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Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, OK

11 March 2006 2,579 views No Comment

Train Fare home/ Heartbreaker / Freedom Fries / Morning Dew / Black Dog / Shine it all Around/ Thats The Way /All The Kings Horses /If I Were A Carpenter/ Darkness…/ Tin Pan Valley/ Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / Mighty Rearrnger /Tall Cool One /When The Levee Breaks
Encores: Enchanter, Whole Lotta Love.

This from Nathan Hendrickson
The Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa holds 1580 people, and word is they sold out within minutes. Scalped tickets were going for twice the $50.
The opening act was The Soundtrack of Our Lives. I highly recommend them!
Robert Plant came out wearing blue jeans and an olive T shirt with some cross type of logo with the word “OBEY” on it. He looked good, and his voice sounded great the whole night. Sometimes his live performances seem a little “tired” on the vocals, but not last night. He was not nervous at all and had his excellent stage presence with all of the face gestures, hands on hips, hands waving, etc. that we all know and love. He praised the “historic moment at a historic place”.
Notes from the songs:
“Thats the Way” –big crowd response, played close to original.
“Heartbreaker”—-this was real bluesy, slow, and different, no Page long solo.
“Black Dog”—again with a different riff, slower, bluesy, with a kick of the original “hey baby, whoa baby, pretty baby” riff throughout the song.
“If I were a Carpenter” —played close to the “Fate of Nations” version. Real nice. He said the song was “written by a great song writer.”
“Tall Cool One”—-no, I am not joking! The crowd loved it!
“The Enchanter” – a new song, nice.
Unidentified acoustic new song, good enough it might get some airplay. Slow, soft, lovey-dovey song. My wife really liked it.
“When the Levee Breaks” —slow, bluesy, mellow version, but still different from the 1994 “No Quarter” version.
The Encore was the “The Enchanter” song ….and then….
WHOLE LOTTA LOVE!—definately the crowd favorite of the night. Played with all the loops and whirls of the version that we all are familiar with. Just didn’t seem right not having Jimmy there.

Instruments were a keyboard, drums, electric bass, standup bass, the beat-up Telecaster used on the “Dreamland” tour, acoustic guitar, mandolon,some equipment to make Theramin sounds and other whoo-whoo sounds, with that handle that you pull to make the guitar squelch…everything sounded great. There was a very Middle Eastern/ Moroccan feel throughout the music of most songs.
A few times that night there were some whistles and feedback from the speakers. You could tell that Robert was NOT HAPPY when that happened! He would make faces and hand gestures towards the guys off the stage, and at the end of one song ran over and gave a stern talking to the guys that were running the equipment.
My wife really didn’t like Robert Plant all that much. Now that she has seen him live, she is a fan!

This from David Estrada
What a great opening night for Robert, He looked great and was very happy and the crowd was amazing. The show started at 9:45 They played 17 songs and went for 110 minuts.
This from Mike Tully
Well, It was Tulsa Time last night for Robert and the band. I will start by saying this band was tight, tight, tight. These guys really rock together. The Skin Tyson/Justin Adams guitar team works well, Each guy brings a certain sound and feel to these new numbers. (And when I say new numbers I mean it.) Every Zep song was re-worked last night (except BIGLY…this one is always a disappointment in the writer’s eyes…more on this later.) Clive Deamer is playing heavier now but with great intricacies in his rhythms and fills. John Baggot was lending his usual keyboard to the mix and this is crucial to the vibe and foundation of the material from the new album.

The show began late with the opening band playing overtime, for Robert and the boys didn’t leave the hotel until 8:35pm. I know this first-hand for my “Traveling Led-Head” companion Andy and I made him an extra minute late with our little lobby ‘meet and greet’. We were able to get a picture with him and an autograph on my Martin Mandolin that already been adorned with the customized sharpie marks of Jimmy (Hartford ’95) and JPJ (Phoenix ’02). Robert came at us with the usual “No Guitars Guys” remark. Yet, when I explained it was my personal instrument that I gig with, he stopped and looked at me momentarily. Not knowing how this was unfolding, I began to play the opening to “Battle of Evermore”. He then smiled, grabbed the Sharpie and added the third and final touch to my every day mini-axe. We wished them a great first U.S. show and off to the vans they went.

