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Concert Review: Robert Plant and the Band of Joy – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA 4/20/11

If one has any questions about why Robert Plant revived the Band of Joy moniker for his current tour, an evening with the new incarnation makes it abundantly clear. It turns out that the pre-Led Zeppelin project name fits the current lineup perfectly, with Plant himself acting as the grizzled, gleeful pied piper of joy.

At Wednesday night’s show at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Plant spoke of finding paradise as a senior artist, which his relaxed, impish demeanor between songs further confirmed. He’s having a hell of a time up there, and that joy spread through the audience unhindered.

Flanked by the enormous talents of Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin, Plant kicked off the set with a reinvented, down-home rendition of Zeppelin’s “Black Country Woman,” an appropriate opener to a night of re-imagined numbers. With 2007’s Raising Sand with Alison Krauss and 2010’s Band of Joy, he has proven eager to explore new territory, and this current tour finds him melding Zeppelin hits, covers new and old, and gospel-inflected traditionals into one delicious bluesy, folky stew.

Much of the first portion of the show found Plant and Co. mining the new album, with performances of Los Lobos’ “Angel Dance” and Richard Thompson’s “House of Cards,” along with Plant and Miller’s arrangements of the traditional “Cindy, I’ll Marry You Someday” and “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down.” The haunting Low cover “Monkey” saw Plant and Griffin harmonizing under chilly blue lights to great effect.

Interspersed with these early songs were moments when Plant said he wanted to introduce some of his friends, ceding the stage and lead vocals to Miller, Griffin and multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott. Miller belted out a rousing rendition of his wife Julie’s “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go,” underpinned by Plant’s churning harmonica. Scott sang perpetual cover “A Satisfied Mind,” which brought his voice together with those of Miller and Griffin in gorgeous harmony. Griffin — clearly a crowd favorite — opted for Teddy McRae and Sid Wyche’s heartbreaking “Ocean of Tears.”

The latter part of the show featured Plant heading further back in time with “In the Mood” from his 1983 album, The Principle of Moments, and the 1998 Plant/Page (and later, Plant/Krauss) collaboration “Please Read the Letter.” The audience, most of which were respectfully seated for the middle part of the performance, leaped to their feet with the opening chords of “Houses of the Holy,” and stayed there for an extended cut of show-closer “Ramble On.”

The encore featured Townes Van Zandt’s “Harm’s Swift Way” from the new album, Zep’s “Gallows Pole” and the traditional “And We Bid You Goodnight.”

Plant remains a musical giant, with a voice that’s only been enriched with age. His decision to surround himself with a brilliant musical architect in Miller, the golden-throated Griffin and the ridiculously talented Scott makes for a band that has no trouble acting as the purveyor of joy.

About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.
  • Craig Mckinnon

    Hi,

    I Knew what to expect because I looked on You tube to see the live footage of band of joy. I Have wanted to see led Zeppelin for my whole life. It seems that will never happen so seeing Robert Plant live would have to do. His voice is perhaps the best I ever heard. I’m now 50 and have been going to concerts since I was in High school. I’ve gone to probably 40 concerts. This type of county/southern/ whatever music is not my cup of tea. If the classy and talented, Robert Plant had not been there I would not go to see the talented members of his band.

    The Show had it’s good moments, but It’s like he takes a awesome song and ruins it. I kept on waiting for the lead guitar player to play those iconic licks. Where was Jimmy Page?
    How can you not pay with the worlds greatest living guitar player? Robert is so great his voice is still incretable.
    Maybe heal do it again with Page and Jones. A lot of us hope so. At least We got to see Robert. Last Year I went to se Roger Daultry he played the stuff he wanted but he also played the stuff that the fans wanted to hear.

    Rock On !

  • http://www.atman.net/realization/ Bruce Morgen

    You Zep-obsessed ’70s dinosaurs have got to face the facts: Robert Plant has moved on and is no longer interested in providing your fix of “iconic licks.” There are dozens of shameless Zep reenactors for that job, and some of them include a Percy impersonator with bottle-blond curls and an accommodating willingness to sound like a stepped-on tomcat.

    The real thing has only so many years left to perform and he’s more than earned the right to do it however he pleases — that’s why he’s Robert Plant and Daltrey is an oldies act suitable only for nostalgia buffs.

  • zingzing

    led zepplin sucked anyway. too many dwarves.