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BJCC Arena, Birmingham AL

26 April 2008 2,444 views No Comment

Rich Woman, Leave My Woman Alone, Black Dog, Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us, Through The Morning, Through The Night, Fortune Teller, Black Country Woman, Hey Hey What Can I Do, The Rat Age, Bon Temps Rouler, Trampled Rose, Green Pastures, Down In The River To Pray, Nothin’, Killing The Blues, Let Your Lost Be Your Lesson, When The Levee Breaks, The Battle of Evermore, Please Read The Letter, Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
Encores: Stick With Me Baby, One Woman Man, Your Long Journey.

Review of April 26, 2008 Birmingham, AL
Originally appeared in Birmingham News by Mary Colurso

It’s an odd collaboration that, on the face of it, really shouldn’t work.Few would think of teaming Alison Krauss, an angelic, exacting singer and bluegrass-folk fiddler, with hard-rock pioneer and passionate yelper Robert Plant. They have vastly different energies and attitudes, not to mention a 23-year age difference.But producer T Bone Burnett has a peculiar genius: He sees, hears and conceives things that others could hardly imagine. He’s out of the box. He’s ahead of the curve. Heck, he’s the creator of his own musical geometry.
Krauss and Plant? Perfect, in Burnett’s hands – and perfectly wonderful on Saturday during a 9 p.m. concert in Birmingham.
The two stars, just a few shows into their tour, played for two hours at the BJCC Arena. Burnett – long, lanky and looking like a character from “Deadwood” in his black duster – was part of their five-member band.
In case you hadn’t heard, Burnett helmed Krauss-Plant CD collaboration, “Raising Sand,” that was one of the top sellers of 2007. It continues to stir up interest in 2008 and is the impetus for an international trek.
On disc and on stage, Krauss, 36 and Plant, 59, lent their talents to a wildly diverse selection of cover material, from a gypsy-tinged Tom Waits ballad (“Trampled Rose”) to a bouncy Everly Brothers song (“Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)”).
Much of “Raising Sand” has a low-key, hipster vibe – all smoky voices and shimmying shoulders – and Burnett reinvents each song with cool, clever arrangements or bold changes in instrumentation.
In general, the principals don’t operate as traditional, melody-swapping partners; they alternate as the front man or front woman.
At the BJCC, Krauss and Plant started their set with the opening track of the disc, “Rich Woman,” and sent the audience home with its final song, “Your Long Journey.” They played nearly everything else from “Raising Sand,” as well, shuffling the order of 10 tunes and blending in signature songs from their separate careers.
Krauss provided a pitch-perfect rendition of “Down to the River to Pray,” from the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” This a cappella version, sweet and haunting, swelled to fill the arena with spiritual conviction.
Plant took the lead on radical reworking of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and “The Battle of Evermore,” massaging a gentler, earthier tone into those formerly piercing, fast-moving hits. He also took “When the Levee Breaks” back to its soulful blues roots.
Some technical wizard must have worked a bit of magic at the arena, because the BJCC’s sound was clear, clean and resonant – exactly as a listener would wish it.
This made it possible to distinguish contributions made by the excellent musicians backing Plant and Krauss: guitarist and band leader Burnett, guitarist and pedal steel player Buddy Miller, bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Jay Bellerose and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan.
Review rating: Five out of five stars

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