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ROBERT PLANT PRESENTS SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS AT THE HMV LONDON FORUM: ‘CONTINUE TO KEEP SMILING…’

13 July 2012 52,541 views 39 Comments

Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters – HMV London Forum -Thursday July 12th 2012

Set List: Fixin’ To Die/Tin Pan Valley/44/Friends/Spoonful/Bron Yr Aur Stomp/Ohio/No Bad News/Standing in the Shadow of the Hill/Don’t let me Die in Florida/Black Dog/Somebody Knocking/I’m Your Witchdoctor/Who Do You Love –Whole Lotta Love –Steal away –Bury My Body. Encores: Another Tribe/Gallows Pole

Robert Plant returned to London for his first show since The Band Of Joy appearance in 2010. This time he was surrounded by a hybrid band of players that drew on the nucleus of the Strange Sensation, the one string virtuoso playing of Juldeh Camera and a guest slot for Patty Griffin.

Opening proceedings with a relaxed stroll through Fixin’ To Die, Bukka White’s finest moment as he put it, Robert looked well at ease with hair tide back and striped sweat shirt.  Tin pan Valley was suitably tight and moody with the always inventive  Justin Adams kicking in the riff. The delightfully jaunty 44 paved the way for their first surprise of the night – an authentic arrangement of Led Zep 3’s Friends performed live by my reckoning since the Page & Plant Japan 96 dates –this was a welcomed crowd pleaser.

A typically off the wall Space Shifting arrangement of Spoonful followed and then it was back to Zep 3 for a singlalong Bron Yr Aur Stomp with Patty adding vocals.

This led into Patty’s solo spot for which Robert took a backseat. Ohio, No Bad News, Standing in the Shadow of the Hill and Don’t Let Me Die in Florida gave the Texan songstress ample opportunity to showcase the strength of her passionate vocals. Whilst entirely admirable this did seem to change the momentum but the clue is in the band title – not for nothing is this billed as ‘’Robert Plant Presents’’…and rather than an out an out rock show this is more of a revue of the performers talents.

That was more than evident when the extraordinary Juldeh Camera added the one stringed African violin effect to an already alternative arrangement of Black Dog – for which Juldeh also added a unique vocal input. An ambitious arrangement of Mighty ReArranger’s Somebody Knocking followed before they romped into I’m Your Witchdoctor led by John baggott’s swirling keyboards. This was again the highlight for me of the night as it was in Gloucester –Robert totally immersed and taking full command  of the classic John Mayall Immediate single that was produced by ‘’a pal of mine’ ’as he noted afterwards.

Finally Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love which in turn developed into an intoxicating fusion taking in bits of Whole Lotta Love, Steal Away and Bury My Body.

The first encore was a run through Mighty ReArranger’s Another Tribe –a somewhat muted choice. Song To the Siren was listed in the printed set list but for whatever reason did not make the final cut. However it all went out on a high with an absorbing delivery of another Zep 3 standard namely Gallows Pole. This was performed in the Strange Sensation arrangement with the frantic speeded up finale and Skin jigging away on banjo.

‘’Continue to keep smiling’’…was the singer’s parting words.

Indeed.

In summary this was a less vibrant performance than the Gloucester show and the ‘’revue’’ type presentation won’t be for everybody. Whilst overall there was a strong reception from the London crowd, I did hear some mixed reaction in the aftermath of the show.

With reports of a new album recorded in Nashville well on the way, the Sensational Space Shifters may not have a long shelf life ahead of the Womad and two US appearances. So let’s embrace this for what it is – an opportunity to gather some pals and present some of those songs which as he once put it, he carries in his back pocket or as he revealed on stage, can be sourced on the web site Ready Steady A Go Go with it’s freak beat content.

It doesn’t always have to be the next great step or big statement to appreciate the singer applying his undisputed vocal prowess and there were enough impressive moments last night to justify this latest adventure.

If you were at the show  – what did you think? Let us know by adding your thoughts in the comments section below.

If you want to know what all this sounded like the concert is available to download – here are the details

Pre-Order the Concert Download Now!
Available in MP3, Flac, Flac-HD and ALAC formats.

RobertPlantLive.com

Before the show, as ever it was great to see so many fellow fans in the pub including Tiina Puska from Finland, Michael from Sweden, TBL website founder Dave Linwood, Dave Fox, Cliff ticket man Hilliard, Steve Way and Kathy, ex Kerrang writer Neil Jeffries ,Warren Grant and his daughters and Karen Carr, Kevin from Hats Off, Mick Bulow, Michaela and Dan, Dave Marsh, Richard Grubb, Lee Pritchard, Mark, Lorraine and Michael, Russell Ritchin, Dawn and Paul, Graeme and Pam, Nigel (with tales of Musicland in ‘75), Tony Crowley, John Gunne, Anita, Liz  and many more – thanks for making it a great pre gig warm up…..despite the rain ….oh and to the guy who brought me a pint and I later missed –eye thank yew!

It’s back to London tonight for the John Paul Jones Minibus Pimps show at Café OTO in Dalston. Full report to follow tomorrow.

