Tag Archives: Concert Reviews

Robert Plant & The Band of Joy at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom

Photos by Geoffrey Dicker

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!

Fiction Plane at the Mercury Lounge: What a Great Show!

joe sumner of fiction plane
Fiction Plane Vocalist Joe Sumner

Everyone who knows me is aware of how difficult it can be to get me to leave my house to attend a mid-week rock show. Unless food is involved, it is usually not going to happen. The reasons for this are two-fold. First of all, any band whose set time starts later than 9:00 PM is automatically eliminated from consideration, because if I’m not in bed asleep by 11:30 PM I turn into a pumpkin. Secondly, I honestly hate 90% of all music recorded after 1985. Just being serious.

But last night I was coaxed out to see a show at the nearby Mercury Lounge (a 15 minute walk from the Chickpad) under the pretext that the band would go on at 8:00 PM, and I would be back at home drinking a glass of chardonnay and watching reruns of The Office by 9:00 PM. I was also advised that the drummer of this band would knock my little pink socks off and that I could perhaps pitch him to Modern Drummer. Last but not least, I was promised that the band would not suck. I couldn’t really say no.

The name of the band I saw is Fiction Plane, and let me tell you truthfully that they are one of the best live bands I have seen. The show was FANTASTIC! I was so blown away by this band, and you know, as previously mentioned, that I hate almost everything. Lead vocalist/bassist Joe Sumner, (who at 32 is the eldest spawn of Sting and actress Frances Tomelty)  is a dynamic front man and it does not hurt that he is so fucking gorgeous, even I was ready to throw my underwear on the stage. He looks like the California surfers I used to drool over when I was 15. Vocally, Sumner sounds quite a bit like his dad, and the band’s songs are flavored with a hard-to-miss Police influence – especially rhythmically – but they go so far beyond that. I was really, seriously impressed and very much entertained by them.

And the club was packed; not just with twenty-something girls all dressed up like they were sure Joe would fall in love with them if they could just sneak up to the edge of the stage and catch his eye, but with regular guys.

Generally with any new band, their songs go right through my brain, leaving absolutely no hook residue whatsoever in their wake. But I left the Mercury Lounge with actual bits of Fiction Plane songs stuck in my head (especially one about being “in love with your sister,” or something), and that just never, ever happens with me. Please do not let the fact that Joe Sumner is related to Sting keep you from seeing this fantastic band! I will sum up my opinion of Fiction Plane now in five words: great great, great great great!

Visit Fiction Plane Dot Net to find out when the band will be playing in your town.

I Like To Rock (Part 1, The Metal Years)

cmi music mararthon 2005 graphic

It’s CMJ week here in New York City and that means…well not much to me, actually. I’m bypassing the convention/panels/parties/endless-showcases-of-lame-bands -enjoying-their-five-seconds-of pre-fame this year in favor of attending just a few choice shows. Last night was my designated “Night of Rock,” despite the fact that my Quest for Rock Action meant I would miss the debut of Survivor: Guatemala. Sometimes we must make sacrifices in order to rock.

The first event on my evening’s agenda involved a pitstop at downtown hard rock landmark, Don Hill’s, where Munsey from Skateboard Marketing was holding his own version of a Metal Mania Party, featuring a performance by my favorite band of scary guys with facial hair, Fear Factory.

Burton Bell Fear Factory
Burton Bell of Fear Factory

This is a picture of Fear Factory singer Burton Bell. He is my very favorite heavy metal front man at the moment. Though Burton is not traditionally “hot” in the pop star sense — being kind of scary looking on stage — he is nevertheless unbelievable sexy, outrageously charismatic and has the best voice for the kind of somewhat melodic aggro metal Fear Factory does. I also love his tattoos. Burt, like me, is an Aquarius and that is probably why we get along. We had Mexican food together once, but that is another story.

It was so crazy to see Fear Factory in a teeny tiny club like Don Hill’s because they play huge venues like Roseland these days, and that ‘s part of the reason their set was so mind blowing. They were so tight and so loud and so fucking metal. My ears still hurt. Have you heard their new CD, Transgression? It just rules; a perfect mix of eat-your-face-off aggressive metal and heavy melodic rock. They remind me what Nine Inch Nails could be if Trent had any balls and wasn’t completely self-absorbed. Before their set, I had the chance to talk to Raymond Herrera, FF’s drummer, who I’ve interviewed a couple of times for Modern Drummer Magazine. He is amazing and completely hilarious to talk to.

Munsey’s party was a total blast because I also met up with some of my metal scene friends who I had not seen since winter, or in some cases over year or more, such as Jon Paris, Liz Ciavarella, Felix Sebacious, Rachel Martinez and Steve Prue. It was rad.

Next I jetted over to the Continental for the Liquor and Poker label showcase featuring two of my favorite bands in the Universe:

Crash Kelly Band
Crash Kelly

Black Halos Band

and The Black Halos

And I will get to that part the evening soon, but now I have to catch a train . . .more later involving much rocking, very cute rocker boys and lots of hugging and sweatiness.