The scent of incense pervaded what Robert Plant, in all his years of experience, still considered to be quite a posh room. Once a hippy… But the smoke wafting off the stage throughout this show was redolent of a modern, meditative approach to his psychedelic rock roots. Along with his band the Sensational Space Shifters, Plant is making some of the most satisfying sounds of his career by combining his love of folk, blues and other ancient roots forms with an interest in mystical musical traditions to create a sound which is warm, captivating and immersive.
Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow ****
The receptive audience were reeled in softly with Skin Tyson’s beautiful, resonant guitar tone and Plant’s caressing croon, still tempered with that ragged rock’n’roll yearning quality. As he beseeched the congregation to Turn It Up, it was clear that this was a show of harnessed power as much as spiritual wanderings.
Special guest Seth Lakeman added violin drone to the mesmeric desert rock of The May Queen. The Appalachian song Little Maggie was also given a Saharan treatment, Tyson playing banjo like a Tuareg tribesman, before Lakeman made the Celtic connection. Bukka White’s Fixin To Die Blues was retooled with hypnotic loops and heroic resonator rock’n’roll showmanship from Justin Adams.
Complementary Led Zeppelin classics were slipped in seamlessly – a simple, soulful acoustic That’s the Way, a muscular, folky rendition of Misty Mountain Hop and a particularly tasty Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You with masterful dynamic contrast between the tender acoustic passages and the band in full voice. This is how to push forward while honouring your tradition.