Dave Lewis   – July 13 2012.     

London Forum photos by Gary Foy for TBL – more photos of the gig and TBL pre gig meet on the Tight But Loose Facebook page

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39 Comments »

  • Don Edgley said:

    Well difficult review to write. I’m a big Led Zep fan and have all of Robert and Jimmy’s solo stuff. Somehow I’d never been to see Robert Plant play live before but have seen a lot of concerts.

    This concert was very disappointing. So disappointing I left shortly after Robert finally resumed the vocals after Patty’s painfully long country and western set. I quite liked the Sudanese violin but really this whole thing didn’t work. I really couldn’t take anymore.

    In some ways not giving the audience what they want (no Zep reunion) is what has made Robert Plant great – finding new things. This was poor entertainment for me though.

  • Steve Bunyan said:

    P.s. Buford T Justice – I agree with everything you say except for the second paragraph!

  • Steve Bunyan said:

    I saw the last gig Robert did at HMV Forum with Band Of Joy and for me it was the worse Robert Plant show I’d ever gone to – I found myself looking at my watch all the time waiting for the show to finish. Believe me when I say I really wanted to enjoy the show but I couldn’t (Saw Robert with Alison Krauss at Wembley and I thought that show was superb). The Band Of Joy album followed and apart from Monkey and Silver Rider the album disappointed me.

    Now when he announced this gig I didn’t know what to expect – Would he go back to rock (unlikely I know but I lived in hope) or would he carry on with the country? I bought tickets anyway but swiftly sold them on once I knew he was carrying on with the country! By the majority comments on here it seems like I made the right decision!

    Robert is free to do what he wants and I admire him for sticking to his principles and being true to himself. I for one though will be sticking to mine and although I’ll probably buy any album he releases I won’t try to catch him live again anytime soon.

  • Olivia said:

    Steven – Thank you for answering my question about how many songs Patty Griffin did. I believe someone said she sang four songs for about 20 minutes. Also the show did run 90 minutes? I thought someone said it was cut short? You know, it’s fine for Robert to make this a “revue” showcasing each of the musician’s talents but neither Justin, nor Juldeh, nor any of the other guys got to do their own solo stuff from what I understand? Also, how is Robert “reinventing” himself? He’s STILL doing the Led Zep songs and, as one poster correctly said, the Unledded No Quarter reworking of those songs was pure genius – The BOJ, SSS versions – NO WAY. Also, the SSS version of Black Dog was pretty much the same as that of the BOJ – boring and tedious and “sexless?” And also, Robert, and not just at this show, but seemingly since the BOJ stuff- he has been taking a “back seat” to the point that we are watching others sing HIS lead making the songs a morbid kind of kareoke (in my opinion). So I say since we are going to now be presented with BOJ II, hopefully all of the music will be new, original stuff that THEY have written (primarily Robert) and if there are a few Zep songs thrown in, I’d prefer them to be sung by Robert. Also, no matter how old he is, he will always be sexy.

  • Mr D. said:

    Overall, it is good to see Robert even tempted by the more surprising dynamics that some of the played material held. And yes, he is allowed to do what he likes and that is the minimum requirement for the audience to see something special by a very clever artist.

    However, I would prefer he put aside all the “not interested in doing zeppelin – have to keep moving etc”. The truth is he has always been doing zeppelin and the best way to keep moving is making new music. I am all fine with not listening to a single zeppelin track , if that was the case.

    And while we are on that matter, taking a zeppelin track with no distinct vocal melody (see black dog) , and singing the lyrics, which lets face it are not exactly poetry, over a new groove/riff is just boring. Not only for the fact it isnt really anything exciting or original but because it uses led zeppelins instictive appeal, by using the lyrics, in order to give credit to a track that probably should have its own lyrics. A proper reinvention of a led zeppelin track is something like the unledded version of no quarter. Truth be told, zep tracks are not easy to reinvent ..

    I did enjoy the gig, though, and i did enjoy seeing some really good musicians on stage. Simply put, this band is too good for cover versions..i would vote for new material instead.

    Not my favorite plant gig but one that i am hoping is the start for something at least as exciting as the mighty rearranger era.

  • Marcus said:

    For anyone not there, it was not that people just dont get Robert’s new thing. I heard the gloucester gig and think it was fantastic, loved the band of joy and Alison Krauss. A couple of the Patty songs were really good and worth getting the download for.

    It was just an off night as Buford suggests.

  • John C said:

    Sounds like we have a “John & Yoko” scenario here – STOP PRESS! “The three remaining members of Zeppelin have announced a final gig on the o2 roof”…

  • Buford T Justice said:

    Why are there so many people who feel the need to justify all musical releases by artists they like, irrespective of quality?

    I’m a Led Zeppelin fan but not ashamed to admit that I find In Through The Outdoor to be a terrible album, and the Song Remains the Same mediocre. Outrider is pretty poor, as is Walking into Clarksdale, and, in my opinion, the less said about Plant’s early solo career the better. I do however like the Band of Joy and Strange Sensation releases.

