro delight of Houses Of The Holy (instant recollections of working out the lyrics in my bedroom all those years back)….the way he stalked the stage moving from the rear to the front capturing every inch of drama of the simply masterful vocal performance Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down…Rock And Roll and looking over at the audience from our view high above the stage and seeing the sheer de Then came the choir… oh yes the choir – one of the most moving segments of live performance I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. When he kicked in to the lyrics of In My Time Of Dying during the Twelve Gates medley, well it was a moment of sheer magic -one of those moments nobody present will ever forget.

And then the finale of Goodnight…I’ll let Krys Jantzen relay his view from down the front.

‘’Highlights of the night from this vantage point were many, though it was probably seeing Robert up close during the moment the choir swelled near the conclusion of Goodnight. Caught off guard by the power of the choir you could see he was visibly overcome and for a moment looked like he was not going to be able to hold it together. Patty caught his eye and saw what was happening. Emotional stuff! Everyone in the front row could talk of nothing else when the house light went up. The power of music…’’

Indeed the power of the music …the power of this remarkable event. At the close Robert turned to acknowledge David Drummond and The London Oriana Choir. ‘’Goodnight very nice to be back here’’ was the parting words as this true Band Of Joy left the stage and the sounds of Harry J’s Liquidator boomed over the pa.

Suffice to say I’ve been privileged to witness some very memorable Robert Plant performances over the years. This Radio 2 Electric Proms event can take its place right up there with the most special of occasions spent in his company.

So ends an amazing week. And a personal journey of witnessing Robert Plant live that began back in February on a wet night in Abbey Road. The London oriana Choir were mighty impressive that night and in between watching them with Robert back then and again last night, well a whole new chapter in the career of Robert Plant has unfolded.

In my review of the Band Of Joy album back in August, I predicted that this would be the only sound that matters this autumn. For myself and thousands of other fans who have been lucky to catch this show –well that’s the way it’s been.

Manchester, Dublin and Belfast will be the next recipients of this astonishing act. I’m envious already but so thankful to have been in attendance at some of the most enjoyable Robert Plant performances of my long gig going career.

Band of Joy? Band of inspiration and then some…

Dave Lewis – October 30, 2010


Robert Plant presents Sensational Space Shifters – Guildhall Gloucester – Tuesday May 8th 2012.


Set List: 18 Hammers/Tin Pan Valley/44/Four Sticks/Hey Joe/Bron- Y- Aur Stomp/Standing In The Shadow (Patty Griffin vocal)/No Bad News (Patty Griffin vocal),Black Dog/Somebody Knocking/I’m Your Witchdoctor/Whole Lotta Love-Bury My Body/Encores: Song To The Siren/Gallows Pole.

The band were in the Guildhall venue for a sound check early afternoon and ran through instrumental versions of Song To The Siren, Four Sticks, Hey Joe, Bron- Y- Stomp. Juldeh also did a lengthy warm up. Robert arrived around 4.30pm with Patty. They kicked off by running down Black Dog.

The venue itself had a surprisingly very small entrance leading up to a rather grand staircase and on to the small high ceilinged hall. Prior to the gig I had quick word with Justin Adams –he said there had been a few rehearsals beforehand in Bath but as most of the band had played together so much in the past, not too much preparation had been necessary.

The hall was already filling up fast as support act The Toy Hearts – a two female and one male trio ran through an enjoyable rockerbilly/swing set. The Sensational Space Shifters line up had Skin Tyson to the left, John Baggott’s keyboards centre, Dave Smith’s drums to the right of that. Billy Fuller on bass was situated by Justin who was far left. Juldeh for his pasts stood next to Justin – Patty was to the right of Robert.

The band took to the stage to hugh applause and promptly kicked into the bluesy 18 Hammers. Fashion note: Robert in simple grey t shirt, black jeans and retro Goal trainers. After all the stress of ticket arrangements and planning to make it here (I’d actually been feeling well under par during the last couple of days), it was an absolute tonic to be in close proximity as Robert re interpreted those Oh Rosie lyrics as deployed on How Many More Times on Zep 1.

Tin Pan Valley followed – played in a laid back free form arrangement, a characteristic of the band’s overall performance – it was all a lot less frenetic than the Mighty Rearranger era and definitely a case of more loose than tight.

Throughout the set, Robert was at his most informal with a series of one-liners that added much to the charm of the low key approach. Mind you, things got a little too loose when early on in the set , the main part of Robert’s mic promptly flew off leaving him with er….just the knob! That would have not gone down too well at the 02!

After a knockerbout version of the old blues standard 44 recorded way back by the likes of Roosevelt Sykes and Howlin’ Wolf, Four Sticks followed, again in a moodier slower understated delivery that suited the mood perfectly. In introducing Hey Joe Robert made reference to how this sort of music had as he put it ‘’saved me from Engelbert’’ – a reference to the veteran crooner who has been chosen to represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This brought the extraordinary Juldeh Camara to the fore as he exhorted exotic noises from suitably exotic instruments. Throughout the show, for their part Skin and Justin contributed contasting guitar styles that perfectly complimented the overall mix of styles.

