On a very hot evening at the Assago Summer Arena in Milan, many father and son combos, indeed families, along with all the mosquitoes of the city, congregated, Led Zep t-shirts on their torsos(not the mosquitoes, they just had their bite) to see Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters.
The band come on just after nine o’clock and start up with their rockabilly blues/world music so dear to Robert, that indeed, will be the mainstay of the evening. Then Robert rambles on, in black jeans and black & red cowboy shirt, still looking good if not so spritely as his days of youth.
Robert Plant bows to no one; not the top music promoters, not to America and its reverence for Led Zeppelin, not even to fellow soul mate Jimmy Page, all who supplicated him to tour the Led Zep machine for all the money in the world it seemed, so he will certainly not bend towards this adoring crowd and start doing Led Zep covers!
Songs from the latest album, with the Space Shifters, “Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar” are played interspersed with often radically altered or otherwise fractured Zeppelin song, there being no difference in their value for Plant. Only the final encore “Going To California” seemed to transcend the spirit of Led Zep.
It’s still an interesting evening of musical entertainment, Robert in good voice, but it’s not really fun and the highs hit are never sustained because Robert truncates any analogy with “that band”. There are some worthy blues solos and folk acoustic instrumental breaks but maybe the expectations of the fathers and sons were too high, looking rather bewildered, whilst the younger crowd members talked, smoked and drank, during these interludes.
After barely 90 minutes, including the encores, Plant leaves the stage, still to rapturous applause it has to be said, but it’s almost as a classic song from Led Zep II once said, a “Thank You”, to this wonderful performer and songwriter, and whatever the shortcomings of the evening, it is thoroughly deserved.
“Turn It Up”
“What Is and What Should Never Be”
“No Place To Go” / “Dazed and Confused”
“All the King’s Horses”
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”
“Fixin’ to Die”
“I Just Want To Make Love To You” / “Whole Lotta Love” / “Hey! Bo Diddley”
“Bluebirds Over the Mountain”/ “Rock and Roll”
“Going to California”
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