In this day and age of cookie cutter music, seeing Robert Plant live Tuesday was a breath of fresh air.
This was not the first time I'd seen him. I caught him at least once when he was doing his rock thing at the Orpheum many years ago, and I saw him on one of the greatest shows I've ever seen (that says a lot...I have been to probably more than 1,000) a few years ago with Alison Krauss on the "Raising Sand' tour.
While his sold-out gig at the House of Blues (Plant commented how he had played at the same exact spot in November 1969 with Led Zeppelin, although the venue then was called the Tea Party) was not quite as transcendent as the Krauss tour, it was still an engaging, enjoyable night.
What is obvious to me about Plant is that he is ultra-serious about the music. He is not the outsized and oversized personality of say Mick Jagger, nor does he have the cultural baggage of Jagger either.
A few years ago, for example, Plant joined Krauss in Nashville at the Americana Music Association awards. For the Americana folks, the awards are a big deal every year, but frankly this is an ultra-tiny slice of the musical pie. Yet, there was Plant enjoying the awards show and doing his thing without some huge entourage (he actually was with Krauss).
Plant also obviously has not been afraid to try new forms. Who'd a thunk that the bluesy rocker would team up with T Bone Burnett and Krauss to create the quiet, pretty sounding "Raising Sand."
But Plant was not just a finger up in the air let's see which way the wind blows kind of musician either. For Plant, the wind blew the same way as "Raising Sand." He was serious enough about it to put out the "Band of Joy" CD last September on Rounder with originals and covers. There was no Burnett at the production helm this time; Plant worked with guitarist Buddy Miller to co-produce the dozen songs.
And now Plant is back out on the road with the same musicians who were on the disc. Plant lets them play out. Griffin, Miller and Scott all had the chance to sing their own material as well, yet another indication that Plant is about the music, not the ego. I still miss Krauss in the configuration, but Griffin will do just fine as she's bluesier than Krauss anyway.
With Robert Plant putting out and playing quality music, breath in the air, and don't settle.
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