Patty Griffin joined the line up on mandolin for a delightful romp through Bron -Y- Aur Stomp which was the first live UK airing of the Zep 3 standard indoors since it was played by Zep at Earls Court in 1975 ( it was played by The Band Of Joy at the outdoor Big Chill Festival last year – thank you Billy F!) At the close instead of a call of ”Stryder” they all chorused ”Arthur!”

Some delay in setting up her acoustic guitar led to a slight set list switch. Robert stepped back to add backing vocals to her Standing In the Shadow Of The Hill. Patty then explained her next song No Bad News was written about George W Bush.

Patti stayed on to share duel lead vocals with Robert on the Band Of Joy arrangement of Black Dog –effectively embellished by Juldeh who added a distinctive vocal all of his own which merged into a quite frenetic finale.

Robert read from a lyric sheet on the floor as they performed an unorthodox version of Somebody Knocking. He then unfolded a tale of how the next song had been performed by John Mayall with Eric Clapton on guitar and had been produced ‘’by I’m not sure who?’’. A tongue in cheek reference to the fact it was one Jimmy Page. They duly performed I’m Your Witchdoctor. This was an absolute highlight for me – I’ve had this single on the Immediate label in my collection since the mid 70s and it was thrilling to hear Robert add his edge to an arrangement that stayed fairly true to the original, John Baggott getting in some suitably bluesy organ breaks. On the slowed down outro, Robert crunched down on the power chords in familiar fashion.

The version of Whole Lotta Love that followed was in keeping with the Space Shifters strategy – moody and understated as he merged Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love ( a UK hit in 1970 for Juicy Lucy) into the You Need Love refrain and then added Jesus My Dying Bed lines from In my Time of Dying and a reprise of Oh Rosie.

They were back for an encore of Song To The Siren which featured just Skin, John Baggott and Robert – a simply mesmerising vocal performance . There was a bit of a sketch before the final number as Robert presented Patty with an award for ‘’sales of 500 Band Of Joy albums in Russia.”

‘’Who starts this one?…oh it’s me’’ was the cue for Robert to kick into Gallows Pole performed in the more rocky mid noughties Strange Sensation arrangement with Skin delivering the banjo guitar parts.

”Thanks for coming out tonight…time to catch Newsnight’’

And that was the Sensation Space Shifters step one.

Summary: What we have here looks to be hybrid of Strange Sensation, mixed in with the exotica of Juldeh, adding a tinge of the Band Of Joy with the informality of the Priory Of Brion. The whole affair had a very loose and casual feel that perfectly suited the surroundings and low key nature of this gig number one. It was a real joy to see the likes of Justin and Skin back to the fore to add a harder edged element.

As for the singer…well business as usual really – his passion to hop and skip effortlessly between varying musical styles was more than evident, as was the way he deploys his voice as a total instrument. You get the feeling he can move and shake within this unit of musicians as he so feels fit. There’s no big agenda –no album to push or media game to play. He can, as his manager Bill Curbishley remarked to me ‘’Do whatever he wants’’

And in doing whatever he wants, Robert Plant continues to inspire and enthral.

The old witchdoctor is back… and at the Guildhall in Gloucester it was more than a privilege to once again be under his spell.

Dave Lewis, May 10th 2012




As we await the London debut of the Sensational Space Shifters, It’s a timely moment for me to reflect on the 100 + nights I have spent in the company of Robert Plant on vocals.

It was back in 2010 back when I was researching something for the magazine, that I realized I must be approaching 100 occasions of staring up at a Shure SM57 or 58 microphone held by Robert Plant. I’d collated a list about ten years back which I think was up to around 70.

Sitting in the pub before one of the Band Of Joy shows, Gary and I duly racked our collective memories and began logging the appearances we have attended. He was on around 90 and at that point Id worked out that the Forum gig the next night would be my 99th. Therefore I was set to go into the Birmingham Symphony Hall Show lining up as occasion 100.

Alas not so – it’s already been done!

When I was talking to the good lady Janet about this, we began reminiscing on the gigs she has attended. In our early courtship a romantic night out in the company of RP was all a lady needed. So the young Janet found herself in the company of the man formerly at the forefront of Led Zeppelin at the likes of The Tube TV recording (the three of us alone in his dressing room ooerr!), Newcastle City Hall, Oxford, Leicester, London, Sheffield, Birmingham etc..

Janet of course could not make the June 4th Hammersmith Odeon show in 1990 as our daughter Sam had been born a few hours earlier and there was a little matter of afterbirth recovery to contend with ( no matter, as I was on hand to carry the torch!). She did however attend the Page & Plant show in Birmingham on July 23 1995 heavily pregnant with Adam who was just 16 days from making his appearance into the world.

As we were discussing this, I looked on the list and realised I had somehow missed off the two Birmingham NEC shows in 1995. This senior moment prompted another reconciliation of the list and one more omission came to the fore – the Priory Of Brion gig at the Charlotte club in September 2000. I went to this on my own and it’s notable for being one of, if not the only Plant gig I did not have an alcoholic beverage before hand, being ensconced at the front there was no escape which at the time was no bad thing.

