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26 July 2013 5,823 views 4 Comments
wolf trap
Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters Wolf Trap  review by Suzanne McElyea:

This was a beautiful venue, tucked in the Washington DC suburbs.  When I first saw the name, and their logo I thought maybe Robert chose it for his beloved Wolverines. But it was a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater perfectly suited for the evening which began promptly at 8 pm with a band called Bombino.  World music artist from Niger, often compared to Hendrix and Santana, this band showed up in traditional Middle Eastern attire.  I had often heard Robert talk of the Tuareg tribe, and rebellion, but this brought their music to DC and they rocked the joint.  I had approximately 12 row left of center seats and when he finished his set, right before Robert went onstage, he came down the aisle and took up his seat in the audience just a few seats from me (more center) to watch Robert perform.  He greeted all on our row and took a few pictures.

The crowd was a mix for teens, African Americans, middle age and attire –  Led Zeppelin t-shirts were worn by so many that it seemed a uniform.  For those of you that have not yet been to this round of concerts Robert’s latest shirts are just another show of his humility.  He has a ladies shirts with RP on it and a circled 13 like a athlete.  He has one Misty Mountain shirt with his name nowhere on it.  It is like a secret club.

With incense burning, the mood is being set for the journey we will begin for the night.   The lights are a lone guitar player (Skin Tyson) as the first beautiful bars of flamenco guitar are played.  The crowd is standing and waiting for Robert to appear.  The rest of the stage is dark.  Anticipation is as thick as the air this July evening.  Then Robert appears with the heavily blues rooted “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” with his pleading determination.  He swings the mic stand, and his energy level  is high.  He turns the house lights on at the end of this elongated tune to see the house standing and waving wildly.  He moves directly into “I’m In The Mood” and again everyone is singing and dancing along.  He then greets the audience with a less formal “hey”…

Tin Pan Alley was next, showing off the funky beats he will use throughout the night.  The crowd is not as familiar with this one, but are grooving anyway. The Mighty Rearranger takes Howlin’ Wolf’s  “Spoonful” and gives it and updated spin.  Then he moves with the same groove into “Black Dog” making it a tribal jam featuring Juldeh Camara on a one string African violin.  But it is the same hard rocking riff we all love but with a new update and beat to sound fresh, like the rest of the night.  Mr. Camara joined him again on “Four Sticks” for another update and hard rocking sound.  Robert named this band appropriately as Sensational Space Shifters.  They are moving thru decades, they are meshing all kinds of music and they always sensational.

Robert continued to tease the crowd with the intros to most songs and he seemed like he was really having a fantastic time up there.  I know the crowd loved it.  When he was really into a song, he let the big RP voice out and it was surprising how much control he had over it and how much he can really do today at almost age 65.  When he was into the heaviest part of Zeppelin tunes the mic stand was pointed upward and he was turning about.  He let out more than a few “push, push’s” and “suck it’s” during the evening. Many more in the later shows than in the early ones, and he seemed to be smiling much more.

His set list included “Another Tribe”, “Going to California”, “Friends”, “Four Sticks”, “Fixing to Die”, “What is and What Should Never Be” and ended with “Whole Lotta Love”.  He performed an almost traditional “Going to California”, “Another Tribe” and “Going to California”.  He updated “Friends” and “Four Sticks” slightly and played a rocking “Fixing to Die”.  He ended the set with Whole Lotta Love, with Bo Didley’s “Who Do You Love” inset.  With an imposed curfew, the band left the stage for a short time, coming back beer in hand.

For the encore, Robert played Big Log to celebrate the 30 anniversary of its release.  He mentioned that 30 years ago it was on heavy rotation on MTV, but today he nothing on heavy rotation.  He moved quickly into Rock and Roll to finish the set.

It was his drummers 19th birthday (as well as Justin Adam’s) and he arranged 2 birthday cakes and led the crowd in a round of “Happy Birthday”.  He had made mention in Chicago that his drummer’s mom kept calling and it was like a scene out of Almost Famous.  Finding out he just turned 19, I understand why.  What a great gig for him.

