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Robert Plant and Saving Grace ft Suzi Dian at The London Palladium

The London Palladium 17th March 2024

Robert Plant is arguably one of the greatest frontmen of all time. As lead singer of Led Zeppelin, he made the mould for the identikit rockgod. His name may be on top of the poster with his latest musical venture, but Saving Grace is very much an ensemble project.

The band enter first, with Plant and vocalist, Suzi Dian taking to the stage together. Dressed in black they blend into the dimly lit proscenium arch. Despite the inevitable whoops and cheers from the audience, it's all very unassuming as they cover the African-American spiritual song 'Gospel Plow'.

There are a few square dance steps from Plant as he grooves to the music, and a few softly spoken jokes or introductions to the songs during the night, but throughout the show he remains an enigmatic figure; a conduit for these folk songs. When he plays the harmonica, he seeks encouragement from the audience and rallies them to clap and stomp along; it's a fleeting reminder of his younger self.

At 75 years young, Robert Plant's commitment to creating exciting and modern arrangements of traditional music is still a top priority. He also has the knack of working with some gifted female vocalists. Suzi Dian's willowy vocal intertwines with Plant's unmistakable twang and layers up these folk retellings. It's not only their sublime harmonies, they work together as one unit - tenor and mezzo adding weight to the vocal lines, with neither one overshadowing the other.

They are also blessed with an exceptional band Oli Jefferson (percussion), Tony Kelsey (mandolin, baritone, acoustic guitar), and Matt Worley (banjo, acoustic, baritone guitars, cuatro) who delight in playing their instruments in different styles ranging from world music to rock. Let's not forget the elegant vocal from Dian along with her accordion playing throughout the evening.

Led Zepplin songs 'Friends' and 'The Rain Song' are given some rearrangements to fit the Americana/folk vibe of Saving Grace. Of course the whole Led Zep catalogue draws from African-American blues music mixed with traditional English Folk anyway, but these renditions feel more rootsy than before.

Later in the set is a cover of Bert Jansch's track 'It Don't Bother Me', which is fitting for a man who was responsible for the folk revival in the UK. Jansch has had a resurgence in recent years thanks to being championed by the likes of Bernard Butler and Robert Plant of course.

When Plant announced the band would perform a song by Los Lobos, I expect several people (myself included) had a throwback to their 1987 party hit 'La Bamba', forgetting that the band have a rich musical heritage behind them. 'Angel Dance' is a great starting point to reconnect with Californian band's music.

'Gallows Pole', a traditional song made famous by Zeppelin follows before the troupe joins together for a spellbinding acapella rendition of 'As We Bid You Goodnight'.

Saving Grace have certainly gone all out for this current tour, playing bigger venues and bringing their unique blend of timeless music to the masses.

Taylor McCall, a talented troubadour was supporting this evening. His latest album 'Mellow War' was released last month.



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