Update July 2012 – I am now on gig 106. That list represents the 100 plus occasions I’ve seen Robert Plant sing live –commencing with the 14 initial Led Zeppelin gigs I was lucky enough to attend and the 15th at the 02 in 2007 , through the Page & Plant collaboration, solo tours, one offs and TV recordings.

106 is not a band tally, though I have to say as we were looking at his various tour itineraries, Gary and I kept asking ourselves why we didn’t do a whole lot more. There looked to be many occasions we should have made the effort to get to say a Wolverhampton or Nottingham, Coventry or Birmingham – locations within relative ease, or festival dates such as Cropredy, Womad and Canterbury that slipped through.

Gary by the way, is also on over 100 (ask him tonight!)

However, over the years the plain reality of life, circumstances, family, work commitments and finances frequently got in the way – with little responsibilities, zipping around the country when I was younger was no trouble but as you get older you can’t do everything and compromises have to be made . Mind you quite how I got away with eight nights out in July 1995 when Janet was eight months pregnant I’ll never know. In retrospect there have been some moments of recklessness juggling work,family etc in this quest to see the singer sing his songs.

So let’s talk about that.

It’s a testament to Robert Plant’s unquenchable thirst for musical re invention that his recent projects such as The Band Of Joy finds him on a new wave of critical and public acceptance.

Not for his achievements in the eleven years of life in Led Zeppelin (remarkable as they were), not for the six times Grammy award winning collaboration with Alison Krauss (as wondrously surprising as that was), not for a one off reunion with his old band mates at the O2 (as magical as it was). Nor for his being selected to be a Commander of the British Empire, his dedication to Wolverhampton Wanderers, or his nurturing of and support of local talent and matters close to his heart in his Midlands bolt hole.

Impressive as all these accomplishments are – it will be above everything for his role as Robert Plant Vocalist and musician that will demand attention and appreciation in the coming weeks as he presents the Sensational Space Shifters – another twist in the story.

‘’The past is a stepping stone ’’ he remarked recently ‘’Not a millstone’’

For me personally, from 1971 to 2010 these 100+ performances in the company of Robert Plant form a timeline of my life. I was 15 years and 77 days old when I first heard him scream out the ‘’Bali-hi’’ war cry of Immigrant Song at the Empire pool Wembley on Sunday November 21st 1971. When I attend the London Forum show tonight for performance 107, I’ll be 55 and 310 days old (with a lot less hair!).

106 nights – it’s been…. to use the old cliché, quite a journey.

From the glory days of Led Zeppelin, through small club gigs with the Honeydrippers, his initial tentative solo tours, the mid 90s Unledded collaboration with Jimmy Page, back to the cubs with the Priory Of Brion, esoteric nights with Strange Sensation, the remarkable one off Zeppelin reunion at the 02, Grammy award winning bluegrass musings with Alsion Kruass to the eclecticism of his latest success in The Band Of Joy.

A journey that has taken me from the vast fields of Knebworth to backsteet pubs in Birmingham. From New York to Istanbul, Paris to Dublin, Glasgow to Cornwall and beyond. From secret filming sessions, rare TV appearances, album launch gigs, the fabled 02 reunion, and party nights in Kidderminster.

I’ve been lucky to have witnessed some incredible nights.

Highlights? Oh too many and all unforgettable:

Try these for example:

Zeppelin on a perishing cold Sunday night in November ‘71… in front of the golden god sitting on a limousine backstage at Earls Court May 25 1975… side of the stage in Frankfurt and Mannheim over Europe ’80… in the back of a rented hertz van in Sheffield with the Honeydrippers…in the presence of HRH Prince Charles Chares at the Dominion in ‘82… with the good lady at the Tube in ‘83… the sheer excitement of the first Zep numbers sung live in Leicester University ’88.. Jimmy back next to him at the Hammersmith in ‘83 and ’88… the night at the Marquee in ‘88 when an unassuming chap approached me and said the immortal words ‘’Are you Dave Lewis?’’ (Yes Gary Foy that was me and we’ve shared some sketches since!)… toasting Sam’s arrival with Terry in a pub near the Odeon hours after her birth… Wearing And Tearing with Jimmy at Knebworth ‘90… sitting on Robert’s monitor at the Kings Head pub the smallest stage I’ve seen him on…Dazed and Confused sung as a suprise in Birmigham ’93… weaving the Unledded Zep magic with Jimmy in August 1994… Thank You –opening number before my very eyes second night second row in Meadowlands Arena New Jersey… up against the barriers in St Austell… escapades in Istnanbul followed by Shepherds Bush,Top Of The Pops and TFI Friday – three consecutive days in the company of P & P in the mad month of March of 98…. Night Flight and Trampled Underfoot at the ULU… No Regrets with the Priory at the Boardwalk Sheffield on the anniversary of night of Bonzo’s passing…. in a tent on a Halloween afternoon in Ashby De La Zouch (hi Kevin!)…. in a back street pub bar in Kings Heath on a Saturday night… Priory in Milton Keynes round the corner from my mate Phil’s house….that bizarre night of separate Plant & Page appearances at the Royal Albert Hall 2002….. World Cup fever before and after the Storytellers TV recording….TBL comes alive in the front rows of Hammersmith in 2002 when I had priority tickets and Frank Skinner telling me caustically ‘’shame he’s lost it’’ afterwards… Dermot O’ Leary interviewing Robert at the Recovered TV show before he and SS did a killer version of Love’s Seven And Seven is….Tin Pan Valley at The Scala Radio Two recording…. Christmas cheer (too much so!) in Wolverhampton 2005…. warm vibes in Cornbury and Somerset House in the summer of ‘06…. back with The Honeydrippers for Roy Williams 60th at JB’s on Valentines Day 2007…… back to the infinite glory that was theirs at the 02 six months later – watching his family members dancing to Rock And Roll in front of me….Black Country Woman with Alison at Wembley… reviving the marvellous Scott Walker’s Farmer In The City and those lines ‘’Who are you twenty one, twenty one, I’ll give you twenty one, twenty one’’ sending shivers down the spine at Abbey Road… revelling in a true Band Of Joy at Mayfair One and doing a little angel dance of delight at the London Forum. A life affirming gig at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the pure emotion of the Pop Proms finale at the Roundhouse…and more recently back in the company of the old witchdoctor in Gloucester.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing of course. Missed trains, cancelled shows,

