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Home » Robert Plant

Academy, Birmingham

15 October 2002 405 views No Comment

Setlist [confirmed] I’ve got the oringinal setlist, yippie. The final encore is not on the setlist.
Set-List: If I ever get lucky,Four Sticks,7+7 is,Mornin Dew,Going To California, Girl From The North Country/In the Mood/Darkness/Celebration Day/ Fixin To Die/ A House is not a Motel/Tall Cool One/Babe I’m Gonna Leave
Encores: 1 Song to the Siren/Whole Lotta Love
Encores: 2 Hey Joe/Misty Mountain Hop

Set-List and Review From Karl Robert Johnson – Yippee! I grabbed a set-list – MMH was not listed.
Two words: The Finest.

Absolutely fantastic evening on a stormy, wet and windy night. Arthur Brown played a fantastic acoustic set including his majestic Fire.

But what could prepare for the mighty Strange Sensations that were to come on. Starting off with the briliantly moody “If I Ever Get Lucky”. This was Birmingham England where Robert was playing, his home turf, so what type of reaction did he and his band get…an overwhelming one. A rapturous applause came about as Robert crept onto stage. The noise was pretty defening, more so than any output of the PA [which was clear as crystal all night].

Most people got lost with the unfamilar [to them] intro to Four Sticks but once the song kicked in……… I had seen Robert Plant and his Strange Sensations in Liverpool back in May and this was a fine show well on comparison to the Liverpool gig, which in my opinon was blindingly briliant.

There was losts of friendly upbeat banter from Robert about local towns such as Cradley Heath and Wolverhampton and the occasional silly shout from the crowd such as “Percy” to which Robert replies “where did you get that name and what justifies you to use it!” and also “when’s the Zep tour” which makes Robert look just slightly up and then turn to his band. When the mandolin came out only a few of us knew what was to come, but again, once the song started almost the whole place were singing along.

I guess that there were a great deal of familar faces in the audience for Robert. So when “Babe” finished and the band went off, we were sure that there would be an encore pretty soon. And so on came the band again to a very peaceful “Song to the Siren” which led to Robert introducing a blues song, which provoked some laughter due to the fact that Birmingham City football club have the nickname “Blues”, and we all know who Robert supports (TBL/Webman Commment: The “Golden Gods” of Wolverhampton (cough)). This slow guitar blues song transforms into the bombastic “Whole Lotta Love” to end the evening.

But no, Robert Plant can’t leave Birmingham with this alone, not with all the shouting for more. The band returned to play “Hey Joe” and then the final song which was introduced by Plant as he descibed the real feeling of psychedelic music as a song “written by some guy who had just stepped off the plane in LA for the first time from Cradley Heath”, “Misty Mountain Hop”.

I personally feel that Robert Plant is really enjoying what he is doing at the moment. The free form jamming on some of the songs, the slightly re-worked Mornin Dew. I think Robert and his band will be very soon getting great new ideas for a new album of all new songs. Rumours of a Led Zep tour are just that, rumours. I don’t think for one minute that Led Zep will tour next year. Hopefully, Robert Plant and his Strange Sensations will. Can’t wait for the triple live DVD though!

Richard Benjamin
The last time I saw Mr. Plant was with Priory of Brion at their final gig on December the 21st, 2000 (yes, I did review that one too). That
really was a fantastic show, and I mourned the passing of Priory. I had grown to love their slightly rough and ready versions of what had become a very well known set. Having heard the Strange Sensations CD, which seems so much more “polished”, and having heard many reports of the band I was quite prepared to be disappointed when I arrived at the Academy, forming a damp & tired trio with Sali & Bev. We got in fairly early and made it to the third row, which was pretty good going. The ladies then used their considerable charms on the two guys in front of us and wheedled their way into the second row, leaving me to my own devices – well , how could I ever expect to compete with the guy on stage? LOL.
So on to Arthur Brown. His performance has been described very well already on this site, so I’ll just add that I found him immensely
entertaining. He really is rather mad, moving his tall, thin frame like a demented stick insect as he dances to the great playing of his
instrumentalists on guitars, fiddle and (?) hurdy gurdy. His foray off the stage and into the audience took him right past us, which was fun.
Most of all thought he has an incredible voice, which he uses so well, but at the same time doesn’t take himself at all too seriously.
Wonderful stuff.
During the interval, as we watched the roadies do their magic, a rather lovely blonde lady from Stourport came and stood next to me and we exchanged a few words, which was very pleasant. I did point out to her that Nick Harper is playing in Stourport soon (Sunday 10 November, Acoustic Club, Stourport on Severn 01562 755 171), and that she owes it to herself to go and see him. Anyone going to Glasgow is in for a real treat too. Nick is amazing – but enough of that …. Now for some of this:

Strange Sensations. As I said before, I was quite prepared to be disappointed. As it turned out that was miles from the truth. This band
is really fantastic. Yes they are much more polished than Priory, and yes it is a different approach, but RP has certainly surrounded himself
with some great musicians, all of whom play very well, but more importantly all of whom play so inventively. These guys breathe new life
into all of the songs. And wonderfully as Plant sang, and he was in great form, I found myself looking forward to the instrumental sections
with growing enthusiasm. One of the highest points for me was the passage in House is not a Motel, which was at once passionate, beautiful and impressive. Justin Adams puts so much into his playing, and gives so much out from it. His introduction to Whole lot of Love was so very simple and at the same time spellbinding. There wasn’t a song I didn’t enjoy, but I would make special note of the Zep songs. It was really fantastic to hear a different interpretation of these great songs – much more stimulating than the last P & P outing, where to me they seemed to be playing as a pastiche of a Zep tribute band, failing to quite do the songs justice. To be perfectly honest my first thought, when the possibility of a Zep re-union was raised recently, was that it would be sad if it meant losing SS. This band may be playing old songs, but I’d say that this is the most forward looking position Mr. P has been in for a long time.

