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Robert Plant and The Band Of Joy – Beacon Theatre, New York City, N.Y

29 January 2011 3,399 views 2 Comments

Photo by Dave Smith

This excellent review from New York City’s very own Maria Gorshin from her wonderful blog citygirlwrites.blogspot.com/

The moment Robert Plant and Band of Joy appeared on stage at the Beacon Theatre on Saturday Night the air went electric with a charge that ran both ways. They hit the boards beaming and visibly jazzed for a night of playing great music while the audience rose to greet them in a spontaneous, all-at-once movement that seemed set off by a shockwave of ardor. In America’s favorite rock room, American roots music was about to be re-interpreted by the finest blues singing, gospel belting, country swinging and soul rendering artists of the day.

First up was a mightily rearranged “Black Dog”, inflected with mike stand flourishes and loose-limbed dancing, that left the audience enthralled and out of their seats throughout most of the evening.

When the rumble of “Down by the Sea” brought Robert Plant to the words, “When I get older, will you come down to the sea,” the crowd roared their hearty vows. Drummer Marco Giovino delivered a rolling beat for the song that moved seamlessly from the realm of Native American warrior dance to intricate tabla territory. Multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott coaxed sitar accents from his guitar, providing the first hint of his mastery over all things stringed that he would reveal in each song. (Later, switching between guitars, mandolin and banjo, he pulled Jimmy Page’s signature reverse echo effects from a pedal-steel.)

“Welcome to an unexpected, scintillating evening with Band of Joy,” said Mr. Plant, looking across the audience and around his circle of musician friends with genuine pleasure. Buddy Miller raised a wall of twang and fuzz tone, filigreed with Darrell Scott’s mandolin, for “Angel Dance”. Riding high on steady currents of appreciation from the crowd, Plant said, “I think we’ll be alright tonight, Patty,” before leading into a harmony duet with the astonishing Patty Griffin on “Please Read the Letter”. A cover of “Houses of the Holy”, refurbished into a stately country home that rocked nonetheless, was one of many evening highlights. “The great, superlative leader of the band, “Buddy “Hoochie Coochie” Miller,” is how the golden god segued from “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down”, where bass player Byron House added profound bass vocals to his bass lines, right into “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go”. Miller’s solo on the song revealed him to be a fearless virtuoso.

The swagger of “Rich Woman” and the hunger of “Silver Rider” rose into the heavenlies upon Darrel Scott’s pure mountain voice in “Satisfied Mind”, a spine-tingler that generated an ovation. “House of Cards” and “Move Up” confirmed for the audience what Robert Plant and a legion of fans have already discovered: Patty Griffin can belt out and wail every song with grit, power and majesty. 

And so it went for the rest of the night – Band of Joy moved with assurance between gospel, bluegrass and genre-bending selections from Robert Plant’s decades as a solo artist, to re-imagined covers of Los Lobos, Low and Led Zeppelin tunes before doubling back to venture even further into diverse musical landscapes. Such brilliant meandering made for a fascinating evening for all.

Band of Joy is exactly that – a circle of authentic artists who derive unabashed delight from each other’s music. Throughout the evening they played in a loose circle, grooving to each other’s improvisations and responding to each other’s subtlest cues. Band of Giants is another name that might have done them justice – each of the six artists is a standout – but then the chance to pay homage to a pre-Zeppelin era would have been missed.

Robert Plant hasn’t left behind Led Zeppelin – he’s bringing the influences that fueled that once-in-a-lifetime collaboration into the present moment and racing forward with them in exquisite company. Plant and Band of Joy are on a quest to reach deeper and stretch further into all musical territory – a journey no music lover will want to miss.

Review by Maria Gorshin

Robert Plant and The Band Of Joy – Beacon Theatre, New York City, N.Y

Setlist

Black Dog
Down To The Sea
Angel Dance
Please Read The Letter
Houses Of The Holy
Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
Someplace Trouble Don’t Go
Rich Woman
Silver Rider
Satisfied Mind
Tangerine
House Of Cards
Move Up
Ramble On
Tall Cool One
Gallows Pole
In The Mood
Rock And Roll
And I Bid You Good Night

Robert Plant and Band of Joy concert at The Beacon is aggressive yet welcoming

What’s in a name?

Robert Plant has been begging that question for six months now, using his latest album and tour as bait.

Plant anointed both his latest CD and his new live band with the same tag he employed for the group he fronted just before Led Zeppelin – Band of Joy – back in the hazy days of 1968. But the album he released under that title last September forsook the sound of his original group – a free and howling brand of proto-Zeppelin-style psychedelia – in favor of a sound not dissimilar from the one Plant employed on his surprise, 2008 hit album with Alison Krauss, “Raising Sand.” Like that disc, the new one drifts through a dry and ambling brand of American roots music.

This weekend, Plant brought his new Band of Joy band to the city for the first time, for sold out shows at The Beacon Saturday and last night. 

As it turned out, the concerts only complicated matters – if in a welcome way.

Instead of the understated, hyper-controlled take on Americana he offered on the new CD, the concert version of Band of Joy offered a wide-ranging and raucous corollary.

That held true right from the opening number – a radically re-thought version of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” It hewed closer to American swamp blues, oozing through voodoo beats that could have come straight from the Bayou. It also featured expansive soloing, and a musicianly intensity, nowhere evident on Band of Joys’ CD. Essentially, it presented an ideal marriage between the resolutely American styles Plant has come to worship and the progressive, psychedelic sound that made him a pioneering force of classic-rock to begin with.

In other words, Band of Joy in concert offered everything the group should have shown on album – something original, aggressive and far-reaching.

