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Live Review and Gallery: Robert Plant at Riviera Theatre

| February 22, 2018

Riviera Theatre, Chicago
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Leave it to Robert Plant, arguably rock n’ roll’s most famous and ferocious front man of all time, to keep his eyes focused primarily on recent interests rather than recycling his glories of yesteryear. The man who turned down more cash than could ever be counted to reunite with Led Zeppelin (outside of Live Aid, Atlantic Records’ 40th Anniversary, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and Celebration Day) may have briskly sold out the Riviera Theatre on name recognition alone, but everyone was quickly caught up to speed on his ongoing world rhythm, roots rockin’ explorations with the Sensational Space Shifters and support act/accompanying fiddle player Seth Lakeman.

In fact, Plant opened with not one, not two or three but four foot-stomping tracks from either his current collection Carry Fire or 2014’s Lullaby And…The Ceaseless Roar, giving anyone who missed the memo that he’s not into nostalgia a chance to embrace the genuinely fascinating if not always immediately memorable “New World…,” “Turn It Up,” “The May Queen” and “Rainbow.” At 69, the legend’s voice is understandably lower and more cautious than when he was initially climbing the “Stairway To Heaven,” but the arrangements of the above and all those that came throughout the near two-hour evening were finely tailored to match the current context.

Take for instance “Please Read The Letter,” which built off the earthy tone set by his Americana interpretation with Alison Krauss as opposed to the grittier, mid-tempo rock groove with Jimmy Page (though it did kick up some considerable dust at the end). Additional later cuts regularly crossed paths with covers of several stripes, including his own “Carry Fire” baring one the night’s most intriguing tribal beats, a swampy “Gallows Pole” and epic “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” scratching a much-needed itch for longtime listeners, “Little Maggie” adapting Appalachian flavors and the Bukka White-based “Fixin’ To Die” steering exclusively towards the deep-bellied blues.

By a Celtic-seasoned slant on Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop” and his pared down early solo single “In The Mood,” Plant reached a stride that proved unstoppable by a shrewdly re-imagined mash-up of “Bring It On Home,” “Whole Lotta Love” and the old time sea shanty “Santianna.” While Plant’s way of interpreting the classics and his creative palette in general may have changed, when it comes to transfixing in the live setting, his star power remains the same.

-Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis

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Category: Featured, IE Photo Gallery, Live Reviews

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