Robert Plant and Sensational Space Shifters at The Riviera Theatre 02-20-18
By James Currie
If you don’t know by now, you don’t go to a Robert Plant concert expecting to hear Led Zeppelin. At least not in the traditional classic rock sense. You won’t feel Bonham’s bombastic beats in your chest. You won’t hear Page’s haunting bow-string guitar trill filled solos or even the backline bass riffs from Jones. That’s not to say you won’t catch a classic Plant jam somewhere in the set but it just won’t be the way you might have expected it.
Robert Plant has kept himself relevant throughout the years since Led Zeppelin. He’s current yet as classic like a fine wine, or better yet, vintage tube amp. He’s still got the swagger of yore, but so much more. Robert Plant of 2018 is just as interesting in music today as he was when he first started 50 years ago. The show at the Riviera Theatre proved it on this new world tour dubbed, “Carry Fire Tour 2018”, in support of his latest and 11th studio album of the same name, “Carry Fire”.
Seeing a show in this mid-sized venue is a real treat. This is a man who sold out arena’s (at still sells out shows, this one included) for most of his career in Led Zeppelin so getting to see him in a house of this size is incredible. It’s more intimate and personal than any place you would have caught Zeppelin at (sans the early days starting out).
The show started with the lights low and remained there for most of the night. Fading in and out of blue and purple hues. Coming through the P.A. system – a sample loop of his 1983 hit, “In The Mood” – is building the audience anticipation for what’s to come. The band walks out followed closely by Plant who’s met with a thunderous applause. The backing track blends into the first live song, “New World”.
The Englishman’s most recent band incarnation is called, The Sensational Space Shifters and are comprised of former Strange Sensation members, Liam “Skin” Tyson on guitar, Justin Adams on guitar, Billy Fuller on bass guitar, John Baggot on keyboards and Dave Smith on drums. Also joining the group is tour opener and violin virtuoso Seth Lakeman.
From there, we get several solo songs like “Turn It Up”, “The May Queen” and “Rainbow” before the classic Zeppelin song, “That’s The Way” is reworked in. The new direction Plant takes classic songs is just amazing. It’s worldlier sounding. Reminds me more of an Afro Celt Sound System song than Led Zeppelin.
They continue the show with cover songs from Page and Plant, Joan Baez and Bukka White. We hear new songs from – Carry Fire like the title track, “Carry Fire” as well as a couple traditional versions of more Zeppelin songs. Something Plant doesn’t normally do.
After a short encore, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters return to stage and complete the initial intro track, “In The Mood” and a raucous medley of “Bring It On Home – Whole Lotta Love” and “Santianna”.
Plant has been through Chicago many times throughout the years. He played at Chicago’s summer time music and food festival, Taste of Chicago, just a couple years back and is rumored to be coming back to town later this summer for another show (more on that later).
If you love Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant solo and Afro Celt Sound System, seeing him live is an absolute must. He’s an international rock treasure. A living golden-god legend. You won’t find a stale, nineteen seventies classic rock concert. This is so much more. It’s smart, developed and intuitive while keeping a familiar sound that will be loved by all music fans. There’s a reason he’s always voted the greatest rock front man and singer in the world. Come let him prove it to you all over again.
For more on Robert Plant including current album release and tour, click here
Fore photos from the show at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago, click here
Setlist: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters live in Chicago at the Riviera Theatre February 20, 2018
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