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Robert Plant could've trotted out a greatest hits set Saturday at the Auditorium Theatre and no one likely would've complained. Just even a hint of that old Led Zeppelin mojo, and he'd be basking in standing ovations.

Instead, the 62-year-old singer gave easy nostalgia the brushoff at the sold-out concert and went for something far more elusive. He's chased the muse of American music from his European home for several decades, and now he's got an American band to help him explore the roots of blues, country and folk. But again, the angle he took on these traditions was not always obvious, shadow-boxing with tradition and putting greater stock in rolling rhythm than rock bombast.

Plant glided through the concert like a lean, ringlet-haired ghost rather than a chest-thumping golden god; his voice evinced suppleness and nuance, his hands twirled shapes in the air, and he frequently deferred to his band and drifted into the shadows. At one point he played a harmonica in the darkness as if holding a private séance with the spirit of Sonny Boy Williamson.

Even Zeppelin perennials such as Black Dog and Ramble On didn't sound quite like themselves. Plant and his Band of Joy didn't try to replicate them in the least, instead aiming for a loose ebb and flow that suggested cosmic folk more than the proto-metal of the originals. Plant knew it would've been pointless to try to replicate the thunderous Jimmy Page riff at the heart of Zep's Houses of the Holy, so he didn't bother with it at all. Instead the song was refashioned around Darrell Scott's pedal-steel moan into a country lament, then shifted into a gospel-tinged affirmation.

Besides Plant, the band boasted three excellent lead vocalists in guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist Scott and Patty Griffin, and the arrangements exploited the power of their instruments, notably on a cappella passages in the old Porter Wagoner country hit A Satisfied Mind and the five-part harmonies that turned Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall into a moving elegy.

Those harmonies are a new weapon in Plant's arsenal; he often blended in with the ensemble, putting the focus on songs he admired, whether Richard Thompson's House of Cards or Townes Van Zandt's Harm's Swift Way. He was wise to let the band do the heavy lifting, because they were up for it. It shimmied at every opportunity, thanks to the work of bassist Byron House and drummer Marco Giovino, who mixed mallets, brushes and percussion knickknacks like a master painter. Miller played the resident mystic, even more so than Plant. He played guitar solos that simmered like a hot sun on asphalt during Please Read the Letter and a cover of Low's luminous Silver Rider.

It was music that couldn't easily be defined or pinned down, elusive and allusive, much like Plant himself.

The openers, a stripped-down version of the North Mississippi Allstars, did some roots-excavating of their own. Guitarist Luther Dickinson and his younger brother, drummer Cody Dickinson, dug into the trance-boogie traditions of their hill-country neighborhood. Even more impressive was a brief acoustic set by the duo, swapping rapid-fire guitar runs like back-porch virtuosos.

From: Chicago Tribune
The opening minutes of Robert Plant's concert at the Riverside Theater Monday night would have been inauspicious if not for the breadth of what followed.

The former Led Zeppelin lead singer came out in clothing that lowered expectations: shabby blue jeans and a gray T-shirt that failed to conceal a body grown doughy with age.

He and his Band of Joy then presented Zep's Black Dog in a way that confoundingly removed the bombastic heart of the original.

But then Plant spent the rest of the night demonstrating the aptness of his band's name.

It was the band he worked with on last year's Band of Joy album, the sessions for which evidently resulted in a blissful connection among the musicians.

They also just as evidently intensified Plant's ability to interpret the songs of others, an ability given a serious workout on Raising Sand, his 2007 Grammy-winning album with Alison Krauss.

Monday night, he captured the whispering menace of Low's Monkey, kept faith with the traditional Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down and bit into the vengefulness of Richard Thompson's House of Cards - without losing his own identity.

He was helped considerably by Buddy Miller, whom he described as the captain of the ship.

Not unlike Plant, Miller had to balance the essence of a song against his own creativity. (On House of Cards, for example, he echoed but did not ape Thompson's guitar playing.)

He didn't need that balance, however, when Plant stepped back so that Miller could rip through his own great country-blues number, Somewhere Trouble Don't Go.

Plant did the same for multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott and singer-songwriter Patty Griffin; he was content to supply backing vocals and prickly blues harmonica.

Most of the audience recognized the Band of Joy's talents, but of course most of the audience was happiest when Plant dug into the Zep catalog.

Even there, Plant reinterpreted: The folk-rock Tangerine added Scott's pedal-steel twang, while Ramble On became something like a Middle Eastern madrigal.

The finale was Dylan's A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, which was both grizzled (because Plant's voice had gotten hoarse by then) and gorgeous (because the Band of Joy harmonized around him).

From: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Website
The long golden ringlets, the rock-star poses and the microphone-stand strut are still the same. But the songs don't remain the same when Robert Plant sings them.

The voice of Led Zeppelin brought his solo tour to the sold-out State Theatre in Minneapolis Tuesday. There was no bare chest, Stairway to Heaven or Jimmy Page. This was the 62-year-old British rock god's continuing exploration of American music, with an emphasis on the rootsy Americana of his 2010 album Band of Joy. There were a handful of Zeppelin songs, but they were re-imagined to fit his current, no-earplugs-necessary but still essential sound.

The 105-minute concert was tremendously exciting, not in a rock 'n' roll thrilling kind of way but in an artful, deeply enriching, adventurously musical kind of way. While playing with probably the quietest drummer in his plugged-in career, Plant led an all-star American band that was organic and refreshing. Adept at the blues, bluegrass and Bob Dylan, they also mixed in Eastern, Indo-jazz and world-music elements.

