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Home » Robert Plant

Carling Apollo, Hammersmith, London

30 October 2002 2,242 views No Comment

Set-List: Hey Joe/Four Sticks/Down to the Sea/Morning Dew/Going To California/Girl from the North Country with In The Mood/Ramble On/7 and 7 is/Funny in my mind/A House is not a Motel/Tall Cool One/Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
Encores: (1) Darkness Darkness/Whole Lotta Love
(2) Song To The Siren
(3) Celebration Day
Start 9.02 End 10:59

Set-List and review by TBL/Webman: Dave Linwood
London Town! And its wet. And the trains are completely screwed: leaves on the line for the provincial folk, bodies on the line for those using the Underground. People arrive damp – and late in some cases.

A quick word about the venue. Best known to many as Hammersmith Odeon, I was once reliably told it holds 3,800 and was in fact the largest cinema in London – don’t think it shows films now. For many Londoners this is where we cut our gigging teeth. The likes of Motorhead and Whitesnake in 79 did mine. Went to Hammy Odeon literally dozens of times during the period 1979-1984. A golden age. So its a bit of a homecoming. Its still a great venue, the view is normally good wherever you are. Thanks to the TBL tickets deal the view is bloody good tonight; front-row centre! Aha a perk of the job!

In the foyer, I picked up the Kidderminster College CD featuring the Pob recording for a fiver. The Pob songs is the moody Curse of the Evil Woman.

Being so close, you tend to find yourself studying individuals during the show -and sometime audience members around you. The whole thing becomes more of an academic appearance as you watch how the songs are put together. Standing up was discouraged by security until the encores. I saw people being rebuked for taking pictures – although this could be because they were using flash. This was a bit of a downer as it led to a muted atmosphere. The upside was that I wasn’t battered by some drunking tosser trying to prise his way onto the front of the stage – you know the type.

Audience reaction was pretty muted I have to say: a times no more than polite applause. The Zeppelin songs got the best reception. Looking round though, there were a lot of smiles being directed at the stage: perhaps a more subtle communication, I hope Plant picked up on it.
Obviously the old scoundrel was up to his old tricks with the ladies in the audience (once he had found them: I would say that about 90 percent of the audience appeared to be blokes). I have to say that I had a chuckle inside at some of the 50-somethings squashed into their leather mini-skirts (“Robert darling, does my bum look big in this?”) – then you remember that the bloke you are watching is the same age too – and we’re all heading in the same direction: outwards!

On-stage it was the same Sensation as the show I saw at Cambridge. Nice to see a variation in the set-list.
Ramble On received probably one of best receptions of the night. Plant’s vocal phrasing of the song was as per the 98 tour. Mixed feelings about the song when I was heard it was being played – heard it loads in 98. However, live it was great.
Hey Joe is an interesting number to kick-off with – although I did miss Funny In My Mind.
BIGLY and WLL were absolutely “Zep-tastic” as we all know. WLL included just about the most weird Plantation I’ve heard. A long ramble about the villages of London which lead on to the blues…of Chelsea Football Club! No comments about “the reunion” tonight, Plant was polite but not verbose – which probably mirrored the crowd reaction.

We got a shedload of encores, including Celebration Day which caught the house lights/PA bod out. The band began to re-appear on stage just as the music/lights came on – and then were quickly switched off.

Of the on-stage personnel, Skin stood out. He’s a very “tactile” player – lots of note banding and guitar body twisting to ensure that he gets that extra bit of feedback and/or sustain. Charlie stood anonymous near the back, his moment of glory the dischordant bass chant mid-way through Fixin To Die being his only moment of glory. Plant’s voice was great – lots of classic trademark wails.
Another good night. And maybe a final goodnight for UK audiences from Strange Sensation? Only three people know..

