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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

May 31, 1948 - John Henry Bonham was born at Redditch, Worchestershire
May xx, 1969 - The band’s debut album enters the US Top 10
May xx, 1969 - Recording sessions for Led Zeppelin II begin
May xx, 1970 - The band works on new material at Bron-Y-Aur
May 03, 1971 - Richard Cole jams on Whole Lotta Love playing congas
May xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy recording sessions on location at Stargroves and Olympic studios
May 27, 1972 - Warm-up gigs kick off in Holland for an upcoming American tour
May 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin gross nearly $250,000 for their performance in Atlanta, GA
May 05, 1973 - 56,800 attend the second show of the 1973 US tour at Tampa. This sets a record for the largest attendance for a one-act performance, previously held by the Beatlesfor their Shea Stadium show in 1965
May 10, 1974 - Swan Song Records is officially launched
May 11, 1974 - Led Zeppelin attend an Elvis concert and are thrilled when Elvis announces that Led Zeppelin is in the building
May 10, 1975 - Showco ships their PA system and video screens for the Earls Court shows from Dallas to London
May 23, 1976 - Page and Plant join Bad Company onstage at the LA Forum
May 21, 1977 - The Houston Summit claims $500,000 in damages to their venue caused by rowdy fans
May xx, 1978 - The band reunite at Clearwater Castle to rehearse
May 22, 1979 - It is officially announce that Led Zeppelin will headline at the Knebworth Festival in August
May 15, 1980 - After many revisions the European tour dates are finalized and the band is scheduled to open in Germany
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