For­mer Led Zep­pelin front­man called on friends Patty Grif­fin, Buddy Miller to wow crowd at Stubb’s

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE - By Joe Gross

Robert Plant took all sorts of de­tours on his way from danc­ing like Le­go­las to look­ing like Gan­dalf.

There was that un­for­tu­nate hair­cut dur­ing Live Aid, that time he looked like a bur­rito on the cover of Mu­si­cian mag­a­zine and nam­ing a record “Now and Zen.”

But he seems to have hit a sweet spot these past few years. “Rais­ing Sand,” his col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ali­son Krauss, was a weird mir­a­cle of rootsy swag­ger and classy rock lilt; the tour that fol­lowed pro­duced some of his strong­est, heav­i­est mu­sic in a very long time.

For his next trick, he re­vived the Band of Joy (which was the name of his pre-Led Zep­pelin band with John Bon­ham), en­listed the help of Patty Grif­fin and “Rais­ing Sand” tour­mate Buddy Miller, cut a record that’s due in the fall and hit the road, stop­ping at a sold-out Stubb’s Mon­day night.

With Miller, Grif­fin and Nashville pros such as gui­tarist Dar­rell Scott, drum­mer Marco Giovino and bassist By­ron House, Plant grooved through an of­ten sur­pris­ing set of cov­ers, older solo ma­te­rial given a fresh coat of class and a few Zep­pelin nuggets.

An swinging, al­most psy­che­delic-folk take on Los Lo­bos’ “An­gel Dance” fol­lowed opener “Down to the Sea” The Richard and Linda Thomp­son lament “House of Cards” and made beau­ti­ful use of Grif­fin’s vo­cals, which were oc­ca­sion­ally a lit­tle lost else­where (she seemed to van­ish on “Please Read the Let­ter”). Yes, he broke out “Tall Cool One” and “In the Mood.”

As for the Zep­pelin, coun­try-honk filled in for stomp on “Misty Moun­tain Hop,” “Over the Hills and Far Away” and es­pe­cially “Houses of the Holy,” while the ex­cel­lent “Gal­lows Pole” and “Tan­ger­ine” — both from the folkier “Led Zep­pelin III” — flour­ished.

Miller was the set’s not-so-se­cret weapon, lead­ing the band and con­tribut­ing so­los both ra­zored and tune­ful; his thrum of feed­back pow­ered the night’s most un­ex­pected cover: in­die rock­ers Low’s “Mon­key.”

A glo­ri­ous cover of Townes Van Zant’s “Harms Swift Way” all but up­staged Zep clas­sics “Thank You” and “Rock and Roll” in the en­core. The man re­ally knows how to make folk songs into elec­tric cas­tles — it’s easy to see him mak­ing mu­sic like this for the rest of his life.

James Brosher

Robert Plant, backed by the Band of Joy that in­cluded Aus­ti­nite Patty Grif­fin, played cov­ers from his up­com­ing re­lease as well as some Led Zep­pelin songs.

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