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29 November 2005 2,298 views No Comment

Shine It All Around Remix, Freedom Fries, Seven and Seven Is, Black Dog, Hey Joe, Going To California, Another Tribe, Four Sticks, Let The Four Winds Blow, What Is and What Should Never Be, Dancing In Heaven, Tin Pan Valley, Gallows Pole, When The Levee Breaks,
Encore: Hoochie Coochie Man/You Need Love/Whole Lotta Love

This from Manlio Benigni
A very rainy, windy, freezing day. The venue, the indoor stadium of Pordenone, is nearly full to
capacity. It’s the first time of Percy in Friuli, a region in the North East of Italy, close to Austria
and Former Yugoslavia, and the fans know that they’re attending some sort of historical event. Before Robert, The Legendary Shack Shakers, a band for whom the expression “warm-up group” really seems to be invented. They play furious hard rockabilly blues, lead by the hyperactive Colonel J.D. Wilkes, a tiny singer-harpist which sometimes reminds me of the wild antics of Lux Interior of The Cramps, and they know very well how to “warm up” an audience. After all, the
band was personally picked by Percy, after attending one gig in America, and if you think carefully, not many groups can claim the honour of playing before Robert Plant.
Robert is dressed in sober black, and is in great form, even better than at the time of his excellent performances during the 2003 Dreamland Tour. He plays a lot with the audience, saying before Hey Joe: “Tonight we’re going to play some new material, and
some old material! This is an old song! It dates back to 1912”. At the end of the moving Going to
California, a tale of lost love, wandering and search for a new one, after the lines “Tryin’ to find a woman who’s never, never, never been born. /Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, /Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems”, he opens his arms and repeats ironically to the crowd: “And do you know? It’s alright now. I don’t care anymore. It’s okay”, like he finally came to terms with old regrets and ghosts.
The crowd literally goes crazy during Black Dog, even in his new, skeletal arrangement, led by a different riff. Percy is always balancing between harder and softer stuff, old and new, originals and cover: Four Sticks, a great hard-raga-rock, is followed by the delicate Let the Four Winds Blow, and the wonderful Light and Shade of Tin Pan Valley gives way to the dark, desperate pleas of “Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while” of Gallows Pole. Percy anyway succeeds in
making rockier even the most intimate of folk songs (see the crescendo of Hey Joe or Going to California), laying bare all their tension and pathos.
Maybe the main change of the Mighty Rearranger 2005 Tour is the way Robert acts the songs in a theatrical way: the splendid encore of When the Levee Breaks grows from acoustic to electric, from rain to mud, from life to death. After a terrifying series of “Go down, go down now, go down”, Plant waves “bye bye” to the dying from the flood in a way that can only be
described as spooky. Then all hell breaks loose, and we awake to the powerful crescendo of Whole Lotta Love, which with all his sexual innuendos brings the audience back to life and “alas” to the end of the gig.
What a night.

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