Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Robert Plant and Trooper Ben.

I was going to post about the process of writing, of creativity, but I'll do that next time, which shouldn't be as long a break between posts now that I'm settled in Rome.

But now...

Thirty-four years ago I saw Led Zeppelin's last USA concert; it was my first concert.  Last night, I got to see Plant again, and his reformed Band of Joy.  They were in the middle of a bill headlined by Ben Harper and opened by an Italian band, good rockin' with a tweak of progressive music--the progressive being in some of the time signatures; they staggered that way, at least--called, Bastard Sons of...who was it? What Greek God?  Ah, well, don't remember and since I've already written this blog and lost it to cyberspace...moving on...


Plant and the Band of Joy hit the stage with a funky, groovalicious take on Led Zeppelin's, "Black Dog."  They did twelve songs in all, a hybrid of Nashville/bluegrass/Americana music that resonated with real potency.  Half the songs were Zep covers, more like highly reworked, re-interpreted takes that fit well with the other material.  I probably enjoyed a couple of songs I didn't know better than the Zep tracks, but it was all stellar, pristine, and wonderfully full of life.  Plant was having fun, his voice in fine form.  The band deserve major kudos, though, as their mesmerizing melding of instrumentation, building to bright crescendos before tumbling back down to stark intimacy, captivated.

Plant has garnered much respect from me over the last few years, continuing to grow musically, not simply grind out retread Zeppelin, oh, no.  He's an artist still opening his soul to new creativity.  Again, wonderful performance.

Ah, but when Ben Harper came out, he was greeted with a summer thurnderstorm; he will forever be known as Trooper Ben by me for his perseverance amidst less than ideal circumstances.  After two songs he had to leave the stage as monitors were pulled back from the rain drenched front of the stage, and wrapped in plastic.  His momentum and pacing were impaired throughout, yet he still punched through with some great music and moments.  My fave moment was when he did a song either inspired by or dedicated to The Blind Boys of Alabama (I don't know Harper's music well).  As he stepped precarously out to the rain slicked front of the stage, his mike went dead...yet he still wailed to the heavens, still gave it his all.  He did the best he could and gets a tip of the hat from me.

So, there's my quickie take on it, all in all a great night of music...with occasionally nasty weather.

Next time, yes, I will get back to words because, well...the cicadas demand it.