    I say all this not to decry the views of others but simply to say I believe there’s no downside in admitting your favourite artist can have an off day, produce a poor album or a poor show. To seemingly justify anything is the realm of the teenybopper.

    Also, if Plant, of any other artist, wishes to do their own thing then fair play to them. Artists like Plant, with the prestige and cash in the bank they have, should be fulfilling their own desires – to rehash the old stuff smacks of cashing in. If he were, again, to denounce Zeppelin and play no songs from that era, “amended” or otherwise, would that seem more “honest” to those expecting the Hammer of the Gods?

  • Steven C said:

    I think most of the TBL crowd must have been at a different gig from me. I guess it wasn’t you making all that noise at the end then?

    Where I was standing the sound was good and the atmosphere was pretty buoyant, apart from a few ignorant, woman-hating remarks which were audible when Patty Griffin first appeared, and before she’d even sung a note. To answer Olivia’s question, Ms Griffin took the lead on three songs in the middle of a 90 minute show.

    I had a great night. It was a big pleasure to hear most of Strange Sensation reunited on stage, with added Juldeh! The guy is wonderful and can solo all night as far as I’m concerned. I love the African influences in Plant’s music just as I love the African influences in so much of Led Zeppelin’s best stuff.

    I was particularly delighted to hear Bron-yr-Aur Stomp and Somebody Knocking. (Why would the stand-out track from the otherwise slightly overrated Mighty Rearranger lack relevance? It’s spooky, bluesy, rhythmical – very much in keeping with the spirit of the evening, no?). I agree that Witchdoctor was a big highlight too.

    I also agree with the chap who liked Lianne La Havas’ opening set. She has a voice to die for.

    There seems to be a lot of interest in Plant’s physical appearance. Uh … ok, I’ll play along. I think he looked leaner and fitter than he has in years. Hoping for “blonde and sexy” from a 63-year-old bloke seems a little optimistic to me, but I like his stripy top.

    One last thing: I got the Band Of Joy Artists Den DVD the other day. IMHO, the download of the Space Shifter’s set beats it hands down.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    This one via email from TBL web founder DAVE LINWOOD

    Terrific meet up in the pub beforehand, the usual exchange of banter, “war” stories and speculation about the show. Great to see so many old friends. General opinion from those who had heard the Gloucester tape was moderate enthusiasm without being over-excited.

    On auto-pilot we wandered up Kentish Town to the Forum – sure Plant feels the same having played there many times. London weather was wet as only the TBL Crew would expect. Photo ID check outside – interesting, never expected that! Still we have Olympicsecurity to contend with in a few weeks time.

    Inside a classic Plant crowd; polite, hugging plastic glasses of beer, erring on the 40-60 age range with a smattering of “new breeds”, one of whom I heard saying he would be seeing Plant for the first time – on his Dad’s recommendation.

    Around 9 o’clock, the band sauntered on. Clustered Joss sticks providing a wispy backdrop. Familiar faces from the Strange Sensation days surrounded Plant. A pleasing collection of opening songs followed culminating in a no frills (and enjoyable) version of Friends which was well received.

    Patty Griffin joined the group – she provided consistency throughout the show; most of the low points involved her. Bron-y-aur stomp was at best OK but was then followed by a unmemorable collection of songs of no great substance or form. This culminated in Black Dog – which sounded metaphorically like it had been taken to the Vets and put down. Dreadful. Plant has this fixation with re-arranging this song to the point where only the lyrics remain. And this re-arrangement sucks. In fact I’d like to suggestan alternative. Why not have a troop of hamsters dancing in a frying-pan whilst Plant trots out the lyrics? “Hey hey mama (eeek!) said the (eeek!) way you move (eek eek EEEEEEEK!)”

    Just as it couldn’t get worse (and I started planning to head to the exit) it got a lot better. A strong version of “I’m your witchdoctor” and “Who do you love” got things back on track. The final song of the night was Gallows Pole (Strange Sensationversion) which contains that country jig intro which sets up the song nicely.

    So all in all, it was an OK night – a move back to the Sensation sound with less Country/Blue-Grass. I was content with that.

    Plant himself? He looked good and sang well too.

    All in all, it was good to be able to pop out on a rainy night and see one of the legends still putting it about. DAVE LINWOOD

  • Liz and Pete said:

    Hi Dave
    You may or may not remember us but we were the Robert Plant Gig virgins at The Assembly and the only people in the pub that you didn’t seem to know. We were very impressed that you managed to produce a review by 10.00am the next morning considering the extent of the hospitality that was thrown in your direction at the very enjoyable pre-gig warm-up.
    As for the gig itself, you were quite right – we were in for a treat. Robert Plant truly deserves the accolade of the Mighty Rearranger. We think he himself described it as risky, but in our opinion the risk paid off – what an amazing fusion of grass-roots music from blues, rock, celtic, african……. giving an amalgamation of sound that was glorious. Having seen and been underwhelmed by eminent bands producing near-on perfect replicas of their back catalogue collection, virtually indistinguishable from their recordings it was refreshing to see Mr Plant and friends rock out as a band,(tight but loose indeed), clearly enjoying themselves, and evolving classics. Isn’t that what is so special about live music? We think so, and feel privileged to have been a part of that evening.
    Looking forward to the next event and joining the queue to buy you a pint, Dave.