Robert is such a major talent that he can and has sung all types of music.  He has proven over and over that his voice truly has no limits.  He has taken the listeners to many places around the world, exposed us to many types of music.  Robert has said many times in his career that he really only has to please himself with his music and he is correct.  But he decided that what pleased him this year was to bring back his big voice.  He is singing better than I have heard him since the 70s.  His big voice seems to really have no boundaries this time around.  It was great to hear the mighty lion roar again

Above photo by Suzanne McElyea
Robert Plant preview  by Jed Gottlieb:
Robert Plant is always in the mood for a melody. As long as it’s not the same melody he’s been singing for 40 years. As the frontman of Led Zeppelin, Plant pioneered heavy metal, yes, but also Celtic folk revival, electric Delta blues and world music as pop music. The gypsy continues his sonic travels with new band the Sensational Space Shifters. Plant and group play the Bank of America Pavilion on Thursday. His last outfit, Band of Joy, impressed with a wicked mess of whispers and guitar feedback, early rock homages and backwoods country folk. But Plant says the band was too good to go on. “They were all virtuoso songwriters and musicians,”
Plant said after a show at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. “Every­­one had to go and do what they had to do. They had records to produce or write or play on. (Plant’s partner) Patty (Griffin) had this amazing set of songs and she needed to pursue them. “I could have gone on the road and been her driver with the chauffeur’s cap or sold merchandise at her shows,” he added. “Or I could do my own thing. Selling Patty’s CDs on the road is no booby prize, it’s no head of cauliflower, but I chose to do my own thing.” After a half-decade spent digging into America (and Americana) with Alison Krauss on the Grammy-winning blockbuster “Raising Sand” and with Griffin and a team of Nashville cats on “Band of Joy,” Plant went home.
He recruited old friends and new talents to help him explore the sounds of modern, urban England and ancient tribal outposts. “We take primeval desert instruments and bring them into contemporary soundscapes,” he said of the new band. “Where Massive Attack and Led Zeppelin left off, we keep going. It’s the morning or the earth meets Howlin’ Wolf meets ‘Physical Graffiti’ meets a Bristol dance club at 1 a.m.” Underground British techno and North African drums make sense together when Robert Plant is at the helm. Too many remember Zeppelin only for “Ramble On” and “Stairway to Heaven.” When the Kennedy Center honored the band last winter, Jack Black joked Zep’s music was about Vikings, Hobbits and Vikings having sex with Hobbits. “Funny, but a cheap shot,” Plant said. Yes, the band’s music became the soundtrack to a generation of stoned boys in bell-bottoms.
But where other bands safely observed borders, Zep literally and artistically trekked the globe. “People forget that we were recording in Morocco and India and Hong Kong. We were experimenting,” he said. “That old band had a lot of counterbalance. You had ‘Ramble On’ and you had ‘Kashmir.’ ” The new band gets freaky and rearranges world music and Zeppelin classics. It also rocks hard. Plant said his voice often got lost over the last few years.
Those golden Americana harmonies hid the Golden God’s mighty pipes. “The incendiary parts of my performance weren’t coming through,” he said. “They come through with this band. I am singing like a mother, singing like I didn’t know I could.”
New Orleans review by Suzanne McElyea


July 17, 2013

The Tall Cool One showed up in all black with his gorgeous locks down to play to a sold out crowd in New Orleans.  He started the show with the reminder that New Orleans always made him feel pain. It took the crowd back to the unthinkable tragedy that happened while he was on tour in 1977.  He got the phone call in this city that his adorable son Karac had passed away and this ended the 1977 tour and changed his life forever.  It changed the mood in the audience as well.  As I looked around, most of this crowd was older.  Most of us would have been among the crowd to have seen him in 1977.  This was not the usual crowd that Mr. Plant draws. New Orleans has seen its own hard times and later in the evening, Mr. Plant talked about this as well, and that is why he included the city on his tour.   He drew an older audience here because they are the only ones able to afford the ticket price.  New Orleans is still experiencing hard times in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

We are in the deep South.  That means certain rules apply about sitting and standing. If you stand the people behind you remind you sit down.  This was very odd, but the crowd thought it was rude to stand for the show. I have NEVER sat thru a Robert Plant concert, but the crowd did in New Orleans because in the old South, this is POLITE.  We finally were allowed to stand for the encore.

