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2 April 2013 12,960 views 4 Comments

Plant down under 8

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters Down Under:

This round up by Bill McGlynn:

  • Just returned from my third Robert Plant & SSS concert, in Newcastle. It’s been three wonderful nights, to say the least! All three setlists have been the same and the orders have varied. In Newcastle, it started with a very powerful version of Friends.
    The venues and audiences have been quite different over the three nights.
    Robert and band really fed off the crowd excitement at the festival in Byron Bay. Robert was breaking out many of the old moves at this one. We heard the ‘push – push it’ in there somewhere and he was doing the double-hand box over the eyes at one point! There were many devoted Plant fans in the festival audience. The front few rows had been camped in their spots all day. There was a fair mixture of old and young at this one. Robert Plant, with humour, remarked on the noise that Iggy Pop was making in the adjacent tent (Iggy could be heard between numbers – though not a problem).
    Newcastle was very fortunate to catch a more intimate Plant performance. I guessed that there were only 2-3 thousand there. The show (along with Paul Simon’s) had been moved from the larger capacity venue in the Hunter Valley. Robert’s first comments were an apology for this and he humourously remarked that it was due to the 18-thousand that didn’t show up.
  • However, lucky us! My seat was front row centre, within a few metres from the man himself. I was literally trembling from being so close to something this powerful. Though this was their 3rd show in 4-nights and maybe 1000km between, it didn’t show on them. Their output and performance effort was no less for this smaller and more subdued crowd. Plant asked ‘where have you been?’ when the crowd turned it up for the final numbers.
  • Favourite song variations for me were on Whole Lotta Love, which has been progressively incorporating more of “You Shook Me” into the intro. Last night, Plant’s drawn out singing of the words ‘you shook me,’ in LZ format was awesome. I noticed three variations of the ‘it’s so hard’ part in Going to California. In Sydney, he emphasised and repeated ‘how hard’ it was, in Byron Bay it became ‘it’s not so hard’ (with a big grin on his face), and then last night as original. Another Tribe has had some slight and pleasant variations to the vocal melody (all-the-earth section). The Four Sticks improvisation sections have also been great.
    Hopefully some of this tour will be officially made available on livedownloads.

Plant down under 7

Photos by Bill McGlynn

A very perceptive press review here:

Robert Plant
Entertainment Centre, March 28

You might be excused for thinking that Robert Plant has some “issues”, either with his past or with his past band, that little beat combo Led Zeppelin. After all, much to the consternation of his band mates (and many promoters with big, big dollar signs in their eyes) he refused to play more Zeppelin shows after their astonishingly good 2007 one-off reformation show. Instead he went on to make a second album of Americana/folk (the excellent Band Of Joy which followed on from the Grammy-winning Raising Sand) and talked, as ever, about moving on.

However, this tour with his band the Sensational Shape Shifters has him promoted as “the voice of Zeppelin”, with the poster a boldly colourful interpretation of his classic golden god look of the 1970s, and the set list has no tracks from those two Americana albums but is dominated by Zeppelin songs. What’s going on?

What’s going on is further proof that Plant is far more imaginative, playful and adventurous than any cliche of a clumping old rocker, a man who’s absorbed all the music he’s loved and played and sought out the musicians to explore that. For a start he has a band capable of power when needed but the flexibility and talent to glide from African rhythms to Arabic shapes to Moog-enhanced electronica and down into the blues via American roots. Bass player Billy Fuller, drummer Dave Smith, keyboardist and sound manipulator John Baggott and lead guitarist Skin Tyson offer all that and more, superbly. Then there’s the extra colourings added by guitarist/producer Justin Adams, whose knowledge of African music is immeasurable, and Gambian Juldeh Camara, mostly on the bowed, two-stringed riti and occasionally on keening vocals.

In their hands Black Dog was slinky and curvaceous before becoming an almost spiritual moment as Camara’s voice took it high and Whole Lotta Love reconfigured itself as the solo was played on that incongruous but oddly perfect riti; Friends had the smell of the hookah about it while Four Sticks was heavy modern psychedelia in the mould of At The Drive-In); Going To California felt like Joni Mitchell backed by the Beatles playing folk while Bukka White’s Funny In My Mind was hyper-muscular rockabilly; jazz topped and tailed What Is And What Should Never Be and Heartbreaker devolved into a compelling, swirling Can-like groove.

