I’ve had a love affair with Robert Plant for as long as I can remember. From the first time I heard his voice on a Led Zeppelin record, I’ve been a devoted fan, following his career post-Zep in each and every re-incarnation, whether he’s playing solo, with Jimmy Page or Alison Krauss, or with one of his talented bands, “Strange Sensation,” “Band of Joy,” or “Sensational Space Shifters.” I’ve seen him play all over Philly: The Spectrum, The Electric Factory, The Tower, The Mann, and at every Philly show since 1983. So it was such a huge thrill for me to see him play last night at a pop up concert at the Brooklyn Bowl, a very cool music venue/bar/restaurant/bowling alley in Brooklyn. With only 850 or so tickets available for sale, this show would put me up close and intimate with Plant like I’d never been before.
The doors opened at 10:30 p.m. and we took our place as close to the stage as possible (3-4 rows of people back.) While we waited for Plant, who was scheduled to come on around midnight, we were treated to an opening dj set by Philly’s own, Questlove, of The Roots. He spins there every Thursday and seemed comfortable and very approachable in the dj booth. He got the growing crowd moving with a mix of funky songs until Robert Plant and the “Sensational Space Shifters” took the stage. The band opened the show with a Howlin’ Wolf cover, “Spoonful,” and they did a killer version of Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die.” They played “Rainbow,” “Poor Howard,”” Turn it Up,” (one of my faves) and “Little Maggie,” all off their new album, lullaby and…THE CEASELESS ROAR. I honestly thought they’d play more songs off the new album (which I love) and I was looking forward to hearing some of the other new stuff live, but there were some “folk” songs (Plant jokingly remarked that they were old enough to be considered folk songs) that they performed instead. These songs included “Thank You,” a gorgeous rendition of “Going to California,” “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll,” ”Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” and a kick ass version of “Whole Lotta Love/Who Do You Love” as the finale. Plant encouraged audience participation and we did not disappoint! I feel bad for the people in front of me who had to listen to my constant singing and super loud yays and whoo hoos.
The show featured about 13 songs in all, and overall, it was really a great mix of blues, African rhythms, Celtic/English traditions, and good old rock and roll. The band was true to their name, sensational, and included Billy Fuller, Dave Smith, Liam “Skin” Tyson, John Baggott, and most notably, Juldeh Camara on a single-string fiddle, and Justin Adams, who co-wrote Mighty Rearranger, and really got the crowd in a frenzy with his dizzying guitar playing.
All in all, it was well worth the ride to Brooklyn. Even though the ride home at 2:30 a.m. this morning didn’t leave me much time for sleep, I would definitely do it all over again if I could. Robert Plant can be my rainbow and bring a song for me anytime!