Robert Plant Rocks Out in Cary

robert-plantCary, NC – Rock legend Robert Plant showed Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre a Rock N Roll good time. It wasn’t Led Zeppelin, but it was as close as most of us have ever gotten to that Hall of Fame band.


Although no warm up band was listed,  the surprise was a band called Bombino who rocked out starting at 8pm. Hailing from Niger, the musicians were arrayed in Middle Eastern attire including traditional Keffiyeh headdress and caftans. The clothing contrasted sharply with the heavy funk music the band pounded out.

I think the audience wasn’t quite sure what to make of this band, who took the stage without introduction, but after a song or two everyone settled into the groove and enjoyed them.

Robert Plant Rocks Out in Cary

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters arrived on stage with gusto breaking into Babe I’m Gonna Leave You a song that was originally a B- side of early Led Zeppelin drawing heavily on their blues roots. The tune from the very first Zeppelin album was originally released in 1969 and was not written by the band, but was a cover from the 1950’s by Anne Johannsen. Like many early songs by the band, it was appropriated and altered by their signature heavy metal guitars.  Here, the song was updated with the more acoustic sound of a prominent flamenco-style guitar.

Next, Plant mixed it up with I’m In The Mood from a popular solo album (The Principle of Moments, 1983). He veered off the Zep songbook a bit with another solo piece called Tin Pan Valley. As familiar as many in the audience were with Led Zeppelin songs, I had to admit that these others were fresh and funky and got us up and dancing to their funky beats. He followed up with a Howlin’ Wolf song, Spoonful about the dangers of heroin which Robert Plant introduced saying it was a “deconstructed” version.

And then it was all “Hey Hey Mama”, as a new version of Black Dog began, and we liked the way that moved.  Searing drums and cymbals reminded us of days gone by when we too could Boogie with Stu and party all night long. Even Plant poked fun at the idea of a curfew (after all its Booth Amphitheatre where concerts end by 11). And bad boy Robert Plant couldn’t let that go…The African beats added here were awesome. The Enchanter, a song I’d never heard, did just that. Intrigued and made me look it up this morning as “Shazam” failed me during the concert.

Plant asked the audience if they were very hot (boy were we, although it didn’t rain, the humidity of that July evening was oppressive) He added” I didn’t know Saxons could come to a place like this” and launched into Over the Hills and Far Away originally from “Houses of the Holy”. The audience joined him for a sweet sing-along.

With a shift in mood Somebody Knocking took us on a spacey journey,with a psychedelic mandolin. Here, Robert Plant introduced the band who were mostly from Liverpool and Bristol, England. For anyone familiar with music of the 70’s the album “Zofo” or Led Zeppelin 4, is synonymous with  Stairway to Heaven. But many may never have paid attention to Four Sticks, the next song that the band played. It is a jazzy abstract, that became somehow a little more mainstream with the funky bass player, Billy Fuller of the Sensational Space Shifters.

“I hear them coming,” Robert Plant added and they began my personal favorite Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, a little ditty from Led Zeppelin III. The crowd jumped to their feet and began clapping along. Introducing the next song, Plant dropped the F-bomb saying how music was so bad in England after WWII being a Baby Boomer, he and his bandmates looked to Mississippi and Chicago for a new sound – they found the African American sound of the blues. And they made it their own by electrifying it and making a wall of sound around it like no other. Fixin To Die, originally by Bukka White –  this version had a heavy  bass and chugged along with a rockabilly beat.

Whole Lotta Love

He calmed us down with What is And What Should Never Be rendered very close to the heavy sound found on “Led Zeppelin II”. I admit I was a little disappointed it didn’t segue into Living Lovin Maid like the original. But the band didn’t disappoint when they broke out into Whole Lotta Love, one of the oldest and best loved Zep songs of all time. They even added in a bar of Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love ..And then it was curfew time… well almost, because like any trusted Rock Legend worth their salt, they ran back stage, grabbed a drink and came back for one one tune before 11- and that was the rock anthem Rock N Roll , perhaps the second most popular Zeppelin song of all time, cause this line-up wasn’t going to be playing any Stairway to Heaven

What better way to end a concert event than with one of your all time favorite rock anthems?

