Of all the current musical offerings on radio, classic rock still casts the longest shadow. Several generations have become indoctrinated to the giants of yesteryear, ones who still persevere much longer than the relatively fleeting careers of your average pop star. So it really wasn’t a surprise that the creaky bones of the Orpheum were put to the test by a capacity crowd, eager to see a true icon. But Robert Plant doesn’t coast on the laurels of his past- he’s not content to regurgitate songs that are nearly old enough to have their own AARP cards. Unlike others of his generation (I’m looking at you, Mr. Townshend and Mr. Jagger), Plant continues to make interesting songs in styles that suit his voice and muse.
Touring on last year’s Carry Fire, a record which adds additional luster to his post-Zeppelin discography, I was surprised to see him only trot out a handful of songs from the quite excellent record. The early set choices of “New World…” and “The May Queen” were well-received, and showcased the talent of his band, with Seth Lakeman’s viola playing being a standout. Hard rock is definitely a younger man’s game, so his slide into roots-oriented blues makes a lot of sense, and he pulled from traditional American blues (a cover of Bukka White’s “Fixin’ To Die”) to the Northern African melody driven slow burn of the new record’s title track. Led Zeppelin was known to play a few covers as well, either credited or otherwise, and “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” and the traditional “Gallows Pole” were given a twist or two from their recorded versions. Of course, the crowd also wanted to hear some originals from Plant’s first band, and he didn’t disappoint, closing the regular set with “Misty Mountain Hop” and slamming it shut with an encore mega-closer that segued “Bring It On Home” into an extended reading of “Whole Lotta Love.” His voice may not hit those stratospheric high notes of yesteryear, but he doesn’t have to.
Photos of the show: