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12th December 2017

Live review: Robert Plant

Having seen Plant strolling down Oxford road just hours before his set, I hoped this performance would be as equally stunning and disbelieving

30th November 2017, 02 Apollo 

There are very few words that can be used to exhibit just how overwhelmed I felt by this gig. The crowd was in the presence of a man who dramatically changed the music industry almost 50 years ago, leaving an impact so large that its shockwaves are still felt universally today.

Though, there were elements of creeping doubt as to whether or not such high expectations would fall short given the lasting legacy of Zeppelin and Plant’s decision to steer far away from it. From the moment he entered the stage, I was reassured.

Robert Plant’s creation of the Sensational Space Shifters has allowed fans to experience the result of his more recent musical exploits. It is the best thing he has done since the days of hair, mythological writing, and unbelievably tight flared trousers. The sheer exuberance that Plant conveyed on stage amongst the six other musical virtuosos was magical.

I’ve never seen any vocalist so enthralled by just being on stage in the company of musicians who are sharing in his passion for music with such diverse influences. As Mr Robert Plant claimed, he has been very lucky in being able to indulge and relish in music from all parts of the world which have been fused together in an evocative, powerful, and incredibly beautiful concoction that is the Space Shifters.

It is clear that the Space Shifters are masters in combining a range of instruments and techniques to produce songs such as ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Carry Fire’. Both reflect the peak of Plant’s modern musical expertise. By incorporating a wide-ranging variety of instruments such as the Violin, the kologo, drums, and keyboard, Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters are able to create such a diverse, unique sound ranging from traditional folk and psychedelia to African music.

Given the extent of influences, it was almost as if the audience were being educated not only on the music itself but also world culture. We had been invited into what seemed like a private session of experimentation and collaboration.

Alongside playing a setlist of 12 original songs, Plant treated his fans to a few Zeppelin greats including ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’, ‘That’s the Way’, and ‘What is and What Should Never Be’ — which left my jaw hanging open. Never in my life would I have ever expected to see Plant perform songs that have defined my entire childhood. This is where some of you may mutter under your breath ‘geez you need to move on’ but how can I possibly when as soon as Plant sang his first note of their rendition of ‘That’s the Way’ I found myself being forced off my seat, practically standing due to a feeling of electricity tingling up and down my spine.

In case, you’d been wondering, yes, Robert Plant still has the voice. Perhaps not the extremely high notes but in no way did this hinder his performance. The spins made to the Zeppelin songs performed reiterated just how comfortable Plant feels being part of the Sensational Space Shifters. ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ left me absolutely speechless and guitarist Liam Tyson certainly did the song justice. Admittedly, the performance offered a harrowing glimpse as to what it would have been like to see Zeppelin in the hey-day leaving me somewhat sad and in awe of equal measure.

Despite their interpretation of ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ not entirely convincing me, it would be scandalous to not pay recognition to the energy, vitality of this cohesive musical supergroup in every single song they performed.

Just as Robert Plant appeared to be humbled working alongside such a talented band, I was even more so to have finally experienced the Golden God perform live. Talk about Communication Breakdown!


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