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Robert Plant In the Present

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Since the article link is funky and doesn't load all the time, and I started a thread I will post the article which I usually stay clear of. Hopefully they will fix it.

Robert Plant – Very Much in the Present

[ 0 ] July 29, 2010 | Alan Sculley

"Any Robert Plant interview these days almost has to include an inquiry about his interest in a Led Zeppelin reunion.

But one really doesn’t need his words to know Plant’s thinking about the issue. His musical projects over the past three years – the period since Led Zeppelin reunited for a one-off concert as part of a memorial event for the late head of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun — pretty much make Plant’s intentions clear.

First came the 2008 CD, “Raising Sand,” which paired the former Zeppelin frontman with Alison Krauss performing a mostly low-key collection of rootsy bluegrass/country influenced covers. The CD went on to win the 2009 Grammy award for album of the year.

Now Plant is set to release a new CD, “Band Of Joy,” Sept. 14, and is already playing its music on a short run of dates in the United States. This time, Plant is taking his exploration of American roots music in new directions, with the help of such stellar band members as guitarist Buddy Miller, mandolin player/multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott and singer Patty Griffin.

“I’m doing an interview with you because I am very proud of what I’m doing now in the present tense,” Plant said, once again shooting down any prospect of a Zeppelin reunion. “That really is my entire raison d’etre …I’m on a journey here.”

To Plant, he thought it was understood that the 2007 reunion show would be a one-off event.

“I don’t think we’ve ever thought of it going any farther, to be honest,” Plant said. “I think the great thing about it was that we could do it, and we did it really well with dignity and with excitement. The idea of traveling around the sports facilities of the world is something that would have to be thought about really, really carefully.”

That opinion, however, may have changed in the aftermath of the reunion gig. There have been reports online and in the print media that Plant’s former bandmates, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, are both interested in a reunion tour, and may have auditioned different singers (including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler) to fill Plant’s role as frontman.

The other musician involved in the reunion, Jason Bonham (son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) has also in press reports expressed enthusiasm for a Zeppelin reunion and said that he, Page and Jones spent time in 2008 working on material and rehearsing.

The fact that those rehearsals never panned out or that Jones this year has been gigging as part of the super group Them Crooked Vultures (which also includes Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age) and that Page has a solo album in the works haven’t silenced the rumors of a future for Led Zeppelin.

For Plant, though, playing the December 2007 reunion accomplished the goals he had for Zeppelin, essentially bringing closure to a band career that ended with the 1980 death of John Bonham. He noted that Bonham’s widow and mother attended the concert.

“The Bonham family went away from there going ‘Yeah, OK, that’s good,’” Plant said. “That made my heart sing.”

The quality of the show also allowed Zeppelin to go out on a good note, Plant said.

“That night was a spectacular night,” he said. “It was really something special. For me now, I can’t see any way of it carrying on. I just don’t know how mechanically it could happen. It (a tour) is such a huge deal. And I’ve seen people do huge deals. I’ve seen Genesis on tour, U2, people like that, and it’s not, it becomes a military operation rather than just enjoying the time.”

Being in the moment creatively and as a performer – and moving forward artistically – are clearly top priorities for Plant.

And while the “Band Of Joy” CD will not be a part two of “Raising Sand” by any means, Plant sees it as a next step in his musical journey – one in which he is gaining musical knowledge and learning to sing in different styles and intensities than during his Led Zeppelin years and on the eight rock-oriented solo albums he has released since Zeppelin.

“Obviously there’s a continuum because I went back to Buddy (Miller) and back to Nashville, where I knew I could get all of the jobs done in one place, and I knew there was a fund of people and a great understanding of music,” Plant said. “Now bear in mind, I’m the student here. And when we sit on the bus together, everybody else is in one place and I’m kind of playing catch up on a lot of other American music that I didn’t know about.

“It’s a great learning curve for me, but it (the music on “Band Of Joy”) is a lot tougher and it’s much more tricky than ‘Raising Sand,’” he said. “It really does growl and clunk and it comes out of the church. It’s Sunday morning and definitely Saturday night.”

The album project (which is named after Plant’s pre-Led Zeppelin group, Band Of Joy) began with Plant recruiting Miller, a key band member on the “Raising Sand” tour, to produce, choose songs, recruit musicians and coordinate recording sessions for the new CD.