The odd night when it didn’t really spark, that stage that looked like a block of cheese in ’85, Tom getting lost on the way back from Oxford in ’83 (Slough on a dark December night did not look good!) Mr Foy’s car near conking out in the early hours on the way back from Warwick in 1988 when three fan belt purchased quickly in succession couldn’t fix it (Gary you should have realised I brought trouble and strife!), and by Robert’s own admission, some confusing moments as his career veered this way and we valiantly followed suit.

‘’’It’s been real’’ as the singer once put it himself.

Of course, along the way there’s been the camaraderie of like minded fans.

Indeed a fair few of you out there will have shared some of those memories above as they unfolded (and will do again tonight).

Many a friendship formed over the years, Many a pre gig and late night beer, many a curry, many a pre and post gig discussion of why this singer remains so inspirational in our lives. And that’s a trend I am sure will continue.

Let’s also be clear that I am also by no means alone in stacking up the Plant gigs and memories over the years (Billy and Alison you must be the front runners!). It’s something that has become second nature amongst countless of his followers around the world.

And as much as we look back, it’s still all about the next gig: The next musical high, the next Robert Plant vocal performance sung into that Shure SM58 microphone that will leave you breathless in admiration.

As he once astutely put it ‘’It’s still today’s work and tomorrow’s plans that give us all a reason for being – rather than a reason for having been.’’

So here’s to the 107th occasion of seeing and hearing Robert Plant on vocals…

Dave Lewis- July 12th 2012


Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters – Colston Hall  Bristol  Thursday August 29th, 2013.

Set List:

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You/Satan Your Kingdome Must Come Down/Tin Pan Valley/ /Spoonful/Black Dog/Another Tribe/Going to California/The Enchanter/ Four Sticks/Friends/ Fixin to Die/ What is And What Should Never Be/ Whole Lotta Love (including Who Do You Love). Encores – Big Log, Rock And Roll. Above pic by DL for TBL

What a night…

Great crowd – very enthusiastic and a cross section of ages.

From the start, Robert was totally compelling – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You set the template with Skin’s delicate picking leaving the space for the singer to hang on to those oh so familiar lines.

Tin Pan Valley was a similar statement of intent. Justin Adams strident chording adding the required animation to what has almost become a signature SSS statement.

Throughout the show, Robert was at his bantering best making references to the time Zep performed in this very hall back in 1969 .’’The floors look older’’. Before a masterful Spoonful he noted ‘’we ain’t gonna fuck it up’’ and indeed they didn’t. His description of their intentions to defy gravity and chronology was also entirely appropriate.

Black Dog brought Juldeh to the fore effectively while Going To California was as eloquent as ever. Of the other Zep insertions , Friends was full of 70s swirl (‘’we’re from the 70’s’’ as he put it matter of factly), Four Sticks crashed and burned and What is And What Should Never Be packed the required dynamics.

Whilst the Zep throwbacks are always welcome, this was no retro fest. For me, the real highlights came via excellently delivered material from his solo catalogue. Another Tribe with those jaunty vocal nuances was an absolute joy as was an hypnotic romp through The Enchanter with John Baggott adding all manner of keyboard enhancements.

On the home straight, Fixin’ To Die really hit the mark, and the hybrid Whole Lotta Love into Who Do You Love lifted the roof. Encores: Big Log – the outstanding highlight of the show. Brilliantly performed and prompting memories of the innocent spirit of 1983 that really does seem like a lifetime but a second away. ‘’So that put paid to the 80’s’’ was another humorous Plant quip.

A lively romp through Rock And Roll with Juldeh in traditional dress sent the Brizzle fraternity home with a distinct smile on their faces.

