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SteveAJones

NEWSFLASHBACK: Robert Plant Houston Jun 7 1988

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HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Date: WED 06/08/88

Section: 1

Page: 21

Edition: 3 STAR

Plant wings it, and does it well

By MARTY RACINE

Staff

Robert Plant reportedly took no sound check prior to his concert Tuesday

night at the Summit - a rare and daring move for an arena show.

"He just wants to have fun this tour; sound checks are work," an insider

said.

Well, he "did" drop his harmonica when he flipped it following one song.

Otherwise, Plant and his new band did everything right, rocking the house

down with his new songs seemingly spliced together from the bluesiest of

Led Zeppelin licks.

Despite a slow, non-soldout start to the tour, based on his fourth

post-Led Zep solo LP, Now And Zen, the caravan is gaining momentum as it

swings southward. A virtual sellout of 16,000 attended, practically

ensuring "Now And Zen"'s re-entry into the national Top 10 charts.

The word is out: Plant is hot.

The reason is easily traceable to Plant's new band. Unlike his earlier

post-Zep bands which were pretty much Plant's contemporaries (he's 40),

this four-man crew is young and eager. They remind Plant of the way "I

felt when I was 19," as he put it in the introduction to the regular

show's finale, the Led Zeppelin tune "Misty Mountain Hop".

Indeed, guitarist Doug Boyle, the second star Tuesday, was reportedly so

nervous playing to arena-sized crowds at the first of the tour that they

had to get the lad drunk and give him a pep talk.

If he was playing scared Tuesday, all guitarists should feel fear. Boyle,

another in a line of skinny, pale British guitarists, was a master of both

raunchy (English-style) blues licks and towering rock thunderbolts, and he

used his vibrato bar to bend the sweetest of notes back into the melody.

In one sequence, he let rip with a nasty undertow from the old blues,

"Baby Please Don't Go". Boyle is thankfully too young to know how to preen

and dramatize as do most guitarists at this level.

Framed by a nifty set of revolving concentric circles, the seemingly

ageless Plant, dressed in tight black pants, black vest and red blouse -

like a casino dealer - merely exuded a good time. Easily working through a

cool repertoire of front-man moves, he made quick and lasting contact with

the delirious throng.

The mates started with "Why", segued into "Other Arms", and worked up to

"In The Mood", on which Plant toyed and teased with the rhythm. It was

here, as he occasionally asked the crowd to "talk to me," where we saw how

that '60s bawdy English blues, on which Led Zeppelin , the Stones, Jeff

Beck, the Yardbirds and others based their rock, has actually influenced

Plant's otherwise contemporary, synthesized dance-rock.

Plant used the blues (his band mates, most of them new to America, took

time to visit the Chicago blues clubs) to deliver an old John Lee Hooker

boogie, "Dimples", delivered among such new ones as "Ship of Fools" and

"Heaven Knows". His voice was excellent and even less strained than in the

'70s.

A terrific concert. Wonderful sound. Hard-rocking blues-based pop. Who

needs a sound check? The spirit of rock 'n' roll is in winging it.

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I saw Plant twice on this tour (MSG & Nassau, Cheap Trick opening) & he was great! I had seen him on his first solo tour in '83 at MSG w/ Phil Collins playing drums, back then he did no Zeppelin songs but that had changed by the Now & Zen tour (actually I think the concert shirt says Non Stop Go Tour).

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