[Slowhand] No EC Content Herein

Mel Boss darmel at sbcglobal.net
Sat Jun 28 18:02:06 EDT 2008

My review of Friday night's RobtPlant/AlisonKrauss concert.
 The dense fog banks cascading over the Oakland Hills, as we saw them from our eastern approach to the Caldecott Tunnels, gave us a hint of what was to come. It was Friday evening, and we were enroute to the Greek Theater for the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss Raising Sand “Autumn Review,” as described by none other than Robert himself. It’s difficult to adequately dress for an event such as this one when you leave home with the a/c blasting, and four hours later, you can see your breath in the cold foggy air! Poor Alison wore her coat for the entire show to the chagrin of many of her admiring fans.
The program began with Sharon Little and her band who, admittedly was waiting tables just a few months ago, a T-Bone discovery as I recall. She just closed a record deal with Columbia, and here she WAS opening of The RP/AK Autumn Review; not bad! And boy, oh boy was she glad to be there! She and her band belted out about eight or nine songs intermixed with Sharon’s animated, audience banter. All-in-all, this opening act was a very pleasant surprise accomplishing exactly as intended and lending some warmth to the frigid air.
Robert and Alison walked on stage to thunderous applause from an audience desperately trying to stay warm – Robert in a loose fitting, long sleeved, silkened shirt and maroon, leather britches and Alison in her winter coat buttoned and belted. I didn’t document the setlist, but it included about everything from Raising Sand and several revamped LeadZ songs, like the sultry, r-rated Black Dog, Kashmir and a couple of Alison’s specialties too. One personal disappointment was the omission of "the Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn," a haunting song I recently saw Robert Plant perform in a CMT special.
In the program’s midst, T-bone took the stage with a paired-down version of the band and belted out three songs. At first, the energy drained from the arena, but by the third song T-Bone had won the room back again.
The coldness presented problems throughout the evening in keeping the acoustic instruments in tune, the mix wasn’t always exactly correct, and the performers’ discomfort was a definite factor as well. At one point, Alison with a wit as parched as the Sahara, commented (paraphrasing) that they had left on a summer tour. Well, at least she thought it was summer. The calendar said it was summer… Still, the beauty of her voice didn’t seem to be compromised in any way. If there is a heaven, and it has angels, may they sound as good as Alison Krauss!
Robert was in relatively fine form, though, not quite as animated as I have seen him, and his voice “stylings” weren’t quite as “athletic” as I have heard them in previous performances. For example, in “Killing the Blues,” their respective parts were performed rather plainly as opposed to the hypnotic interplay that’s on the album. Also, the tempo on this and a few other songs seemed just a tiny bit laggard.
But I’m being way too picky.  Near the end of the evening, Robert belted out a stirring version of “Nothing,” explaining that T-bone gave him the song saying simply, “Here, this should suit you.” It sure did, as it brought the audience to its feet, and served well as a prelude for a “Gone, Gone Gone” closer before the encores.
It was a great night where the warmth of this dynamic duo and their band overcame the foggy, frigid elements, and The Greek is truly a magical venue and an intimate setting for the experience.

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