There’s something incredibly humbling about seeing a rock icon perform in an intimate venue like Massey Hall. To be a few hundred metres away from a man who influenced the whole of rock music is a rare event that is becoming increasingly rarer, so to see a Robert Plant show in 2018 is an experience to be savoured. The legendary Led Zeppelin frontman graced Toronto with his presence this past weekend with his backing band The Sensational Space Shifters and played a wide selection of material from his many musical ventures over the decades.
As expected, a good portion of the set was devoted to showcasing his latest album Carry Fire. The new songs effectively displayed Plant’s uncanny chameleon-like ability to change his sound according to the climate of the day, proving that the man’s always been on the vanguard of taste. Songs like “The May Queen” and “New World…” are remarkably forward-thinking, easily fitting in with the contemporary acts of the day. A cover of Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die” was a straight up dance anthem.
Plant’s not only deftly tuned to the pulse of 2018, but incredibly sharp-witted as well. With a wry sense of humour, he urged the crowd to remain standing for the duration of the show, gesturing to a section of sitting patrons and joking that they should be home in bed with a cup of Ovaltine.
The show was punctuated with long instrumental interludes seemingly influenced by various Eastern cultures, with corresponding imagery splayed out on the curtain behind the band. A cover of Joan Baez’ “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” featured one of these interludes, and was one of the most applauded songs of the night. The three Zeppelin songs played were of course a huge hit as well, especially show closer “Whole Lotta Love”. “Misty Mountain Hop” featured archival footage playing behind the band that injected a massive dose of nostalgia into the performance, and even the gentle “That’s the Way” received many cheers.