By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Robert Plant, former vocalist for the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, descends onto Rio next week with supporting band The Sensational Space Shifters for an Thursday, October 18th performance. The show at HSBC Arena promises to be an exciting journey through Plant’s impressive solo catalog, the singer’s commitment to the blues, and, of course, the songs of Zeppelin.
After a 20 year-old Plant connected with guitar impresario Jimmy Page in 1968, Led Zeppelin made some of the most explosive music of the 20th century, and in so doing fashioned itself as a benchmark against which rock music thereafter would be measured.
Zeppelin was by no means the end of Plant’s own musical journey though. The former frontman carried on with various solo projects and collaborations following the disbanding of Zeppelin in 1980, continuing to this day.
In his various incarnations Plant has been a Thor-like figure, brandishing the heavy hammer of rock, and in more recent years, a sage-like figure in Austin, Texas where the artist spends time throughout the year.
Most still have the image of the fresh-faced, bare-chested Plant, sporting a curly flaxen mane, and tremendously tight pants, howling “Hey, hey mamma said the way you move/ gonna make you sweat/ gonna make you groove,” into the night.
The flaxen mane remains, as does the howl, still one of the most complex and powerful voices in rock history. Plant may still perform “Black Dog” and other Zeppelin tracks, but the Plant from Zeppelin performances in the 1970s – from which rock legends were born – is quite a different spectacle from what concert-goers can expect on October 18th.
Plant’s recent shows with the Sensational Space Shifters have seen the singer recapture the force of his voice and stage presence, though.
After a bluegrass collaboration with the honey-voiced Alison Krauss, and an album and tour with Band of Joy, both projects displaying Plant’s range, the singer arrives in Rio with enough gusto to wow both curious listeners and longtime fans.
“I saw Plant with Band of Joy in Rome in 2011, an amazing singer. There have been so many great acts in Rio recently, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, it’s a great time to see the legends live,” says Vera Nunes from nearby Volta Redonda.
His return to Rio – the artist performed at the Praça da Apoteose (the concert venue portion of Rio’s famous Sambódromo) in 1996 – is another in a long list of rock and blues legends that have recently visited the marvelous city, Roger Waters, Joe Cocker, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King, just a few of the others.
Mary Byker, a British expatriate living in Rio and owner of Mekong restaurant – as well as front-man for the band Pop Will Eat Itself – told The Rio Times: “Led Zeppelin were hugely important to Rock music, Jimmy Page was an incredible guitarist added to John Bonham’s thunderous syncopated drums and the subtle influence of John Paul Jones, the icing on the cake would have to be voice of Robert Plant.”
“He’s a great musician and his recent Grammy winning work with Alison Krauss proves he’s willing to try new things. An all round top boy! I’m not sure how much Zeppelin material he’s likely to do, if any. But a treat for sure!”
What: Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters
Where: HSBC Arena – Avenida Embaixador Abelardo Bueno, 3401 – Barra da Tijuca
When: October 18th, 9:30PM
Price: Starting at R$90 to R$400