The opening song for R.P. and Strange Sensation was very interesting. The boys running the house P.A. built up the energy in the club with a great quasi-techno-african version of ‘Shine it All Around” and just as it faded for the band to enter the stage, the P.A. screeched and hollered feedback for about 3 full seconds. The whole mood took a hit here. Clive and John had to retreat to the wings just as they got into their seats to play. Another god minute went by before the entire band entered simultaneously.

Usual opening number, no surprises here. “Train Fare Home” was the leadoff tune accompanied by the cheers of fans who have been waiting to see this legend in person. The big scream and cheer from the crowd which basically says “wow, it is really him” came in the usual spot…(second line Robert sings) “If Ever I get Lucky BAAAAAAABE”.
Next was the best version of “Heartbreaker” one could ask for in a post-Page/Plant world. This arrangement was fresh and exciting. It had a “Dick Dale meets a ska band and they have a baby” kind of feel to it. Then on to the first song from the new album. “Freedom Fries” is a great new song and will fit well into the deep-cut section of the album. “Morning Dew” was next and you could tell the crowd was hanging in with the newer material, really responding to Robert and the mood shifts of the song. This “Black Dog” is a meaner, leaner version that has a raunchy, punk feel to it and will definitely find its way onto my commonly played Ipod selections. The first single from the new album ‘Shine it All Around” was next. Throughout the song Robert was yelling at his stage left soundman via “stage-hand sign-language” and was obviously perturbed the lack of on-stage monitor balance he was receiving. (This went on all throughout the show. Still working out the kinks I guess.)

“That’s the Way” followed and had a country-ish feel to it. Billy Fuller played upright bass on this and Justin provided adequate mandolin parts. “All the Kings Horses” has a bit of a “Song to the Siren feel to it.” Similar vocal approach by Robert and great vocal background harmonies by the band. This number will be the “Liars Dance” or the “Ship of Fools” of the album. Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter” sounded very much like the Fate of Nations version. (No “Bluebird”, here however).

“Darkness, Darkness” was good, nothing extraordinary about the performance. Next came the most ‘hard rockin”, ‘in your face’, ‘wearing and tearing’ song of the night, and it is called “Tin Pan Valley”, “TIN PAN VALLEY”, Robert repeated into the microphone. After the tune was over he said “One of my friends lives there, it’s quite unfortunate.” (any guesses as to who he means?) “This song dates back to around the time Noah finished building the boat”, says Robert as the band begins yet another performance of the Joan Baez written “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”. I’m sorry but this song has simply been overplayed live by Robert dating back to the Croperdy festival in ’93 or ’94 (It was great then and as well with Page in 1995), but then Robert’s vocal performance on this piece is so under-par to the original. This would have to be my biggest criticism of song selection of the night. (Thank God we didn’t have to sit through another “Going to California”….seems like that one had been done every show since ’93. I know, I know I’m exaggerating:)

Next came the coolest four songs of the night. “Mighty Rearranger” the title track on the new album will become the hit of this collection. It has the same “Tall Cool One”, “Hurting Kind”, “Calling to You” feel to it that gives it a standout hook and recognizable tune. Great job on this one Robert. “Tall Cool One” followed and Robert commented before the opening phrase, “If only I could stay awake.” This version is fresh and contains dueling 2 bar solos between Skin and Justin Adams. (By the way, Skin’s sound was way too overbearing compared to the rest of the band last night, we could tell Robert knew it too, by some of his reactions to lead and solo swells.) “When the Levee Breaks” sounded fresh and invigorating, very different from the “Unledded” arrangement. The band sings and call and response “MOOOOAAAAAANNN” behind Robert’s lyrics as kind of a ‘chain-gang’ chorus. Very cool indeed!

Then the two encore selections of the evening: “The Enchanter” from the new album is simply awesome. The drone and vibe-like feel of the tune fits perfectly with the sway and swagger of the band. Last song was “Whole Lotta Love”, with a long theremin experiment by Skin and a bit of a jam on the intro chord progression of “House is Not a Motel”. Show ended with a band and everyone went home happy. The WLL/Black Dog fans got their fix and the die-hards got to hear six (6!!!!!) tunes from the new album and great refreshing looks at some old “New Yardbirds” material. All in all, a great night. Can’t wait for Oklahoma City on Sunday and Dallas on Monday!

