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Home » Robert Plant

Astoria Theatre, London

10 June 2002 2,473 views No Comment

Set-List: If I Ever Get Lucky/ Seven and Seven is/”Down To The Sea”/Four Sticks/Come Into My Life/Hey Joe/Going To California/Morning Dew/Calling To You/Tall Cool One/Celebration Day/A House I Not a Motel
Encore: Babe I’m Gonna Leave You/Song To The Siren

TBL/Webman: Dave Linwood
The London Astoria is not one of my favourite venues. Looking old and tired, its inside walls are covered in matt black paint making it a gloomy and grimy place. Despite only holding 1600 people, everywhere in it seems crowded.
Tonight’s view for the TBL/Webman is from near the back of the stalls near the mixing desk. To my surprise considering the lateness of ticket announcements and the lack of publicity, the place appears pretty full to me although from my position I could not see upstairs fully. Ticket arrangements were messy – much of the audience having had to queue in the street to collect their tickets before the show. The ticket office did not begin despatching tickets until after 7pm. Perhaps this, the venue, as well as the fact that it was a Monday night seemed to give the audience around me a rather grumpy non-committal disposition.

The band appear onstage at around 9.15 and the show lasts until about 10.40. A huge Dreamland backdrop and simplistic light show provide the visuals. The sound is well balanced and clear.
Plant has his London-stage head on. This means he says very little to the audience all night. A few introductions, but very little embellishment. I’ve commented on this before after other London appearances and his cold approach does get paid back by the audience during the evening.

This gig really is the “welcome to the real world” show. After the last couple of years of cosy gigs in pubs/clubs surrounded by die-hard fans and others with a profound curiosity, this show has an audience majority who know nothing about Dreamland – and probably want to hear the oldies. Inevitably the Zep numbers are the best received, the Dreamland songs receiving polite applause. I assume that audience members tolerated the unknown stuff as long as every now and then they got a Calling To You or a BIGLY.

As it’s Plant’s show, the spotlights remained on him almost throughout. A few comments about some of the songs:

If I Ever Get Lucky: This is just about my favourite Sensations song. From the simple quitar and Plant’s brilliant vocals through to the didgeridoo style rumbling from Jones on the double bass. The acoustics of the theatre adds atmosphere.
Four Sticks: The familiar riff and driving rhythm got the crowd going at last. A well played version although there were a slight mistake which left the song stumbling for a few bars. The best song so far with the best crowd reaction. After this song, Plant speaks for the first time.
Come Into My Life: has a Plant/Page “Blue Train” feel to it with Skin seated during the performance.
Hey Joe: Tense and Good.
Celebration Day: Had an almost Page like solo.
BIGLY: very p/p like. a nice gentle guitar solo with a proper ending (no corny Stairway tease). Best song of the night.
Tall Cool One: Another fine performance.
Siren: Well received by the crowd.

Plant mentions that more UK dates are likely in October. Hopefully not at the Astoria….

This from Mark Williams
Last night my brother & I went to see Robert at the Astoria theatre. Last time we’d caught him with the Strange Sensation was at the Albert Hall in February (you posted my review under Tour Watch – thanks!). Overall, I’d have to say it was an ‘unusual’ performance. Robert himself was on good form,seemed to enjoy the relative relaxed mood of the gig, knowing
full well he was singing to the already converted.
Great to hear some gems from the the solo back catalogue getting an airing : Come into my life,Calling to you,Tall Cool One especially good. Think they should rehearse ‘Slow Dancer’ – it’d fit well in the set and suit Justin Adam’s style of playing. The solo/Zep/Dreamland mix of material works well, however the issue for me at least is the rest of the band.Liam/Skin did well filling in for the sorely missed Porl Thompson but whilst clearly all competent musicians, I personally don’t feel they are of the calibre that Robert needs/expects in his backing band. For example,when Robert & Jimmy were out with Michael Lee,or Francis Dunnery,those guys brought a certain dynamic on stage that pushed Jimmy & Robert onto great things. Tonight’s backing did’nt do that for Robert and I think he knows it.
Neverthless,we should be thankful that Robert still challenges himself (and his audience) and is out there making great music.If he does plan to remain as a solo artist for the remainder of his career ‘it’d be great if he could fix a backing band that is really of the calibre warranted ( but not with Phil Collins on drums !!)

This from Sali
Support “Tinariwen ” An interesting mix of guitars, drum and voices.

Venue: Without doubt this was the worst venue I have ever had to endure; dirty, smelly and slightly sticky. With two friendly exceptions security was unhelpful to the point of aggression and if this is what a London gig is like I am happy to remain a country bumpkin.

