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Published: 2018/02/13
by Larson Sutton

Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters Live at David Lynch's Festival of Disruption

Robert Plant is a marvel. Not only does the singer still have the pipes to lift any song to its expressive summit, still carrying the sexualized swagger to hold the attention of a sold-out house, he also refuses to let his enormous, immortal success as frontman for Led Zeppelin dominate his identity. In this concise, one-hour performance recorded in Los Angeles in October of 2016, Plant leads the Sensational Space Shifters through a mélange of world music, folk, rock, and blues. The voice, like his still-flowing hair, may be greying, but remains golden at its core, able again and again to send the proverbial chills up the spine. The show moves quickly, with half the set featuring Zep classics such as “Black Dog,” “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and a closing “Going to California” amongst a handful of solo cuts. Yet, this is no nostalgia trip. In fact, Plant made the deft decision years ago to let whomever he’s playing with dictate where any nods to Zeppelin go. In this case, Jimmy Page’s iconic riffs are still present, but they have been shifted slightly by this ensemble (as their name suggests they would be), instead influenced richly by global sounds, most notably, those of Africa. In a way, Plant has always been somewhat of an historian of music, mining the American blues and Celtic folk for much of his Led output. Here he is doing something only a sage and surviving mystic could: moving the music forward by digging even deeper into the roots of those genres and procuring a tonal, emotional combination that is heady, potent, and inventive.

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