    Cheers and keep smiling…..

    Pete and Liz

  • Ken Jude said:

    Olivia, there were fifteen songs in the set. Of those Patty Griffin sang lead on three (one new one then two “oldies”). Robert stayed at the front for the new one “Ohio” (makes me wonder if he features on it on her forthcoming album?) then moved to the back for the two older songs.

    I think it’s a long way from Patty having been the main focus. Of course there will be differences of opinion about whether she should be there at all, but he’s clearly enjoying working and singing with other people so I say fair play to him – it’s a joy for me that he still feels the urge to perform and experiment.

  • Jonathan Taylor said:

    I wasn’t at the London gig, but I was at Gloucester…and I can’t help but feel that a lot of people are missing the point of this particular Plant venture…not so much a band, more a Collective, with each talent given his or her chance to shine.

    I don’t think Robert ever intended these to be Plant gigs in the vein of Strange Sensation or even Band of Joy…these are concerts by a group of diverse and extremely talented musicians, each bringing their own abilities to a trawl through songs that have influenced and inspired Robert.

    I agree with Dave…enjoy these shows for what they are, and live in the moment with Plant and co. Who knows what will come next, but one thing we can all be sure of…even if we don’t all like it, it will always be interesting, and will always challenge the listener.

  • Jess said:

    From the videos I’ve seen and the recorded concert that Mr. Plant was nice enough to put out there for those of us who couldn’t attend, it looked like quite a concert. It appears to be very much the musical revue that he mentioned and I’m only sorry that some people went there not realizing that was his intention. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I know for some the acoustic stuff that Patty brings is not their cup of tea. I happen to really enjoy it and know that Robert obviously does too since he continues to bring it in on the shows. I don’t think it has anything to do with their relationship status. He’s said many times over the last two years how much he enjoys having her on stage with him and hearing their voices blend so it really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise when her name is listed as a member of the group. Also, he’s coughing, clearing his throat and other actions through several videos so I don’t think it’s outside possibility that she was giving him a bit of a break when he was feeling some under the weather.

  • Steve A. Jones said:

    What I’d said was it reminds me of when Clint Eastwood felt the need to put Sondra Locke in every one of his films. Now don’t get me wrong,
    those are enjoyable films but clearly not his best. Perhaps the same can be said for this project – Patty +1 (Juldeh Camara) added to the Strange Sensation lineup.

    So having said that, I’m surprised he offered a rather stale setlist to a London audience. Speaking for myself, if I never hear him play Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog or Gallows Pole again I’m fine with it.
    I’d much rather hear them play Don’t (as sung in Marfa) or any number
    of other songs. However, it’s great Robert’s still out there treading the boards.

  • Andy said:

    Have to say that i didn’t listen to the gig yet, but a lot of the comments remind me off the aftermaths to plant/krauss and band of joy gigs and albums. For me these two albums and the 4 gigs across the two tours i was lucky enough to attend were some of robert’s best work to date. Absolutely loved raising sand and the wembley gig was simply mindblowing.

    The band of joy album took a few days to connect, but i am still playing it regularly now and the gigs at one mayfair, the forum and the roundhouse were awesome for too many reasons to mention.

    Plant’s new direction might not be everybodies cup of tea but for me they just show what an incredibly talented and versatile artist he is, and most importantly how much he is enjoying it. Long may it continue and maybe even a certain mr. Page might stop fiddling with his website, overpriced photos and reissues and actually make new music….

    Looking fwd to the dld of yesterday’s gig. CAN’T WAIT

  • Marcus said:

    Hey Dave, Sorry I dint hang around for a chat after I bought you the pint of heniken, but I had a ticket to get rid of.

    The gig, well, I would pay to see Robert Plant standing in a room! The man looked very lean and very cool, and on occasion his voice was mighty.

    But must admit in all the times I have seen Robert, this was the only time I have felt underwhelmed.

    Half way through the gig, i Found my mind wondering and just wishing for one, just one big riff!

    High lights were friends,tin pan alley and wicthdocter. Would question the relevence of Black Dog, Somebody Knocking and the jam around Whole Lotta Love. Also felt that Patty did not seem her happy self, so your right may be this line up has not long left to run.

    It was great to get Friends and Bron Yr, but Gallows Pole and Black Dog felt a bit tired and he has played these now for a long time, maybe he should rest them.

    And an hour and a half, I was with one guy who had driven from Sheffield (Hi Paul!) and another who had flown from Germany, myself coming from Devon.

    But your right, even a underwhelming night is better than most other musical experiences available!

