The Song Doesn’t Remain the Same – Review of Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at House of Blues Boston

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy
House of Blues, Kenmore Square, 01/25/11

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy on stage at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo – D.Hixon)

I was fortunate to receive a late invitation to see Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the House of Blues a week ago today. The decision to go was easy, when presented with the opportunity to see Rock Royalty, you oblige your suitor. Before the show I sat meditatively in my apartment, the lights dimmed just so, and listened too loudly to the glory years ofZeppelin gone past – the Makers Mark burned down my throat, and the music lifted through ears, as I listened to the Gods clamor. On the subway from Central to Kenmore Square I acknowledged that this pre-show activity was an errant move, for I’d built-up the anticipation to an unattainable level, and as the night progressed, this hypothesis was proven correct.

Divinity. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Divinity. (Photo – D. Hixon)

I met my cohorts for the evening at the Foundation Room in the House of Blues – which is an exclusive VIP lounge where you either need to be somebody or be on a list to get in. I was on a list. Once past the doorman you ascend up the stairs and are presented with a world that reeks of privilege, opulence, and an honest touch of mystery. The oriental rug covered walls help dampen the conversations, keeping them corner private amongst the patrons. While chandeliers adorning the ceiling shed just enough light to see the others who’ve been allowed through the swanky gate of blues. I have a feeling this is what a lot of Los Angeles nightlife is like, and when here, it’s not unusual to run into a variety of celebrity. These were the wolves I was running with this night, and with strange golden and stone Hindu Goddesses flanked against the walls, it seemed like the ideal setting to get lubricated in before seeing Robert Plant perform.

I’ve been in the Foundation Room numerous times before, but this was certainly the most fitting marriage between scene and Main Act I’ve yet witnessed. This wasn’t, however – my first time seeing a member of Zeppelin here – it was only a little over a year ago that I was belly up at the bar with a Red Bull & Vodka, sandwiched between David Grohl and John Paul Jones, Nirvana and Zepplin, Rock Star and Rock God, as they came through town as Them Crooked Vultures. That was an all-time great night, so this Tuesday had a lot to live up to already.

Band of Joy. House of Blues, Boston. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Band of Joy. House of Blues, Boston. (Photo – D. Hixon)

We made it out to the floor just as Band of Joy’s set began and from the get go the crowd was hypnotized with every move the panther-like Plant made, dressed like a stage hand all in black. Each screech, wail, and hymn released from his (still) golden pipes reached the congregation with a religious fervor that elicited numerous yelps back in appreciation. Praise Plant. Plant Saves. Myself, gracefully at the age of 31, felt like one of the younger people in attendance, and you could tell there was a large number of people who haven’t attended a concert in awhile, and were there stretching for reach their youth, even if for only for a few hours.

The Band of Joy songs were applauded with appreciation from the crowd, but it really wasn’t until the Led Zeppelin covers were broken out that the true applause began. As soon as the first few chords of “Tangerine” were played it was like I was in the middle of a high-five convention, and to be honest, I was an active contributor to that sect. The Zeppelin songs played sounded good enough for sure, and Plant at age 62 still most certainly has “it” (along with his hair) – but the songs were honestly missing a lot of the balls you’d hope for when hearing a Zeppelin song – I mean you don’t want those gems broken down, you want them turned up – and loud. This is one trick John Paul Jones didn’t pull when here with Them Crooked Vultures – because honestly, they could stand on their own, where Band of Joy can’t. Aside from their rendition of “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” – everything just sounded like Clear Channel filler to me.

What hearing the Zepplin covers (for that’s what they were) did though, is place a deep yearn for a true Led Zeppelin reunion. Watching Plant you could see he’s still one of the best lead Rock vocalist ever, while John Paul Jones is tearing up the bass with Them Crooked Vultures, and Jimmy Page still has God status, which was reaffirmed after a recent viewing of “It Might Get Loud”. Throw someone like Grohl in on the the drums – play 15 shows in the US, 10 in the UK,  and I’d literally pay up to $400 a ticket, because they’re still ALL masters of their craft, and are ALL walking legends. It wouldn’t be sad, washed up, or forced at all – maybe there’d be less groupies, drugs, and sharks – but the music would still be there. Most likely I didpurposely sabotage my ability to appreciate Band of Joy by listening to Zeppelin before the show. But that was for a purpose, because I do know Father time stops for no one…..rock royalty especially, and if those three deity’s could put their egos aside for three months at the most, they’d make a lot of people on planet Earth happy.

Sure, I can now tell people I saw Robert Plant play – but fuck that, I want to say I saw Led Zeppelin play, anything else – is just a cover band.

D. Hixon

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