Errols Weekly Music Update.

June 11, 2008

Concert Review – Plant & Krauss at WAMU Theater – 06/10/08

Concert review: Alison Krauss & Robert Plant at the WAMU Theater within Madison Square Garden on Tuesday June 10, 2008.

Upon entering the WAMU theater my wife and I had no idea that soon we would feel that we were somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, like in the movie “Cold Mountain.” Now this may sound strange but then I realized- this made perfect sense because the producer of the soundtrack to that movie was Mr. T. Bone Burnett. And there was T. Bone, up on the stage-playing guitar, enjoying the fruits of his labor- he was responsible for bringing Plant & Krauss together and produced their album “Raising Sand.”

The stage set up was very basic with everything being mostly black and the backdrop had long gold curtains. The band members were wearing old classic three-piece suits. The guitarist Buddy Miller wore a hat that made him look like Paulie from the “Rocky” series. There was a fiddle player and Krauss played the violin on many songs. The only thing missing was a campfire.

The show started with the bass lines to “Rich Woman” and the band continued a soft jam for a few minutes and then both Alison and Robert came from the back of the stage, down the sides of the stage; then faced each other and walked towards as if they were going to have a gun battle. Once they were in front of their respective microphones, they turned toward the audience and started to sing as the audience pelted them with a loud ovation. There he was, the living legend Mr. Robert Plant, still looking like a front man for a rock band. He still has the long hair with the goatee and is still in good shape. Next to him is the striking beauty- Alison Krauss. She in her own right has secured her place in folk and country music history. Together they looked like brother & sister as their full head of hair hovered over their microphones ringing out pleasing harmonies.

The second song did have some kick as Plant paid homage to Ray Charles and did an upbeat version of “Leave My Woman Alone.” Then for the third song, if you listened carefully you would recognize the lyrics and say to yourself “I know this song” but…Then it hits you it’s the Zeppelin classic “Black Dog” but its done with a folk and gospel feel to it. The audience filled in the “Aah Aah’s” every chance they could almost trying to egg the band on to play it like the original.After the song ends, there is a rousing ovation and Plant introduces his “buddy” Alison and she takes the audience through a mesmerizing set of three songs. “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” “Through the Morning, Through the Night” and “Goodbye and So Long to You.” My wife said her voice reminded her of a cross between Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. At this point I really felt like I was back in time again, round a campfire, singing American classics and that is what the show was about. If you are expecting Led Zeppelin, you will be severely disappointed and if you don’t want your image of Plant shattered as the such- stay home.

Plant came back out and took the lead on vocals for the next three songs. “Fortune Teller” from Raising Sand and then did a song from his solo career- “In the Mood.” Again it was not like the original but it worked for me. Then one of my “dream” songs from Led Zeppelin was performed- “Black Country Woman.” As I mentioned a few weeks back in my review of the classic album -Physical Graffiti- this song, along with “Boogie with Stu” are my two all time favorite Zep songs. I had to pinch myself because I never thought I would ever hear this performed live, I seriously doubt that if a Zeppelin reunion does come to fruition, that this song will be on the set list. I loved the version of the song as Alison helped out on vocals. I stood up and applauded after the song ended.

After this song is where I think the band lost some of the audience as it really slowed down from this point onward. T. Bone did a few songs and then Krauss came back out and did some beautiful songs such as “Trampled Rose” and “Green Pastures.” The lights went low and there was nothing but Alison’s voice as she sang a cappella -“Down to the River to Pray.” From the audience you could see Robert running from the back of the stage to join Miller and Duncan off to the right of Alison. The three men were singing background vocals into a microphone that was hanging down from the ceiling, very old school style. At that moment, I felt like I was in church that was portrayed in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” This was one of the highlights of the show that probably had most talking after its end.

Plant took over on vocals and as he sang his second song after returning, “Nothing”- I look over at my wife and she is out cold. Sleeping. I said, “What happened?”- She said that it was too soft and boring. She wasn’t even that enthralled with “The Battle of Evermore” as Krauss made Sandy Denny proud with her female vocal input to this Zeppelin classic. “Please Read the Letter” did seem to drag on and at this point my wife was done. I heard the opening chords to “Gone, Gone, Gone” and told her that this song was fast so she could wake up. She looks at Plant and says he look like a robot, trying to contain himself to this type of music. She is convinced he just wants to break out and let loose with the classic howls of Zeppelin. Go figure, I thought this show would be good for her and she is actually asking for loud guitars and screeching vocals.

The show ends with three encores- “You Don’t Knock,” “One Woman Man” and “Your Long Journey.” My opinion is that this was a very solid show and that is because I knew what to expect. I went in with the mindset that this was a very different Robert Plant. My wife did not know what to expect and after a while the show became boring for her. I will say that their harmonizing vocals are perfect together and T. Bone knew what he was doing when he introduced the both of them.

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