Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy
Sandia Casino Amphitheater
Albuquerque, New Mexico
July 18, 2010
Concert review by Nightwatcher for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock
The magic of Led Zeppelin certainly was in force when Robert Plant and his reconstituted Band Of Joy defied the elements, casting a spell over a sold out crowd - even Mother Nature at Sandia Casino Amphitheater in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
While there certainly must have been some moments during a mid July New Mexico thunderstorm - replete with high winds, lightning strikes all around the venue and copious amounts of precipitation pouring down in a short amount of time - where a cancellation may have been considered, thankfully it didn't happen.
After a delay of over an hour while stagehands frantically covered the equipment, sweeping off the pools of water which had accumulated on the outdoor stage, the storm finally was defeated by the power of music, setting the scene for a wonderful evening filled with roots music, blues, country, rockabilly, gospel and Zeppelin.
Dressed casually in black t shirt, faded jeans and cowboy boots, Plant was in excellent form throughout. Clearly relaxed, and having a good time, he proved conclusively that even four decades on, he still has the goods vocally, even at age 61. Truth be told, there are many 20 - something vocalists who wish they had the range he possesses even today. Freed from the posturing and preening which characterized his early days with Zeppelin, he now seems completely reconciled with his past, using it as a springboard to a new beginning, rather than the burden his legacy and history has seemed to be to him in the past.
Backed by an incredibly tight band consisting of guitarist extraordinaire Buddy Miller, his "vocal partner for the evening", the incredible Patty Griffin, pedal steel ace Darrel Scott, former Sun Studio musician Byron House on both stand up and electric bass and Marco Giovino on drums, they drew upon their vast expertise and experience to cover a wide ranging breadth of material. All the musicians are top notch -but the contributions of Griffin cannot be underestimated. Her sultry vocals compliment Plant's perfectly, and when given a chance to solo, as in the gospel version of "Nobody's Fault But Mine", the results are spellbinding.
Ranging from the opening song "Down To The Sea", from Plant's 1993 solo album 'Fate Of Nations', to the stunning a cappela cover of the Osweto Gospel Choir's "I Bid You Goodnight", with everything from Zeppelin classics ("Misty Mountain Hop", "Over The Hills And Far Away", "Thank You", "Houses Of The Holy", "Gallows Pole" and "Rock and Roll" all were canvassed, albeit in rearranged form), the Sun Records styled "Central Two-O Nine", to the bluesy Appalachian gospel of "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" in between, the hour forty five minute set was both extremely successful and well received.
With a natural light show courtesy of lightning strikes in the distance accompanying it, with the band bathed in red light, the traditional gospel classic "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" in particular was both beautiful and menacing at the same time. Several other songs from the upcoming album 'Band Of Joy' were also previewed, and if these are any indication another Grammy may very well be in the British rocker's future.
While there undoubtedly may have been some in the 4,200 attending who may have been somewhat disappointed that Plant & Co. didn't just play the whole Zeppelin catalog and be done with it, that wasn't what this was all about.
What it was all about is a case of a legend refusing to rest on his laurels, contimuing to mature musically and exploring new territory artistically. Uncompromising and willing to take chances versus the expected, it all added up to a very special night indeed. When Plant asked towards the end of the night, "Does anybody remember?", the answer is quite clear. Robert, with results this impressive, how could we forget?
Here's fan produced footage of "Rock and Roll", live in Albuquerque, New Mexico July 18, 2010 :
"Over The Hills And Far Away"