Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
obert Plant sure wasn't afraid to stick with what worked. He made a major musical statement in 2007with "Raising Sand," his excellent disc with Alison Krauss, which found the rock icon veering towards country and rootsy sounds.
While Krauss is not around these days to play with Plant, that has not stopped him and his backing Band of Joy to live up to their name.
Plant mixed it up musically mainly with songs from his last 2 albums and some Led Zeppelin songs and a few covers during his sold-out, 95-minute gig.
Plant certainly was comfortable whether singing or talking. He stayed away from over-emoting and overdoing it vocally - less was more. At 62, he still has the vocal chops as evidenced by meaty takes on Led Zep's Ramble On and Rock and Roll.
But he also had no trouble being tender (Please Read the Letter with Band of Joy member Patty Griffin right next to him - truth be told, Krauss' vocals worked better on the song) as well. Plant and Griffin worked together far better on Rich Woman from "Raising Sand."
Plant was an easy going front man comfortable in his skin without resorting to ego. He told the crowd that he played at the same location back in 1969 with Led Zeppelin for a show shows, although that was a number of clubs ago (Tea Party).
But don't accuse Plant ever of living in the past. He has not eschewed his former band. In fact, by playing several songs and even opening with the blues number Nobody's Fault But Mine, he embraced the legacy, but he also was not resting on his laurels like some of his contemporaries are prone to do. He only played one song from his earlier solo albums, Down to the Sea from "Fate of Nations."
Plant clearly is a guy who loves music and exploring different styles that interest him. Fortunately, he apparently liked the country and roots sounds enough to deliver some more enjoyable sounds. His take on the Louvins' Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down from "Band of Joy" was proof of that.
Once again, Plant is touring with a stellar band behind him. While Griffin did not possess the angelic vocals of Krauss, she also had more bite than Krauss.
Buddy Miller was his usual ace self on guitar, while Darrell Scott took care of pedal steel, mandolin, acoustic guitar and banjo among other instruments. Byron House on bass and drummer Marco Giovino were the sturdy rhythm section. All were at the top of their game. Scott was a strong, soulful vocalist as well.
Like his Raising Sand tour, Plant also was not a stage hog. In fact, he retreated to the rear to take on backing vocals and blowing a might harp on one song, letting Miller, Griffin and Scott all take leads on songs.
Plant and his band simply exuded the enthusiasm in being to continue playing his music from the past and present and making it all sound fresh.
Two-thirds of the North Mississippi Allstars - Luther and Cody Dickinson - preceded Plant et al with a sharp 40-minute set. The Dickinson brothers were on guitar - a lot of slide - and drums respectively and created a heavy, sharp blues sound that sometimes recalled the Allmans.
These guys can play, and Cody's stint on electric washboard was certainly different. The Dickinsons were a worthy opener in setting the table for Plant.