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ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS GLASTONBURY ABBEY EXTRAVAGANZA/DL DIARY UPDATE

13 August 2014 5,532 views 14 Comments

Pat 2

Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters – Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza – August 9th, 2014:

 Setlist:  What Is And What Should Never Be, Turn It Up, Spoonful, Black Dog, Rainbow, Going To California, No Quarter, Little Maggie, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You, Funny In My Mind, Whole Lotta Love

Encores: Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Rock And Roll

The legendary Glastonbury weather threatened to change to mood of this outdoor gig in the beautiful grounds of the ruined Glastonbury Abbey; the remnants of Hurricane Bertha were on their way, bringing the wind and rain.  Thick black clouds hung in the air ominously, but in the end the rain held off and the capacity 9,900 crowd were rewarded with another superb performance from Robert and the band.

Kicking straight off with What Is And What Should Never Be, it’s fitting that the first sound from the PA is that voice.  We’re treated to a faithful retelling of the Led Zeppelin II classic, bolstered by two guitars and a fabulous stereo effect on the outro gets the crowd warmed up nicely.

By contrast, as if to underline Robert’s refusal to stand still, the next song is new: Turn It Up.  This promises to be a live favourite on the upcoming tour, being a real return to roots and including that, sometimes missing, ingredient from the Raising Sand and Band Of Joy days: volume!  It’s well received despite being yet unreleased.

Justin disappears for the first half of the psychedelic Spoonful, returning with Juldeh Camara in tow for a psychtrance climax of what has become a setlist staple over the past few years.  It’s certainly not outstayed its welcome yet and is a highlight of tonight’s show.

ANOTHER reworking of Black Dog follows.  I have to confess this is one of my absolute Zep favourites and I’ve enjoyed each of Robert’s reinventions of it, but I was beginning to wonder if it’s time to rest it for a while and bring something new into the setlist.  The version here has cleared all those doubts from my mind.  It could be the most adventurous of all its interpretations and, if it were possible to capture in a single song what the Sensational Space Shifters are all about, this would get the closest.  It’s simply breathtaking.  The band are clearly having a wonderful time, Robert toying with the audience in the Ahh..Ahhh call and responses and Juldeh taking centre stage to add the west African flavour.  As Robert remarks at the end, “Always moving through the Spheres!”

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Rainbow from the forthcoming album is next with added hand drums continuing the rhythmic African feel, but with a cool riff that marks it out as maybe a natural successor to 29 Palms.  Justin straps on a mandolin and joins the now seated Skin Tyson for a gentle and faithful run through of Going To California.  Robert’s voice here is especially good.

An unexpected treat follows and is the defining moment of the evening for me.  No Quarter is just superb.  So many facets to this song, it’s menacing, spooky and gets right into your bones.  It has almost morphed into a sinister English folk song, with a dose of swampy delta blues and added electronica.  If that sounds like a mess, it’s because it’s impossible to describe – it’s something that has to be experienced!  Once again the Sensational Space Shifters combine as only they can, to take this song into outer space and back again via the Gambia, Avalon, the Black Country and the Welsh Marches.  Quite stunning.

Little Maggie has been a favourite of the songs from the upcoming album that I’ve heard and it was great to see it ‘in the flesh’ for the first time.  Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You, is moved from its opening slot to mid set, but retains the superb Skin Tyson Spanish guitar additions, fleshing out this classic.

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Bukka White’s finest hour is up next, followed by a devastating Whole Lotta Love.  The ‘deep blues’ introduction from the Strange Sensation days is still intact, but now extended with excerpts from Etta James’s I Just Wanna Make Love To You and Muddy Waters’ (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man before THAT RIFF.  The psychedelic breakdown gets a full helping of Juldeh’s ritti and chanting before jazz hands with audience participation brings the main set to a close.

 

A short break until a restrained Nobody’s Fault But Mine, which is heavy on the banjo, kicks off the encores.  This doesn’t quite work for me, losing the dynamics the song is famed for, but the “traditional Glastonbury folk song” (allegedly!) that is Rock And Roll closes another triumphant performance from the Sensational Space Shifters and their tireless band leader.  Sensational, indeed.