    Cheers Dave

  • Kevin said:

    Wow there is a lot of Patty bashing going on here. First of all, anyone who thinks Robert isn’t in complete control of what is going on hasn’t been paying much attention. He is a lover of all kinds of music and has said in recent interviews that the Sensational Space Shifters is a type of musical revue so it makes sense that different forms of music would be played with different players taking center stage. Patty did not sing lead on a majority of the concert. She sang lead on four songs and did backing vocals on some others. The good thing about a revue is that if a certain type of music isn’t to your taste, give it a minute and a new type will come up. Maybe Robert’s throat was sore. Maybe he needed a bit of a break in the middle of the set. Or maybe he just always planned it out that way. I’m sorry if it was upsetting for people who went there to see Robert and only Robert but I don’t think those people have been paying much attention to where he has been going musically in the last few years. He’s going to do what makes him happy and if its not what you want to hear, just don’t buy a ticket.

  • Hunt Sidway said:

    Would have loved to have seen the show, sounds eclectic and fascinating. I’d like to offer a thought as to why Mr Plant so Mightily Rearranged the very concept of a ‘Robert Plant Concert’ as to disappoint a fair number of people: humility, and a sincere love for the whole group context he’s surrounded himself with. We see it appear almost unexpectedly with the Raising Sand project with Alison Kraus. This collaborative approach to broaden and even challenge his sound, his vocal delivery, his performing dynamic, has become his new trademark, if you will. My hunch is, having watched his career for decades, it simply has to be real for Robert Plant for him to do it. He’s an artist with a restless heart always pushing and leading him into different territories. How wonderful that we get to share it in some small way. As a closing aside, I’ve seen numerous platinum selling artists relinquish the stage for a mini-set mid-concert to a fellow musician (or two or more) who were decidedly not the ones the fans came out to see. That’s called respect, friendship (the inclusion of ‘Friends’?), even love. Pretty convincing way to say ‘Thank You’.

  • Olivia said:

    From what I’m reading here, it seems as if Patty Griffin did the most songs and was the main focus? I understand she did a mini-concert of her own music, which would have been fine at her own concert or a concert that was billed as being “presented” by Robert Plant AND Patty Griffin, but I assumed this was mainly a Robert Plant concert? Am I wrong in assuming that? Did Patty sing more solo songs than Robert? Also, I know she backs him on most songs and I’ve also noticed on some of the Led Zeppelin songs, SHE takes the lead and HE backs her up? I don’t want to upset her fans but if I pay to see a Robert Plant concert, I expect HIM to be the star and main focus of the show. Please tell me that I’m mistaken and this is not the case. I don’t mean to offend her fans but I am not a fan of her music and I think it would be better to make her his opening act so her fans can arrive early and those that are not fans can come later. I also understand that the concert was cut short which means the fans heard a lot less of Robert. Also not singing “Song to the Siren”? Hopefully he hasn’t been talked into eliminating that amazing song from his shows. I hear that he’s going back to the Band of Joy so I guess this is a temporary thing but I just hope the same thing isn’t going to happen with that group when he returns. I was hoping he would stick with the Strange Sensation guys and go back to more of a rock format but I see that it doesn’t suit Patty’s voice, probably another reason why he had her do her own music. I’m kinda sad he’s limiting his passionate, sensual singing to suit her style but this is what he wants regardless of how I or others may feel.

  • Carolyn said:

    Thank you for you work at this website, and magazine since 1980 Dave. I was at the show last night, and must agree with the overall bulk of posters here. I absolutely support and love Robert, but want the old him back again. The blonde, irrevant, moment to moment, sexy artist, whom once changed the world of rock and roll. Where did he go after Alison Krauss? You were even playful, and sexy with her onstage! Where are you still hiding now? I do hope he starts to show to us his beautiful face, and improvisational soul once again. Should his throat not have been sore, then his ladyfriend seems as she is wearing the pants. Perhaps the audience did not appreciate her being thrust on them as well. We surely did not, and as we left that evening, we felt short changed, and that she has too much control over his artistic direction as well. That does not mean that she isn’t a bonefide artist, but showcase her somewhere else and not on our saved funds, and ticket dimes we stashed away. Plant needs no back up singer for goodness sakes! Again, perhaps he was not feeling well, and the others had to pick up the ball and run. Lets leave that open as well. I do hope Robert reads these posts, for they are truly honest i feel. Someone has obviously been telling him that he is old, and not sexy anymore. Another poster said he has looked “unkept” lately as well. That says alot. The world, deeply and genuinely misses Robert Anthony Plant. This direction he has spun off in with Griffin, is not one i musically appreciate with otherwise, such an awesome band at his disposal.

  • Gina said:

    First of all, WHY is Patty Griffin in this group? She fit in with the Band of Joy but not this one. Also, WHY is she doing her own set in the middle of what SHOULD be Robert’s show? I know she’s his wife or whatever but PLEASE. Does she HAVE to be in every group with him all the time? Too bad this group isn’t continuing and Robert is going back to the BOJ (I guess because it suits Patty’s rockabilly voice/vocal style). I also miss the sexy Robert and seeing ROBERT PLANT!!!! No sex appeal here for sure. Wish he’d come back to us and ROCK. Not rockabilly Americana — I MEAN REAL ROCK. The few songs he sang alone really showed off his amazing vocals that he seems to keep “muting” to fit her style. Too bad for me I guess. He’s happy with it all?

