Robert Plant and Band of Joy

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC February 1, 2011 Having regretfully missed Robert Plant’s last tour with Alison Krauss, I was anxious to hear what Plant’s new lineup with the Band of Joy would sound like. The Band of Joy named after his first band before he joined that “other band” was made up of seasoned musicians each of who were spotlighted throughout the set. I would guess that no one in the capacity crowd at Constitution Hall was expecting to hear the rock and blues explosion that was once the trademark of his more famous former band; the opening act: The North Mississippi All-Stars could handle those duties. However like me, I’m sure many were anxiously anticipating how Plant would remake his old classics. As expected, Plant stayed true to his Americana, folk, blues and country formula that was so evident in his previous effort in Raising Sand and which continued in his latest effort with the Band of Joy. All of the songs performed last night were a mixture of gospel, blues, country and rockabilly. The formula worked very well. As a colleague of mine put it, this is not just another geezer rock act revisiting old songs and trying to create the same sound. Plant chose to redecorate the old songs and give them new life. Along with the more familiar Zeppelin songs, many of the covers primarily from his new album melded well with the more familiar songs, all be it, not fully straying from the bluesy feel and familiar voice that so many of us grew to know. Plant may no longer have the same “pipes” he once had, but his voice is still powerful and distinctive. The evening began with Black Dog a perfect way to start the show. Down to the Sea a number from his early 1990’s work was a great segue to the rocking/blues cover of Los Lobos’ Angel Dance. Houses of the Holy got the place shaking again with Darrel Scott starting things off on pedal steel before concluding the song to a raucous end with electric guitar. Things settled down to an almost spiritual revival-like atmosphere on the next several songs including Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, (an Uncle Tupelo song) from his new LP and Move Up with Patty Griffin doing the vocals. This portion of the show concluded with more or less a melody of gospel/country influenced sounds of 12 Gates To The City>Wade In The Water and finally In My Time of Dying in which both Plant and Griffin shared lead vocals. Multi-instrumentalist Darrel Scott took on the lead singing for A Satisfied Mind before the band launched into the reinvented, tang-induced Tangerine. I would be amiss to point out the contributions of the other band members as Plant often stepped to the side to let the other members shine. Buddy Millers gruff voice and excellent guitar work carried much of the music from a country twang to a harder rock edge. Byron House could be seen switching back and forth from song to song from his upright to electric bass keeping a steady pace to the show. To the delight of everyone, the tail end of the show concluded with several old Zeppelin favorites including Ramble On and Gallows Pole along with two of Plants most familiar singles Tall Cool One and In the Mood. The evening ended with a rockabilly version of Rock & Roll featuring Marco Giovino showcasing his chops on drums before concluding the evening with a beautiful A cappella version of the Grateful Dead’s, And We Bid You Goodnight where each band member took turns on vocals. All in all I would say the performance by Plant was pretty damn wonderful. The show had that feel of spontaneity even though many of the songs are performed during each leg of the tour. More importantly Plant seemed to be enjoying himself and that always translates well to the audience and the overall feel of the concert. I would love to see him again in a different venue however. The cavernous feel of Constitution Hall does not translate well to this type of show as I often wanted to get out of my seat and sway to the music. Perhaps as Plant commented as he left the stage, I should see him this summer down at Bonnaroo. Can you say road trip?   Set List: 1. Black Dog 2. Down To The Sea 3. Angel Dance 4. Houses Of The Holy 5. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down 6. Move Up 7. Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday 8. 12 Gates To The City/Wade In The Water/In My Time Of Dying 9. A Satisfied Mind 10. Tangerine 11. Harm's Swift Way 12. House Of Cards 13. Somewhere Trouble Don't Go 14. Monkey 15. You Can't Buy My Love 16. Ramble On 17. Tall Cool One 18. Gallows Pole Encore: 19. In The Mood 20. Rock & Roll 21. And We Bid You Goodnight Lineup: Robert Plant: Vocals, harmonica Patty Griffin: Vocals, guitar Darrel Scott: Guitar, banjo, pedal steel, vocals Byron House: Upright bass, electric bass, vocals Marco Giovino: drums, percussion and vocals Buddy Miller: Guitar and vocals
Thu 2/3/2011 12:48 PM