This from Matt Bradley
The Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma holds 1200 people. With the recent annexation of the bar right next door, it was able to hold 1600 (amusing since it’s not like 400 people stayed in the bar once the show started). Times sure have changed…used to be people held lighters in the air, now it’s camera phones, and the annoying people who decide to make phone calls during a song, screaming into the phone, “It’s Robert Plant dude!” I’m guess I’m getting old. Here is a breakdown of the show:

Train Fare Home–Even with a new, unknown song opening the show, the crowd quickly realized they were in for a good show, when Plant belted out his first long note, the crowd errupted.

Heartbreaker–I felt like the guitar could have been a little heavier on this one, to go along with the deep bass that was there, more Zeppelin like. Still always fun to hear.

Freedom Fries–By the song title, you know what this song is about, criticism of recent US foreign policies. Pretty ballsy to go to a foreign country, and sing such a song. But hey, that’s fine, whatever. However, the one line, “The Promised Land is a Promised Hhheeeeelll.” Not cool. When the song completed, I did not applaud, though that didn’t stop the rest. It didn’t spoil my night, but to come over here and call the US hell, a country that embraced Led Zeppelin in the beginning while the rest of the world was still figuring it out, while promoting your new album, sorry, I just don’t think it’s right. The song itself is just ok.

Morning Dew–I really like this song, very soothing and melodic. I was glad to hear it.

Black Dog–A different version of the old classic, a little funkier. Plant did the usual “ah ah” back and forth with the audience. Fun. Got a “Good Evening” out of Plant after this song.

Shine it All Around–Having only heard this song on the radio once, I was surprised that I could remember it. Guess that says it’s quite catchy. Good choice for the single.

That’s the Way–A personal favorite of mine for the night. Really exciting to hear this one. Not being a Zeppelin song oft repeated on classic rock radio, I was glad to see the audience enjoying it as much as I. The acoustic guitar picking could have been a little louder.

All the King’s Horses–Slow song. Didn’t hit me one way or the other. I need to hear it again when the new album comes out. Lots of people talking during this one, happens with new stuff sometimes, especially slower songs.

If I Were a Carpenter–To me, this song just does not fit Robert Plant. He sang it fine, but I really could have done without.

Darkness, Darkness–Chill song. Crowd seemed to get a little restless during this one. Plant did a fine job, but I think the song is just ok.

Tin Pan Valley–Good song–once is starts rocking. Alternating between slow and fast, traditional and electronic. Goes slow for a while, then crashes into a great guitar thrash. Can’t wait to hear what this one sounds like when the CD comes out.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You–Always been one of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs, and I quickly came to attention after those first few guitar notes. Undying classic, perfectly performed.

Mighty Rearranger–A cool bluesy rocker. The chorus stuck in my head well after the show.

When the Levee Breaks–Great rendition of an old favorite. Once the crowd quickly realized what they were listening to, great excitement swept the hall. The bands backing vocals didn’t gel with Plant’s.

Enchanter–To me, this sounded a little reminiscent of something from Walking into Clarksdale, an album I liked.

Whole Lotta Love–Perfect way to close out the night, good ol’ fashioned Zeppelin rock. Crowd was way into this one. How can anyone NOT be!? Theramin type sounds included.

Strange Sensation–I feel that this is a nice tight little band. Everyone seems to be on time, in tune, and know what they are doing. They also seem to be enjoying themselves. But if I was the person of Robert Plant’s stature, I think I’d want an incredible band with me, or at least one musician to really stand out. Look how Ozzy has done it over the years–pluck a relatively unknown guitar virtuoso (Rhodes, Wylde), and let them shine. It really brings a lot to the table. I feel Plant is missing the boat on not doing something like this. Again, a good band, just no ripping guitar solos, no thundering drum riffs, nothing that makes anyone stand out and really get things going.

Overall, I really had a great time at this show, especially in such a small, intimate setting, probably an opportunity I’ll never get again. It made all the difference. You hear a lot of people saying Plant can still hit all the high notes. Hey, I’m a superfan too, but let’s be realistic–he can’t hit the high notes, or sustain them as long as he used to. This doesn’t mean his voice isn’t still one of the most unique, kickass rock vocals out there. He’s just not 25 anymore, let’s don’t pretend he is. As for the new songs, they certainly aren’t anything like Physical Graffiti that has been talked about. Not in the least. I’ll be buying the new CD of course, but I don’t expect to rave about it, though it’ll be certainly better than Dreamland, which wouldn’t take much.

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