Although Plant joked that the audience deserved a reward for an evening playing “spot the tune” in the manner of modern Bob Dylan audiences – not the first or last self-mocking gag he delivered – the truth was the majority of the room lapped it up. This was invigorating and anything but predictable, a reward in itself. If his hints of a Zeppelin tour next year are fulfilled, well, fantastic, but here was more proof that Plant is more than his past.

More you tube clips:


It was Juldeh’s birthday at the Singapore gig…

Here’s a backstage Birthday pic with thanks to Juldeh and Barbara Cain

Juldeh 2



Studio Magik Box set

I haven’t got around to this yet but will do for the next TBL magazine – here’ a review of the whole thing via the Music Collectors site.


DL Diary Update:

As usual the bank holiday weather was less than inspiring here yesterday. I had hoped to catch up on some listening but I got a bit way laid with various things here. April is upon us and there’s a lot to do this month with TBL 35 to kick start and on going work on the Knebworth book.

Talking of the TBL mag –if you have yet to catch up with the mag –the recent TBL 33 and 34 bundle is a bargain way to do so with both issues for just £7 ($11 approx) plus postage.

Here’s the ordering link:

Record Store Day:

April also sees one of the big dates in the calendar as Record Store Day occurs on Saturday April 20th – a brilliant event that celebrates  real physical record shop buying  –with a host of limited edition product on offer – the TBL Bedford/MK Record Store day team ( that’s me, Tom, Phil and Dec aim to be in the queue early on the morning in London to track down those valuable slabs of vinyl on our wants lists. I had a look through the list yesterday and there’s some very nice stuff in there  -I’m eying up limited releases from the likes of Miles Davis,  Bob Dylan,  David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Nick Drake, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney  – here’s the full list and details

miles 1

As a countdown to the Record Store Day event, every day up to April 20th, I’ll be posting details of the DL vinyl LP of the day on the TBL Facebook page – a daily choice from my collection with relevant anecdotes to where I purchased it/reasons for choice etc. So choice number one with 19 days to go is…Miles Davis Kind of Blue –this is the blue vinyl version to be found in the exquisite 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition box set. I got this set at Christmas 2009. I first got it on CD in the late 1990s. Perfect  Bank Holiday  Monday evening meltdown music – and simply the coolest jazz album ever recorded.  On this year’s Record Store Day list there’s a very tasty looking Miles Davis Kinda Blue Sessions 59 LP which is a definite on my wants list.

Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy

April  2nd, 2013.

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  • Olivia said:

    Does anyone know if Robert is bringing this show on a full tour of the states soon? Starting to see a few festival gigs coming up but wishing for much, more more. LOVE this band.

  • Andrew R said:

    Never thought i would say this but really cheesed off at Plants constant tongue in cheek piss take of the Zep legacy!Contrast it with the way the Stones protect theirs, even if Jagger and Richards barely speak anymore.
    Steady boy getting grumpy in my old age!p.s. Zep for glastonbury 2014 now that’s a coup Mr Eavis !

  • Kristine (Australia) said:

    Wrote a lengthy blurb about the Byron gig a day after the show but when I pressed ‘submit comment’ it disappeared into the ether never to return.
    So I’ll try again only shorter..
    Robert strolled onto the stage dressed in black long sleeve shirt,jeans and boots.His hair was tied back for most of the gig,falling loose towards the end(one of my companions,who is of a similar age and less hirsute, was most jealous.I think the word ‘basket’was uttered).Robert chatted between songs,talking about blues influences,Frank Ifield, Strider and that band (cough cough). The audience was very loud and very welcoming.The boys loving all the Zep riffs,when they could find them,and the girls swooning whenever the words ‘satisfied’and ‘me’were sung.The voice still has it.
    I wasn’t that far from the stage but there were lots of tall people at this gig and they were all in front of me,so I had to make do with the side screens and the occasional glimpse of the band on stage.Still it was one of the best shows ever..great energy and humour. The SSS are a great band and I hope they continue to make merry for some time.
    Stand out for me was “Heartbreaker”,but they were all good.
    As the man himself said at the end of the night…”Keep Happy”

    PS:Frank Ifield was played as we left the tent(quite a few singing along)

  • andy said:

    Kind of blue not only the coolest Jazz album but the coolest album ever

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