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Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters At The Shrine Auditorium
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By Crystal Larsen
For a man who holds the distinction of the Golden God and former frontman for one of the greatest bands in the history of rock, Robert Plant is certainly not resting on his laurels. The 64-year-old icon was in sensational form for his performance on June 26 at the Shrine Auditorium.
Backed by the Sensational Space Shifters, which features members from his former band the Strange Sensation, Plant delivered just what the at-capacity crowd ordered — a taste of his vast music influences and a whole lotta rock and roll.
With the calming smell of incense resting in the air (and other aromas I won't mention here), the show began with the familiar acoustic intro to Led Zeppelin's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," played by guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson. As Plant slowly emerged from the side of the stage to deliver his opening lines, the crowd erupted into one of the loudest welcoming roars I've heard. While Plant showcased his vast range of influences throughout the night with eclectic takes on some of his most respected songs, from the Zeppelin catalog to his solo work, this performance remained true to the original. As stage lights splashed onto the crowd a fluorescent rainbow that perfectly accentuated the stage backdrop (a psychedelic interpretation of Plant's face), the singer threw his fans into a fit of wild excitement as his body moved in rhythm with his voice.
The night was complete with renditions of additional Zeppelin chestnuts, including "Friends" and "Going To California," but Plant showed an ambition to explore his impressive legacy in all-new ways. For Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog," Plant added West African tribal sounds with the help of Juldeh Camara, who played several eclectic instruments, including a ritti (one-stringed African fiddle) and a kologo (African banjo). The arrangement brought the classic tune down a few notches to resemble a tribal chant, though the "ah-ah" portions remained intact.
Plant also took a few adventurous liberties with his own songs and some covers. His performance of his 1983 solo hit "In The Mood" was steeped in Americana and the sounds of Justin Adams' lap steel guitar playing, while his reading of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" featured crunchy guitars and swirling solos.
In the concert's waning moments, Led Zeppelin fans were united with back-to-back performances of "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" and "Whole Lotta Love"; on the latter I saw a fan seated in front me attempt to woo his girlfriend with a whole lotta guitar playing on his water bottle.
Introducing the final song of the night as a "traditional English folk song," Plant ripped into a performance of Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll" that was true to the original. Whoever says rock and roll is dead has clearly never heard of the Golden God … or tried playing "Whole Lotta Love" on a water bottle.
Opening the evening was rock collective Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, whose frontwoman, vivacious vocalist Grace Potter, once told Vanity Fair it was her dream to open for Robert Plant. It appears Potter found her stairway to Zeppelin.
"Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" (Led Zeppelin)
"In The Mood"
"Tin Pan Valley"
"Spoonful" (Willie Dixon cover)
"Black Dog" (Led Zeppelin)
"Going To California" (Led Zeppelin)
"Please Read The Letter" (recorded with Alison Krauss)
"Friends" (Led Zeppelin)
"Fixin' To Die" (Bukka White cover)
"Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" (Led Zeppelin)
"Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin)
"Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" (traditional)
"Rock And Roll" (Led Zeppelin)
To catch Robert Plant And The Sensational Shifters in a city near you, click here for tour dates.