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Home » Robert Plant

Carling Apollo Theatre, Manchester

20 October 2002 2,233 views No Comment

Setlist : Win My Train Fare Home (If I Ever Get Lucky), Four Sticks, Down To The Sea, Morning Dew, Going To California, Girl From The North Country/In The Mood, Darkness Darkness, Celebration Day, Funny In My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ To Die), A House Is Not A Motel, Tall Cool One, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.
Encore: Song To The Siren, Whole Lotta Love.

This from Dan Smith
I have very mixed feelings about this concert. Firstly, the venue was the completely soulless Carling Apollo, cans of Black Label or Caffreys behind the bar – which closed as soon as the show started – and a fully seated audience. Didn’t see Arthur Brown, but apparently he was very good. The fellow sitting next to me had never been to a Robert Plant gig of any description before, didn’t like Dreamland and didn’t
seem at all interested in the possibility of a Led Zep reunion or even in seeing this show. As the performance wore on, I began to suspect that the rest of the audience were of a similar frame of mind.

Plant was in absolute top form all evening. His Plantations were magnificent, his voice more Led Zeplike than I’ve heard for years, and his audience interaction was faultless. The audience, though, just weren’t up for it. When the band launched into Four Sticks as the second song, just one person stood up. He launched into a full on Bad Manners style drunken fat bloke dance, and perhaps it was this that put everyone else off. Robert, however, sang most of the song directly to this one fan.

After Four Sticks, Robert said his first words. As someone who refuses to give up hope for a Led Zep reunion, the evening was filled with hints and teases. First words: A pantomime style, “Oh no he won’t!” I wish I had a recording of this to analyse in detail. Was he referring to the denied rumours? Did he mean he’s definately not doing it? Did he mean, “OH YES HE WILL!” I dunno actually.

The audience continued to slump in their chairs, just a handful of us standing up to applaud at the end of songs, then quickly sitting back down under the withering stares of the rest. Robert was still trying to get some audience participation going. The one stout gentleman who had been dancing was spoken to by the bouncers and Robert commented, “How Rock’n’Roll, the one guy who’s dancing gets dealt with by
security.” I felt terrible and, for the first time ever, left my seat near the front and went to the BACK of the theatre in search of some atmosphere. There were a few people there and it was a relief to stand up. It’s not as if anyone in front was blocking the view of the stage anyway. As the show progressed, more and more people made their way back to this little oasis of proper appreciation.

The excellent music continued – someone else will supply a setlist, but it included a fantastic Celebration Day, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (superb guitar solo), and a selection of Dreamland tracks (though not as many as I would have liked). More audience banter. As Robert did one of his long drawn out intro rambles, someone shouted out, “Do it Planty!” “I AM Planty, and I AM doing it,” he replied. There was loads more, but I’ve completely forgotten them now.

The set ended and the audience finally got off their arses and called for an encore. The band came back and played a brilliant Song To The Siren. I’m told that the Tim Buckley original is better, but I haven’t heard it and I really can’t belive that anything could be better than Robert Plant’s version, could it? Then they did a lovely long lead in to Whole Lotta Love. The voice was better than ever. I thought he was going to skip the “you neeeeeed… looooooOOOVE” scream, but he got it in and hit it spot on.

Finally, in Whole Lotta Love, he definately sang, “you need… UNTIL NEXT YEAR… love”. What does this mean?? It’s ON I tell you! Don’t give up hope!
This version of events from Frank Urbonas
Show opener, Arthur Brown, without his Crazy World, played a exciting, if somewhat short set, being backed by two outstanding musicians who, for me anyway, will have to remain nameless. Obvious highlight being, Fire.

Stage set was a back cloth featuring the Dreamland album cover and 5 Tower with Pierce Spotlights on top. Reminded me a bit like The Day Of The Triffids, remember them? Fashion note, Robert was sporting regular denim jeans and a nifty ‘hippy looking’ pastel green centre button shirt with a patterned edging to it. He seemed quite relaxed and well ‘up for it’.

