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Robert Plant, New Orleans Jazz Fest coverage, April 26, 2014

Former Led Zeppelin frontman plays one-off set Saturday (April 26)

British rock star Robert Plant and his latest band, the Sensational Space Shifters, moved from heavy rock to spacey audio exploration Saturday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The show featured a generous number of the classic rock songs that Plant recorded when he was Led Zeppelin's frontman, plus songs by Chicago blues star Howlin' Wolf and the Mississippi Delta's Bukka White and, presumably, music from a forthcoming album by Plant and the Space Shifters.

Plant reached all the way back to "Led Zeppelin I" for his first song at the Samsung Galaxy Stage. The thunder and butterfly contrast in "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" was a sign of things to come. Guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson plucked acoustic guitar arpeggios in the song's soft bits between abrupt bursts of guitar and percussion.

From the opening song on, the 65-year-old Plant was in strong, distinctive voice, occasionally wielding his mic stand like the rock star he is.

"Hey! Hey!" he said after the band's opening number. "Let's go!"

Plant and the Space Shifters proceeded to transform Howlin' Wolf's already atmospheric "Spoonful" into heavy, moody blues. A West African influence entered the song when Juddeh Camara, a Space Shifter from Gambia, soloed with his one-string African violin.

Camara moved to an instrument that's obviously an ancestor of the American banjo for a reinvention of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" that morphed into a trance-rock jam.

Another blues classic, "Seventh Son," segued into a long tease by Plant and the band for a full-blown version of Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

The Space Shifters are a band that combines West Africa and the Middle East with the American South and the Delta blues that inspired Plant and his peers when they were kids back in England.

Plant and his Led Zeppelin cohorts, as well as a generation of their English musician peers - including Eric Clapton, who performs at Jazz Fest on Sunday - transformed American music from the South into their own louder, faster, wilder expression. And Plant hasn't stopped. He informed his audience that his Jazz Fest show is a one-off gig, for which he traveled 5,674 miles. And he won't have much time to enjoy New Orleans, a city he loves, because he's leaving Sunday.

He also changed the lyrics to a Zeppelin classic, "Going to California," singing, "I'm going to Louisiana with an ache in my heart."

Plant couldn't resist recalling riverboat parties he experienced back in the day, featuring music by such local music stars as Earl King, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Snooks Eaglin.

Odds are he'll be back again to rock some more.

From: The New Orleans Advocate

SONGS PLAYED:

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
Spoonful
Black Dog
Going To California
The Enchanter
Tin Pan Valley
In The Mood
Funny In My Mind (I Believe I'm Fixin' To Die)
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
What Is And What Should Never Be
Whole Lotta Love
Rock And Roll

Going To California




In The Mood








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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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