Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Greek Theatre - 6/23/08
It was hard to know what to expect from the live performance of the “Raising Sand Revue” As named by Mr. Plant but one thing was for sure is that two of the strongest and most unique voices would be on display in full force. One a bluegrass belle, with a chilling and, at times, ethereal voice and the other a bona fide rock god who, if you closed your eyes and just heard his voice, you wouldn’t think him to be 60 years old. When their album came out last fall it was much lauded and praised and this seemingly odd pairing was proven to actually work. Now on tour the pair are solidifying the pairing and allowing it to further grow and become something more than even the two of them imagined.
The moody and atmospheric qualities that made the album so strong were translated and even grew dynamically when performed live. With a backing band of some of the finest musicians and one of the most renowned American producers in T Bone Burnett, the duo proved their strengths both singularly as well as in this juxtapose of a pairing. Their back stories each completely different, Krauss the American fiddle-playing songstress with a voice stronger than almost any other female voice and Plant the rock god, lead singer of what many consider to be the greatest rock band of all-time in Led Zeppelin. Yet, somehow despite these different pasts and roots, the music came together most beautifully.
Each artist was allowed their own moments to shine and each proved why they are each truly masters. The first vocal notes of the Krauss feature track "Trampled Rose" pierced through the crisp Griffith Park air and sent shivers throughout the Greek Theatre.
One of the major tensions of the night was which, if any, Led Zeppelin tracks Plant would break out. The first was a reworked version of the stomper "Black Dog" which replaced the opening lick by Page on the original with a banjo. The second was "the Battle of Evermore" and the last Zeppelin song and the one that received the strongest ovation was "Black Country Woman." However, on the Townes Van Sant track "Nothin'," Plant seemed closest to his old form, as he let loose with his signature wails and pitch bends.
Plant slyly guided the night, cooling dancing in the commanding way that only he can, while Krauss kept quiet and reserved. When their voices met they sounded completely right for each other. The piercing crystalline voice of Krauss was perfectly tinged with the tenor of Plant's and the both seemed genuinely pleased to be in the other's company.
While many were upset that Plant chose to delay the rumored Led Zeppelin reunion tour to continue this tour, those who were in attendance on either of the two nights at the Greek were treated to a completely different musical experience. One that highlighted some of the finest in American music - with a tinge of some of the finest in British rock as well.