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Hammersmith Palais, London

4 December 2005 2,263 views No Comment

Intro: Shine It All Around Remix, Freedom Fries, Seven and Seven Is, Shine It All Around, Black Dog, Let The Four Winds Blow, Going To California, Another Tribe, Four Sticks, Hey Joe, What Is And What Should Never Be, Tin Pan Valley, When The Levee Breaks.
Encores: The Enchanter, Whole Lotta Love

This from Paul Harper
A great show again last night. I drove down to London and did the first 150 miles in 2 hours, it then took me 2.5 hours to drive the last 18 miles across the city, and it was Sunday afternoon/early evening, the traffic was horrendous. It was my first time at Hammersmith Palais but I do like it as a venue. The place was packed as expected. Its not very often I enjoy support bands but I did with the Shack Shakers. A mix of a redneck Stray Cats meets Dr Feelgood. The vocalist was as mad a badger to say the least. However he probably didn’t endear himself to those on the front row cos he was forever spitting and clearing his nose at them. He looked like he was having his first night of freedom having been released from a Japanese prison camp. He looked like a young old man Steptoe. He was manic. Good fun band all the same.
Mr Plant looked cool and is still in very fine voice. He announced it was their 90th show of the tour. That’s some going by any standards these days.
Highlights for me were Let the Four Winds Blow, When the levee breaks ( absolutely stunning), Hey Joe, Going to California ( lovely spoken bit in the middle by Robert), Another Tribe, Four Sticks, The Enchanter. WLL still kicks shit out of you.
For those who still believe that his voice isn’t up to it need to come and smooth the hairs on the back of my neck.
I am back down to London again tomorrow for the Forum gig. The train will take the strain tomorrow and a hotel will ease my pain of driving 350 miles.

This from Down By The Seaside
Well it’s cold, dark on a Sunday night…it can only mean one thing…Robert at the Palais, we, as always, miss the support band, The Shack Shakers, who by all accounts were really good, and we get as close as we can, which is very close. The PA is blasting out the usual Moroccan beats (am I the only one who thought the second number before the Shine It Remix sounded very much like Robert singing in Arabic with the Sensations backing?).
Robert enters to Freedom Fries and boy is he rocking, looking slimmer than earlier in the year, dressed in black shirt and trousers. Seven Is follows and the power the band hits you with is immense, the radio friendly Shine It All Around gets Robert dancing in circles is followed by Black Dog, which I’m afraid I’m getting tied off now, with a bulging back catalogue why, choose this? I feel the same with Going To California (too familiar nowadays) which follows the beautiful Let The Four Winds Blow. Another Tribe benefits from being moved from the drum laded opening spot to this, more album like version mid set. Four Sticks rocks along and does fit amongst these numbers. The Sensations reworking of Hey Joe finds the band locked together in a fine psychedelic workout with Clive Deamer coming out on top. What Is And What Should Never Be provides us with a rest bite before the sonic Tin Pan Valley, bathed in white light Robert repeats “like this” over and over again, stunning. The slow build of When The Levee Breaks is a fitting end to the main set, with its four part harmonies, the song to lifts and lifts until Justin Adams solos out at the end. Encores are the practicable Enchanter and Whole Lotta Love…the formers world rhythms lift us ever onwards whilst the latter’s history brings us altogether for a grand finale…and yes I sang along and played the air guitar.
Tonight proved that Robert Plant and The Strange Sensations have become just The Strange Sensations, a band of six players, all dependent on each other, Justin and Skins work together is a fine blend of styles that complement each other, with Clive and Billy’s solid rhythms laying down a solid foundation for the indispensable John Baggott to build layers of beautiful soundscapes giving Robert room to weave his magic. Less reliance on the past and a faith in the present would help…we don’t need Black Dog or California, I for one would love to Morning Dew or Dirt In The Hole or imagine what this group do if they revisited Shaken And Stirred, Principles or Manic Nirvana? All of a sudden on this cold Sunday night in December, in London with all the hassle of getting that last train home, the future is looking brighter. See you at The Forum, I’m the one coming in late!

This from Steven Connor
Hi. Here’s some thoughts on Sunday night’s gig:
Firstly, can I send out a plea to the more mature audience members? There’s a trend I’ve noticed at some of the Strange Sensation gigs, and it ain’t just me. A few fans of a certain age seem to be awfully defensive and territorial with the young ‘uns in the crowd. This behaviour is usually restricted to a little unnecessary grumpiness which was enough to sour the atmosphere slightly last night, but at its worst it can be downright ugly. The most extreme case I’ve seen was at the fantastic Ashton Court set a couple of years ago. While Robert was singing wistfully over the lovely acoustic idyll of Going To California some burly chap was laying into a young lad with both fists! The reason? The kid had been dancing during the previous song. So my plea is for a little more tolerance. It’s only music!
Anyway, about that music:
I was glad I turned up early enough to catch the support. The Legendary Shack Shakers really live up to their name. Graced by a guitarist who resembles a walking tattoo and a front man who appears to be an unholy cross between Timmy Mallet and Iggy Pop, they put on a show of punked up blues and rockabilly complete with stand up bass, a bit of fiddle and some satanic blues harp. Given the singer’s sword-wielding, snot-firing antics I was also glad not to be right up front. Their set ended with a threat: “Robert Plant’s next and he’s going to kill all of you.”
Happily, the only thing Robert Plant killed was any doubt he can still cut it. After a wait through the usual remix of Shine It All Around, the set kicked off with a fine performance of Freedom Fries. It was clear from the start that Robert was not going to be timid about using that voice. There was a fair bit of vocal improvising, particularly in the upper register, in evidence during the early songs in the set.
However, it was during a mid-set Hey Joe that he really let it rip. Even after all the times I’ve seen him in the past he still has the ability to surprise and amaze. From Hey Joe on he really seemed to be in a zone and was clearly enjoying himself enormously.
The rest of the band are no slouches either. Clive Deamer’s powerful drumming was particularly impressive and Justin Adams’ desert blues touches shone through. But it’s the sense of having developed into a real band with a real identity rather than a bunch of hired sessioners that makes it all work so well. Robert hinted that the band will soon just be known as Strange Sensation, without “that funny name at the front”.
As the band got into it they eventually dragged the crowd in with them and there was plenty of audience participation on Black Dog and the inevitable, but still brilliant, show closer Whole Lotta Love.
Overall then, a stirring performance and there seemed to be a lot of happy punters. Among the highlights for me were a very fiery Four Sticks, Another Tribe, When The Levee Breaks, a storming 7+7 Is, Hey Joe and a shimmering Going To California.
Roll on Tuesday!

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