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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

July xx, 1969 - The band play many festivals now on their third American tour
July xx, 1970 - Additional recording for Led Zeppelin III at London’s Island Studios
July 16, 1970 - Photographer Chris Welch films Led Zeppelin on his 8mm camera, some clips later used in the Whole Lotta Love promo video
July xx, 1971 - Untitled gets re-mixed in London
July 05, 1971 - A riot erupts mid-concert, forcing Led Zeppelin to stop after about 40 minutes
July xx, 1972 - After repeated bad press, Led Zeppelin hire their first publicity firm
July 20, 1973 - A last minute decision is made to film the remaining part of the tour
July xx, 1973 - Led Zeppelin is filmed over the three nights for their film that will emerge as The Song Remains The Same
July xx, 1974 - After viewing their 1973 filmed performance, it is apparent critical errors were made
July xx, 1974 - Mixing for Physical Graffiti at Olympic Studios
July 05, 1975 - The band meet in Montreux to discuss adding South America and Japan to the end of their North American tour
July xx, 1976 - Bonham and Page fly to Montreux, Switzerland to check out some new sound and drum effects
July 17, 1977 - The last ever performance of Moby Dick played at the Seattle Kingdome
July 24, 1977 - The band plays its last US date at the Oakland Coliseum
July xx, 1978 - Led Zeppelin are invited to perform at Maggie Bell’s Festival Hall show
July xx, 1979 - Led Zeppelin film their rehearsal at Bray Studios
July 04, 1979 - Led Zeppelin confirm a second date at Knebworth in August 1979
July 05, 1980 - Simon Kirke joins in on drums for an encore in Munich
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