Golden God and former Zeppelin front man Robert Plant kicked off his UK tour at a jam-packed Newport Centre on Sunday night.
Support came from New Yorkers ‘The Last Internationale’, a trio with one of the strongest female vocalists that I have ever seen. The band played a 6 song stint with a mix of songs that were a bit… ‘Viva la Revolution’ which is great if you’re into that, but I found it a bit poppy and pretentious, a bit too ‘Natural Yoghurt’.
Half an hour tends to drag when you’re rammed into a jam-packed room, boiling hot, with a face full of some bloke’s curly, plant-like locks. But I would do it time and time again because Rob’s still got it! His performance was outstanding: he was exciting, enthusiastic and there was no absence of passion throughout the set – not bad for 66!
He threw himself straight into Zeppelin classic ‘No Quarter’ a vocally demanding track for Plant even in his prime; but it was still executed perfectly – in fact I was blown away. He had everyone exactly where he wanted them after just one song.
He went on to perform a string of tracks from his most recent album Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, including crowd favourite ‘Poor Howard’. This track showed off Plant’s versatility as an artist; the folk side of his performance went down a treat, fitting in perfectly with his mesmerizingly husky vocals.
The highlight of the set for me would have to be when he played ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’ as this was the track that really showed that – despite his age – Rob is still the Golden God that he has always been, performing exactly as he would have done back in the 70’s. Its moments like these that make you realise how legendary, how iconic this guy actually is and more importantly, why Zeppelin were so huge.
He ended the first part of the set by playing Zeppelin classic ‘Whole Lotta Love’ but not a normal version of the song. He performed it in 3 parts: the first being a sort of bluesy stripped back version, with nothing but bluesy Hendrix-like guitar licks to accompany his vocals, before fully submerging himself into the fully-blown Zeppelin version which blew the crowd away. It was the crunching guitar riff which really set everyone off and that very first screech of “YOU NEED COOLING” caused everyone to totally lose their shit. He wrapped the Zeppelin classic up with a folky interpretation of the last verse, which showed the transition to his new folky sound.
This undoubtedly left the crowd wanting more, in fact I think he was a bit taken back by the reception that he received when he casually sipped a well-earned bottle of Bud. Surprising for a man who packed out Knebworth back in the 70’s! Plant started off his encore with a version of ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, but a version that was stripped down to the bare bones – a version which only emphasised the strength of his vocals that hauntingly echoed throughout the room.
If you get the chance to see the man in action, I suggest that you take it up; because you will not be disappointed! There is still plenty of mic swinging, thrusting of the hips and most importantly: his trademark screeches of “BABY, BABY, BABY!”