12 JULY 2012
Robert Plant Presents The Sensational Space Shifters tonight at London's HMV Forum is the second of three scheduled concerts for Robert Plants new creative project. And he is definitely one performer who has shifted musically over the years. Since leaving Led Zeppelin behind him, Plant has been on a continual search for musical fulfilment taking inspiration from every aspect of world music and blending it into his own unique style. These influences were certainly here tonight, with the Space Shifters fusion of blues, rock and world music - including a few Jimmy Page style licks from Cast guitarist Liam 'Skin' tyson.
These days it is more about the music than the show. Plant is still the charismatic front man he ever was, but is a generous and humble performer frequently allowing his fellow band members to step up and take the lead where appropriate. The show started with the well received Fixin' To Die before launching into the Strange Sensation track Tin Pan Valley, which itself has altered musically from its earlier incarnation.
American singer Patty Griffin (who also worked with Plant on his Band of Joy project) joined him on stage for several numbers including an characteristically rearranged version of the Led Zep classic Black Dog featuring brilliant African musician Juldeh Camara playing a ritti (one stringed African violin), before performing a few tracks alone.
It is still as thrilling to watch Plant perform as it ever was and the music is just as exciting and the loyal audience responded to the fruits of this new venture. The three song encore concluded with a folk heavy Gallows Pole, which was probably quite appropriate for the 100 plus fans who wanted to string third party ticket agents up.
These eager fans who had queued for hours in the rain for the sold out event, some travelling as far as New Zealand for the concert were in for a disappointment when they discovered that even though they had purchased tickets in good faith from online ticket agents namely Viagogo, Seat wave and Get Me In, the concert promoters were initially refusing entry for all third party tickets who should not have been selling on and transferring tickets for the event as the HMV Forum were the only authorised ticket seller. However, many of the audience who found themselves in this predicament were unaware of the stipulation made by the Forum Box Office and website. Basically the bottom line was that if your name wasn’t on the ticket and you hadn’t had prior authorisation from the person who originally purchased the tickets (for example if they were a present) you were not coming in.
The sheer amount of people that this had happened to must have had the promoters wondering where it all went wrong, after all it wasn’t just a few people. This determined bunch were not going to take 'no' for an answer. After over an hour debating with members of staff and missing the fantastic support by soul singer Lianne La Havas, they were told to come back at 8.30 (the band were on at 9) to see what the decision was. To avoid a riot the promoters sensibly allowed the very fed up and wet audience in to enjoy the concert they had paid for.