“Are you ready to rock? Tough!” jested Robert Plant, in the first of the two times he asked the Toronto audience this question. The second time around, Plant & Krauss belted out a twangy version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll.” This was one of many magical moments during this special show marked almost 15 years since Robert Plant and Alison Krauss came through town on their 2007 Raising Sand album.
In the decades since Led Zeppelin disbanded, Plant has recorded original solo material. Still, his zeal for digging into the roots of early rhythm & blues, southern rock, and rockabilly has yielded many unforgettable musical moments. This second album (Raise The Roof) and tour with Alison Krauss mark another landmark, a point driven home with the 90-minute performance delivered on stage for around 8,000 patrons.
This tour features guitarist JD McPherson (who opened the show playing solo), Stuart Duncan (fiddle, mandolin, guitar), Jay Bellerose (percussion), Dennis Crouch (stand-up bass), and Alison’s brother Viktor Krauss (all of the other assorted stringed instruments). Every band member received their moment to shine. Bellerose’s percussion was a joy to behold – he washed over his drums and cymbals with multiple striking implements to everyone’s aural delight throughout the performance. This tour features the musicians presented in front of a retro-looking curtained backdrop illuminated with shimmering colours.
The show was peppered with material from The Everly Brothers, Some Zeppelin material (and Zeppelin covers most people associate with simply being Zeppelin tracks), Some solo Plant material, and other classic roots rock. Plant & Krauss handled the Plant classic “In the Mood” majestically, and it was my stand-out favourite of the night.
This show felt both immense and understated at the same time. The usual pre-show hubbub wasn’t on display this evening at all. There were no lengthy line-ups, the parking lots felt half full, and the crowd remained seated and subdued throughout most of the show. There were moments of energy to be sure; “Gallows Pole” sounded incredible, and the crowd swooned to the entirety of the track. As Plant whispered the ending lyrics to “When the Levee Breaks,” the couple beside me was visibly moved as they swayed side to side, holding each other.
This concert was a fantastic evening of classic music, presented in a fashion that elevated the audience’s perceptions of what the songs could be. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Setlist Toronto:
Rich Woman (Li’l Millet and His Creoles cover)
Fortune Teller (Benny Spellman cover)
Can’t Let Go (Randy Weeks cover)
The Price of Love (The Everly Brothers cover)
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
Please Read the Letter (Jimmy Page & Robert Plant cover)
High and Lonesome
Trouble With My Lover (Allen Toussaint and Leo Nocentelli cover)
In the Mood (Robert Plant cover)
Matty Groves ([traditional] cover)
Gallows Pole ([traditional] cover)
The Battle of Evermore (Led Zeppelin cover)
When the Levee Breaks (Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy cover)
Stick With Me Baby (The Everly Brothers cover)
Gone Gone Gone (The Everly Brothers cover)