In summary:  This unit have moved some way since the tentative first steps in the nearby Gloucester Guildhall. There’s an engaging sprit of musical wanderlust running throughout the show delivered with a total lack of pretention. As for the singer…his enjoyment of being at the centre of it all is plainly highly infectious and the feel good factor clocks in here at maximum level.

After soaking up this latest Sensational experience I want to feel this good and inspired by Robert Plant again as soon as possible. Rather wonderfully, there’s only two days to go before that opportunity arises

Dave Lewis – August 31st 2103.


Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters – Civic Hall Wolverhampton – Monday September 2nd, 2013

Set List:

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You/Satan Your Kingdome Must Come Down/Tin Pan Valley/ /Spoonful/Black Dog/Another Tribe/Going to California/The Enchanter/ Four Sticks/Friends/ Fixin to Die/ What is And What Should Never Be/ Whole Lotta Love (including Who Do You Love). Encores – Big Log, Rock And Roll. 


Another consummate performance by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters in Wolverhampton  – easily on a par with the Bristol show –same set list, humorous Plant banter throughout and home loving crowd reaction.  With 57 fast approaching, I decided to give the knees a rest and take up a seated position in the balcony with long time TBL man Pete Gozzard.  A very good view of the action as can be seen by the pics I took.

Wolves 9

Robert was quick to note the familiar surroundings commenting that he was back in the ‘’home of the heart’’. Again for me it was the self penned solo material that really cooked. Tin Pan Valley crunching into action , Another Tribe formulating into a glorious groove and The Enchanter hitting a delightful jazzy tempo. I am sure I am not the only one who would take the loss of a couple of Zep numbers in place of solo performances such as Like I’ve Never Been Gone or Come Into My Life. At this point I need to acknowledge the excellent contributions of John Baggott on keyboards, Billy Fuller on bass and David Smith on drums.

Going To California (‘’not again Arthur!’’) was aided by some neat audience participation to the close (‘’Ahhhh’’….’’ahhhh’’) and before Friends, Robert was at his spieling best replying to a cry for In My Time Of Dying with a curt ‘’That won’t get in the way of this…’’

Fixin’ To Die had some explosive guitar histrionics from Justin –  a sort of Who meets Gene Vincent Bluecaps arrangement , What Is And What Should Never Be was sweet on Led Zep 2 nostalgia and Whole Lotta Love into Who Do You Love (”Grandaddy got to get it too”)proved an irresistible combination.

Wolves 3

‘’One upon a time we had a record on the radio’’ was Robert’s intro to Big Log and he went on to explain how the band had checked out the Memphis Studios where Al Green had recorded for inspiration for this new updated arrangement.  Sure enough that soulful feel dominated a perfect delivery of the 1983 number 11 hit that as Plant observed, ‘’still gets played on Steve Wright in the afternoon’’. I’d welcome a seven inch pressing of this gem coupled with Tin Pan Valley representing both sides of the Space Shifters sound as a record store day exclusive.

Rock And Roll was the suitable buoyant ending with Juldeh to the fore, prior to which Robert made reference to his new management company Yam Yam  -the name of which is derived from the unique Black Country dialect (something that he further explained to me after the show).

It was a mighty Black Country roar that resounded around the Civic Hall of Wolverhampton as Robert and the Sensational Space Shifters took the final bow of a tour that has taken in five continents (or incontinence as Plant also quipped).

Wolves 2

‘’Next week Unit 4 plus 2’’  a reference to the type of band’s he supported  in this vicinity back in his youth was Robert’s wry final comment.

…and that is enough presenting of the Sensational Space Shifters for a while.

Summary: Back in July of last year, I noted that this latest Plant incarnation was something of an interim project and not anything long term. I was entirely wrong as over the past few months, this unit of very fine musicians has moulded into one of the most enjoyable outlets from which to present the unique vocal talents of the front man we know so well.

The good news is – there’s more to come with Manchester and London dates in late October  and one has to hope that ahead there will be studio time that will lead to an SSS album.

These Bristol and Wolverhampton dates I and many others have enjoyed, have been a thrilling experience – and ample evidence of the sheer joy Robert Plant is garnering from this latest venture.

Put simply he’s never looked happier and it’s made for a memorable few days. As my TBL compatriot Pete Gozzard put it  ‘’how can a pensioner be this good?‘’

In Robert Plant’s musical world, age counts for nothing. This is a 65 year old with no bus pass required – the journey goes on ….HIS way…

Dave Lewis – September 3rd, 2013

Wolves 10


Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters: The Roundhouse London  – November 12th. 2014: 
Set List: Friends, Spoonful, Turn It Up, Jam (Arbaden (Maggies Baby)), 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, Wanna Make Love To You/Whole Lotta Love/ Who Do You Love
Stolen Kiss, Rock and Roll

Gary Foy Observations:

We travel long and far to Chalk Farm, London and for what seems to be Roberts’s regular home lately, the Roundhouse, with the iTunes Festival still fresh in our memories (65 days ago).