The show started with a quickened If I Ever Get Lucky and after taking the applause straight into Four Sticks. From where I was sat 9 rows back and stage right, I couldn’t see Clive at all, so who knows how many sticks he was using? Down To The Sea followed a ‘Hello Manchester’ and then we were into Morning Dew. I’ve seen Robert perform this song 5 times now, and each time it appears to get rockier. Robert made a comment about some guy a couple of rows in front of me who was the only person standing, the security people were not pleased and eventually confined him to his seat, and after a stool being placed, we were into a moving Going To California. This was followed by Girl From The North Country which had Plants-In The Mood in the mid section. Darkness Darkness, Celebration Day and Funny In My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ To Die) followed by according to Robert, a song he loves and for the 500th time, they played a blistering version of A House Is Not A Motel.
Tall Cool One was again dedicated to Elvis before Babe I’m Gonna Leave You closed the set. 78 minutes and they were gone. Don’t know if it was where my seat was, but the thing that struck me most was, how loud it was. Quite different from the POB days.
Encore time and before they could get going Robert likened all the cat calls to being at an auction. Introduced as being written by Tim Buckley, Jeff’s dad, Robert sang a heart rendering Song To The Siren. We were all invited to get down to the M62 Delta for a bluesy Whole Lotta Love. After a curtain call bow, Robert’s parting comment was “Goodnight Manchester, see you soon. Maybe next year?” Read into that what you will.

Overall the band gave a good solid performance with Skin and Justin working off each other really well. skin really is proving to be a real find. So there you have it, roll on Sheffield on Thursday.
This from Claire Pullinger
I’ve just read Dan Smith’s review of his experience at Manchester. Obviously Dan was annoyed by the ‘lack of response’ from the audience. However, I had a whole different night!
All seaters are a problem really. People can’t see anything if the person in front stands up. OK we should all stand up, but not everyone wants to stand so they don’t, basically. The ‘bad manners lookalike’ guy was four rows in front and to the right of where I sat. He was already well oiled before the show. The ironic part was that Robert actually came out in front of the monitors and was looking directly at the guy, but the guy had his back to Robert and was too busy berating the members of the audience nearby, so missed the whole thing!
Everyone around where I was were thoroughly enjoying the concert and were fully into the whole gig. Everyone did stand at the end of the set and then throughout the two encore songs.
If not wanting a ‘reunion’ makes you a bad person, then count me in! I love Robert on his own. I have been to many many concerts of both Robert and Zeppelin since the 1968 gig at Liverpool University, but that was then. I prefer now.
Arthur Brown was phenominal! His rendition of the Simon Dupree and the Big Sound number ‘Kites’ was made his own that night.

Geoff Rigby adds..
I may have felt like a baby in an audience of those lucky enough to have been around when Zeppelin were the place to be, but to this 21 year old this gig went some way in consolation for the fact that i’ll never see the original Zeppelin play. I could not have dreamed that this gig would be so damn good. I saw POB at Glastonbury 2000 when I had onlyjust bought Zep II and IV, and wasn’t really familiar with anything else, but this gig eclipsed that in every way. I went into the hall resigned to the fact that Plant would NOT be as good as the recordings he made in the 70s, but at least I’d have seen the man perform again. How wrong I was, with the exception of one line in ‘Going to California’ he hit every single note as though he was still the 20-something golden god who still struts around on my bedroom wall. To those who were annoyed or bemused at the crowd’s lack of energy I say this, some of us were simply in awe of a man on top form, who we might have thought would remain only an image on the Song Remains the Same DVD!

Sometimes, when you hear an album played live, the performance does not live up to the recording; in this case, this superb band’s immaculate delivery of the diverse array of songs from Dreamland only served to enhance them and improve them. The up-pace ‘Morning Dew’ rocked in its own way just as much as any of the Zeppelin tunes we were treated to, ‘Funny In My Mind’ had the feet (and more) tapping, and ‘Win My Train Fare Home’ opened the set with its mysterious dwelling as Robert slowly entered the theatre to the expected reception. The cover of Love’s ‘A House is not a Motel’ from the superb album ‘Forever Changes’ was both impressive and exhilarating, Plant himself would probably tell you to buy that album, so I will tell you…buy it!

The majority of the crowd remained standing for the encore and I took the opportunity to get a closer look to experience what can only be described as beautiful. ‘Song to the Siren’ doesn’t really do it for me on the album, but this was something else, the audience were in awe at the sheer feeling with which Plant obviously holds this song. In fact, the gig was probably so good because of that fact, these aren’t songs Plant is playing against his will in order to please a crowd deprived of Zeppelin for 22 years, if he were surely ‘Stairway’ would rear its head. Here we have a man playing a series of songs for which he has the upmost respect, and, unlike many of his succesors today, he makes clear the eternal debt he owes to those who have gone before him.