Richard Grubb

Photos by Richard Grubb for TBL

Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters – Glastonbury Abbey

Set List
What Is And What Should Never Be, Turn It Up, Spoonful, Black Dog, Rainbow, Going To California, No Quarter, Little Maggie, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Fix’in To Die, Whole Lotta Love (including : I Wanna Make Love To You and Who Do You Love)
Encores
Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Rock N Roll

With Mr Lewis unable to attend the Glastonbury Abbey show it was down to the Foy’s to journey into deepest Somerset to dodge the rain clouds and to experience the Space Shifters under the shadow of the “The Isle of Avalon”.
This was Carol and Jimmy’s first Robert Show since Cornbury Festival back in 2006 and both festivals are similar in set up and feel.

Today’s festivals are more like a Sunday afternoon in the park with family and friends having a picnic. Everywhere there is picnic chairs and hampers and some have fully laden tables groaning with more food than I can imagine. They was a polite queue at the beer tent, a tea and cake tent and a rather excellent pork sausage in a roll stall that I just had to check out. Everywhere you looked there was families, young and old just relaxing and watching the skies. The weather was the main concern today, dark clouds had gathered early in the afternoon followed by a torrential downpour that looked like it was going to ruin the evening. But the weather held and the evening turned out to be really enjoyable for the sold out (10,000) crowd.
Kicking off at 7pm the Wildflowers will be no strangers to people who saw Robert Plant last year as the Indie Folk-Rock four piece support him on his last tour.Led by Siddy Bennett the Wildflowers songs are filled with great lyrics, tempo’s and harmonies, very much in the All About Eve mould. Well received set and highly enjoyable.
Next up was George Ezra, local (he lives in Bristol) singer songwriter, this 21 year old appears incredible self-assured and focus, with the drive and the talent to take him far. I wasn’t overwhelmed by his arrogance to start with but he got to me. His, mostly, unknown songs built steadily forcing you to take note. His bluesy, bass-baritone range gives him ‘a voice beyond his years
Ezra cites Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie as his musical influences. I’d add Jeff Buckley to that mix.
Do we really need another guitar-toting troubadour? If he remains as good as this…yes.
Dead on 9pm and I’ve squeezed my way in to about six rows back stage right and Robert and The Sensational Space Shifters take to the stage starting rather expectantly with What Is And What Should Never Be, keeping the structure similar to the Zep 2 version complete with stereo panning guitars, the main man in fine voice with hair long and loose. This is the first time I’d seen Robert since last year’s Wolverhampton show, being restricted to a hospital bed for the Albert Hall show and boy was it indeed a pleasure to be back in his company.

“Welcome to Glastonbury – I’m sure I said that a little while ago.” Is his opening remark before Turn It Up, a new onee from the much anticipated new album…. lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar, with its shifting time signature’s this is similar to Tin Pan Valley. A trippy version of Spoonful follows – this I’ve loved since he first performed it in Gloucester with its swirling keyboards and the twin guitars of Justin and Skin making this a solid crowd pleaser.

Black Dog, complete with the Juldeh intro is up next and I’m afraid I’ve got a bit tired of this, particularly as Robert himself turns the call and response section into a panto style.The surprisingly well received Rainbow comes next, a light almost whimsical number that would, in days gone by be called the single off the album. Don’t get me wrong I love this number and it grows on you the more you hear it. Next, with Justin on mandolin and Skin on acoustic guitar come’s the Zep 4 classic Going To California and an obvious highlight for many but for me a little too over played now. It’s now getting very busy and hectic down the front with people worse for drink pushing and shoving – showing my age I move out to the side and enjoy the rest of the evening from the side.
No Quarter follows, taking its lead from the House Of The Holy version minus the keyboard laden swirl. An interesting version but somehow lacks the majestic feel and rhythm of the original. No Quarter has been brought in filling the space left by The Enchanter, a mistake in my opinion. The Enchanter allowed the band to push out and explore their own roots but No Quarter offers up to many restraints and boundaries for the band to go. Back to lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar for Little Maggie, the banjo driven opener from the new album and a pleasing number . It is and a sign of Roberts commitment to pushing on through the blue mountains and beyond for inspiration. Skins remains seated for Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, moved from its traditional opening spot this again showcases Skins acoustic skills and Roberts vocal strengths. Brilliant.

