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Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live Arena

14 April 2011 1,553 views No Comment

Photo by Christina Mendenhall

Set list included

Black Dog

Down To The Sea

Angel Dance

Please Read The Letter

Houses Of The Holy

Black Country Woman

House of Cards


Ocean of Tears

Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go

A Satisfied Mind

Ramble On


Gallows Pole


Balky sound system doesn’t  deter incredible show by Robert Plant, Band of Joy

Review by Jonathan Tully

Robert Plant and his Band of Joy were about a third of the way through  “Please Read The Letter” – a song which Plant and Alison Krauss had turned into  a gorgeous, plaintive song of longing on their album Raising Sand – when a  horrific noise overtook Hard Rock Live.

Think about what a train wreck might sound like from inside the train  and you get the general gist of it.

Plant kept going, but it was instantly clear that the sound system was  blown out. You could barely hear the one-time vocal superman (back in his days  in Led Zeppelin), and the crowd was beginning to stir – with even a few unfair  boos popping up.

Gamely, Plant and the roadies sprang into action, turning the monitors  and amplifiers toward the crowd – and yes, Plant was right in the middle of  this action, allowing neither his status nor his age (62) to stand in the way  of making sure the Hard Rock crowd was entertained. And the crowd began to turn  around quickly, cheering him and his band on, and clapping in time with the  music.

After the song was over, Plant, who had been engaging in pleasant banter  all night with the audience, saying how he was taught never to curse in public,  but that the PA system was — and here he used the past tense of a well-known  Anglo-Saxon profanity.

But Plant wasn’t discouraged, instead talking with the crowd as his and  the venue’s technical staff worked out the problem. He spoke about how a friend from Tottenham in London had been visiting and more, before finally saying  something that truly underlined why this guy is a legend: “This is what it was like in 1969, when you couldn’t hear a f*****g  thing!” The crowd went nuts.

After that, with the PA system just workable enough to use, Plant and  band launched into three Led Zeppelin songs – “Houses of the Holy”, “Ramble  On”, and then for the encore, “Gallows Pole” – before bidding the crowd a good  night.

During those songs, the crowd was clearly energized, clapping on the  beat, cheering wildly, and Plant was into it too: “I feel alive! I feel awake!”  he said between “Houses” and “Ramble On”. He certainly appeared that way —  there was a howl during “Ramble On” which seemed to echo from somewhere around 1974.

It was Plant’s ability to make the best of a weird situation that made  his show change from merely a fond memory into one where anyone who was in  attendance would say, “Yes! I was at THAT show!”

The show likely would’ve been memorable anyway, as it brought Plant’s  more Americana bent to South Florida (for the second time in two years – he’d  also played Miami’s Bayfront Park Amphitheatre in summer 2010). He’s surrounded  himself with incredible musicians, and they’ve both pulled in the great  originals and covers from Plant’s most recent solo album, also called Band of  Joy, and rearranged some Zeppelin and Plant solo classics in new and wonderful  ways.

The Zeppelin fans would be appeased immediately, when Plant broke into  “Black Dog” as the show’s opener. But instead of the high-pitched power of the  1970s Plant, when his blonde hair was wild and his shirts were both open and a  size or two too small, you had the more controlled vocal of today’s Plant – whose blonde mane has been tamed slightly into shoulder-length curls and,  combined with a close-cropped beard, gave him the appearance of an English poet  from centuries past.

These days, Plant’s voice finds its way into a mix of other vocalists  where the mesh is the thing. He and Grammy-winning singer Patty Griffin sounded  gorgeous together on “House of Cards”, a cover of a Richard and Linda Thompson  song, and on “Monkey”, another cover, this one of a song by the band Low. And  then there were the full-group vocals, which worked well together throughout.

Plant made sure to get the point across that this tour is about his Band of Joy, and not just about him. He shared the spotlight with Griffin, who sang  the R&B song “Ocean of Tears”, with guitarist/”captain of this ship” Buddy  Miller, who sang “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go” and provided superb guitar work  throughout, and singer/multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, who song the Porter  Waggoner song “A Satisfied Mind”.(And to complete the full credit to his band, let’s not forget the work  by bassist Byron House, who showed a deft touch, and especially drummer Marco
Giovino, who handled the difficult task of being extremely proficient without  loudly overshadowing the subtleties of Plant and Miller’s arrangements.)

Even without the mishap and Plant’s remarkable ability to grow a beautiful rose from a metaphoric pile of manure, the Band of Joy’s performance would’ve made the Hard Rock show one heck of a memory.

Openers the Lee Boys, a Miami-based combo that’ve played both locally and regionally for a while now, seemed to fit the Americana mold of the night.  Their sound is known as “sacred steel” — a hard-driving mix of rhythm & blues, rock and gospel that’s built around the intense steel guitar work of Roosevelt Collier. Not surprisingly, they and Plant are both headed for the rootsy Wanee Music Festival this weekend.

Review by Jonathan Tully

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