The Song Remains the Same

Robert Plant is not a feminist. He is a bit of a rascal, even now. Not a Rock God anymore, but still satisfying. Saw him last night with his Sensational Space Shifters band. Nosebleed seats again at Massey Hall. A good workout for boomers to have to walk up three flights of stairs.

He is touring to promote his new album “Lullaby and…the Ceasless Roar”. I didn’t listen to it before deciding to go the concert. I decided to go because his post Zeppelin music has been interesting, his voice is still pretty good and he always returns to the blues. In other words, he is holding up well.

It’s fun to go to a concert at Massey Hall. Beautiful old building that is a little worn. Great acoustics. It’s a sit down place, so no jostling.

I loved the intro music before Plant and band came on. Guitar-based instrumental with a rockabilly flavor (may have been a Led Zeppelin song – I don’t know Zeppelin music well – when I was young, I resisted Zeppelin music mostly because I didn’t like “Stairway to Heaven”). Just right for that moment of anticipation before the start. When the band started playing and Plant grabbed the mike, I immediately sensed it was going to be good.

And it was good, maybe even great. Plant is a seasoned performer. He lost some of the cockiness of his Led Zeppelin years, but he knows his way around a song. Thicker around the middle, but still has the moves and older musician cool. I admired his narrow, pointy boots or shoes (hard to see from Upper Gallery – this is what they call sky-high seats at Massey Hall – tres Canadian) and how well he moved in them.

His band was tight (great shredding). Plant knew that to be loved he had to sprinkle some Zeppelin and blues songs between the Lullaby repertoire. To keep it interesting for himself, they were reworked versions. I was hoping to hear “Rock and Roll”, but no dice.

The Lullaby material has African influences, but these seem to be influenced themselves by delta blues. I think that it’s the kind of music that can grow on you after a few listens.

When I was watching him sing, I couldn’t imagine that he is 66. Not that he necessarily looks young (again, I was too far to see), but he moves young. Is this the new 66? Reserved for those who still love what they’re doing, I think.

A New York band opened for him. Called The Last Internationale. A trio, with a woman singer fronting the band, and the drummer from Rage Against the Machine. The woman singer reminded me of a more confident, less volatile Cat Power. Their sound was difficult to pin down – powerful, lite heavy metal. A band to watch.

I had a post concert inner glow for a while. It’s the nicest feeling.


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