Robert Plant

Robert Plant & the Strange Sensation

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The legacy of Led Zeppelin is a weighty load to haul around. As of this 2005 show, Robert Plant had released the same amount of post-Zep studio albums under his own name as he had with his old band. For his rather belated first live DVD as a solo artist, Plant embraces his past, sort of, by peppering the 11-song, 65-minute set with five rearranged Zeppelin tunes that pay respect to his old band's history while allowing him to escape it. It's a nifty balancing act and even though his heavily percussive version of "No Quarter" which opens the show is dramatic and edgy, it's not something Zeppelin would have concocted. Four other songs originate from Plant's terrific 2005 Mighty Rearranger release and his Strange Sensation band is the same one that appeared on that disc. The five members -- two have worked with Portishead -- are young yet experienced and talented pros who have obviously rehearsed long and hard to become as tight as they are here. Plant looks and sounds inspired, digging into the Zeppelin songs with renewed energy that seems to feed off his backing musicians. The material from the 2005 album the group was touring to support is a taut combination of prog, world, folk, and rock that twists and turns and sometimes shifts to experimental but ultimately stays on terra firma. The Surround Sound is impressive and only the overly busy camera work -- few shots last for more than five seconds and the handheld, angular approach gets old fast -- detracts, if only slightly, from an exciting, stirring, and energetic gig. Two covers -- "Hey Joe" from 2002's Dreamland, and "Girl from the North Country" -- both recorded at the session but clipped from the televised show, appear rather incongruously and are clumsily tacked on as extras after the last tune. If they were edited into the performance, it would have helped the flow, but stitching them on after the credits looks like an afterthought. Still, they are fine performances and well worth including. As is this DVD, especially for Zeppelin fans who don't mind the band's music being altered to, if not exactly update, at least inject it with a new lease on life. The closing "Whole Lotta Love" hews closer to the original and caps a riveting show that proves Robert Plant can revere his early career without being shackled to it.

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