Robert Plant is a legend in the music world. The former frontman of the famed British rock band Led Zeppelin (1968-1980) has amassed a long careers worth of songs and I was lucky enough to see him play this week on the Sensational Space Shifters tour in Melbourne, Australia (his first show here in 17 years). His voice is strong and when he hits those high notes you can’t help but smile! The show was accompanied with great music, loud guitars and a great stage and light setup. What more could you ask for?
This tour is a mix of solo music, covers and of course Led Zeppelin songs (alas no Stairway to Heaven!), but the latter have an interesting twist in that they have been infused with Plants own modern take and style – not the traditional sound, but still those same classic songs.
Plants music today is infused with so many styles, I guess the best way I could describe it is psychedelic bluesy world rock music! His band The Sensational Space Shifters are a fantastic group of musicians and provide great support to this diverse style of music (one of the members is from Gambia and plays a number of African instruments to give a tribal sound during the set).
The set list included:
Spoonful (a Howlin’ Wolf cover)
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin)
Going to California (Led Zeppelin)
Ramble On (Led Zeppelin)
Funny in My Mind – I Believe I am Fixin’ to Die (Bukka White cover)
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin) This one had a big crowd sing along “Lonely, Lonely, Lonely….”
Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin)
Despite these songs being very modified from their original versions they still went down very well and I really enjoyed the show. Robert Plant was on song, engaged the crowd and was very amusing with his comments and anecdotes. At one stage he likened the venue to a library as the crowd seemed so quiet, but everyone soon got in the mood and their was a great vibe in the Rod Laver Arena. The loud crowd noise for an encore would have made him smile.
The one question on everyone’s lips though is will Led Zeppelin ever reform and tour again? The original band members were Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass and keyboards – I was lucky enough to see him play with Them Crooked Vultures in 2010 with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme) and John Bonham (drums – he passed away in 1980 at just 32 from alcohol related asphyxiation. Regarded as one of the best rock drummers of all time, his death was the catalyst for the band breaking up as they would not continue without their drummer). Since they broke up in 1980 the band has only played together again on a few occasions – 1985 Live Aid, 1988 Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary, 1990 Plant and Page played a set together at the Silver Clef Awards Winner Concert, 1994 No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded was an MTV project with Plant and Page, 1995 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1996 Jimmy Page joined Robert Plant on stage during his world tour and most recently in 2007 when they performed as Led Zeppelin with John Paul Jones in a 2 hour set at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London. In a nice tribute to their lost member, during many of these performances including the 2007 concert, Jason Bonham the son of the late John Bonham has played drums for the band.
Although Robert Plant has said he wont do a world tour again with Led Zeppelin (he was apparently offered $200 million to tour following the 2007 concert but declined stating he doesn’t want to tour “like a bunch of old men“), in an Australian 60 Minutes interview in February 2013 Plant hinted at a possible reunion when he said he has “got nothing to do in 2014“. We can only hope!