This from Lawrence Moseley
Last night the Strange Sensation demonstrated the difference time and experience makes. I saw them at The Astoria earlier this year and thought the singer could do with a better backing band. After quite a bit of touring these guys had gelled into quite a formidable unit. This was best exemplified in the middle section of Whole Lotta Love. Performed with a sweetly savage dynamism (no medley version; is there one performed by the SS?) Why no second verse, before this bit? I wondered). Anyway the sonic mayhem was so carefully orchestrated into a blitzkrieg of sonic spectacle that was awesome.
This must have struck the audience as such. Four encores and there was demand for more.
Skin showed a pleasing acoustic virtuosity on a superb Babe I’m Gonna Leave you and the use of a Moog synthesiser was a change (for me) to hear.
The audience had the usual bladder control problems but were responsive and no trouble for Strange Sensation or the watchful bouncers getting the more enthusiastic aisle dancers to sit down. Comments after the gig from the more grizzled audience types that Plant had lost it seemed rather alien to me as, judging from everyone else’s highly positive reaction and my own, the Strange Sensation singer has not lost it. His voice may have changed over the years when he played with the Nobs but whose wouldn’t?
Tone, melody, timing, power and sustain (aided by FX of course) he had it all. Possibly less of the Imam call the Muslim-faithful-to-prayer type approach as used in the Page Plant daze but there we are. Just an observation, or it’s only entertainment, that and a box of chocolates as the frontman of this band said near the end….
Two hours thereabouts including encores after the 1 hour and twenty five minute mark.
The performances were very consistent and they listened to each other. These guys were terrific!

Jon Stroud writes:
Just woken up after last night’s show at the Hammersmith Odeon (well, it will always be the Hammersmith Odeon to me!) Not much to say about the show – uniformly excellent, although Ramble On was particularly breathtaking. Although there have been other posts questioning the quality of the band, no complaints from me. Skin is simply a superb guitarist, no question.

However (and what a however) – the venue took the edge off this show, specifically the security. Again, other previous posts have highlighted Robert’s change in attitude when he plays in London – and I have to say that if he’s that concerned about crowd reaction/involvement, he should ensure that his management don’t arrange for him to play here again. Like all the others around me I had excellent seats sourced through TBL. However the security was so heavy and so over the top that for most of the show we were forced to sit there like we were in the cinema. You could tell that Robert had noticed, and at one point made a comment that the audience were “very polite”! More power to the one poor soul who had a seat right in front of Robert, and insisted on showing his appreciation – at one point he was surrounded by three bouncers, with others ominously waiting in the wings. I was worried that he was going to be kicked out. Most of the time a bouncer was standing right in front of Robert facing the crowd, blocking the view – just stupid and unnecessary.
Contrasting this show with the recent gig at the Astoria, the audience involvement was just in a different league. To be honest, die-hard Robert Plant fans who go to the trouble of sourcing the best tickets they can do NOT want to sit down!

Pete Harris adds:
Not much to say Dave – is that as good a show as you’ve ever seen Plant put together? I came away from there in absolute shock – I thought the Astoria show was great but that really was very, very special. Magnificent stuff – my wife (who is not a Plant/Zep fan at all, preferring dance stuff!!) came out and her first words were ‘That was truly fantastic – thank you for inviting me’!!!. For me, that says it all. Truly a night to cherish – thanks to TBL for the third row seats !!!

This from Andreas Stocker
It’s been nearly 4 years since I last saw the Golden God in action, but the show last night was well worth the wait. Robert was in top form and clearly enjoyed it. The Strange Sensations are a great band and Skin deserves a special mention.
After a rather strange support act, the band hit the stage at 9pm and kicked off with a great version of Hey Joe. The band members were really impressive throughout, and during BIGLY Skin showed all his class. Jimmy is Jimmy, but Skin is a special talent and ranks amongst the best in the business today. The whole set was outstanding, but highlights for me were Fixin to Die, Song to the Siren and one of the best performances of BIGLY ever. They loved it and the crowd loved it even more. They finished of with a great version of Celebration Day and left the stage for good after nearly 2 hours.
I have never seen Zeppelin live, so every opportunity to see any of them live is a cherished moment, but last night’s performance was special, as the athmosphere in the venue and the vibes from the band created something outstanding…..I guess that’s how it must have felt back in the old days when Zeppelin ruled the world.
Alaric Mostyn adds:
Just an addition to the reviews so far …. we had tickets for standing at the back of the circle – and had a simply great time. From back there the atmosphere was electric and everyone was on their feet for two hours having a great time. Robert and the band produced a passionate and fresh performance – even better because they sound nothing like Led Zeppelin and much more like a great psychedelic rock outfit. A very long time ago LZ produced the best music around and during the early 70s the best concerts I ever went to – but that’s history. I happen to think that Dreamland is one of the best new albums I’ve bought all year. Wednesday night was the best time I’ve had in ages. Thanks Robert.

