Thursday, 9 June 2016

Robert Plant brings retooled Zep hits to Molson Amphitheatre

It's been nearly eight years since Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant performed together. And while Page has spent a large chunk of the interim restoring the iconic band's back catalogue, Plant continues to press forward on a seemingly endless musical adventure.

Such was the case Tuesday evening at Toronto's Molson Canadian Amphitheatre where Plant and his eclectic supporting cast the Sensational Space Shifters thrilled a sizable but far from capacity crowd for 100 minutes. The biggest difference this time around was how liberally Plant sprinkled the set with reworked, retooled Led Zeppelin classics.

Plant, 67, got things started off perfectly with Trampled Under Foot, the groovy boogie number from Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. Happy to give fans what they wanted, the singer belted out the tune before offering up Turn It Up from his latest album Lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar.

It was obvious though the ups and downs depended on where Plant was in the set. As interesting as new, Celtic-tinged tunes such as Little Maggie came off they didn't register as strongly with fans judging by how many kept sitting. This changed quickly whenever Plant unearthed gems such as the delectable foot-stomper Black Country Woman with the singer on harmonica or the swampy, re-imagined Black Dog.

Perhaps the greatest asset was his band, one that easily lived up to its name. A handful of times throughout, guitarists Justin Adams and Liam “Skin” Tyson followed Plant's blueprint perfectly, morphing from rustic Mississippi blues to rock to folk in the span of a few fleeting moments. This was particularly true on No Place to Go which veered seamlessly into a tasty portion of Dazed And Confused.

Another highlight was The Rain Song which slowed things down roughly halfway into the show. Here Plant, Tyson and keyboardist John Baggott created some magic that both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones would probably deem worthy.

While professing his love of Toronto, Plant also gave a shout out to Jack White who Plant said was “giving some people some s—” and dedicated The Lemon Song to him. The reference regarded the verbal tussle White had earlier in the week with The Black Keys' Pat Carney.

Near the homestretch Plant and the seasoned sextet weaved through a medley of I Just Want to Make Love to You, Whole Lotta Love and Who Do You Love? The mash-up was loved by all as Plant waved his hands in the air, which the crowd quickly mimicked. This paled however to the encore which melded Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down with In My Time of Dying.

With the end in sight on this night, Plant put a pretty bow on the proceedings with Rock and Roll, the warhorse that had some Cajun flair to it courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Juldeh Camara.

Opening for Plant was Seattle garage rock group The Sonics. While dressed like they just left their insurance office, the '60s group brought to mind The Stooges and MC5 with their powerful, punchy brand of rock.


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