Sunday, July 22, 2007

Robert Plant, Lignano July 21st, 2007

So, do you know many 59 year-olds out there that can make 20 year-old kids go wild with songs that were written when they weren’t even born? Well, that’s the effect that Robert Anthony Plant, the former lead singer of the world’s greatest (live) rock’n’roll band of the 1970s had last night on about 2,000 people in the tiny arena located in the sea-side resort of Lignano, not too far away from Udine (something else to think that he, Page, Jones and Bonham not only were once part of that great 1973 documentary-film, “The Song Remains The Same" but that on more than one occasion they also sang in one of the world’s greatest indoor arenas, Madison Square Garden!).

I saw Plant 2 years ago in Pordenone. His band back then was pretty well the same one that he used this time round (but Plant with a couple of fewer kilos this time!). And yes, his traditional bushy lion-like mane of blonde hair was also the same as it’s always been since the glorious days of Led Zeppelin when he’d strut around the stage with his shirt wide open.

Half his tunes were in fact from the Zep era, much to the joy of this correspondent and the others present. Some included “Black Dog”, the beautiful ballad “Going To California” and one of my all-time favourite Zep songs, "Gallows Pole"! He concluded, as he did 2 years ago and 4 years ago in Rome (this was the 4th time for me to see Plant, the first back in Montréal in the late 1980s. He was on stage that night with another late, great artist, Stevie Ray Vaughan!) with Zep's epic, “Whole Lotta Love”. He played for about 90 minutes, more or less.

Personally-speaking, the voice was still there, even though with Whole Lotta Love he did a sort of re-mix of the song, sprinkling it here and there with some other tunes within the song itself. And at close to 60 years of age he honestly seemed to have gotten a big turn-on to see those below the stage going bonkers over some of his old tunes!

There’s been talk in the air of him and the other 2 surviving members of the band of getting together for a reunion in honour of the founding member of their record label, Atlantic (with quite possibly Jason Bonhan on drums). Every time I leave a Plant concert I wish I had in some way or the other the power to convince him to get back with his old band. I kept on looking at him and saying to myself, “It would no doubt be THE greatest world tour of the last 20 years!” The voice is still there and as we’ve seen lately, there’s a revival of "old-timers” out there, such as the Police and Genesis. The time would be perfect for them to reunite for one gigantic world tour.

Only one tiny sad note if we can call it that: after the concert we went for a couple of beers right in front of the arena. At 2 am as we headed out of the pub there in front of us was Plant’s long tour bus (with a semi-truck in tow) leaving for his next gig in nearby Slovenia. We looked at the dark-tinted windows and thought, “Here was a man who together with his three buddies would travel the world aboard a Boeing 737 jet with the words “Led Zeppelin” written on the sides and here he was instead going off on a tour bus"! Strange how life can be at times...

One can only dream though of hopefully one day seeing Plant next to Page as they play their last, epic and magnificent encore, “Stairway To Heaven”. At that point, all of us can then go in peace to rock’n’roll heaven (all pics by M. Rimati)!

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