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Author: Doug Elfman, The Chicago Sun-Times

It sucks when you get all excited to see a concert by one of your favorite musicians, and they proceed to stink up the joint. In tonight's "Soundstage," Robert Plant and his band are technically good, and their hearts are in it. But they change Plant's signature songs into unlistenable drivel.

"Black Dog" wouldn't be recognizable if it weren't for a few guitar licks and the lyrics, "Hey-hey mama, said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove."

It seems as if Plant wanted to turn the tunes into Indian/incense drum circles. That would be fine if the execution weren't heinous.

Or, maybe changing Led Zeppelin and Plant's solo standards isn't OK. It's understandable that rock stars don't want to sing their old hits the exact same way every night, 200 nights a year for 40 years. That must get tiresome. But too bad. There's a reason why his songs rocked in the first place. They were good that way.

Have you ever heard a restyled hit single by the original artist, in concert, that was as fun as it was on the album? Acoustic versions of songs don't count; they're simply slowed-down, quieter versions of the same arrangements.

Of the hundreds of concerts I've attended, I remember Prince doing a great blues version of "Alphabet Street" and Bruce Springsteen exquisitely demoralizing "Born in the U.S.A." Offhand, I can think of no other good, major self-restylings.

It's a better idea to leave remakes to other artists. I don't want to hear Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr rewrite "The White Album." But it was bad-azz when DJ Danger Mouse cut an underground mashup of "The White Album" with Jay-Z's "Black Album." (A Beatles copyright owner sicced lawyers on Danger Mouse, pronto, the dummies.)

Anyway, except for a mostly faithful version of "Gimme Your Love," Plant's concert is sad business. I love Zeppelin and Plant's solo albums. But did this concert come from the island of Gouge My Ears Out?

No, it was filmed here for WTTW's "Soundstage" concert series, which is usually a more entertaining hour, for a soccer-mom vanilla show that must elicit such viewer reactions as, "Aw, isn't it nice to see Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham getting along again?"

Acts are often stars of yesteryear and allegedly tomorrow. On the digital WTTWD channel today there's a marathon of previous high-def "Soundstages" with Martina McBride, Michael McDonald, John Mayer and Joss Stone, among others.

The sound system is great for TV, and no one's going to get seasick watching. "Soundstage" has the look of those pledge-drive concerts for distinguished PBS donors. Cameras don't swoop around constantly, unlike MTV or even VH1.

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