Tonight’s show is more of a gig than the previous London excursion. Tonight is for the fans and not some corporate run competition winner’s event. And with ten shows between the two events it’s fair to say that the group have found their groove, feeding off each other’s energy and finding their rhythm. The injection of new material from the highly rated lullaby….and ceaseless roar has given the group the confidence.. So confident in the new material there are six numbers are aired from ceaseless along with three standards and six Zeppelin numbers.

Friends works well as an opener, almost breezing its way in and setting the tone for the evening with its ethic rhythms and looped synths rolling across the soundscape. Spoonful follows and it’s a number I’ve loved since he first performed it back in the Forum, London back in July 2012 and still gets me up and moving. First off the new album is Turn It Up which remains solid if a bit formula, but with its interesting hook line and swinging chorus, it all becomes very pleasing. The jam that follows after Turn It Up (some are calling it Arbaden) is basically the jam at the end of the Space Shifters version of Black Dog with Juldeh to the fore with the song climaxing in an almost Fairport Convention type reel, stunning stuff.

I’ve rounded on Going To California previously, saying that it’s out played it’s welcome but I have to concede that it works, despite Robert losing his way tonight, much to everyone’s amusement, including his own. It works on many levels really, its works because it is hugely popular and because not everyone who goes to Robert’s gigs have “been there done that” for the last thirty five years. Some, we have to remember are only seeing him for the first or second time. It’s sometimes difficult for someone like me, who has 110 plus Plant shows under his belt to be subjective enough.

The highlight of the night for me was Embrace Another Fall, this song moves slowly to its peak with Justin picking out the intro on the gimbri, with John’s understated keyboards and Dave’s hypnotic drum patterns, Robert sings of lost love and returning to his home before Skin lifts it to a high with a slide solo, brilliant.

Rainbow will probably suffer the same fate as of the similar feeling Shine It All Around or 29 Nines Palms and will be dropped once this leg of the tour is over. Both What Is And What Should Never Be and Babe I’m Gonna Leave Yyou have found their place in the Space Shifters and both highlighting the strength of Skin Tyson’s playing. No Place To Hide which is sandwiched between the previous two numbers is a standard recorded by Howling Wolf, and a number that both How Many More Years and How Many Times roots are firmly set within. Both the earlier played Spoonful and No Place to Hide are given the Space Shifters spin on things, Billy Fuller’s solid walking bass lines, John Baggot’s swirling synths and the irrepressible Juldeh Camara under laying a score for Skin and Justin Adams to twist and turn – no wonder Robert is smiling.

Little Maggie still stands strong and feels like an enjoyable old friend already, driven by Skin’s electric banjo and Dave Smith’s spot on drum patterns all leading up to Juldeh shuffling entrance before he skips into his solo and culminating in him and Robert swinging in unison at the front of the stage. Bukka Whites Fix’in To Die, a long-time favourite from the Dreamland era, has also morphed into its own little Space Shifters world and a centrepiece for  Justin Adams and his rockabilly etched solo and infection “dad dance”. This even has Roberts’s grandchildren dancing on the side of the stage along with all in the audience.

Robert closes the main set with Whole Lotta Love, and why not? Others may argue, saying that Jimmy Page could do more with one guitar than these guitarists do with two, but that’s the point, Jimmy could but doesn’t and frankly until he decides to do it, I’ll go along with Robert and jump and play the old air guitar for as long as I can.

Kicking off the encores is the other highlight of the evening, A Stolen Kiss, seems misplaced as the encore opener but even this placing doesn’t undermine its standing as one of the album’s highlights. Set against minimal keyboards, similar to Song To Sirens in pace and structure and again a song of searching and lost love. Quite beautiful, in all ways.

And Rock and Roll brings it all to a fitting and rousing finale. I’ve grown back in love with this , the way its skips along in its own rockabilly way, with a parting comment of the recent tabloid lead reunion story “Don’t believe a word you read”. Robert, along with the rest of the Space Shifters are off to spread their enthusiastic mindset to all who’ll listen – and you’ll be a fool not to, this is fun, remember fun? It’s something we all had before it all got too serious.

As for Robert – so much enthusiasm from the stage spilled out over the audience and we soaked it up. He looked as if he’d finely shrugged off the past and was happy in what he’s doing, producing music his way, the way that pleases him. It’s easy for us to bitch and moan about what numbers he is or isn’t doing or what numbers we think he should be doing. He is in the industry called entertainment, he’s in it to entertain himself and for whoever will come along and take that ride.

We need to learn to go with it, enjoy the ride and allow Robert to take us forward on this musical journey with his happy little band of friends, because he sure aint going backwards.

Gary Foy.

Don’t believe a word….do believe in the Sensational Space Shifters…

DL observations:

Of the 114 times I’ve seen Robert perform live over the past 44 years, around 40 have been in London. The capital can be a somewhat overwhelming prospect for artist and fans alike. Not tonight.

This was simply one of the most assured Robert Plant London performances I’ve been lucky enough to witness.

One of the reasons is the venue. The Roundhouse is an excellent venue – it’s circular setting makes for an intimate environment and the sound was spot on.

