By Pat Prince
Goldmine correspondent Steve Sauer was spot-on in his review of Robert Plant’s last tour through the American south. Made up of veteran players, Plant’s Band of Joy delivers a sermon of Americana that is both exciting and fresh.
The band’s name seems to embody Plant’s newfound enthusiasm for the American music he continues to discover. He admitted in between songs at the wonderfully intimate Bowery Ballroom that he had spent so many years focused on the Mississippi Delta that he had overlooked the plains of Texas and the highlands of Tennessee.
As much as Plant has made of his age and his retired profession as Rock God of Led Zeppelin, his vocals were excellent — perfectly restrained and often soothing. And as much fun it must have been deconstructing Zeppelin tunes onstage, it was certainly fun listening to them.
“Houses of the Holy,” for instance, was turned into a true blues boogie where guitarist Buddy Miller incorporated the spirit of Joe Walsh rather than Jimmy Page. “Gallows Pole” took on a nice bluegrass stomp, but unlike some, I still prefer the song untouched — more Celtic folk than Appalachian. And then the crowd-pleasing encore, “Rock and Roll,” became pure roots rock. Instead of a Corona, I could have been holding a cup of moonshine at an after hours Memphis juke joint.
Throughout this Plant revival, the band remained tight. But no song was as pristine-sounding as Los Lobos’ “Angel Dance.” It came naturally, as if not adopted at all. And as Band of Joy closed with the spiritual hymn “And We Bid You Goodnight,” it took a moment for Plant’s gospel embrace to sink in. But it was a beautiful message to deliver to the faithful.
Dionysus has come down to earth and now sings amongst the mortals, and brings much joy.
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