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Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy Louisville Palace

8 April 2011 2,389 views No Comment

Robert Plant and Band of Joy rock the Louisville Palace

There are moments during a Robert Plant and Band of Joy show where you sink into the music and actually forget for a while that the Robert Plant is on stage. Band of Joy is so much its own thing, and so impressive, that even Plant’s epochal history recedes.

But then they start to play “Ramble On,” and there’s no fighting “Ramble On.”

Among the many highlights at Friday’s sold-out Band of Joy show at the Louisville Palace, there can be no downplaying of the mass audience sing-along on the chorus of “Ramble On,” one of several songs that Plant pulled from his Led Zeppelin playbook. It was a moment. But only one.

Plant and band let loose a subtle roar all night, finding room to build dynamics in even the most subdued songs. It was an intricate passion play that they made look easy, except when trying to remember the endless lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

“This Band of Joy is a remarkable beast,” Plant said after a stark version of “Monkey,” from the band’s self-titled album. “The colours move around the stage night after night.”

Bandleader Buddy Miller and multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott were responsible for more than their share of colors on a variety of stringed instruments, but drummer Marco Giovino also delivered a deep range of textures using everything from a length of chain to what looked like a baseball glove. Patty Griffin’s pristine hamonies worked wonders with Plant’s ageing, but still distinctive, voice.

The set was comprised entirely of songs from “Band of Joy” and a handful of Zeppelin songs reworked to fit the aesthetic, including a version of “Black Dog” to open the show that was half-speed and all sex. Not that it took a lot of work. Band of Joy is no stranger to the blues, the prime force behind Zeppelin, so they just slowed things down a bit, except for mostly faithful takes on “Black Country Woman” and “Tangerine.”

It was like listening to Plant revisit his younger self, teaching him that slow and easy has its merits, and that subtlety creates its own kind of heat.

A duo version of North Mississippi Allstars opened, featuring brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson on guitar and drums, respectively. Their back-porch blues perfectly melded with the headliner, and their sound was amazingly full. Much bigger bands have accomplished far less.

Reporter Jeffrey Lee Puckett

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