Although always good to hear, Friends was something of a low key entry but after a ”hey hey hey” refrain from the singer and Spoonful kick’s in and we a really are off the blocks from then on.

Turn it Up from the new album is already a familiar mainstay of the set. The closing part heralds the arrival of Juldeh for the jam that was also deployed for Black Dog (as noted on the printed set list).

Going To California followed and proving that he is human, Robert managed to get the lyrics a bit twisted – ”that’s the trouble with new songs, I can never remember the words!” he quipped.

Embrace Another Fall was a welcome addition to the set excluding the air of drama that so lights up the studio version. Live on stage it was a veritable tour de force.

‘Now for the hit” was Robert’s introduction to the now perhaps over familiar  Rainbow, while What is And What Should Never Be garnered one of the best reactions of the night (though I’d swap this for Four Sticks personally)

camden 4

The How Many More Years/No Place To Go jam was a real Space Shifter freak out setting out the parameters of what this unit can achieve when they really kick in. John Baggott’s keyboards and Justin and Juldeh’s African tilt merging into a glorious noise.

Babe was another expected highlight and heading for home, Little Maggie, Fixin’ To Die and the Who Do You Love/Whole Lotta Love hybrid were all rousing statements of intent.

Encores: Much as I love A Stolen Kiss, the downbeat melancholy keyboard lament felt decidedly out of place as the first encore – albeit that Robert gave a masterful performance.

”We came from the land of the ice and snow” observed Robert in introducing Rock And Roll – this version combining the rockabilly swagger of Tall Cool One with the singer strutting with mic stand discarded in a manner we were once very accustomed to.

”Peace and love….oh and don’t believe a word” was Robert’s wry final comments…

Indeed…don’t believe a word of any misplaced rumour that he blew out his old band to the tune of 500 million.. but do believe in this now finely honed musical unit that are currently space shifting across the UK.

In fact just as I observed way back when…seeing is still believing…

Dave Lewis, November 13th 2014.


Embrace another special night…

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters – Wolverhampton Civic Hall November 21st, 2014:

Setlist; Friends/Spoonful/Turn It Up/Rainbow/Going To California/Let The Four Winds Blow/What Is And What Should Never Be/No Place To Go/Babe I’m Gonna Leave You/Little Maggie/Fixin’ To Die/– I Just Want To Make Love To You-Whole Lotta Love-Mona -Who Do You Love

Encores; Embrace Another Fall /Rock And Roll

To Wolverhampton with Tom and Cliff on a very wet rainy Friday afternoon. In the early evening, a TBL pre gig meet at Yates bar where it was good to catch up with Richard Grubb (contributor of the brilliant Led Zep Remastered feature in TBL 38),Martin, Elma and others – over at the Civic Hall the venue was already filling up fast. This is always a special one – being his homecoming gig.
So let’s cut to the chase. The really great gigs are built on the circumstances all coming together to make it a real occasion. Tonight it all came right for me. The home coming Friday night atmosphere was tangible throughout the hall, and it was a pleasure to watch the gig to the left of the balcony with Pete Gozzard, a long time supporter of all things TBL and his friend Neil.

As for the performance – what can I tell you, it just all gelled tonight..and at the helm of course was Robert Plant –and given the location there was lots of humorous comments throughout the evening – it really felt like we were in on some big family party. There was no finer example of that than when the singer paused to note a very special birthday, that of his ex-wife Maureen who was sat in the front of the balcony – a band chorus of Happy Birthday was a lovely touch (and prompted memories of a similar chorus on the Bonzo’s Birthday Party bootleg).

Set list wise, it was similar to the previous night in Cambridge with Let The Four Winds Blow sounding particularly fine, Going To California engaging the audience totally and most impressively of all for me tonight the startling No Place To Go jam. From my vantage point overlooking the stage it was plain to see how striking the dynamism of this piece really is and the interplay within the musicians notably Juldeh – and while we are on the subject, his contributions have been a real eye opener during this tour. What might have been viewed as a novelty factor early on in the Space Shifters evolution, has now blossomed into an integral part of the well-oiled machine.

Further evidence came via the intricate strut of Little Maggie (‘’bluegrass with a bit of rust’’) and the first encore of Embrace Another Fall – again the sheer drama and movement of the piece bringing out the best in the players.
As mentioned, there were various Plant quips throughout the set notably a story about Tom Jones complete with Welsh accent –‘’I asked Tom if he wanted a drink’’ ‘I’ve given up boyo’ I said what’s the point of anything then!’’

There was also a humorous comment during a slight tech delay ‘’When I was in a group in the 70s I had to do harmonica solo if a string broke’’
The Whole Lotta love hybrid had a neat switch into Bo Diddley’s Mona and the folk song that is Rock And Roll brought proceedings to a celebratory close.
‘’Be happy’’ was his sound parting advice.