I hope to catch another show before too long – all in all a totally excellent night 🙂

This from Richard Lee
Just saw Plant at Birmingham on Tuesday, highly anticipated, as ever, and thought I’d drop you a line or two for TBL/Web.
Whilst Plant may have fond memories of this venue from his youth that he alludes to, the rest of us think it is a hell-hole. Whilst touts outside were selling unsold tickets for half price the gig did finally fill up by showtime, despite some of the worst weather of the year. However, half the audience, especailly those below the upper tier/balcony behind the sound board cannot have seen very much. I’ve never been to a venue with such restricted views of the stage. Even the guy on the soundboard couldn’t see the stage, which he obviously doesn’t have to, but thats not the point.
Plant is in fine voice from someone of his age, and his current band are probably the best solo band he has had. Justin Adams looked quite bored at times, as well he might, given how under-used he is. For someone (whom I’ve seen with his various other bands Wayward Sheiks, Jah Wobble etc) who can play a vareity of Arabic instruments very well, and given Plant’s evident delight at Arabic usic, mine also, Adams barely does anything worth hearing.
The gig was a study of the past: lots of late sixties songs and early Zep tracks, which the band played well. However, by the time we get to BIGLY,Whole Lotta Love, Misty Mountain Hop etc I nearly walked out. I didn’t but I have never come closer to doing so. Plant talks about new ideas, barriers being broken down, new landscapes being tackled etc. Well the last few songs of the set as mentioned above(and probably the rest of the set if I closely examined it) are, in that case, just Plant being highly cynical and manipulative. Why play inferior versions of those songs, with two guitarists playing Page’s parts. Either Plant cannot believe what he says in interviews, new horizons etc, or the performance of these songs is of a highly cynical presentation. Either play new songs with the new band, or reform Zep with Page, JPP plus, lets say, John Baggot and Clive Deamer, and be honst about it.
The gig sound good, the band put in a good performance I’d say, but the underlying sensibility of the performance stank, to be frank with you. I’m a long-time Plant fan with alot of respect, where its due, but I’m not having the piss taken out of me, and on Tuesday night I was.
Well, that might not be a popular view, but the music of Plant, Page et al is a big part of my life, however there comes a time when the truth needs to be pointed out. This is serious stuff is it not? Platitudes are not enough. ubject needs addressing and nowhere better than here.

And now John Webster’s view:
Just got back from a week working in Telford but the bonus was chance to see this gig. Phoned on Monday to try for a ticket and got one. Apparently about 150 unsold at this point. Ticket left at venue. Arrive at Academy 6.30 Tuesday evening for 7 pick up. Pouring with rain on journey from Telford and still doing so at Birmingham and bitterly cold. Only half a dozen people waiting so as usual doors open at 7.15. I got ticket and went inside. Venue looks like a 1970,s disco, Top Rank springs to mind silver balls hanging from ceiling and probably holds 1200-1500 people !! All standing and I went upstairs for decent view. Bars both up and down stairs both open. Trouble was if you went for a drink you lost your spot so no drink. Got view at front looking directly onto stage.

Arthur Brown support and gave good performance doing mix of covers and own material and of course Fire. Never knew he had such a powerful voice.Atmosphere and audience mix of young and 30+. I felt a lot were not sure of what to expect maybe not knowing the Dreamland album so not a real buzz of excitement.
Strange Sensations come on and did commendable versions of If I ever get lucky, Four Sticks which I didnt recognise at first and 7&7
is. Powerful version of Morning Dew with great jazz/funk piano which got the crowd moving. Next up Going to California which received good reception. Plant was chatty through out the evening referring to time in West Midlands etc. Girl from North Country was surprise and got good reception although I think no one recognised it either from Zepp or solo career. Darkness Darkness followed which I thoroughly enjoyed and Celebration Day really got things going. Great applause. Fixin to Die and House is not a motel with reference to Arther Lee and Forever Changes album with a trademark shriek. Tall Cool One dedicated to Elvis and I wrote down was awesome but followed by Babe I,m Gonna Leave You which was even better and then off.
Ist encore featured Song for the Siren which was treated quietly but followed by Whole Lotta Love which brought the house down and was tremendous. 2nd encore Hey Joe which Robert said will “really hurt you” and finally Misty Mountain Hop and finish at just before 11. I thing probably 1 hour 45 in all. The audience vibe built during show and while leaving heard a couple of people saying brilliant. It was great show and my next one is at Portsmouth Guildhall on 27th which I understand is sold out and is closer to home.

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