Robert Plant played the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver - Reverb

Live review: Robert Plant & Band of Joy @ the Fillmore Auditorium

Hardcore Led Zeppelin enthusiasts are tough to please. And, certainly, Robert Plant’s twilight career doesn’t make some of them smile. (Hell, the mid-’90s Page and Plant moments were largely too soft for even aging Zepheads.) Page, Plant and John Paul Jones played a one-off with John Bonham’s son, Jason (who is currently helming the Led Zeppelin Experience) in 2007, but a full-scale “reunion” just ain’t gonna happen. (And, right, Bonham’s still dead … for more than 30 years now.)

But Plant’s second (or third or fourth) coming is masterful. “Raising Sand,” his 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss, was one that the Grammy buffoons might have actually gotten right — and their Red Rocks concert in its support was a breezy delight. This is a man — and a rocker, to boot — ripening gracefully. Rolling Stones: If it weren’t too late, you’d be advised to take copious notes.

Plant showed at the Fillmore on Wednesday night with his latest incarnation of support, Band of Joy. It shares its name with his most recent record and, also, his first ever group. “Black Dog” opened the proceedings, slow crawling in his recent fashion. Plant and his troupe of five or six backers at a time scratched the mostly middle-aged crowd — many decked out in “Houses of the Holy” or “Stairway” T-shirts — where they itched. He ran through “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Black Country Woman,” a set-closing “Ramble On” and, then, the most raucous moment of the fairly smooth evening and first encore tune: a punchy “Rock & Roll,” for which Plant said the crew eschewed a more reflective Leonard Cohen cover.

Other borrowed material was well-plucked, though: “Silver Rider,” by Low, appears on “Band of Joy” and Plant’s vocals make good use of its lamenting curvatures, both live and on recording. You might think it a cover after all these years, but Plant’s 1983 hit “In the Mood” was made anew by the greying longhair who made the point of saying — at least two times — that it had been 13,781 days since the first time he had played Colorado.

“Monkey” from “Band of Joy” was dark and ominous in a faintly Zep way, and “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down,” from the same record, allowed Plant to stretch his voice to those oh-so-familiar screeching heights he largely forgoes these days. All the while he was a true professional, allowing his capable band to step out for its own tunes, and his current bluegrass-n-country vibe of choice became even more apparent through their showcases and, then, a rendition of “Please Read the Letter” (from Page and Plant and, later, “Raising Sand”). Even the most brutish Led Zeppelin fan would’ve melted a little bit. The song, it seems, does not remain the same.

Colin St. John is a Denver-based writer and merrymaker. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog.

Tina Hagerling is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out more of her concert photography.

  • JJ

    Plant plays a bunch of crap that nobody would give a shit about if it weren’t Plant. I saw their show early on and it sucked.

  • Anonymous

    robert plant is as robert plant is;may he have happiness; may he live in peace and safety — and rock on!

  • John J. Wood

    It would have been nice if Colin did a little more research. Had he done so, he would have realized that Mr. Plant was on stage with *established* artists! Darrell Scott is a masterful singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who is a longtime Planet Bluegrass favorite, and also has penned songs that have been hits, such as the Dixie Chicks (“Long Time Gone”). Not only is Buddy Miller a tasteful guitarist, he is a solo artist in his own right (along with his wife Julie) and was the leader of Emmylou Harris’ 90s band, Spyboy. Patty Griffin is also a highly regarded singer/songwriter who is another Planet Bluegrass fave and has a fine catalogue in her own right. nnIn fact, Patty and Buddy took part in one of 2004’s great shows at this same venue: The Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue that also featured Emmylou, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings. To top that off, bassist Byron House played with Sam Bush for many years, and also a well respected producer; among the albums he produced included Jorma Kaukonen’s excellent albums, “Blue Country Heart” (2001) and “Stars In My Crown.” To say this band was “capable” was cutting these artists seriously short. One important aspect of great musicianship is when knowing *not* to play!nnIf there was a flaw — and I had several friends that commented this to me on Facebook — it was the less-than-prestine sound, which lacked definition in general. Then again, the acoustics at the Denver FillMart I consider overrated anyway, but the sound was only dialed in spots (and I was 20 feet to the left of the soundboard). Otherwise, Colin is accurate in stating that Mr. Plant and company gave a professional performance.

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