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Robert Plant and The Band Of Joy – Meyerson Symphony Hall, Dallas, TX

23 July 2010 6,363 views 3 Comments

Setlist:
Down to the Sea, Angel Dance, House of Cards, Please Read the Letter, Misty Mountain Hop, Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go, Rich Woman, Oh What a Beautiful City/Wader in the Water/In My Time of Dying, All the King’s Horses, Satisfied Mind, If I Had My Way (Patty Griffin solo spot: a traditional that’s on her new album, “Downtown Church”), Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, Central 209, Monkey, Houses of the Holy, Tall Cool One, Over the Hills and Far Away, Gallows Pole.
Encores: Harm’s Swift Way, Thank You, Rock and Roll, Goodnight

This review from Stephen Humphries

I’ve seen multiple dates on every single tour Robert has done since 1990 and he continues to thrill in concert like few others can. This tour marks another impressive transformation in Robert’s ever-evolving career. While there were certainly elements of the show that recalled the sound of the “Raising Sand” revue, this band has a sound all of its own. More rock-oriented and more guitar-heavy than the Plant/Krauss tour outfit but certainly rooted in the same ouevre of country, folk, and gospel spirituals.

I’m always enthralled by Robert’s leftfield interpretations of his back catalog. I’d stayed away from internet spoilers before the show so the constant setlist surprises were a delight right from the opener of “Down to the Sea.”  The Zep stuff killed and I was knocked out by the thrilling new versions of “Houses of the Holy” and, especially, “Over the Hills and Far Away.” “Tall Cool One” was an unexpected highlight, too. Great band and four-part harmonies and Patty’s vocal shadowing/duetting was particularly effective. Plant’s voice was stellar — full of emotional nuance, roaring power, and dynamic push and pull. I can’t wait to see this band play again when they hit the West Coast sometime down the line.

Robert Plant and his Band Of Joy certainly brought joy to the fans at the Meyerson.

Review by by Ron Dempesmeier from www.pegasusnews.com

What does a living legend do to follow a multi-Grammy Award winning album (Raising Sand) and successful world tour with Bluegrass thrush Alison Krauss? How about revive an over 40-year-old band name from the Midlands of England, start out fresh with an almost completely new set of Americana/Country musicians, and tour the U.S. before the new album is even in the stores? Robert Plant can’t be accused of playing it safe.

The excellent Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Centre was a cosy place to see and hear Plant and his band of Nashville/Austin stalwarts. The Band of Joy consisted of Buddy Miller (vocals, electric guitar), Patty Griffin (vocals, guitar), Darrell Scott (vocals, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel and acoustic guitars), Byron House (electric and acoustic bass, vocals), and Marco Giovino (drums, accordion, vocals). Griffin, Scott, and Miller each performed a song apiece over the course of the evening to showcase their impressive singing skills as well.

There is no doubt that Plant’s fixation with traditional American music (folk, gospel, country, and rockabilly) has made him follow his muse instead of reuniting with Led Zeppelin and wringing stadiums out of mounds of money. However, over the evening a number of Zeppelin numbers were re-invented with the shimmering, atmospheric (but still powerful) sound of the Band of Joy.

The concert started with snake-like Middle Eastern melody of “Down to the Sea” from Plant’s Fate of Nations album. Soon a number of songs from his later solo albums, the unreleased Band of Joy (coming out in September) and Raising Sand where performed. None of his Top 40 hits (save one) were done. So there was definitely a call to the audience to appreciate the music for music’s sake and as Plant mentioned later in the show, “I know there is a lot of new, weird stuff, but be patient – it’s worth it!”

A lovely “All the King’s Horses” from Mighty Rearranger led to “Please Read the Letter” where Patty Griffin stepped into Krauss’ role with great aplomb. One of the first of a generous number of Led Zeppelin numbers was a scuffling take on “Misty Mountain Hop.”

The group’s Gospel leanings were featured in an arresting medley consisting of “Oh What a Beautiful City,” “Wade in the Water,” and Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying” (which that group “borrowed” from Blind Willie Johnson’s “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed”). They also displayed it on another Band of Joy track called “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down.”

Plant performed songs written by some overlooked Folk and roots legends like “House of Cards” by Richard Thompson, “Angel Dance” by Los Lobos, and during the encore “Harm’s Swift Way” by Fort Worth’s own star-crossed Townes Van Zandt. Plant’s generosity to feature other songwriters extended to his own bandmates as he sometimes receded to the rear of the stage to sing backing and play harmonica during their turns at the front. He no doubt still believes in the ideals of the ’60s when he started his career and showed his Hippie roots by performing barefoot on a Turkish carpet.

One of the more unlikely visions of Plant was his turn playing the washboard during a new song called “Central Two 0 Nine” and ending it with an over-the-top flourish – probably not as good as a real Zydeco musician, but performed with a lot of chutzpah. When he did perform one of his more popular solo songs it was a controlled version of “Tall Cool One” from his Now & Zen album.