Robert has incredible energy and put in 100% for this show. He was dancing with the mic stand, jumping up on the drum stand, swinging the mic and generally putting on the best show I have seen.  His voice, although past the halfway mark in the tour, was in fantastic shape.  It is slightly lower than in his youth, but you don’t notice and adjustments have been made to the songs so the performances are just remarkable.  He said the performance was brought to us by Geritol and Stairmaster.  His humor and style have not changed much.

Robert said he was going to perform some soft rock. But the show was anything but.  He began with his roots, Babe, I’m Going To Leave You.  Incredible Spanish Guitar from Skin Tyson with this fabulous 8 minute gem.  He moved into I’m In the Mood, and promised that he could sing and he could dance, if we wanted him to.  Of course, the crowd was ready.   Tin Pan Alley followed, and despite the lyrics, he laid the rebel yell on us a few times during the night.   An incredibly soulful version of Spoonful and then he teased us with a very sexy, slow intro to Black Dog.  But the fabulous riff came on strong and the audience recognized the very familiar cries and responded with cries of their own.   Friends, Four Sticks, What Is and What Shall Never Be, The Enchanter, Going to California, and then we were all Fixing to Die (when he got there).  Another Tribe was also played.

Robert had many nice things to say about New Orleans and what the history had meant to music. He said he thought he lost a wallet there once.   Then he said he still hadn’t found the f*cking bridge. This brought the house down.   Then he began Rock and Roll, with Who Do You Love inset. Amazing.


Robert Plant Interview in Boston Globe:

By Sarah Rodman:

After exploring Americana and roots music in the last few years with a superb group of musicians, including Buddy Miller and Plant’s close friend Patty Griffin in the Band of Joy, the former Led Zeppelin frontman is delving into what he’s calling the “urban psychedelia of Bristol, England and West Africa.” And he’s doing it with some old friends with whom he’s worked on earlier albums like “Mighty Rearranger” –including Massive Attack’s John Baggott—and new ones like riti player Juldeh Camera.  

As is often the case, I was able to ask more questions than we could fit into the newspaper, so here are a few of the others that Plant fielded.

When the singer came to the phone, he apologized for being a bit late, saying “Hello Sarah, I was just doing a bit of ironing.”

Q. What are you ironing? Your hair?

A. Ironing my hair, yeah. You know I did actually once have my hair ironed for a birthday present. John Paul Jones decided that curly hair was not hip. So for my 21st birthday, which was 1969, he took me to a very hip haute-couture hair dresser’s in London called Sweeney Todd, and they straightened my hair.

Q. You should be glad they didn’t off you and bake you into a pie with a name like that.

A. Yeah, it was a pretty interesting time. Sweeney Todd was right next to Granny Takes a Trip so you know what kind of world we were living in. (Laughs.)

Q. Well at least you remember it. Thanks for taking time to do this.

A. Oh no, let’s get it right. We’re entertainers, you can’t get miserable about talking it up because I love what I do… I’m just out there exploring musically and having a wild time. I mean yesterday was one of the craziest reactions I’ve experienced ever!

Q. Where was this?
 A. It was a riverside festival here in Portland, Oregon to bring in and raise funds for the food bank.

Q. Oh I read about this, this was the show with Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples, right?
A. Yes, that’s right. And I don’t know, it just reminded me of those festivals back in god knows when, when I can’t remember! It was really good. It was a very interesting and very varied, wild, young audience. It was fantastic. I do talk it up because it’s different and it’s really exciting.