  • Billy said:

    Dave,
    My guess is that Percy was under the weather and deferred the spotlight to Patti for such a large portion of the gig as a way of preserving his voice. If he wasn’t 100 percent that seems like a reasonable compromise and certainly better than cancelling the gig. Any insight as to whether or not that was the case?

    I also don’t understand the persistent whining from fans about Robert’s current musical direction and choices. You do have a choice here – you can show your displeasure with it by staying home and freeing up space in the venue for someone who will enjoy it. The TBL review of the Gloucester gig couldn’t have been more detailed and described the proceedings literally song by song. Anyone “surprised” or “disappointed” by the sound of this current band clearly isn’t paying attention. What were you thinking when you bought your ticket? You’re more than entitled to your opinion, of course, but with concert reviews and downloads of the Gloucester readily available with a few mouse clicks, there’s absolutely no excuse for not knowing what to expect beforehand.

    Love,
    Billy

  • Bob Flux said:

    Well, how to sum that one up?! After having attended a total of 10 Plant/Page & Plant etc. gigs since my first in 1993 (nowhere near as many as you, Dave!) I can honestly say that I’ve never come out of a Plant show with such mixed feelings. Some of the other people who’ve commented here have mentioned a few things that occurred to me, but I’ll try to sum up my own thoughts:

    Firstly, I might be in the minority here, but I enjoyed this gig more than when Plant played at the same venue with the Band of Joy a year or two ago. The Band of Joy were good, but I found the whole gig too restrained. In fact, that was the first Plant gig I took my wife to. She’s always been well aware of my love of all things Zep and knew the music but had never seen any of the boys ‘in action’, and I really wanted her to be ‘zapped’, hoping for the same reaction in her as I’d had after seeing Plant at Brixton in 1993, with Page at Wembley and Shepherds Bush in 1995(6?) and 1998, or my first glimpse of the Strange Sensation at the Albert Hall (2001?). To my great disappointment, she came away from the Band of Joy gig feeling that a full concert was maybe too much – vocally – for Plant to get through at his age, given the amount of vocal time he handed over to the other guys in the band during that concert. I tried to explain to her that he was more than capable still of producing awesome concerts with him at the top of his game, and that he was currently getting more into harmony and group singing and being part of an ensemble rather than being the rock-god ‘star of the show’, but I still came away feeling disappointed that she hadn’t really witnessed a top-par Plant performance of the type that I’d hitherto been used to seeing. This time, I came away from this Sensational Space Shifters gig feeling far happier (and relieved) that Plant had on a few occasions done some more familiar-type singing with more ‘belting’ than we’d seen at the Band of Joy show, chuffed that he could ‘still do it’ when he chooses to, as well of course as the lovely and more refined style he often sings in these days. I was also delighted to see the main players of the excellent Strange Sensation on stage with Plant again, and a bit more of the old electricity and excitement returning to the stage after the past few more restrained, country-tinged years.

    In addition, I was thrilled with some of the song choices – Friends was awesome to hear, as was the brilliant Bron-yr-Aur Stomp, Tin Pan Valley and Gallows Pole. I also thoroughly enjoyed Patty’s ‘set’. In fact, dare I say it, I genuinely thought two of her songs (No Bad News and Standing…) were the highlights of the night. Patty has become a bit of a revelation to me. Whilst country isn’t my favourite genre, I really rate her and feel that the voice and songs that she brings to the ‘Plant revue’ really raise the standard of the whole thing, and I fully intend to go and get myself a few of her albums. That said, whether it was right of Plant to devote as much as 20 minutes to what amounted to a ‘Patty set’ is another matter. As one reviewer mentioned, it is Plant that people pay their hard-earned money to go and see. My feelings here are mixed, though, as I really thought Patty was great.

    That all said, though, I still came away feeling that my wife had yet again not been present on a night when Mr Plant was on absolute, stonking form. He sang great, many of the songs were great, and the musicians are awesome. But whilst I did really enjoy the gig, there were aspects that were disappointing or peculiar:

    – I agree with another reviewer that I felt a bit short changed with the length of the concert, and when my wife got up to leave after the encore I pulled her back saying “hang on, they’ll be back on in a sec!” Of course, the house lights came on and the band did not return, when they could have done another 20 minutes before the curfew. Not many people have the quality back catalogue – Zep, solo, and collaborations – that Plant does, so surely filling those 20 minutes wouldn’t have been difficult? The gig did feel short.

    – Another reviewer mentioned that there was something indefinable missing – his “Robert Plantness”. I totally agree, but I don’t know why. I guess there were hints of it at the Band of Joy show, but this time around one thing I was struck by and conscious of throughout the whole concert was how introverted he often looked. Actually during the show, I was reminded of a quote he made in an interview once years ago where he said that if he hadn’t have gone on the road with Vanilla Fudge in Zep’s early days he might have remained huddled at microphone stands with “excuse me” written across his forehead. Well, he didn’t quite have “excuse me” on his forehead last night, but he did seem to be very ‘tight’ physically – both arms and legs ‘huddled’ in close to him rather than the free-flowing Plant we’re more used to seeing on stage. Very strange. He did seem to have changed greatly in this respect since I last saw him.