Andy Dorman says:
I’m pretty much in agreement with Pete Harris – it was quite possibly one of the best gigs I’ve seen, made even more enjoyable by fantastic seats from TBL.
As a younger fan of Led Zeppelin, and everything they continue produce individually, I always find it funny to hear people talk about the reluctance of the crowd to get up and dance – it makes me feel old and I’m only 25! Judging by the people sitting near me, everyone seemed to be having a great time regardless – plenty of chesire cat grins all
round – and by the time of the encores plenty of people were up at the front/standing on their seats/smoking a subversive cigarette. I wouldn’t get your knickers in a twist about it – Robert Plant is one of the coolest cats around so I’m not that surprised that his fans can appear equally cool on occasion.
I saw the Glastonbury show and for me it was one of the highlights of the festival, since then the whole band have really gelled into a formidable unit. At Hammersmith we were treated to a really great mix of old and new(old) songs and Skin’s performance during BIGLY definitely deserves a mention. Both my wife and myself were totally buzzing when we left the show, I felt like a ten year old at christmas!
All in all an incredibly special evening – I’m not sure how they’ll ever manage to top this one but I’ll definitely like to be there when they try.
All the best and thanks again for the great tickets,

Siarl Davies concludes:
Well anyone who thinks Bob has lost it needs their ears syringing !!! This was my 17th show seeing Plant, and quite frankly it was fucking amazing. Christmas in fact. I saw some of Najma Akhtar’s opening slot, quite delicious ‘ear-curry from a truly beautiful singer, with a great band. Shame that Bob didn’t get her up to run thru Battle of Evermore. It was a pity that many just hung in the bar and missed her.

The show started with an apocalyptic Hey Joe. Cacophony ??? – get real you antique collectors out there, the song is about a guy murdering his old lady, and I personally think Bob’s new version outstrips Jimi’s any day. As beautiful as Hendrix’s is, Jimi could have been singing about a trip to the supermarket, whereas BoB and SS cooked up a whirlwind of psychotic drama.

A solid 4 sticks followed, well played, but only a hint of the Belgian chocs to come. I saw the Astoria show in June, stood to the left of Dave Lewis, and it was great, but Percy looked like he had done his back in, all hunched up and with the vocals too low in the mix. However at Hammersmith he was back to his old self, strutting, grinning, exuding white light. He even indulged in a bit of headbanging !

What his detractors fail to realise is that to sing the way he does and really nail it is bloody hard work ! I should know I fronted Boot-Led Zepp until I lost my memory thru CO poisoning. Quite simply Bob hammered the nail right in, with panache and confidence. OK he cracked on a couple of notes earlier on, but in BIGLY he let out a shriek so high in the second verse that was ample proof that despite years of Marlboro he can cut the mustard.

I got the impression that he at last realises who he is again, and he had that great satisfaction of knowing he still is the quintessential rock vocalist, even if he claims to hate rock. Down to the Sea, was really well played. This surprised me, coz although the music is cool, the vocal line of the song is in my opnion Bob’s worst ever (Sorry Bob but it stinks !) However Bob reallly made a silk purse ( silk G string) out of a smelly sow’s ear.

Morning Dew rocked well hard and doorsy. GTC was simply beautiful. Girl from, with the In the Mood insert was really well done, even tho I would have preferred One More Cup of Coffee, or Jesus on The Mainline myself.