Fix’in To Die continues with its hypnotic riff, swirling drum beats and Justin doing his crazy little dance amongst the chaos -any other band  may well collapse within themselves but the Space Shifters spin, weave, collide and flip the rhythms keeping just closer enough to the edge…just. …absolutely stunning.
Whole Lotta Love wraps up the main set proceeded by I Just Wanna Make Love To You and including Who Do You Love, by now everyone is up, singing, dancing, old and young…..we hardened veterans may scoff at the use of the Zepp 2 classic but what else could Robert Plant finish with…? Like it or not it has to be there so rejoice in the fact that everyone one needs a little bit of love now and again.
After the briefest of delays the band return for a slowed down, almost gospel version of Nobody’s Fault But Mine…not my favourite version and it slowed the whole vibe down. Robert spoke of Michael Eavis and the fact that he’d crawled through a fence to see Led Zeppelin at the Bath Festival in 1970, and that his experience then famously led to the founding of Glastonbury Festival before he and the band lead us a merry jig with Rock And Roll. The band says their goodbyes and take theeir bows before the firework display lights up the night and we all wander off into the darkness. Our hotel is five minutes away by foot and in the spirit of this ever so polite festival we make our way back.

An excellent night, great to meet up with old friends, Kris, Richard and Steve. I have a few grumbles regarding some of the Zeppelin numbers featured but over all a great show. I’m looking forward to the November tour and by then lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar will be on the turntable and perhaps a few additional new numbers will begin to creep into the set.

Gary Foy

Main pic taken by Patrice from the excellant French web site Led Zeppelin by Pat

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DL Diary Update:

Like countless people across the globe I was terribly sad to hear the sudden passing of Robin Williams – another light of our past has gone out…

Many thanks to Richard and Gary for the above reports and all the feedback from the Glastonbury Abbey extravaganza on the TBL Facebook page. The last few days here have been spent preparing for our imminent much needed hol  – and more work on TBL 38 and planning for what will be a very busy autumn. On the playlist here , a preview of the new Robert Plant album – this is a work of  vast depth and range –  particularly outstanding is the confessional honesty reflected in the dramatic Embrace The Fall and the downbeat piano ballad A Stolen Kiss. The lyrical themes of which resonate with much intent. More on all this to follow.

I look forward to picking it all back up later in the month and sincere thanks again for all your recent support and comments…

Dave Lewis – August 13th 2014

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You tube clip:

What is And What Should Never Be at Glastonbury Abbey:

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Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – August 13th , 2014.

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14 Comments »

  • Roger Berlin said:

    Super, thanks Dave.

  • Ian in New Zealand said:

    But how do you follow being one quarter of the greatest band there’s ever been? Robert and Jimmy just never found a way. (Or at least not one that appeared to be convincing). JPJ did – but maybe it was easier for him.

  • Wools said:

    Dave/Gary,
    Thanks for the sterling silver reports as to the musical etchings of the former Golden God. I believe that Robert wants and most likely cringes every time he is reminded of that “Golden God” line a long time ago. The problem for me is that “Time”, my Mighty Led Zep dominated the globe. I was proud to be a part of this Led Zep family and still feel that Robert Plant owes us Zep fans some consideration by teaming up with Page and Jones. Sure Robert Plant can do his versions of his music with his new band mates as I am very excited for him. But I feel very short changed as I still desire Mr. Page and Mr. Jones adding the colorful flavorings! I have carried the Led Zep banner since I heard Whole Lotta Love many, many years ago. Time for Robert to show some love back to us Led Zep family members.

    Wools
    Las Vegas, NV.USA

  • Roxanne Barker said:

    I agree with Larry. I find it a bit interesting that Robert doesn’t want to appear “dated” and “jaded” in performing LZ material with original band members, but sees nothing out of place by performing that exact material with others,just assuming that “changing it up a bit” with make it better. You know, a final tour with Page, Jason, Jonesy, and of course Robert would give so much pleasure, but perhaps more importantly, closure. That O2 concert is outstanding, and shows what can be achieved. It’s too bad the past can’t seem to be resolved

  • Stephen said:

    Regarding the Plant setlist, I think it’s more a case of trying to strike the balance between keeping himself and his audience happy. He probably knows that if he didn’t many Zep songs in his set, word was soon spread, and gate receipts would be down. However hard he tries, he will always be known as the ex-Zep frontman and a decent portion of his audience will be zep fans and have a superficial knowledge of his solo career (probably Big Log and Alison Krauss). So, I think he’s just being a bit practical and juggling commercial and artistic pressures. For me, some of the reincarnations work – the version of No Quarter in the woods in UnLeaded is superb, but others songs like Nobody’s Fault but mine can be a bit of a dirge and less exciting than the originals. His lowered voice is probably another consideration why the zep versions have mellowed as well. He didn’t actually didn’t any Zep songs in his set until around the late eighties (88 tour I think), which again I believe was a reflection on his commercial fortunes – the last two synth-driven albums had bombed.