    – Someone here mentioned they were trying to out-African rhythm each other on stage. Well, yes – and I think they morphed some songs (‘Black Dog’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’, etc.) into arrangements which, whilst interesting and different (and therefore worthwhile in trying) didn’t always really work. They sometimes seemed a bit dirgey and just not always that effective. And re the rhythms, yes – by the end of the show I was literally crying out for a song in 4/4 time with a regular beat and a verse-chorus structure! Don’t get me wrong – I love the way Plant regularly reinvents songs and brings in lots of different exciting influences; I just felt that sometimes it worked this time, and sometimes their arrangements needed more work.

    My apologies if my comments are unfocused or repeating other sentiments already expressed here; this is a difficult show for me to ‘review’. I did really, really enjoy it, and my respect for Plant, Patty and the guys in the band remains high. I thought it was an improvement on the Band of Joy show, and thoroughly enjoyed the night. But, I think it will take a bit more work to get this unit really up to par, and Plant just seemed different this time. A strange sensation indeed.

  • RichardTim said:

    with so many years, and so much to admire about Robert Plant, the show did feel shorter than what i would have perhaps imagined. Skipping Song To The Siren, and one of my favorite Plant songs, came as a huge surprise. With Gloucester, and the early 2000’s in mind, probably one of the most touching, and inspiring songs of the night, as well. Patty Griffins mini solo, among guests whom purchased Robert Plant tickets, was a bit long for us. I am not quite sure how she really fits into this band, and with all due respect to a wonderful singer, but we purchased tickets for Plant. Otherwise, an interesting night from a rock giant whom continues to titillate, and i will continue to support.

  • kevin curry said:

    I am a big fan of Roberts and have seen him on many occasions and he has never failed to deliver especially the Band of Joy gig at the forum in 2010 but last night was very disappointing his vocal was lost in the first 3 songs which I can only describe as a horrible noise from the band.Things started to pick up a bit but then we had a mini set from Patty,although she is a welcome addition on vocals if I wanted to hear her I would see her doing her own gig not at Roberts(nearly 20 mins is a bit much in what was a short set) I thought choice of songs was poor and we had to much African influence and Skin vastly under used as he is a fine guitarist.I hope this is not the direction Robert is going he has been down that road before which was new and refreshing but I would like to see the Band of Joy recording new album.As I made my way to the back entrance for a quick getaway before the encores there was a number of people already leaving early clearly I was not the only one disappointed.

  • roberta said:

    i was there and i think it was simply amazing ! i love juju, i love the rock&roll led zep stuff turned african, i love the medley they’ve chosen , i love the collaboration between all the band members .
    i think plant has a great talent, of course, but also , most important, a great intelligence to go on , going also back .he looks back, choose something and then looking forwards he does something spectacular!
    for me, an excellent gig and i think there will be interesting things coming out from this night .
    download it ! the show deserves it .
    i’ve read somebody wrote robert has lost is plantness.
    for me , not at all . he’s fiery, royal, amusing, amused. his face talks about pure joy and passion to play, sing, collaborate.
    you never know what can happen at his shows! such a sense of adventure which is why i often go to see him live.
    cheers everybody. roberta and boyfriend 🙂

  • andrew R said:

    Dave thanks for the quick posting of the review,its an invaluable service that the TBL site provides to us non attendees (but still interested in the various adventures of ex-zep members) You are the undoubted star here,i can only shake my head at Planty`s continued mangling of Black Dog!As for Patti is his interest anything to do with rumours of marriage?As one wag on another site put it “Reminds me of Cint Eastwood putting Sondra Locke in every film he was in untill they broke up!”All the best on your continued travels mate.

  • Paul McGuinness said:

    Had a great evening (if somewhat wet from queuing up) seeing Robert Plant at the HMV Forum last night with my friend.

    The support act (Lianne La Havas) was very good, she has lovely vocals and is a great guitar player too. She was clearly overwhelmed with being there, and a shame that we couldn’t really hear her that well upstairs (see below)

    I wasn’t so impressed with Patti Griffiths having so much stage time in the middle (perhaps a pre-nup requirement???), but Plant was as good as ever – although having been at the forum previously for his Band of Joy, I didn’t feel it was as good a show as before.

    My only real criticism would be the sound-crew… How hard can it be to stop feedback and get the vocals loud enough so we can hear them in the circle?