Q. You’ve described the Sensational Space Shifters sound as part Massive Attack, part Led Zeppelin, and part Jefferson Airplane. Much of the music you’ve made could be discussed in similar hybrid terms. It seems like you’ve always been interested in layers and textures and the collisions of things. Are you ever surprised that you’re able to find a new frontier for yourself?

A. Not really. I’ve got another one lined up which will incorporate these guys because now we’ve got a signature, and the next thing to do is to have original material. I’ve got about 30 new pieces and I had some good conversations recently with a very renowned soundsmith who’s worked with Dylan and U2.

Q. Is this Mr. [Daniel] Lanois?

A. Yeah, I think what we can do is, if we do it right and we can work out our energies to bring them together successfully, we can blast the work that we’ve done in the past into a brand new place.

Q. You rework a lot of your older songs live. Is there a key to rearranging them to your liking?

A. I think we just play around with them and we bring different time signatures in and out, so we visit them and then we enlarge it and then we mutate it and then we go back to it, so the crowd goes with us on the journey.

Q. At the Kennedy Center Honors it was touching to watch you tear up during the performance of “Stairway to Heaven” by Heart and the choir.

A. It’s a weird thing to feel that songs that you’ve kind of walked away from and said “That was another time”– I believed in that song, I believe in it now — but when it becomes a sort of opus you have to look for something else. And so watching the girls from Heart, I was touched by it. But as it developed as a song and an arrangement it was just mind-blowingly beautiful, and I fell in love with the song again.

But also there’s something ironic about it, because to be recognized and to be part of a combination of spirits that we were—once upon a time when we were young and uncluttered—when you get to the point where people are giving you gongs, you know that you’ve done something. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s like “What am I going to do today or tomorrow?” That’s all very well and all that pomp is fine, and I must say Americans generally make much more of pomp in a humorous and sensitive way than we do in Britain where you’ve got the Prince pinning something to your shirt and he doesn’t know who the hell you are. (Laughs.) It’s very funny.

Being alongside Patty through that was great because I was very emotional. I didn’t like a lot of it. I liked the paraphernalia and I loved the people who I met. But I also found it so over the top to have musicians who have been aping Led Zeppelin for a long time continuing to do that, but taking the spotlight and almost taking the songs into some sort of pub rock thing. There’s one or two musicians who always kind of keep popping up who generally massacre the songs that they touch.

And, of course, it was kind of funny in a way because the eulogy, or whatever it was, of our career ended up with a conversation from the podium directed at us and the room and the president, talking about Vikings [expletive] Hobbits. And I thought that’s all very well but we did travel through India and Thailand. I took [Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy] Page through the mountains of Morocco and we wrote “Kashmir” and things like that, which we wouldn’t have written if we were just meandering through the misty mountains.

I mean there’s so much to Led Zeppelin that is folklore, and on that night it was slightly derisory and I did feel like I could’ve actually lobbed a television set at the guy who was making comments.

Q. Hopefully by the time Ann and Nancy began singing you were feeling better?
A. I still want to lob a television at that guy.

Q. You’ve had to sit through covers over the years. Have you heard from any of the artists that you have covered like Richard Thompson or Low?

A. I’ve known Richard over the years and he’s a very interesting and charming and very humorous soul, and he thought we did a good job of it, I think, in his own sort of British way. And we went to see Low in London about six weeks ago and had a good time with them, and they loved what we did to their “Silver Rider” and “Monkey.” I never heard from Dylan when I did “One More Cup of Coffee,” but maybe he will speak.

Q. Tell me about the Love Hope Strength charity that you have out on tour with you. They work to help those with cancer and leukemia. Is there a personal connection to the charity or was it a recommendation?

A. They came to us and asked us if we would help them extend the idea and get volunteers, and it’s working out really well. It’s a big thing to ask people who randomly come to a concert for a DNA swab to match [as potential bone marrow donors], but they’ve already created matches for people who are in trouble. It’s been amazing.

