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Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy – Vancouver, BC – The Queen Elizabeth Theatre

17 April 2011 3,200 views 2 Comments

Photo by Tanya Coad

Review: Robert Plant churns out pure gold to eclectic Vancouver crowd

Reveiw Amanda Ash, By  Vancouver Sun

Robert Plant and the Band Of Joy

Robert Plant is a musical nomad. He’s sailed the spiraling seas of ’70s psychedelia, scaled the jagged peaks of rock ‘n’ roll and wandered through the twisting backcountry of bluegrass. Today, touring in support of his new album Band Of Joy, he’s rambling through the pastoral prairies of Americana.

The 62-year-old vocalist, better known as the yelping frontman of Led Zeppelin, is a musician of perpetual motion. Like his ever-shifting musical aspirations, Plant’s career — especially in recent years — is akin to a walkabout. 2007’s Raising Sand, the Grammy Award-winning bluegrass collaboration with songbird Alison Krauss, was Plant’s first solo record that really severed the umbilical chord between the man with the cocker spaniel curls and the rock god from Zeppelin. His recent record, Band Of Joy, continues to tear him away from his “Whole Lotta Love” and
“Stairway To Heaven” days, the newfound roots and alt-country soundscapes further solidifying him as a solo artist.

Sure, some may regard Plant’s recent gypsy-esque traipsing through genres as a symptom of a greater malaise — perhaps exhaustion from being trapped in the Zeppelin black hole, and a desire to find a renewed musical identity — but as the wailing wonder illustrated to a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Theatre Sunday night, his smorgasbord of curiosities aren’t necessarily a means for reinvention.

Plant’s talents are as big as his hair; Feed the beast and it will prosper. In order for the British banshee to continue growing for another 40-odd years, the aesthetic explorer has started grasping a world of genres to grease his wheels.

Fans flocked to Queen Elizabeth Theatre in distinct pods, each clearly partial to one of Plant’s many sounds. There were the hardcore Zeppelin fans with their t-shirt memorabilia from the ’70s. There were the teen Zeppelin fans, who’ve found modern-day comfort in the band’s honesty and power. And then there were the yoga moms, anxious to hear a few mellow tracks from Raising Sand.

The Zeppelin fans were the most prominent, as would be suspected. Ever since the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion, which was held as a symbol of closure for the band’s career that ended with the 1980 death of John Bonham, it seems as though the hard core disciples have been waiting for a second coming.

Although Plant was more interested in procuring attention for Band Of Joy, he wasn’t necessarily at war with his infamous Zeppelin identity. Plant embraced his rock roots by kicking off the show with “Black Dog.” It was a tip of his hat to the Mother ship classics. He sauntered on stage, gave a friendly wave, and chopped the song’s tempo in half, giving it a distorted, rootsy vibe. The song went well with the scent of marijuana that clung to people’s clothing.

Plant seemed incredibly relaxed, kicking back and dancing along in his jeans and button-up shirt. He moved with ease into his next song, “Down To The Sea,” another Zeppelin tune. He was joined by guitarist Buddy Miller, mandolin player/multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott and singer Patty Griffin, who built a flawless wall of spacey instrumentals and vocals behind him.

But when he transitioned to his Band Of Joy repertoire, everything fell into place. “Angel Dance” was cohesive, natural and comfortable. Everyone from Plant to his Band Of Joy looked as if they had just arrived home.

“We have a new record out we’re very proud of,” Plant said with a smile.

“We love you Robert!” the crowd cheered. The Zeppelin fans young and old, along with the yoga moms, were in collective love with the shaggy-haired vagabond. No one sat down. Judging by the crowd’s shoulder shimmying, they would probably still love him, even if he did a duet with Justin Bieber.

“Who wants to rock and roll?!” one fan screamed. “Freebird!” yelled another. Okay, well maybe not all fans would appreciate a pop duet.

For “House Of Cards,” Plant went all-out with seductive body wiggles and a few twirls of the mic stand. He also enjoyed letting his flowing tresses fall gently on his face–a perfect emotional display for a Herbal Essences commercial. “Monkey” was up next, which combined soothing blue and purple lights with shades of psychedelia and some muddy blues. It was the perfect combination, serving asthe ultimate expression of where Plant is in his career.

However, he didn’t fail to throw a few more Zeppelin bones to the crowd before calling it a night. After playing a little slice of heaven, also known as “Please Read The Letter” from Raising Sand, he proudly dove into “Houses Of The Holy” and “Ramble On” to the audience’s delight. It was a welcome change of pace from the more laid-back Americana grooves; those who had sat down during the mid-show slump were back on their feet and rocking the hand claps.

Plant spent nearly two hours playing show-and-tell with the crowd. His set list, a healthy combination of Zeppelin’s Plant and solo Plant illustrated his journey to the fringes of music and back. And no matter where he ventures next, he’s proved he’s fully capable of turning those songs, too, into pure gold.
Reveiw Amanda Ash© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Robert Plant and The Band of Joy

Review by Wendy Dallian

When Robert Plant and the Band of Joy played a sold out show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Sunday night, they had barely set foot on stage when the audience jumped to their feet in a raucous standing ovation — and stayed there until the end of the show.

Front man Plant reached the height of legend in the ’80s with his band Led Zeppelin andcountless iconic rock albums like Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin I, II, III, and Physical Graffiti, to only mention a few, that still sell like wild fire today.

Plant’s sound has rolled out different styles over the years from the rock of his Zeppelin years to the melodic sound of his work with Alison Krauss to his more recent sound with the Band of Joy and their new self titled album Band of Joy. Over 40 years of making music and he still grabs his audience with the same magnetic charisma of someone born to be a musician.

The Band of Joy is a talented group of professional musicians with their own individual lists of musical accomplishments and whom together create a unique fusion of folk and rock: Robert Plant (vocals, harmonica), Buddy Miller (guitar, vocals), Darrell Scott (mandolin, guitar, steel guitar, vocals), Patty Griffin (vocals, guitar), Byron House (bass), and Marco Giovino (percussion).

Sunday, the band wasted no time and delved into an interesting new take on the Led Zeppelin classic Black Dog, which set the tone for the night. Songs from past to present fit together as if they’d been written in the same era.

Plant stepped back several times during the show as other band members took turns at centre stage singing and playing an array of different instruments. First Buddy Miller on vocals, then Darrell Scott, then vocalist Patty Griffin.

The highlight of the show was the last song of the night Ramble On: (Led Zeppelin II). The audience ate it up. There wasn’t a gap of space left in front of the stage that wasn’t filled with someone dancing and singing along with Plant as he belted out the lyrics. The audience was high on more than what was wafting through the air that night: there was a palpable energy in the room.

What do you call a standing ovation when everyone’s already on their feet? Well whatever it is, they got one: a loud, fit pumping, wall shaking ovation.

Plant gave one last wave to the audience after the the third bonus song and yelled out “Vancouver, never change.” And with any luck Plant, like the Song, will always Remain the Same.

Review by Wendy Dallian

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  • Walter said:

    They have may have confused it with the track off Physical Graffiti,Down by the seaside.

  • Ed said:

    Since when is “Down to the Sea” is a Zeppelin tune?

    Nice command of the facts from the Vancouver Sun.

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