The MVP had to be Buddy Miller, whose guitar was equally edgy and eerie. Darrell Scott offered a spice-rack full of seasonings on mandolin, banjo and other stringed instruments. Patty Griffin's voice provided the perfect contrast to Plant's, whether high and lonesome or mournfully soulful. Vocally, this concert was more about close harmonies than preternatural wails, more about nuance than power. The Golden God did cut loose once or twice (noticeably on Zep's Ramble On) but he was more about heartfelt singing, delivering the haunting, spiritual Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down and a backwoods harmonic moan on Zep's Black Country Woman.

The lyrics of the five Zeppelin numbers were familiar but not the musical treatments. The opening Black Dog was an undulating swamp excursion with wah-wah guitar while Tangerine became a pedal-steel-kissed plaint. The slowly building House of the Holy was less memorable than Richard Thompson's House of Cards, with its Eastern meets Appalachia construction. That and other Band of Joy numbers made the night, especially Silver Rider by the Duluth band Low. It started with seductive sweetness and evolved into a languidly dreamy piece, with undertones of surf guitar and orchestral harmonies. It sounded like an American answer to the mystical magic that Plant made with his old band.

From: Star Tribune
Young folks take trip at Musicarnival with Led Zeppelin
(Originally published in The Plain Dealer July 21, 1969)

While millions watched for the Eagle on the moon, 2,500 young people went on a 9-minute trip of their own.

They stomped, clapped, danced in the aisles as four British bombshells, the Led Zeppelin made a three-point landing at Musicarnival last night.

Lead singer Robert Plant, 21, comes on strong like a male Janis Joplin. His collarbone length blonde hair looks like a cheap permanent caught in the rain.

Plant shakes his shoulders, jumps high in the air, stomps his $60 python boots, twirls the mike like a lariat, does the bumps and grinds like a flat-chested sexy headliner. And the standing-room-only audience was with him all the way.

"Have you ever been shaken?" he rasped out to the audiences during his You Shook Me song and the group screamed back "Yes." Plants murmurs words and syllables like Cab Calloway.

Feature for many was a fine solo, White Summer by Jimmy Page, one of the world's best guitarists. He was the backbone of the old Yardbirds three years ago and he's still a steel smash.

The Led Zeppelin did five songs. Their Dazed and Confused, a 10-minute ride, brought them sailing in a tight jam session that was the highlight of the night.

Drummer John Bonham, 21, in a black T-shirt that looked like the upper part of a 1920 swimsuit, hit a heavy beat that brought fee stomping and stepping.

"You make me feel so young!" Plant would up with their last song.

With screams of "more" the Led Zeppelin came back to do an encore, Communication Breakdown.

Nothing could be further from the experience last night.

The finale gave bass player John Paul Jones, 22, a chance to shine.

Carol Miller's 'Get The Led Out' To Feature David Coverdale Interview
Whitesnake leader and vocalist, David Coverdale, recently stopped by Clear Channel Classic Rock WAXQ (Q104.3)/New York and chatted with Carol Miller, the host of the nationally distributed Led Zeppelin series, Get The Led Out. The interview will be broadcast during the week of April 18-24, and Coverdale's promotional visit was in support of the new album called Forevermore, Whitesnake's 11th studio recording since the band's formation in 1977.

Led Zeppelin fans recall that in 1991, David Coverdale teamed up with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for an album, Coverdale and Page. The pair toured Japan, but after that trek, the group disbanded. During this interview, Coverdale discusses his project with Jimmy Page as well as the upcoming Whitesnake tour. Get The Led Out is heard in over 100 markets and is produced by Denny Somacj for distribution through the United Stations Radio Network.

From: All Access Music Network

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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

May 31, 1948 - John Henry Bonham was born at Redditch, Worchestershire
May xx, 1969 - The band’s debut album enters the US Top 10
May xx, 1969 - Recording sessions for Led Zeppelin II begin
May xx, 1970 - The band works on new material at Bron-Y-Aur
May 03, 1971 - Richard Cole jams on Whole Lotta Love playing congas
May xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy recording sessions on location at Stargroves and Olympic studios
May 27, 1972 - Warm-up gigs kick off in Holland for an upcoming American tour
May 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin gross nearly $250,000 for their performance in Atlanta, GA
May 05, 1973 - 56,800 attend the second show of the 1973 US tour at Tampa. This sets a record for the largest attendance for a one-act performance, previously held by the Beatlesfor their Shea Stadium show in 1965
May 10, 1974 - Swan Song Records is officially launched
May 11, 1974 - Led Zeppelin attend an Elvis concert and are thrilled when Elvis announces that Led Zeppelin is in the building
May 10, 1975 - Showco ships their PA system and video screens for the Earls Court shows from Dallas to London
May 23, 1976 - Page and Plant join Bad Company onstage at the LA Forum
May 21, 1977 - The Houston Summit claims $500,000 in damages to their venue caused by rowdy fans
May xx, 1978 - The band reunite at Clearwater Castle to rehearse
May 22, 1979 - It is officially announce that Led Zeppelin will headline at the Knebworth Festival in August
May 15, 1980 - After many revisions the European tour dates are finalized and the band is scheduled to open in Germany
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