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