Robert Plant

At Louisville Gardens

By Jean-Marie Ebel

The Tall Cool One himself strutted through Louisville Gardens on September 26 with an unforgettable show for a nearly sold-out audience. Plant has said that his latest release, Fate of Nations, explores a fuller vocal range. The album represents a homecoming of sorts for Plant, since it is his most self-reflective album yet.

As always, the unmistakable vitality and presence that have earned him a reputation as one of rock's greatest vocalists were in full force during the nearly two-hour performance. Ripping into "Tall Cool One," the 1988 hit off his spectacular Now and Zen, the former Led Zeppelin singer alternated between songs from his solo career and a substantial sampling from his earlier days with the band.

Currently receiving wide airplay, "29 Palms" elicited an enthusiastic response from the crowd. Plant gave a grittier rendition while still maintaining its subtle sensuality. Plant's always incredible voice seemed to possess a greater space than ever before as he dazzled the crowd.

"In The Mood," a constant concert favorite, was obviously familiar to the crowd as they swayed to a rhythmically induced trance. Plant kept its original vitality with an extended reinterpretation. He revealed a softer side with the romantic ballad "If I Were A Carpenter" and the plaintive "I Believe."

Plant's new band kept the pace all evening, perfectly complementing his powerful voice as they ripped through a mixture of Led Zeppelin favorites from Led Zeppelin albums I, II and IV, and offered some of the most mesmerizing moments of the night. The soulful "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" featured Plant's wailing, lusty vocals, while "Going To California" was imbued with the melancholic quality that made it so meaningful years ago.

Even after a dozen songs, the insatiable crowd demanded more and Plant relished every minute of giving them what they wanted. He brought the house down as he shrieked and wailed through a devastating rendition of "Whole Lotta Love," perfectly conveying the raw sexuality of the song. Plant revealed all aspects of his remarkable voice through an eclectic selection that spanned his entire career. His on-stage persona showed a real dedication to and love for his art. Plant has taken a journey back to his days as part of Led Zeppelin amidst the magic of the '60s and united them with his own rediscovered self — and the music reflects this deepened mysticism.