This was all banished from my mind the minute the band stepped on stage. Robert’s voice had a breathy huskiness I’m not sure if that was by choice or not, but it was charming and he used it really well. The all guitar intro to Down To The Sea worked well and the crowd responded joyously. Skin began to impress me and I also enjoyed the percussion, drums played with the hands. Robert was moving, smiling and singing perfectly. There were a few signs of technical problems such as there being absolutely no sound from Justin Adams’ guitar at one point but this didn’t spoil anyone’s fun. The crowd was moving, smiling and singing along en masse. Someone near me said ‘Brace Yourself’ as the percussive intro to ‘Four Sticks’ broke out. The crowd roared in welcome. Robert could have used a little more power or amplification as the instrumentalist and audience combined but he managed to stay on top and sound good

‘Come In To My Life’ was mellow and he made it seem easy, smiling and twinkling those eyes. JA developed a lovely melancholy tone at one point. Then we were into ‘Hey Joe’ and I love this rendition. It manages to be simultaneously hard hitting and haunting. Again Justin Adams was an imposing presence with his hypnotic hip movements and his short necked folk lute, taharadant, twanger, whatever you call it. It certainly makes an important contribution to this number which is maturing into something fantastically unpredictable. By this time The Voice was well warmed up and was managing all sorts of twists and turns

The crowd sang powerfully along with ‘Going To California’, racing a little ahead of Robert’s playful soaring vocals which were accompanied by an impish raising of the eyebrows. ‘Morning Dew’ was powerfully underpinned by soft hands on the skins and a calm Charlie Jones. I think Tim Rose would love this. During a driven ‘Calling To You’ the keyboard player really came to life and Robert began making more eye contact with the front row. This was followed by ‘Tall Cool One’, another favourite and this really rocked, leading naturally into ‘Celebration Day’. Justin Adams sauntered to the front of the stage for the beginning of ‘A House Is Not a Motel’, Robert moved snakelike with calls of ‘Yallah’.

The encore was the crowning glory of a tremendous evening. ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ was magical with tender, slightly gravely vocals. We were entranced. Even the security chap smiled! And then ‘Song To The Siren’ with a lovely combination of keys, bass and soft cymbals. Robert gazed up with the light sparkling in his eyes and his voice perfectly matched to the moment.

This from Roger Garcia Fernandes
I am a Brazilian living in London for the last 12 years.I am a big follower of Zep/Page/Plant/Jones work. I used to run a fan club for Zep back in Brazil in the 80’s called Runes. I was coming back from work, and I bought NME to check some gigs (that was on a Thursday 06/06/2002), and I saw the add for the Robert gig. I could not believe my eyes when I realised it would take place in only 5 days at the Astoria!!! I’ve managed to buy the tickets in the same day!!!….
But when I arrived at the Astoria it was chaos!!! Far too many people outside! Damn! After facing a queue of one hour to collect tickets I was finally in!! No way I could get close enough to the stage. The concert started with the usual Marrocan music and incense sticks burning all over the stage. And there he was…looking good with a white plain short sleeve shirt, jeans
and leather boots…too much gel in his hair I have to say…but that voice still as rich as ever.I am not going into the songs ’cause I know a lot of people wrote about them (the big surprise was Celebration Day and Tall Cool. One for the raw new style). The vibe during the concert was from polite, to really cheerfull and at the end was very touchy with the beautiful Song to The Siren and Baby I’m Gonna Leave you.
After the concert I asked one of the security where usually the performers leave the Astoria, and the guy said it was at the back of the theatre…so I went there and waited for about an hour, I had to give the Brazil t-shirt regardless of time or rain!!!
A chauffeur came with a Mercedez and stopped at the back door…From the theatre door came Charlie Jones, and after him Robert.It was a bit of a mess ’cause the 10 people waiting went straight to ask for autographs and pictures. I started shouting that I had a present for Bob, so they let me go through.He only had a glance at the colour of t-shirt and said: Brazil!!! And started talking cheerfully about the game Brazil just played against Turkey, and that he hoped Brazil would win, and them he gave me a hug as a thank you for the t-shirt. I took some pictures of him talking to everybody and also leaving with my T-shirt in the car.
What to say about Bob? He is very charismatic and larger than life person…he has this big aura that touches everyone around him…He was very talkative and friendly towards everybody that night!! Is good to see him singing again!! Is like going back home for me.It was a dream come true, ’cause I wanted to meeting him since I was 14 (I am 38 now)…so dreams may come true if you wish really hard!!!

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