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Robert Plant churns out pure gold to eclectic Vancouver crowd

Review published in the Vancouver Sun on April 19, 2011.


Robert Plant is a musical nomad. He’s sailed the spiraling seas of ’70s psychedelia, scaled the jagged peaks of rock ‘n’ roll and wandered through the twisting backcountry of bluegrass. Today, touring in support of his new album Band Of Joy, he’s rambling through the pastoral prairies of Americana.

The 62-year-old vocalist, better known as the yelping frontman of Led Zeppelin, is a musician of perpetual motion. Like his ever-shifting musical aspirations, Plant’s career — especially in recent years — is akin to a walkabout. 2007’s Raising Sand, the Grammy Award-winning bluegrass collaboration with songbird Alison Krauss, was Plant’s first solo record that really severed the umbilical chord between the man with the cocker spaniel curls and the rock god from Zeppelin. His recent record, Band Of Joy, continues to tear him away from his “Whole Lotta Love” and “Stairway To Heaven” days, the newfound roots and alt-country soundscapes further solidifying him as a solo artist.

Sure, some may regard Plant’s recent gypsy-esque traipsing through genres as a symptom of a greater malaise — perhaps exhaustion from being trapped in the Zeppelin black hole, and a desire to find a renewed musical identity — but as the wailing wonder illustrated to a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Theatre Sunday night, his smorgasbord of curiosities aren’t necessarily a means for reinvention.

Plant’s talents are as big as his hair; Feed the beast and it will prosper. In order for the British banshee to continue growing for another 40-odd years, the aesthetic explorer has started grasping a world of genres to grease his wheels.

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