Ramble on was of course the one that brought the first standing ovation of the night. I guess he used quite a lot of compression on his voice as it was really punchy, else he has been flexing his PC muscle (lucky Jessica !!). He seems to have lost some of his paunch, and his saggy arse looked firm and fit again. The new Barnet looked cool. Nicely blow-dried long shag, altho by the end of the show it had turned into tighter ringlets (Gonna make u sweat). Apparently he asked Andy Airfix for some hair-dressing tips only to find that Andy has just got rid of his 3 ft mop !

7 and 7 is —- just amazing excellent voice spitting out the lyrics, faultless playing, Justin slashing out the powerchords. Drums nice and loud (why were they so low elsewhere ????). Yes the bouncers deserved to be publically flogged, but by the end we were moshing at the front any way. Funny In My Mind was wicked, why not insert a bit of In my Time of Dying ???

A House was really storming. I usually think that it just does not do justice to Bob’s vocal virtuosity, but it is such a magnificent piece that I forgive him. The guitar interplay was phenomal. Band 11/10 ! Tall Cool One well the best coke ad ever, much better than before. BIGLY well it was phenomal…. Start writing stuff like this Bob , that’s an order.

4 encores. Darkness was superb, tho’ I prefer the more jazzy POB version. WLL just reaked of sex, as indeed it should, followed by Celebration Day which ended with Bob impersonating an aeroplane mimicking the last line from the moog.

Who needs Led Zeppelin when it gets as good as this ? Well we would love a reunion, but mankind should thank its lucky stars that we still have Robert Plant and that he is still freaking us out. how about a DVD of this tour ?? Come on Robert money where your mouth is !!!

What I strongly suggest is Bob records a new CD of new or old songs asap, while he is still this hot, or does a road album like LZ 2, get that energy on tape, don’t wait till your cold. As much as I love Dreamland, Hammersmith proved what a vital dream-merchant RP still is.

As far as the band is concerned, turn up the drums in the mix and keep going. They really are a fantastic group, and from what Andrea says they all really get on well, so maybe we will get a truly wonderful CD from Bob again

This from Iain Forsyth
Thought I’d throw my 2 penny worth in on Plant at Hammersmith – bit of a contrary view.

First of all the venue didn’t help – in row P of the circle Plant was more of a rock pixie than a rock god and the sound was at times poor. Add the distractions of the coming and goings caused the bladder problems and trips
to the bar (could these be related?) and it was hardly an ideal situation to appreciate any gig.

To the gig itself – as others have said Hey Joe is an odd choice for set opener followed by a so so Four Sticks… for me the set didn’t really get going till Morning Dew. Ramble On was probably the high point of the set – the sustained ovation afterwards suggested others thought so too. Other high points included GTC, Darkness Darkness, Song To The Siren, Tall Cool One & BIGLY.

I saw Plant 5 time in the late 80s early 90s – last time at Brixton in 93 and for me this time was not up to standard of the best of those gigs. I don’t think the band are as good a previous outfits, Skin(?) didn’t
impress – in particular the solo on BIGLY seemed to go wrong – maybe he just had a bad night or the poor sound let him down? No match for either Robbie Blunt or Doug Boyle. Also With Charly hidden at the back and the lights often in our eyes, there was little visual counter point with Plant who didn’t seem to interact with the band much.

The main problem though was I think the set list – both the structure – e.g. opening with Hey Joe and STTS is and odd choice of encore, but most of all the choice of songs. 5 songs out of 17 were cover versions of songs previously done (to be honest mostly better) by other people. One of my friends described them as a tribute band and think he was about right. Robert obviously feels the need to pay some dues at the moment, however I
didn’t go to see him to hear songs by Love. I’ll look forward to those when I go and see Arthur Lee in January. Why has he almost totally abandoned his own solo catalog?

At 41 I don’t know If I count as a grizzled type and I certainly don’t think Plant has lost it – his voice is still astonishingly good. However, l left a gig I had been eagerly anticipating feeling disappointed. A feeling shared by those I went with. Here’s looking forward to the next one – just hope I don’t have to wait another 9 years!

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