I was a complete Zep-head throughout high school and college. Not only did I have all the albums (and all three box sets), I collected somewhere north of half of all the Zeppelin shows available as bootlegs. I still own a heavily dog-eared copy of Luis Rey's Led Zeppelin: An Illustrated Guide to Underground Tapes, which I used to call "the Bible" and could quote from at length without looking. Then life moved on, I found other obsessions, and ditched my numerous Maxell XLIIs sometime about three moves ago. But somewhere deep inside my love of Led Zeppelin still lives, dormant, and now, it seems, destined to never awaken again. At least, that's the impression I got from the Robert Plant's show this past Friday night at Ruth Eckerd Hall. [All photos by Phil Bardi.]
Plant is on tour with a new group called The Band of Joy, that handle itself the name of a very old band Robert Plant's first, the one he was in when Jimmy Page saw the singer and assumed something was wrong with him because he wasn't already famous for his incredible voice. Plant has made reference in interviews to the old Band of Joy as a psychedelic rock band, yet this latest incarnation (which includes musical aces Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller and Darrell Scott, among others) plays tunes far more apiece with the recent Plant/Alison Krauss album Raising Sand than say, 1967-era Pink Floyd. In what can only be described as a restful show, Plant led the band through an hour-and-45-minute set of new material, select covers, solo tunes and a few blasts from the Zeppelin past, typically rearranged and stripped of their former, hard-rocking glory.