In December, a first recording session was held, and after initially being excited with the results, Plant realized the direction of the music was a bit off. That’s when the “Band Of Joy” CD took on a whole different facet.

“Initially we created a very pastoral sound,” Plant said. “We were making a very pretty record. And over Christmas I realized I’ve got to have some sinewy in there. I called Buddy and I said we need to pump this thing up a bit and get even more dynamic interplay between the kind of mood of the songs. He suggested would I think about Patty (Griffin), and I said ‘Of course.’ Patty’s got just the right voice to bring the edge onto the record, to create a bit more of a cutting edge. And also, (there was) a change of material, with a lot more kind of spook, so the second session became much tougher and much more psychedelic, if you like.”

The entire core lineup of Band Of Joy is on tour with Plant now – Miller, Scott, Griffin, drummer Marco Giovino and bassist Byron House – and the singer expects the new material to evolved further as the group performs its concerts. With Plant, Griffin, Scott, Miller and House all being accomplished singers, Plant said the shows have become a “massive vocal experience.”

The musical format and musicians involved are also allowing Plant to reinterpret some songs from the Zeppelin catalog, with Griffin playing a key role. He noted she takes the song “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” down a notably different path.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Patty,” Plant said. “The way that she connects with me on stage is both humorous and incredibly, the voices together, because when we both let rip, when we let it go, man, with a couple of raised eyebrows, we take things up a notch. I’ve never seen Patty play live (as a solo artist), so I don’t know how different this is, but I would imagine because of the material she’s singing, she’s singing ‘Tall Cool One’ (a Plant song from his solo album “Now And Zen”) as a duet and (Led Zeppelin’s) ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ as a duet, and it really is, it’s great because she’s really wailing.”"

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Kiss of fire, thanks for posting this great article. I love how happy and excited Robert is. He'd been searching for something he hadn't found and I think FINALLY this is it. His voice is sounding incredible, the band is amazing and I cannot wait to see him. Every song I've heard so far is great and I think he's just gonna add more and more songs on his extended tour. It's amazing how connected they all are as if they worked together for years and years. Robert's imagination musically and inspiration are always "dead on".

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  • 2 months later...

Did you guys see this? Don't agree that Patty's voice could possibly sound "strained" but then maybe it was a bad night? IMHO she sings rings around Krauss any day but then I'm not a fan of sedately proper "sing by the numbers" passionless singing. Don't hate me. I had enough of those vocals in Sister Regina's Catholic High School Glee Club. I just think everyone in Band of Joy is perfect and sexy and all morphed into Robert's passion. And they continue to get better and better. And Robert doesn't look BORED. Anyway, read below:

Where the spirits fly… @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh


Robert Plant & the Band of Joy

Usher Hall, Edinburgh


Despite the vertebrae-wrangling that comes with trying to see what’s happening on a stage obscured by a staircase from a seat tucked in a vertiginous armpit of the gods in the top tier of a dizzyingly tall theatre, and the variable sound quality from said position – horribly mangled at times – there is no doubt that the players below are each sublimely efficient. And if it’s not overstating things a tiny bit to say godlike, there’s at least a celestial glint in the eye of Robert Plant and his five-piece mini-pantheon, a 2010 invocation of his pre-Led Zeppelin Brummie blues outfit, Band of Joy.

As ringmaster, Plant is a soothing and generous presence, a leonine and mellow figure weaving in and out of the semi-circle of session greats playing his jukebox picks, which he joshes are “all completely original.” In their own way, they really are.

The set opens with a downbeat, pensive intro of Low’s ‘Monkey’, selected from the recently released eponymous BoJ album, produced by Buddy Miller who is introduced as “the captain of our ship” ahead of a skiffle swing through his track, ‘Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go’, adorned with a burst of harmonica from Plant.

There’s banjo, lap-steel and mandolin (courtesy of Darrell Scott), double-bass and washboard skiffle (‘Central Two-O-Nine’), bluegrass, soulful deep blues; a history lesson mapped out on the rich tapestry of Plant’s ever-growing and evergeen canon of influences. Marco Giovino’s easy drumming is sometimes understated but never underplayed, he hits a perfect groove of simplicity and power, fluidly shifting and rearranging his drumkit.

