By: Andrew Bruss
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss :: 06.05.08 :: Bank Of America Pavilion :: Boston, MA
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss offered up a unique performance by one of the most ground shaking collaborations of the past 25 years. The former Led Zeppelin frontman and the ever-endearing frontwoman for Union Station came to the Bank Of America Pavilion to dish out most of the better tracks off their sole studio effort, 2007's Raising Sand, as well as some choice covers and a couple of restructured Zeppelin tunes.
They started off with "Rich Woman," the first tune off their album. The reverb soaked guitar riffs provided a good platform for the two vocalists to begin the affair. As they warmed up their pipes, they began to actively demonstrate the harmonic dynamics they would be utilizing throughout the night. They followed up with a run-through Ray Charles' "Leave My Woman Alone" before creeping their way into a slow-tempo version of Zeppelin's "Black Dog" that strayed from the original in the best way possible.
The middle segment brought some light to T Bone Burnett, the unofficial guest of honor of the tour. Burnett produced Sand, and has an extensive solo career that was represented by "Shut It Tight" and his arrangement of "Bon Temps Rouler." Up until that point in the evening, the energy being delivered from the stage was less than stellar. Not a note was missed but the performance felt a bit stale. But, as Burnett took some time in the spotlight, he infused some much-needed rock & roll into Plant and Krauss' folk-R&B formula.
With the furnace lit, Plant and Krauss gave a shout out to John Prine, performing his "Killing The Blues" followed by the traditional "Down To The River To Pray," a tune Krauss made famous in the Coen Brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Burnett, Krauss and Plant brought the evening's performance to a powerful climax by paying tribute to the recent passing of Bo Diddley, practically summoning his spirit on a take of "Who Do You Love" that raised the heartbeat of everyone in the venue.
Following the heartfelt tribute, they brought things back to Plant's earlier days with a more studio-oriented version of "Battle of Evermore." The duet took a beautiful song, and utilized some well-arranged harmonies to raise the bar that much higher. It bears noting that Plant was singing the lower vocal phrases while Krauss hit the high notes. 30 years later, nobody is going to have the pipes they used to, and the fact that Plant is even grazing new ground, unlike many of his contemporaries, is worthy of any critic's respect. However, with the rumor mill still churning about a worldwide Zeppelin reunion following Plant's commitments with Krauss, this subtle observation could make anyone hesitant to spend $200 on a ticket.
The set came to a close with a double whammy of "Please Read The Letter" followed by their hit, "Gone Gone Gone." They left the stage to a standing ovation from an audience that would not leave the venue without an encore. Plant and Krauss returned to the stage to serve up "When The Levee Breaks" and closed the evening's performance with the last track from their album, "Your Long Journey."
Although the encore felt anti-climactic, the performance was one of those rare occurrences that any attendee will be bragging about for years to come. The two vocalists have both contributed so much to so many different genres, and seeing them come together reaffirmed that as life takes one farther down the road you can still come across some unexplored territory. The set may not have infused much confidence in the quality of a Led Zeppelin reunion but it further crystallized the legacy of both Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
Plant & Krauss - Black Dog
JamBase | Boston
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