10 replies
  1. Lindsey Chester
    Lindsey Chester says:

    Ah well, without a way to write them down as they were played, (and Shazam being a total dud)
    it was memory serving, and maybe I was wishing those others were played- Bron Y Aur Stomp is such a good tune, and in the same happy vein as Friends, I swore that’s what I heard, what can I say-
    And truly I am a HUGE Zep fan ever since 9 th grade when I’d sit with my friends and decipher the album covers and rock out 1-4.. and then Physical Graffiti hit the scene….Classics all. Still have all my vinyl

  2. Back In The Day Cafe
    Back In The Day Cafe says:

    It was the 5th time we’ve seen him over the years. Aug. 20 he’ll be 65, ugh we’re all getting so old :(

    Stay calm & rock on!

  3. Leah Hassan
    Leah Hassan says:

    AWESOME concert! Will be definitely going to see them again if they come back! I’ve been to a lot of concerts and I’d have to say this may have topped them all. I have no complaints at all! I had no idea there was a problem with how loud it was, why would they put a restriction on a concert???? Are you kidding??? It’s a concert!!! Has to be loud, lol. I was 2nd row, isle seat, almost center of stage and it wasn’t too loud for me,lol. LOVE LOVE LOVED IT!!! :-)

  4. Chuck Adams
    Chuck Adams says:

    I took a pic of the set list at the end of the show and when I saw that Big Log was omitted, I kind of felt like I was ripped off! LOL! Would have much rather heard that than Rock n Roll as I’ve heard so many variations of that tune, not that it wasn’t a great version but I have not seen Robert do Big Log live!

  5. Hal Goodtree
    Hal Goodtree says:

    Thanks, gents, for the fact check. Lindsey must have been enjoying the music too much ;)

  6. Chuck Adams
    Chuck Adams says:

    They didn’t do Over The Hills And Far Away, it was Going To California. Also didn’t do Bron- Yr- Stomp it was Friends! Livin’ Lovin’ Maid doesn’t segue into What Is And What Should Never Be, Heartbreaker does.
    I was in the 3rd row and have been a Zep fan for about 40 years…

  7. Dan Johnson
    Dan Johnson says:

    You obviously aren’t much of a Zeppelin fan. Before I get to the various “ordinances” that the theater apparantly has, let me correct you on a few things: Over The Hills and Far Away was NEVER played. Perhaps you were refering to “Friends”, unless you mistook “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” fro that one, as that was NEVER played either. Zofo is really ZoSo by the way. Lastly, “What is and What Should Never Be” is NOT followed by “Livin Lovin Maid” on II – the song you were looking for would be “Heartbreaker” whick leads into the former. Now, what is with all the ordinances there????? Curfew – rediculas! You also forgot to mention the Sound Ordinance, which wouldn’t allow Robert to play the songs at the volume he desired -twice he tried to push it up a little – twice he was obviously was ordered to turn it down. OBSURD! I have seen Zeppelin and Robert Plant solo MANY times, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him Saturday night, as (like you kinda touched upon), he seemed bewildered by the location he (I’m sure he feels this way now) or his management team chose for him to play at. Talked to a local there who told me that bands have pretty much stopped playing there because of the restrictions placed on them. I believe it! Lastly, Robert Plant has been closing his shows this tour with the song “Big Log”. Your curfew screwed the audience of that one!

  8. Derek T
    Derek T says:

    I agree with the gist of your review, in that it was a stellar show! However, you may want to check your facts…..or feel free to comment back…..1) “Spoonful” is strictly about heroin, moreso man’s desire to fulfill cravings….also interpreted as pursuit of women. 2) Over the hills and far away was not played. I recall it being Going to California from LZ IV or ZOSO. 3)Bron Y Aur Stomp was not played either, I recall Freinds from LZ III.

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