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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


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September 07, 1968 - The band fulfills some old Yardbirds dates in Scandanavia
September xx, 1969 - Jimmy Page is reported saying the second album will be harder than the first
September 19, 1970 - Led Zeppelin gross over $100,000 for two performances at Madison Square Gardens on the same day
September xx, 1971 - Jimmy Page is furious over a live Yardbirds release. It was forced off the shelves
September xx, 1971 - The band vacations in Hawaii
September xx, 1972 - Discussions to play various countries ends with a decision to play Japan again
September xx, 1973 - Jimmy Page considers a live release of material before releasing a new album
September 14, 1974 - Led Zeppelin and CSN&Y jam at an after party
September xx, 1975 - Jimmy meets up with Robert in Malibu, where he is staying on a tax exile
September 12, 1976 - Page and Bonham return to Switzerland and record a drum piece title Bonzo’s Montreux
September 08, 1977 - Page takes to the stage with other well knowns at a WEA records sales conference
September 15, 1978 - Zep road manager Richard Cole and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke get married in a double ceremony
September 17, 1979 - Promoter Fred Bannister forced into liquidation over Knebworth Sales with Led Zeppelin
September 18, 1980 - Jimmy reviews a new stage set up and technical details for the Eighties Part One tour at Swan Song offices
September 25, 1980 - John Bonham is found dead in Jimmy Page’s Windsor mansion by sound technician Benji Le Fevre
September 12, 2007 - It was announced at a press conference by Harvey Goldsmith that the remaining members of Led Zeppelin would reunite with Jason Bonham on drums.
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