At the end of an hour and a half of music from across the genres and the decades, from all ‘periods of time’ as Plant puts it, there is only one thing left to do……..stand, advance, admire, absorb, and shout….there is only ONE Robert Plant, roll-on next time, What a Whole Lotta Love.

This from Jamie
The usual eastern music can only mean one thing, that Mr.Plant is about to take the stage. Sure enough down go the lights and the band hit IF I EVER GET LUCKY. They are shortly joined by Robert himself.

Next up is FOUR STICKS, and the only thing i can say is that plants voice is fantastic as he seems to be hitting all of the notes with absolute ease. One thing which i hate about Strange Sensation is that in both this concert and the Liverpool gig earlier this year, they do now seem to be able to match the man himself with any kind of power. They play four sticks without any energy at all which really spoilt a good solid performance by Robert.

A good evening, little joke and into DOWN TO THE SEA. This is a good version but it is way too slow. It seems to be lacking something which it had on the album version, as it has a building feel to it but then just ends without any kind of climax.

MORNING DEW is next. I liked this version when it was performed in Cardiff but last night it again was just missing something. It has transfomed alot though, from the soothing feel it has on Dreamland to what can only be described as a sort of Doors touch. Not bad though on the hole. With the words ” Never go to Manchester without a regular stool ” means the next song has to be GOING TO CALIFORNIA. No complaints, perfect version and Plant’s vocal were just spot on. I think the crowds feelings were the same as mine as a standing ovation followed.

Next was GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, which contained a few lines from IN THE MOOD. Pretty good again i have to say.

Next up Darkness Darkness. This really came across in both Cardiff and Manchester as the favoured track from Dreamland as the crowd were already shouting for it before it was played and really seemed to enjoy every minute of it when it was. Perfect version.

Without any introduction came a brilliant version of Celebration Day. Almost identical to the radio 2 version and really was the first song (apart from GTC ) to get the crowd going.

A few screams from the female members of the audience were answered with, “oh i like that, yes i like that , even at this age”
I even heard somone shout “show us your penis”, which was thankfully ignored. Before Plant could introduce the next song some guy shouted, “Do it Planty”.The response was “Yes i am Planty and i do do it.Unimportant but a bit of fun.Then came FIXIN TO DIE. Again i felt this was lacking in some areas. For a start it seemed to have been slowed down which was a mistake. The Cardiff version was much faster and better i think.

A HOUSE IS NOT A MOTEL was introduced by Robert showing his usual appreciation for Arthur Lee and Love. Good version again and a wonderful eastern scream from Plant during the middle of the song demonstrated the awesome power of his vocals.

Another good song was TALL COOL ONE. This one helped pick up the pace as the setlist really did appear to be a more relaxed and slower performance than in Cardiff.

Lastly was BABE IM GONNA LEAVE YOU. All i can say is the Robert’s performance was perfect but again not backed by the power this song needs during the chorus.

ENCORE- SONG TO THE SIREN. This version still, for me, wasn’t as good as the Priory’s version but was the best ive seen from Strange Sensations. Plant sang this beautifully much to the crowds approval.

To end this night was WHOLE LOTTA LOVE. As in Cardiff, this was a really good version, but the middle bit was not as good as it was in St Davids. Plant let the crowd have ago during the, “Woman, You need” bit. Then he added, “This is your last chance…untill next year” (hint hint).
Then that was it, he left the stage. To conclude, the voice was brilliant, the band, not so good. A wonderful performance in Cardiff left me with no desire to see Page, Plant and Jones together again. Last night changed my mind. This current band is simply not good enough for this amazing vocalist.

Steve Wrights finishes with..
A response to oen of the above reviews. I was lucky enough to have a front row seat slap bang in the middle (thanks to the TBL/Web ‘For Subscribers Only’ Email Alerts!). What the reviewer has to remember the venue is fully seated and to stand up and prance around with a chair in front of you is fairly difficult. I saw Plant at a very small club on the Priory tour,all standing which allowed for occasional body expression. If one wants to get up and wet one’s knickers so be it,but sometimes being seated and just taking in an event can be just as satisfying. An Excellent show by the way with a brilliant young guitarist (Skin). As for reading into Plants words,as far as i’m concerned just the usual Plant waffle.

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