Robert Plant at The Copley Symphony Hall – Concert Review

Band of Joy

Halfway through the show Wednesday night at the Copley Symphony Hall, Robert Plant took a few moments to absorb the responses from the audience before proclaiming, “This band has given me freedom. I have wings again!” From the smile he wore almost permanently throughout the night, and the obvious fun he was having on stage with his band mates, nothing could be further from the truth. Opening the show with a slow walk through of “Black Dog,” Plant established the theme of the night. Yes, he was going to play Zeppelin material but, he was going to deliver it like you have never heard it before.

Plant has surrounded himself with five multi-instrumental, multi-talented musicians to interpret his new approach and sound. His Band of Joy (the name borrowed from Plant’s first band) featured the vocals of Patty Griffin, guitar work of Buddy Miller, the versatile Darrell Scott on pedal steel guitar, banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar, Byron House on bass, and Marco Giovino providing the back beat on drums. It was the perfect combination of deep seasoned talent and multi-flavored instruments to expand the richness of Plant’s material.

Focusing on songs from his exploration of American roots music he has been mining over the last few years, Plant used his vocals to lift the material to a place that the recordings can’t touch. His depth and feel for this music suits him, as displayed by Plant’s playful mood and over-the-top appreciation for his band. Plant even went so far as giving Miller, Scott, and Griffin each their own chance on the mic. And within the context of the show, due to the versatile talent of these three musicians, it worked. It was a refreshing sight to see Plant step to the back of the stage and offer up backing vocals as the three band members took their turn in the spotlight. It really seemed to cement the ego-less approach Plant is taking on this tour and the dedication he has to not just delivering the vocal goods, but as a contributing band member.

No matter the material he was working with throughout the set, Plant seemed comfortable with a less-is-more approach. Though at times he pushed the vocal boundaries, never did he over step or over do it vocally. His passionate take of “Ramble On” was a fine example of letting the richness and tender moments hang in the air, allowing the music to highlight the song’s depth. Throughout the night, Plant was joined on almost all the vocals by Patty Griffin. Her voice pressed up against his in a timely fashion, especially on the Raising Sand cut “Please Read The Letter.” Griffin contributed sparse highs and enough strength to highlight most of the songs; though it would have been nice to hear Plant’s iconic voice stand alone a little bit more, especially on the Zeppelin songs (Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Ramble On, What is And What Should Never Be, and Gallows Pole) and especially because his voice was in such fine form, expanding deep into the exceptional, Symphony Hall acoustics.

Robert Plant is a true musical icon, one we are blessed to have out on the road, still performing at such a high level into his 60’s. Plant refuses to rest on his laurels; instead he’s looking to expand, experiment, and grow. Hats off to the man and his Band of Joy for pushing the boundaries of their talent and delivering a most memorable show filled with highlight after highlight.

3 Responses to Robert Plant at The Copley Symphony Hall – Concert Review
  1. Lynn M. Briggs
    June 12, 2011 | 10:28 pm

    My friend and I were there and it was an AMAZING show. I think he could have done encores all night and the crowd would have just stayed there.
    I saw the band in Gateshead, UK last October and this show was even better than that one was. (I didn’t think that was possible) Thanks to Robert and the Band of Joy for a great evening in San Diego !

  2. rob
    June 10, 2011 | 2:24 am

    Sounds like a great show…with a song list like that he can play it anyway he likes and the show would always rock. Great review. It is the next best thing to being there ! Keep up the great work.

  3. sherrill sexton
    June 9, 2011 | 8:24 pm

    Excellent commentary I felt like I was there as I read your words. Looking forward to the next show!

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