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Sonica Festival, Palermo, Italy

24 July 2003 2,074 views No Comment

Set-List: (not confirmed)
If I ever get llucky/ Four Sticks/ Morning Dew/ 7 and 7 is/ Gallows Pole/Going to California/ Girl from the North Country/ Hey Joe/ Ramble On/ Last time I saw her/ Tall Cool One/ Babe I’m gonna leave you
Encore: Darkness, Darkness/ Whole Lotta Love

Reports:
This from Jason Bolton
Was out front early at the gate of Villa Trabia surrounded by Sicilians gobsmacked that they could see RP for 5 euro. The event and tickets had only been advertised the day before – so there was a lot of jostling at the gate to get in and buy a ticket (thanks to TBL I’d already had enough notice to source mine early and had got a 3rd row seat!!). Fairly standard summer concert stage with a seated area in front and a wooden amphitheatre arrangement at the back for those with binoculars.

Set kicked off with “If I ever get lucky”, followed by a fiddly riff which led into a great drum-driven “Four Sticks” – featuring lots of kicking by Signore Plant. Inverted guitars were raised by the audience in possible ritual guitar worship everytime a LZ song raised it’s head above the psychedelia! “Morning Dew” led neatly into a very lively “7 & 7 is”, RP encouraged the guitars to “freak out” which they promptly did with sonic abandon. The acoustic set was very impressive, with RP singing so much better than last I heard with Priory of Brion in Dublin. Maybe it was the tea-sipping between songs? “Going to California” was nigh on perfect (two Italians in the front row embraced in semi-religious ecstasy during the opening chords – if that’s not a compliment I don’t know what is)! The crowd anxious for more had to be pacified with a bemused “Si, Si, Roberto is here” before “Girl from the North Country”.

The harder-edged section began with “Hey Joe”, a track I never really cared for, featuring a strange African ukelele (Gimru) which was mercifully lost in the mix. With a comment of “because we know what we like, and we do what we want …. This one’s for Frodo” RP really wailed through “Ramble On”, guitars playing around with the chording and slightly muddled ending – but this was incredible to hear! The preamble about the King included “not David Coverdale, … not Sting …. yet .. God forbid” with a launch into a fantastic version of “Tall Cool One” (why aren’t these live gems ever released as B-sides???) causing the crowd to break into a perspiring mass which RP promptly hosed down with a bottle of water while the band took a towelling break! Flamenco twiddling and RP-inspired Andalucian footwork and hand-clapping broke out into BIGLY with an extended guitar solo section that RP seemed happy to indulge. The vocals were fantastic, it was a real eye-opener that he can push this song with such force and ease. The guitars didn’t have the driving obsessive menace I’ve always associated with this song from the record version, but things change and there were no complaints!

The encore began with “Darkness, Darkness”, this was a great choice, much more intricate and a better crowd pleaser than Song to the Siren. “Can you feel the blues??” and the crowd screamed “Yeah!!”, “Can you feel the Palermo Blues???” and the crowd screamed “Yeah!!!”…. “I really don’t think so” says RP amid half-embarrassed grins all round. Some unconvincing blues erupted into WLL and the crowd went mental, with vocals interspersed with shouts of “Yallah” and North African vocal inflections. The freak-out mid-section worked well, apart from the Arabian tabla drum solo – though it would have been wonderful to hear a few current pop tracks worked in there somehow! RP sings Shakira? Maybe in a perfect world …… the evening ended with “See you in another 35 years”.

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