  • Tim Weaver said:

    There are many things to admire about Robert Plant’s solo career. His refusal to play safe, his willingness to experiment and his preparedness to re-work some of the old Zeppelin material using different musical genres being some of the more obvious ones. When you take risks and experiment you can occasionally get it wrong and I think last night he got it a bit wrong. With such a great back catalogue of his own I was disappointed that he chose to ignore most of it in favour of covers and a near 20 minute solo spot for Patty Griffin. It you want to promote someone with a talent you admire then use the support slot. Surely that’s what it’s for? I liked her giving backing vocals to Robert but frankly could not understand the role reversal. Also did anyone else feel the gig was a bit on the short side? I was a bit surprised he didn’t give the audience the 3rd encore they were clearly demanding. There was still 15 minutes left until the curfew when he finished. Overall I enjoyed the gig. The band are all great musicians and I really admire Roberts approach to the music he so obviously lives for. But I’m afraid it didn’t excite me very much. As I filtered out of the venue I had the strong sense that I was not the only one feeling a bit underwhelmed.

  • Lee Pritchard said:

    Dave, great to meet you beforehand – thanks again for signing ‘the little one’! First off, don’t know if many others had the same trouble as I had trying to get into the venue. After a security guard wouldn’t accept about 30 peoples tickets and told us to come back at 8:30(!)we were duly let in and begun to scramble to a good viewing point inside the magnificent, incense filled Forum.

    I thought Robert’s vocals were a little lost in the mix for the first few songs (from where I was standing at least) and with occasional coughs and drinks of tea and water I wondered whether Percy was having some vocal troubles, or might be coming down with a cold. The flask of tea on stage though was evidence more perhaps of how laid back the whole evening was meant to be. And too laid back for some who were less than enthused by Patti’s mini set! The sounds and vibes were undeniably good though with Juldeh giving things a great tinge – reminding me of Page & Plant’s ‘No Quarter’ album’s employment of far-out sounds. But overall, a little too much from Mighty Rearranger (with none of that superb album’s tracks bettered here by new arrangements) and nothing really special for the occasion apart from ‘Friends’. The absence of ‘Song to the Siren’ from the encore (again leading me to suspect vocal trouble) was another surprise. I came out at 22:35 feeling that I’d still got 20mins left.

    Some will enjoy the laid back approach of the evening, others might have wanted Plant to come to the fore more often. But you can’t tell the guy what to do! I just keep waiting for the next turn in the road, always intrigued what he will come up with next.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Iain -oops yes sorry about that -it’s age!

  • Iain said:

    Friends was performed by Strange Sensations back in 2006/07

  • Brian Ager said:

    Robert Plant……….one of my absolute heroes, someone who I would argue about forever, was actually very disappointing last night. I’ve seen him MANY times over the years in his different guises and always gone along with it. This incarnation though………to me the Gloucester show was truly exciting to be at. Last night was similar musically but something was missing. I can’t honestly tell you what it was but a few things struck me. They all seemed to want to “out-African rhythm” each other, lots of knowing smiles between the band members, lots of nodding. There was also WAY too much Patty Griffith for a Robert Plant show, and Robert himself seems to have lost his “Robert Plantness”. He was always flamboyant on stage, but the last two times he’s looked unkempt, really not him at all. I know he’ll never go back to being a “golden rock god” again, but he tamed all that down through the years to become just a great performer on stage with a presence you couldn’t take your eyes off. Last night I found myself looking elsewhere, watching other band members, looking for something interesting. In saying all of that, the band truly are magnificent musicians, just that last night was, for me, the most disappointing Plant show I’ve ever attended.

  • STEVE WAY said:

    Dave, great to see you again last night, you really are a star in what you do….wish you all the success with the new book…
    wish you could have been outside the forum to see the sketch unfold re some stranger sitting in my car, or Kathy’s tale of her indian lawyer with a white false arm…a great night…

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Steve thanks for your comments mate – fully respect your thoughts – I guess it’s a case of one mans rock ..is another mans roll!

  • Michaela said:

    Thanks Dave , great night and stunning set. I loved Juldeh’s input , just such a unique addition to the band and he adds such a rich sound…..just wonderful
    Loved hearing ‘Friends’!
    Stunning pics from Gary! I was a bit worried about the venue , as last time I went , all I managed to see was backs of heads. Had a great view this time
    And we bought the lanyard with the code for the download, a great marketing idea when there is no album ( or tshirts etc) to buy….and relying on the quality of utube is not ideal! Great night and yet again made new ‘Friends’ through the love of great music !

  • STEVE WAY said:

    in a word-dreadful…maybe two-dreary-three-dull….i bought a ticket to see robert plant, not a showcase for a few of mrs plant’s songs..nor a complete evening of static arabic rythms, much as i admire the dexterity of the geezer on lead ritti (one solo too many my friend) nor to hear led zepp songs so bent out of shape as to have been a victim of a nuclear attack, its a crying shame when he has some ten solo albums to call on, and yet we get a set such as last night….even hey joe or siren would have placated
    me….however…the sketch with some-one jumping into my car to try drive it was too funny for words…
    as people around me noted….never seen so many people yawning, and looking to the upstairs…that looked fairly muted
    however….his voice sounded great, the band are excellent musicians, but sadly this is the second plant show in succession that has failed to move me…and that pains me when thinking back to the amount of plant shows that have left me ecstatic…even at £14 a ticket we were not impressed…

  • Michael in Melbourne said:

    Green with envy here! Great review, Dave.

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