Looking around the exiting crowd you could sense that warm afterglow of a performance that had truly fulfilled expectations and more…
All this of course on the very night all of 43 years ago that I first saw Robert perform live with Led Zeppelin at the Empire Pool Wembley back in 1971…
This was something I mentioned to Robert afterwards and we reminisced about the performing pigs that didn’t perform – this prompted Robert to call Maureen over to mention this anniversary as that would have been the night of her birthday back then. ”We were 23 years old!” he laughed.

On the journey home, Tom, Cliff and I reflected on this current tour, all agreeing that it finds the singer and his band in a wonderful place – a playback earlier in the car also re affirmed that the Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar album is his finest in years. The tour moves into a final week with dates in Belfast, Dublin, Blackpool and Llandudno – but this is it for us –three very memorable nights in London, Cambridge and now Wolverhampton, each with their own set of memories…

Summary: If a psychic had turned to me in the confines of the Empire Pool Wembley on that night back in 1971 and told me that 43 years hence, with the singer in his mid-60s and me in my late 50s, that I’d be attending a Robert Plant concert on the same date in 2014 – and that he would still be inspiring and re-inventing and that I would be as immersed and impressed by his talent as I was as a 15 year old on that first night of nights…well I would have probably very much doubted that such a thing would come to pass.

Well, incredibly and astonishingly,that’s the way it is and the way it was on another night of nights. All in all, seeing Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters at the Civic Hall Wolverhampton was a very special experience – right up there with the best gigs I’ve attended and pretty life affirming in my scheme of things…

43 years on, Robert Plant still holds the (electric and acoustic) magic…and his music still has a deep profound effect on me…and countless others across the globe.
Long may he ceaselessly roar…

Dave Lewis
November 24th, 2014.


Media Watch: Robert Plant on the BBC One Show last night

Robert Plant appeared on the BBC One Show last night – his fellow guest was English cricket legend Freddie Flintoff. There was a humorous link up to his local football mates in Kidderminster and Robert along with The Sensational Space Shifters, performed The May Queen from the new album Carry Fire.







TBL Archive: Led Zeppelin at the Lyceum  – it was 48 years ago today:

Above is the very rare flyer from the Cliff Hilliard collection for Led Zeppelin’s  October 12th concert at London’s Lyceum back in 1969…

So this is another milestone anniversary as it’s nigh on 48 years to the day they played what at the time, was their most prestigious London gig to date. It also marked the last time the band performed this set in the UK – by the time of their next London date – the famous January 9th 1970 Royal Albert Hall show – their set would be overhauled.

Here’s how it all lined up on that October Sunday night via research from Mike Tremaglio:




Setlist (from 60 minute audience recording):

Good Times Bad Times Intro/ Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Heartbreaker, You Shook Me, What is and What Should Never Be, Dazed and Confused, How Many More Times Medley (incl. Boogie Chillun’)

Support from Frosty Moses and Audience.

The Lyceum show was the start of a series of Sunday night showcases, presented by promoter Tony Stratton-Smith. The original idea is for the headlining act to present an entire album in concert. They  declined that idea and only two numbers from the new album were subsequently premièred.

According to New Musical Express , promoter Tony Stratton-Smith was lining up a year-long series of concerts for Sunday evenings at the Lyceum.  The intention for the series was to have two star attractions plus an up-and-coming act.  Stratton-Smith mentioned that he wanted “to create the British equivalent of New York’s Fillmore East, with a free and easy atmosphere and a sense of community.”  The “Crab Nebula” light show accompanied the concert performers (in the spirit of the Fillmore East’s “Joshua” light show.   The concert was a 2,000 capacity sell out and the group were paid what is thought to be the highest fee for a one night performance in the that point. The deal with Stratton-Smith was for Led Zeppelin to receive the fee in cash the next day.

Nick Logan in New Musical Express reported: “It’s a pity that with such a large audience present, Led Zeppelin should turn in one of their less inspiring performances. Having seen them at both the Marquee and the Albert Hall it seems the larger the venue the better it suits the Zeppelin’s overpowering sound, although the Lyceum audience responded enthusiastically to everything they did. It was mainly the now familiar opening to their act – ‘Communication Breakdown’ etc. that suffered. Robert Plant’s voice being drowned by the sheer volume of sound. Jimmy Page’s guitar solo midway through was deservedly well received and when the group came in again on ‘You Shook Me’ and ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’ there was something of an improvement.”

Freddie Mercury, Queen’s legendary front man and Lyceum concert attendee, was a little bit more enthusiastic. In a letter mailed to his friend Celine Daly, Freddie wrote: “Just heard Zeppelin II LP and it’s a knockout.  Saw them at the Lyceum and they were really great.”  At the time, Mercury was still in his original band called “Ibex,” who included a cover version of Communication Breakdown in their setlist (as evidenced by a 9/9/69 bootleg recording).

 Bootleg CD References:

Ballroom Blitz (World Productions)

The Lyceum Ballroom U.K. 10/12/69 (Totonka)

Lyceum (Cobla Standard)

Triumphant UK Return (Empress Valley)


Look out for another Robert Plant TBL posting tomorrow…

Dave Lewis  – October 12, 2017  

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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You Tube Clip:

Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters – Turn it Up 2014: 

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