On one of the coldest nights on record this year in Toronto there was one hot spot in the city. Ex-front man Robert Plant of the renowned 70s British rock band Led Zeppelin heated up over 3000 delirious fans at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. During this second sold out night (January 23), at the Front Street venue, the 62-year-old rock legend proved he is still a superb lead singer.
The opening act was the kick-ass duo, North Mississippi Allstars, with brothers Cody (drums, electric washboard) and Luther Dickinson (guitar/vocals) – sons of the late Memphis music icon, Jim Dickinson. Their big Southern rock/blues jam sound fired up the audience and got them a standing ovation at the end of their set.
Then Plant hit the stage and started off the evening with a popular American folk song “Cindy, I’ll Marry You Someday.” The set list not only consisted of gospel, blues and rock songs from Plant’s most recent album but also some Led Zeppelin favourites including “Ramble On,” “Houses of the Holy,” and “Rock and Roll” which were the biggest crowd teasers. The closing encore was a moving rendition of “And We Bid You Goodnight.”
Shying away from his younger “rock god” image, Plant’s present Band of Joy tour has little in common with Led Zeppelin. Instead, his Americana-style five-piece ensemble is a heavy lineup of folk and country musicians including three brilliant solo vocalists Patty Griffin (guitar), Darrell Scott (banjo/guitar) and Buddy Miller (lead guitar).
What was quite evident throughout the whole show is Plant’s resilience and maturity as an artist; relaxed and easy-going, he presented a casual stage presence and was in full control of his rambunctious fans. Still heralded as one of rock’s greatest vocalists, Plant has been successful in meeting a big challenge – taking on a new artistic direction. It’s no surprise that his now mellow voice is a comfortable fit with this present style of music.
For more info on the Robert Plant and the Band of Joy Tour visit www.robertplant.com