  • Steve Phillips said:

    Jimmy Page Book signing

    Nice if Jimmy did a similar event to this in Waterstone near me!!!!

    http://www.orsvp.com/event/meet-jimmy-page-guitarist-led-zeppelin/

  • Andrew r said:

    On the money comment from Larry! I would guess that’s what a lot of us
    think out here in Zepland, but (in my case) fail to articulate.
    Well done Larry

  • John Denley said:

    Great to read the reviews as I was there it is good to learn other attendee’s viewpoints.
    I think that the band get a genuine thrill in playing the mighty rearrangements of Led Zepp classics,and they still come up fresh for me,and hopefully keep it fresh for the band themselves.i had no problem with the dominance of LZ numbers creatively represented,as I’ll set my hat if I get to see LZ any time soon.

  • Larry said:

    I haven’t seen any of his recent gigs, but I look at some of the clips and tend to agree with the sentiments in this comment section about his usage of the Zeppelin material.

    One, the over-reliance on it. Plant has the reputation of being the forward-thinker repulsed by the thought of “doing Led Zeppelin” night after night, yet he plays “solo” gigs over half of which are comprised of Led Zeppelin material. That doesn’t really seem to add up. He absolutely has the right to play it any way he sees fit, he wrote it and lived it. But over half of the set being Zep stuff seems a bit contradictory at this point.

    Two, I suppose he feels that by dismantling many of the unforgettable arrangements of the Zeppelin material, he’s being “fresh and original”, but this fan might call it something else. No knock on his band, they’re all fine musicians, but if there’s any thought whatsoever that what these folks have to offer is better than what could be achieved with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones standing next to him, silly is one word that comes to mind. If on the other hand he’s paying a sincere compliment to Page, Jones and Bonzo by steering away from some of their sterling musical arrangements, that sentiment goes down easier, but the watered-down renderings of the material does not, in my opinion.

    Certainly the man is free to do what he wishes, that’s clearly what he does, and more power to him. This Zep fan has always tried to give him the benefit of the doubt as to his choices to distance himself from the Zeppelin vibe. But as has been pointed out in the past, he very clearly has a body of largely well-done solo material that stretches back over 30 years. As he’s at times eager to communicate how averse he is to some aspects of Led Zeppelin, it’s a real conundrum that he doesn’t minimize that part of the act, and dig deeper into his solo catalogue. Perhaps he could cleverly dismantle and start over again on some of those pieces…

  • Ed said:

    Thank you Gary for your report. I think you opened a very interesting discussion about the treatments Robert gives to Zep songs for a few years now. I think, at the beginning, it was surprising, interesting and fun. Now, as years gone by, it has become boring because it’s almost always the same songs since the Strange Sensations tours, the arrangements have become simplists, like they don’t rehearse anymore, just improvising with not enough imagination or talent, and the beauty of the songs dissapeared. It even sounds sometimes parodic. If he likes … but it’s not my cup of tea. So why so many Zep songs, why that way, when he could pick up so many great songs in his solo catalogue not played for so long … How other fans feel about that ?

  • Steve Way said:

    so……8 Led Zeppelin songs from a 13 song set list….doesnt reflect well on such an incredible solo outpouring…
    Dave….have a triffic holiday….happy memories from Ibiza-seeing Robert play at (what was) Chac Mol and SGT Peppers, and then Jimmy and Robert at Phil Carsons gaff- the heartbreak hotel….also nights with Jason at (what was) hard rock cafe-now Ground Zero….if you get the chance pop into that bar and say hello to Ian Milstein for me…..he would love to see you….

  • Michaela Finegan said:

    Great write up Gary, thank you. I loved the whole gig start to finish, and as you say No Quarter was an unexpected treat. Must say being in the atmospheric Abbey and in such a cool place as Glastonbury added to the whole night appeal for me. It was such a chilled atmosphere. My kids throughly enjoyed it too, and they both got near to the front of the stage. I just loved the whole night and think it was probably the best I have seen Robert ( albeit Gloucester was pretty cool ). My only regret ? I didn’t manage to hook up with the hoard of TBL fans that were there! Next time 🙂

  • Michael in Melbourne said:

    Great review, Gary. Many thanks for charting the further adventures of Mr Plant.

    I hope that you and Janet have a fun and relaxing holiday, Dave.

    Cheers, Michael

  • Andrew r said:

    Thanks as always for the reports this is why TBL web is so important!
    Having said that SSS still don’t do it for me.Justin Adams still does Jimmy lite
    and the sheer quantity of instruments required make you realise how economical
    the other band were.

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