Cat Posted February 17, 2008 Share Posted February 17, 2008 Author: Jim DeRogatis The legend Jimmy Page encouraged held that, like Robert Johnson, he sold his soul to the devil to guarantee success for his band. When Led Zeppelin was crossing America like Viking marauders in the '70s, terrorizing groupies and re-inventing hard rock, that seemed plausible. But last night, a 54-year-old Page and his former Zep buddy Robert Plant, 49, cycled through 18 antiseptic and uninspired tunes at the United Center on the first of a two-night stand. It was as exciting as a guitar store clerk showing off his technique. The sale never happened, 'cause friends of the devil rock a hell of a lot harder. More than recent visitors the Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton, Page and Plant drew a classic-rock crowd. People came out to hear old favorites, as evidenced by the mass exodus for beer and the bathroom during the four songs from "Walking Into Clarksdale." Chicagoan Steve Albini, who produced the album, was probably the only one in the stadium who came to hear the new stuff. (He was spotted heading backstage.) New songs such as "Shining in the Light" and the title track were as limp and lifeless live as on the album. Not that the classics fared much better. Plant has become Robert De Niro as the punch-drunk Jake LaMotta late in life, after the Bull stopped Raging. Technically, he played better than on "The Song Remains the Same" or the recently released BBC sessions. But there was no spark or sweat. The consummate professional, Plant whirled like a dervish in his leather pants and changed the phrasing on signature lines to fake out the crowd as it sang along. But he was nowhere near three-point range of the high notes on "Going to California." The biggest problem is that Page and Plant refuse to hire the proper rhythm section: Zep bassist John Paul Jones and a decent acolyte of the late John Bonham (say, Carmine Appice). Drummer Michael Lee played all top kit, and the magic of Zep's sound was Bonham's bass drum kicking Page's riffs into gear. The only way to explain fans' enthusiasm for mediocre readings of "Heartbreaker," "Ramble On" and others is that they were hearing the old recordings in their heads instead of the soggy sounds onstage. If you must see Page and Plant tonight, than at least skip the wretched faux worldbeat of histrionic opener Lili Haydn. The headliners go on promptly at 8:30 p.m. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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