The crowd’s greatest applause was for the Led Zeppelin numbers that the Band of Joy performed their reinterpretations upon. The lovely “Thank You” from Led Zeppelin II brought out a number of lighters (actually cell phone LCDs) and showed that Plant’s paean to his first wife still could hit the heartstrings and worked well with pedal steel accompaniment. “The Houses of the Holy” from Physical Graffiti displayed some more fire with more chopped electric guitar work by Buddy Miller. Darrell Scott’s ancient looking banjo and very traditional playing style (not the rolling 3-finger Earl Scruggs’ Bluegrass type but the plucked, almost Civil War-era type) fit perfectly into “Gallows Pole” which closed out the main set of music.

During the encore, the classic Led Zeppelin “Rock and Roll” was played with rockabilly instrumentation and attitude. Plant displayed his love for all song traditions that led to the beginning of his career and some that he probably picked up along the way. His talented Band of Joy helped his musical voyage into more uncharted territories.

Plant missteps while strutting country-cowboy flair as Band  
of Joy stops in Dallas

If only Robert Plant wasn’t such a bull-headed wimp.
At 61, the dulcet tones of the rock god’s voice still have that  signature clarity that suited Led Zeppelin’s mellower catalog. Of  course, some of his upper register has understandably vanished. Even  with his narrow range, Plant has tiny pockets of flexibility that can  leap over a five-piece band and sound terrific. But as Plant’s dusty  hobo-rocking Band of Joy performed at Dallas’Meyerson Symphony Center  on Friday night, the performance made die-hards wish he’d leave the  past behind.
With the Meyerson’s blonde hardwood stage adorned by area rugs and dim- wattage lights that produced a gauzy glow, it was as if Plant was  performing in a living room on a murky bayou. Sporting denim pants, an  open-collared long-sleeve shirt, a mustache with goatee and a full  head of blonde curls, Plant’s attire was suitable for the rodeo  dancehall.
He began the evening with a bluegrass clap-a-long version of “Down to  the Sea,” with gypsy-folk mandolin and Patty Griffin’s nicely blending  backing vocals. However, first impressions count. And the Band was  almost too shy while giving Plant plenty of room — no aggressive 6- string heroics and none of the lush orchestrations you’d expect from The Honeydrippers. This incarnation has more in common with his down- tempo Alison Krauss stint.
After a disgracefully simple arrangement of “Misty Mountain Hop,” it  was as if Plant was taking cues from Whitney Houston’s fall from  greatness. Instead of finding a new honky-tonk way to interpret the  funk-rock Zep classic, the band plodded through forgetful progressions  while Plant croaked a bottom-feeder melody.
Band of Joy excelled only when they broke free of expectations. For  example, Plant blows a mean harmonica – even while standing beside  Marco Giovino’s drum kit and allowing guitarist Buddy Miller take over  center-stage vocals.
Band of Joy’s roots-inspired vibe crystallized as stand-up bass,  chicken-scratch guitars and tambourine vamped up “The Twelve Gates to  the City” and “Wade in the Water.” And it was like a Cowboy Junkies  homage as accordion and pedal steel brightened “All the King’s Horses.” A swampy banjo buoyed the juke-joint revival of “Satan, Your Kingdom  Must Come Down,” and no one blinked when Plant wore a thimble to play  washboard.
However, the evening would instantly crash when Plant reached into  Jimmy Page’s oeuvre, like the anemic version of “Houses of the Holy”  and its only grace note — a riff borrowed from Joe Walsh’s “Life’s  Been Good to Me So Far.”
One Zeppelin turn absolutely rocked. The most dramatic portion of the  show was “Gallows Pole,” brilliantly scored into a spooky, moonshine- foot-stomping jam.
Perhaps Plant should listen closely to that executioner’s song and let  some things just die. He knows he can’t outshine the Jimmy Page legacy, but Plant is  stubbornly afraid of himself because he lacks the confidence in his  many strengths. Even in its tapered state, the man’s voice is still  liquid and silvery. You just wish he’d muster the courage to  
completely reinvent himself and move forward.
Reveiw by DANIEL A. KUSNER

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5)
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3 Comments »

  • Judy said:

    I also agree with Rick. This seems more of a vanity project than a real band. He should go back to Strange Sensation, right some of his own stuff and continue on that journey. Mighty Rearranger was a great record and seemed more true to him as an artist. So many artists are now doing covers – Sheryl Crow for example. This project just seems so forced.

  • Rick said:

    I agree with the reviewer who says Plant can do so much better than this. This is his poorest incarnation yet.

  • LedHed58 said:

    Commenting on Plant’s show in Houston on the 24th…AWESOME!! Did “In the Mood” and “Tangerine” and dropped NFBM and ATKH from the set list.. “Thank you” and Misty Mountain hop and Houses of the Holy were superb and they did a killer version of Rock and Roll. Loved his new music, his band is very tight and Plant himself has lost NOTHING..his voice was superb and he still has that stage presence I remember from the seventies.. Great way to spend my %@nd birthday 8 rows back from the stage and see the Hammer of the Gods still Swinging..Cmon Pagey!! IT is your turn !!!

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