Patty Griffin has much to live up to filling the space left by Alison Krauss, the multi-Grammy winning muse on 2007’s Raising Sand album. There is plenty of sultry slink to ‘Rich Woman’, from that same record, but there are times when Griffin’s vocals seem strained as they claw to reach the audience (or perhaps just us in the rafters) over the luxuriant, bassy, harmonies of the fellas, not least when they wander into the territory of spirituals. Then again, someone has to wear the groovy chainmail-adorned hippy-chick chiffon smock and add a sashay of chirruping lady-glam to the circus of hoary old rawk warhorses.

Versatility and fluidity are the keys to the power of Plant’s voice, these days. There is more span to it now than the Thor-hammering banshee wail from the archives, though he can still give it the odd turbo-boost. But it’s best low-pitched, hypnotic, thoughtful and poised. Kinda lovely; you want to wallow in it, as it meanders from intimate to expansive. And there’s a genuine shiver up the spine as he whispers his way into the brooding ‘Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down’. Thank you, Uncle Tupelo. An outstanding moment.

The biggest surprise for me, though, is the Led Zeppelin covers: not that they are included on the set-list, but that the set could easily be as good without them. Plant is himself something of a mighty rearranger, or maybe just wanted to deny Jimmy Page royalties for one or two of his riffs – it takes a couple of beats for most of the crowd to pick up what’s what as he drops in a rearranged ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, ‘Houses of the Holy’, ‘Gallows Pole’ and ‘Tangerine’. But he’s canny (and mature) enough to know that there are crazy-mad Zep-heads here who would be vociferously, even viciously, affronted if they were denied their fix.

As someone harbouring life-long pangs that I was too young to see Led Zeppelin in their soaring, bombastic glory, perhaps it took hearing their songs reinterpreted as folk-edged pub rock-ish covers by one of only three men on the planet who’s entitled to do so, to realise that it’s no bad thing to ramble on…

The three-song encore starts with a disappointingly underwhelming go at Townes Van Zant’s ‘Harm’s Swift Way’, though ‘Rock and Roll’ perks up the flagging crowd and has them (yes) rock ‘n’ rolling in the aisles. But again it’s sweet simplicity that wins your heart, as they bring down the curtain with a fleeting a capellarendering of ‘A Very Cellular Song’ after Plant pays tribute to his hero Mike Heron’s Incredible String Band, jovially agreeing with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s characterisation of them as “holy”. A perfect, warm lullaby to dispatch us into a cold, starry night.

By Vicky Davidson


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When the former Led Zeppelin frontman turned alt-America trans-Atlantic crooner

The Herald (Glasgow); Oct 20, 2010; Robert plant, Usher Hall, Edinburgh keith bruce; p. 17 Full Text:

(Copyright © 2010 Newsquest Media Group)

When the former Led Zeppelin frontman turned alt-America trans-Atlantic crooner last played the Usher Hall he was 21 years old. At 63 he's still doing that twisty-legged dance with the mike stand and he's not too precious about his recent success to truck out the old hits. In fact, his faux senior moment introducing Zep's Rock'*'Roll was genuinely funny, and thankfully the guy behind me, who had been shouting for it, did not have heart failure as a result.

This was possibly the oldest rock'*'roll audience even I have ever been part of, and Robert Plant gave them what they wanted, while still showing plenty of respect to the American colleagues who make up his 2010 Band of Joy. So he sat back and played blues harp while guitarist and producer Buddy Miller took the spotlight, and provided backing vocals to Darrell Scott's Satisfied Mind and Patty Griffin's country gospel. This is one fine combo, with Scott a wizard on pedal steel, guitar, banjo and mandolin and Miller coaxing classic guitar sounds from an assortment of axes and vintage amplification.

For some of the time Plant was actually a little too high in the mix, because the vocal arrangements were another real pleasure. That was as much true of the whole ensemble as the duo of Plant and Griffin which matched Low's Sparhawk and Parker on the opening Monkey, made a rocker out of Raising Sand's Please Read the Letter, and refreshed the double-tracking on Misty Mountain Hop. It and Gallow's Pole were the best of the old Zeppelin tunes, sitting easiest with the material - some of it of much greater vintage - that is this band's reason for existing.

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