Tuesday, September 14, 2010


People were surprised at the news that Robert Plant is doing another “solo” album, instead of following up the success of his six time Grammy winning Raising Sand with Alison Krauss. But the thing is, when he started touring with Krauss, people were surprised that he opted to do that instead of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour, which he would have made way more money for. The thing is, Robert Plant doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to, and he definitely isn’t doing anything for the money. It turns out that, in his mind, the second album with Krauss (which they did start sessions for) wasn’t happening for whatever reason. In his mind, it wasn't working... so it was time to move on to something else.

So, he moved on, as he has done several times in recent years: he’s left Jimmy Page, he left his bands The Priory Of Brion and The Strange Sensation, and now the Alison Krauss project. But he wasn’t done with Nashville. He called up the great Buddy Miller, who played guitar on the tour with Alison, and asked Buddy to put together a band and produce a new album. The band includes the incredible singer (and songwriter) Patty Griffin.

This long introduction kind of explains, for those of you who aren’t familiar, the band I saw on Sunday night at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. They had chemistry, and they had mojo. The show was incredible: they did stuff from their Band Of Joy album (which comes out today) – including covers of Richard Thompson’s “House Of Cards,” Los Lobos’ “Angel Dance” and Townes Van Zandt’s “Harm’s Swift Way.” They did some stuff from Raising Sand, “Rich Woman” and “Please Read The Letter.” Some real obscure stuff from Robert’s career – “All The King’s Horses” (from 2005’s The Mighty Rearranger) and “Down To The Sea” (from 1993’s Fate Of Nations).

Amazingly, Robert was happy to back up the other members of his band. He went to the back of the stage to play harmonica when Buddy took the mic for one of his best songs, “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go.” He sang backup when Patty sang “Move Up” (from her recent Buddy Miller-produced album Downtown Church from earlier this year) and also when his other guitarist Darrell Scott sang “A Satisfied Mind.”

And yes, they did mine the Led Zeppelin catalog, and to great effect, without making it a “Zeppelin Gone Country” show. “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Houses Of The Holy” (which is one of my favorites, and a totally underrated song, as far as Zeppelin songs go), “Gallows Pole” and even “Rock and Roll.” Patty Griffin looked like she was having a great time rocking out – moreso than she does at her own performances! The show was just about an hour and a half, and most of the crowd greeted everything ecstatically (admittedly, the Zep songs got the loudest reactions, along with Robert’s solo hit “Tall Cool One”).  I’m sure when they do a proper tour, the shows will be longer, and I totally recommend you check out the album and the tour when it comes to your town.

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