Plant had significant help realizing this vision from the band. Americana lynchpin Buddy Miller served as lead guitarist, a role he played on the disc but with nowhere near as this much adventure. Live, Miller spun out solo after solo, playing guitar hero without cliche or precedent. His forays had their own tone and scope, melding the abstraction of an axeman like Neil Young with the steeliness of a player like Richard Thompson.

Better, he, and Plant had ideal rapport with the other players, creating the kind of dynamic you only expect from musicians who’ve played together for years. Daryl Scott contributed pedal steel lilts and solos of his own, while bassist Byron House and drummer Marco Giovino built momentum for the longer jams.

Plant also had the full, gospel-powered sound of Patti Griffin to stir him. All the players sang, and at times, Plant seemed pleased to just back them up. Their American inflections only stoked his U.S. muse.

The generously proportioned set-list mingled songs from the new CD with a few from “Raising Sand,” along with some from his solo career, a cut from the “Page Plant” project, and a surprising number of classics plucked from the Zeppelin vaults.

To connect to his project with Krauss, Plant offered the gigolo ballad “Rich Woman,” and the plaintive “Please Read the Letter” (which he’d originally done with Page/Plant). Songs from the new CD included a cover of Los Lobos’ “Angel Dance,” which the band expanded with spacier grooves.

Plant tipped a hand to his British folk roots by throwing a bit of Fairport Convention’s “Come All Ye” into song from his solo life, “In The Mood.” Otherwise, the show aimed straight for the heart of America.

Ironically, Plant got there most winningly by re-imaging songs from the English Zeppelin (something he did to a lesser degree on the “Raising Sand” tour). The band look all the lead out of “Houses of the Holy” (as it were), giving it more ease and twang. “Ramble On”‘s warm bass line melded well with the enhanced country filigrees. Even a song that always had a pedal steel part – 1970’s “Tangerine” – gained a full solo on that instrument, in lieu of the fuzz-toned rock guitar originally employed by Jimmy Page.

The more rural setting for “Gallows Pole” upped its sense of doom and danger, while “Rock n Roll” reverted to the ’50s rockabilly sound that first inspired it’s heavier, 1971 interpretation.

Early in Saturday’s show, Plant greeted the audience with the line “welcome to another surprising night with Band of Joy.”

The surprise this night could not have been more welcome.

Review by Jim Farber DAILY NEWS MUSIC CRITIC

Black Dog by Robert Plant and the Band of Joy 1-29-11 Beacon Theatre NY

Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy in New York City

By Deborah Sprague variety.com

Every few years, the chorus starts again, asking the surviving members of Led Zeppelin to reunite, and each time, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones say something to shoot down the pleas. But at this altogether invigorating Gotham gig, Plant went one better – delivering two solid hours of proof that such a reprise would be unnecessary and superfluous.

By opening with a molasses-thick, almost unrecognizably twangy version of “Black Dog,” Plant acknowledged the ghosts of Zeppelin past and transmuted them into a vital, living spirit. He sprinkled and favourites judiciously through the set, a suitably heady “Houses of the Holy” here, a steadily rumbling “Ramble On” there. But to his credit, he refrained from milking every drop of nostalgia from those tunes.

He and his band — the third Band of Joy he’s led over four decades of performing — took equal care in deconstructing Plant’s latter-day work. An extended reworking of the Grammy-winning “Please Read the Letter” found Patty Griffin not so much replicating Alison Krauss’ part on the original as recasting it, imbuing the song with a rougher, more assertive edge.

Throughout the evening, Plant’s cohorts were able to stake out their own space, largely because he backed up his words with actions about the band’s equanimity, particularly when it came to bringing guitarist Buddy Miller to the fore, giving him space for solos that ranged from poignant to bone-rattling. He also deserves credit for ceding centre stage to allow multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott a chance to showcase a remarkably clear tenor on a version of “Satisfied Mind,” and Griffin a similar platform for a rousing “Move on up in Glory.”

Plant has grown more comfortable in his own voice in recent years as well. Having recognized that he can’t rise to the higher reaches that he inhabited so naturally some time back, he’s settled in a couple of octaves lower, which adds more heft to darker songs like “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” and “Silver Rider” (a cover from the catalog of Minnesota dream-rockers Low).

Addressing the crowd frequently, Plant steered clear of shop-worn banter, taking on an evangelical tone in attesting to the power of music — not his own, but the stuff that he’s absorbed over the decades. He didn’t just talk the talk, either. By highlighting the playing of his collaborators and calling attention to the work of folks unfamiliar to most of his audience, Plant acted as both preacher and teacher — a winning combo, indeed.

 Robert Plant and Band of Joy – Rock N Roll live 1/30/11 Beacon New York City

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2 Comments »

  • Kathleen Ford said:

    I just saw Robert and the BOJ tonight in Washington, D.C. and as much as I love their album, seeing them play live is roaring; they blew the doors off Constitution Hall. I have never heard such music; it’s so beautiful and truly ethereal–edgy and strange in a very cool way. “Down to the Sea” is nothing short of blazing and everyone in that band DELIVERS. It was thrilling. I can only hope that this phenomenal group continues for a good long while. I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to do next.

  • Carol said:

    I and some friends and my husband were at the Beacon on Saturday night. What a treat! My only complaint was the two hours were over too quickly! If I was going too pick two favorites, they would be Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down and Gallows Pole. The harmonies on both were incredible and Robert let fly some through the stratosphere notes on both. It was a thrill to see the man in person and an honor to see so many incredible musicians on the same stage together. To all who haven’t seen them, if you get the opportunity, go! I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful they are.

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