A one-night-only performance by former Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and his new group, The Band of Joy (which sold out NYC’s Bowery Ballroom through Ticketmaster in, literally, fewer than 60 seconds) was indeed a joyous performance: one that, for me, ranks among the most vibrant and emotionally satisfying live shows I’ve seen, ever. While Plant and his band proved beyond doubt that they can rock out, this wasn’t what you’d call a “Rock Show,” nor was it the kind of music I’d assume your average Led Zeppelin fan would find easily accessible. Still, Plant’s latest gig fits him like a second skin and the 500 or so people lucky enough to cram themselves inside the very packed venue were clearly enthralled.
Robert Plant and the Band of Joy performed a smooth mix of impeccably written standards and select favorites from Plant’s catalog, dipping into compatible genres from Americana to Country, Blues to Roots and even a little Gospel. Opening with a cover of Low’s “Monkey,” Plant found his groove and never let it go. Through a set that included cuts from the Band of Joy CD, several re-worked Led Zeppelin classics and songs from Plant’s recordings with The Honey Drippers and his recent Grammy winning disc with Alison Krauss, it was mesmerizing to watch this legendary vocalist take things down to a solo vocal only to have the band explode around him a split second later. Unbelievable.
At age 62, Plant’s voice remains untouchable and the band is truly phenomenal – each a gifted and well known musician individually, together they create a new and beautiful sound. Whether it was Buddy Miller’s outstanding work on both the six and twelve string guitar’s, Darrell Scott’s ringing mandolin, banjo, steel guitar or six-string, Patty Griffin’s larger than life vocals, Byron House’s versatile bass rhythms and Marco Giovoni’s perfectly nuanced drums, there was something to be amazed at continuously. It was also great to see Plant retreat to the rear of the stage and provide background vocals while Darrell Scott, who has an amazing voice, sang lead front and center, or wailing on the harmonica as Buddy Miller took the lead. You really got the feeling you were witnessing very special musical relationships evolving. This is a tour not to be missed.
Sunday night’s one hour and forty-five minute set was comprised of the following songs:
Monkey / House of Cards / Please Read the Letter / Misty Mountain Hop / Rich Woman / Trouble / 12 Gates to the City / Kings Horses / Satisfied Mind / Move Up / Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down / Central Two O Nine / Angel Dance / Houses of the Holy / Down to the Sea / Tall Cool One / Gallows Pole
Harms Swift Way / Rock and Roll / Goodnight
Thanks again to Rounder Records and Ken Weinstein of Big Hassle for the hot guest list action! You can buy or download the Band of Joy album now, as it was just released today!