Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at the Orpheum Theatre March 2nd, 2018
Shot for Buzzbands LA
While Robert Plant is due to turn 70 this year, his post-Led Zeppelin creative gust seems fresher than ever. Along with his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, Plant doesn’t seem too keen on looking back. Together they performed a jam-heavy, albeit Zeppelin-lite set to his sold-out crowd at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday night. Opening with “New World …” from his 2017 solo album “Carry Fire,” Plant took the stage with Americana-by-way-of-England guns blazing.
The crowd was a mix of seasoned and newer fans of the golden god whose signature screech, though without the constant range it used to have, still had the power to bring the audience to their feet. The quick fixes of the evening were obviously the Zeppelin tracks — the unplugged “That’s the Way” and Plant/Page song “Please Read the Letter.” The real standouts were some of the more multi-layered folk songs such as an impassioned cover of Leadbelly’s “Gallows Pole” and his own “Little Maggie,” from 2014’s “Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar.”
Plant, occasionally lost in blue and red hues, was happy to lend the spotlight allowing each of his six band members to shine on their own. Guitarists Justin Adams and Skin Tyson and drummer Dave Smith are known best for being a part of Plant’s ensemble. Keyboardist John Baggot and bassist Billy Fuller both have ties to Massive Attack. Plant’s fiddler extraordinare Seth Fuller added his folk finesse to many of the tracks and was also the supporting act for the evening. Together, the band have reworked new and old songs into a blues-rock for the intergalactic mind traveler.
Plant also covered Joan Baez’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die.” Just as people were starting to get a wave of hankering for another Zeppelin song to push them back to their feet, Plant & Co. closed the main set with “Misty Moutain Hop” from “Led Zeppelin IV.” With arms waving and phones up high, the crowd enjoyed a refined kind of frenzy. Plant, still picking up the mic stand, still wailing as only he can, was very appreciative of his hangers-on and seemed to enjoy being the main cog in the space shifter machine, allowing all the eclectic pieces to create a kind of mountain-music groove of celestial harmonies with American roots.
They returned to the stage for an encore featuring “In The Mood” from 1983’s “The Principle of Moments.” and a mashup of “Bring It On Home,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and 1850s sea shanty “Santianna,” with Plant hitting his high notes and heartily satisfying his audience on the last night of their U.S. tour.