“Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace, sounds caress my ears/ But not a word I heard could I relay, the story was quite clear”. The tambourine wielding, golden god of Led Zeppelin; undiminished by time, albeit in slightly looser fitting denim trousers. Backed by the Sensational Space Shifters, one would be forgiven for expecting Robert Plant to stray away from his previous incarnation – leaving most Zeppelin tracks barely recognisable to the human ear, by the man’s own admission “we fuck about a lot”. Opening with Anne Bredon’s ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ Plant delivers with intensity and dynamism; staying more or less completely faithful to the original arrangement, the songs largely remain the same.
Having proved his capability vocally, the set remained largely mellow as he dipped into the mythical Led Zeppelin back catalogue. Led Zeppelin III provided ‘Friends’ and the somewhat simplified ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp’, but the highlight came from a breathtakingly beautiful rendition of ‘Going to California’, where once again the clocks were rolled back to 1971.
Since the death of Bonham, Page and Plant have taken license to experiment – dipping their toes in to all manners of musical waters. The Delta Blues scene was a key ingredient in the Zep formula and tonight the master pays homage with a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Spoonful’. Backed by a powerful and vibrant sounding band, (comprising of Massive Attack’s John Baggott) the veteran rocker managed to enrich his potentially dated set with new life – avoiding the all-too-common garish, nostalgia-ridden sights as seen at Deep Purple gigs nowadays. Juldeh Camara brought a flavour of West Africa to tracks, most notably ‘Black Dog’ which was completely devoid of its infamous pentatonic riff.
Plant really brought it on home at the end with ‘Rock and Roll’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’, quipping, “at least it’s not Smoke On the Water, imagine doing that”. With possible hints at a Led Zeppelin reunion in 2014 all things are sound on the vocals front – Jim, John *cough*.