June 13, 2018 Forest Hills Stadium Forest Hills, NY
Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters put on an incredible performance at the old Forest Hills Tennis Stadium that hosted the Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan plus other legendary acts back in the day. The ex-Led Zeppelin frontman played off his former band’s bluesy roots, adding some Celtic overtones, Northern African tribal beats and alternate tunings into a cosmic stew of world beat. Even the Zeppelin numbers had a hippie vibe to the them as Plant and friends turned them into earthly delights that conjured up scenes of the Moroccan desert and the misty mountain hop.
Using Americana blues as its foundation, they were a combined force of musical contradictions that they blended into a unified and glorious force of nature. Sporting a boyish grin, Plant delighted in challenging the crowd to take on the Space Shifters dynamic flow of its arrangements like a rock ‘n’ roll shaman.
Opening with Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song”, he quickly put the legendary band to rest as he took on material from his last few albums. He introduced “Please Read This Letter” from Raising Sand as a song he took to Alison Krause’s doorstep on a hot sunny day in Tennessee. On “Gallows Pole” the band played a skiffle arrangement of the Lead Belly number that appeared on Led Zeppelin III. They also played a gorgeous version of “Going to California” that teased at the Zeppelin cannon.
Guitarist Liam Tyson started off with a meandering preamble then finally took on the fingerpicking intro to “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” that Plant and the boys countered with a 10 minute plus blowout thru what Jimmy Page often referred to as Zeppelin’s “Light and Shade”. “Carry Fire” from the new album was a slow and moody piece with some hypnotic guitar work in raga style tones by Justin Adams and some violin that Plant pulled through with a dynamic whisper.
Plant joked at the beginning of the beginning of the show that he “probably” played the venue before but couldn’t remember. One thing Zeppelin historians agree on is that the last time they played Queens was in August 1969 at the NY State Pavilion at Flushing Meadow Park. A loungey version of “In The Mood” from the solo album The Principal Of Moments was the first encore. Led Zeppelin’s “Bring it on Home/Whole Lotta Love” closed out the night with some ballsey thunder leaving the crowd panting for more and Plants farewell, “Even the dogs dig it! Peace and love!”.