Robert Plant You Tube Clips:

Four Sticks:


When The Levee Breaks

Shine It All Around


This story has been doing the rounds in the last couple of days – this is the less sensationalised Billboard version:


New Book news:

Couple of new books surfacing….

What You Want Is In The Limo: On the Road with Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and The Who in 1973 by Michael Walker is just out – thanks to Ian Avey for bring that one to our attention


A history of the Dallas based PA and lighting company Showco is in the works – Showco worked with all the big names in the 70s and extensively with Zeppelin This one looks to be a very interesting one. Thanks to Graeme Hutchinson for this info.

Here’s the preview links


TBL subscriber Brian Hardie has been in touch to inform us he is having a bit of a vinyl clear out sale – you can receive his for sale list by e-mailing him at

Dave Lewis Diary Update:

I’ve been immersed in both the Knebworth book design and The Rolling Stones feature this week and it’s been well full on. While I am on the subject -Happy 70th birthday to Michael Philip Jagger all of 70 years old today and still remarkable…as is the singer who is nigh on five years behind him – the latest Robert Plant tour feedback has been most impressive and as can be seen by the you tube clips, he really is having a ball. Oh and while we are on birthdays…Happy Birthday Mr Jimmy Foy all of 14 years old already!

With deadlines looming on various things, I had to miss out on the Patty Griffin London gig this week-those that were there have fed back what a captivating performance it was. With an amount of plate spinning going on to keep things moving, it’s had to be heads down and let’s get on with it here …but I’m hoping to come up for air soon …and I’m certainly looking forward to Robert’s upcoming UK dates appearances (34 days and counting)…..

On the player – plenty of 1970s Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers, Exile etc , plenty of bits from the Miles Davis with John Coltrane Columbia Recordings box set and Zep wise, well it has to be Madison Square Garden 1973 – for it was 40 years ago this weekend that they concluded that celebrated ’73 US tour with three dates at the Garden on July 27th, 28th and 29th. Those dates of course went on to be immortalised in The Song Remains The Same film and soundtrack three years later.

For all the countless bootlegs from that era, it’s still that original double album soundtrack that holds the charm – it was the first official live material and side one of that album – Rock And Roll into Celebration Day into The Song Remains The Same into The Rain Song,  still lines up as one of the best sides of music in the entire Zep official catalogue

song lp

I remember vividly reading the daily press reports of the famous Drake Hotel robbery at the time and Jimmy’s NME interview with Nick Kent in the Autumn. There were vague rumours that they may slip in some UK dates at the dates at of the year but as we know, it would be some 18 months before their next appearances.

By then, the whole scale of the touring operation went up a few notches, not least in the lighting and presentation departments –plus they had a new double album to draw from – and quite a good one at that!

So the MSG 1973 shows represent the final almost quaint on stage persona of Led Zeppelin before the lasers and lights really kicked in.

It’s worth mentioning that a thorough dissection of the MSG recordings can be found on Eddie Edwards brilliantly detailed Garden Tapes feature – view it at:

I’ll certainly be lining up a few of those MSG ’73 recordings to blast out this weekend and I am sure you will too…here’s some footage to get you right in the mood – and what amazing footage it is… more on all this in Mike Tremaglio’s US  second leg tour log in the next TBL….

And Finally : MSG ’73…

And more….

Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…

Have a great weekend

Dave Lewis/Gary FoyJuly 26th , 2013.

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  • John said:

    Come on Robert announce a UK tour. I have heard some of these shows and they are brilliant.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Mark The Song album is still the one!

  • Peter Aquino said:

    Why does everyone call it “Tin Pan Alley”??? GRRRRRrrrrr… 😉

  • Mark Harrison said:

    Dave – re Side one of that album the music paper “Sounds” with it’s headline encouraged us to “Test your speakers the Zeppelin Way” and in particular “Side one is Zeppelin Rampant! With enough energy to mow down a herd of Nugent’s!” I loved that!
    Still got the clippings!

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