The Pavilion, Exmouth
Apparently it went something like this…Exmouth Pavilion had a phone call to say that Robert Plant was looking to put together a short tour of small venues and would they have any dates available? Bless ‘em, the management of our local venue, whose usual fare is tribute acts and musical theatre, could indeed oblige and thus it was that Percy got to play with his new outfit in my home town. I was tipped the wink by a mate who works there and thus bagged front row seats as soon as they went on sale, and thus it came to pass that on Monday I was sat right in front of the legendary singer as he treated us to his latest new direction.
There was very little on line to suggest what to expect, although a set list from earlier this year turned out to be pretty much on the money – a couple of songs from 2010’s Band Of Joy and one from Raising Sand, a couple of psychedelic era covers and some old songs from the American Appalachian/country canon, and not a Led Zep cover in sight. The band is a stripped back line up of two vocalists, two guitarists/mandolin type players and a drummer. I was expecting the set to be much more acoustic, but the overall sound was more akin to the Sensational Space Shifters than I had thought it would be, with dense soundscapes underneath some delicate playing. Plant was in great voice, easily singing within his comfortable register, and those who like Band Of Joy and Raising Sand would have enjoyed the vocal trade offs with the marvellous Suzi Dian – this was very much harking back to the country leanings of those albums.
This was the first date of the tour and Plant confessed to a bit of jet lag – he was a bit restrained, and even confessed he didn’t quite know what to say at the start, but warmed up quickly and we got a quip about coming from the North – a land of ice and snow – and a little mention of Jimmy Page got a laugh. He seemed genuinely appreciative of the very warm reception to the songs and it was a marvellous performance – understated for sure, but all the better for that and he still has charisma to burn. The band are exceptionally good and produce an amazing sound for just three guys, and I have already mentioned Suzi Dian’s flawless vocals, but I just loved the connection and spontaneity between them.
1. Undone In Sorrow – Crooked Still cover
2. Satan (Your Kingdom Must Come Down) – from Band Of Joy
3. Cuckoo – Clarence Ashley cover
4. Move Along Train – Levon Helm cover
5. Too Far From You – Carole King cover
6. Your Long Journey – from Raising Sand
7. Cindy I’ll Marry You Some Day – from Band Of Joy
8. She Cried /Ups and Downs – Jay And The Americans cover
9. It’s A Beautiful Day Today – Moby Grape cover
10. Two Coats – trad. Cover
11. Soul Of A man – Trad cover
12. Season Of The Witch – Donovan cover
13. Ohio – Patty Griffin cover
14. Everybody’s Song – Low cover
15. And We Bid You Goodnight – Pindar Family and Joseph Spence cover
A quick mention of the support act – these were a duo called The Rails – I only discovered afterwards that they were, in fact, Kami Thompson (daughter of Richard and Linda) and her other half, James Welbourne, who is also a guitarist with The Pogues and The Pretenders…..no wonder they were pretty damn fine also!
A surprising mix of young and old. I didn’t spot one Led Zep T shirt, so glad I didn’t wear mine! I had to turn round and politely ask the two blokes behind me (one of whom I know quite well!) to turn the conversation down which I’m pleased to say the duly did.
It made me think..
It was truly wonderful to have this gig in Exmouth.