Robert Plant – Live in Belfast
We’ve been somewhat excitedly looking forward to this concert since we first heard ‘Lullaby and The Ceaseless Roar’ released earlier this year. The Ulster Hall is packed full of devotees of Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant alike. Young and old. Punks and Rockers. Everyone is here tonight to hear old and new material. Some of them were lucky enough to have seen Plant in his Zeppelin heyday. Others, like ourselves perhaps only got to see him in various projects after Zeppelin such as the Unledded Tour back in 1995 with Jimmy Page. Looking back on that now it could be said it laid down the foundations for his ongoing journey into World music.
During the concert Plant prowls the stage like a wise old mystic closely watching his onstage disciples mixing up this magical brew of folk, rock and world music. He clearly knows where his music is going on this album and tour and has chosen his musicians well as they deliver tenfold to the delight of the assembled fans. Physically Plant no longer has the image of the Rock God, but it has been replaced with something much more natural and wise. He’s Shaman like now and it works.
The response to ‘Going to California’ almost brings the roof down on us. The audience are delighted as they are transported away by the lyrics and the melody. ‘Turn it Up’ from ‘Lullaby and The Ceaseless Roar’ is both subtle and dramatic live. ‘Little Maggie’ from the same album is another crowd pleaser that showcases some deft musicianship, not least by Juldeh Camarah and his single string ritti. ‘Rainbow’ is another highlight from the new album and one that has been getting a lot of air play by Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce who has helped in no small way to the make the song something of a popular hit for the ageing rock star. Plant also dedicates the song to him tonight.
For the older fans there was plenty of Zeppelin. ‘No Quarter’ opened the show. The encores were ‘Babe I’m gonna leave You’ and ‘Rock and Roll’; all timeless and sounding great in their new arrangements which still rocked while breathing new life into them at the same time. Plant’s voice is still strong although he noticeably sings in a lower key these days. The sound in the Ulster Hall is perfect and possibly the best we’ve heard at gig all year. Every musician can be heard loud and clear in the mix which given the amount of talent in the band is a joy to hear. The various band members seem happy too. There’s lots of eye contact between the musicians and smiles as they bounce of one another.
This was a night in the presence of a rock legend who can still deliver the goods with an edge and a passion. Full marks to Mr Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters.