Robert Plant & Last Internationale, Newport Centre
To see the mighty Percy in such a small venue is a rare treat and our number lapped it up as we walked into the venue nice and early, the security still waiting outside, as one of our number was not at all well we had negotiated early access, however as we sat in the bar we were suddenly ushered out, in what was starting to turn into a clusterfuck, as the minutes wore on the cluster exploded into a supernova of stupidity, with no one, especially the security knowing what the hell was going on. So apparently we all had to be searched in, even though 10 minutes previously we had strolled in nonchalantly. So our poorly member was allowed to stay with one 'helper' and the other two in our party (including me) had to leave and queue, in what seemed to be a never-ending line.
Still after this rampant fuckwittery, we managed to get in and the rest of our party had secured a seat near the back of the room (as is the norm of course). With the room filling and the electricity building it was time for the support band The Last Internationale.
As Gil Scott Heron's vitriolic anthem The Revolution Will Not Be Televised came over the P.A many guessed that The Last Internationale may have a message and as frontwoman Deilia Paz arrived on stage she slung on an acoustic and started to play, the song was Worker's Of The World Unite (based on Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto) and Deilia began to roar, her voice supremely powerful and her resolve unwavering, this indeed was a band with a meaasge and indeed chops as when the rest of the band arrived guitarist Edgey Pires began to peel off riffs and solos like a certain Mr Page merged with a certain Mr Morello (who himself is a fan of the band). Paz took the bass and began to stalk the stage providing the funky bottom end and her primal shout, part Krissy Hynde, part Suzi Quatro she is a fire cracker frontwoman, the band moved through Killing Fields, Life, Liberty And Pursuit Of Indian Blood, Fire and We Will Reign from their latest album of the same name (available on the merch stand for £15 folks!!). These New Yorkers have a lot of fire and fury delivering their agenda with passion and power, the set concluded with Paz adopting the acoustic guitar again, along with a harmonica to play a note perfect cover of Neil Young's Hey Hey, My My. You don't have to agree with the ideology but you can't fault the music, sledgehammer riffs, reverbed solos and a siren with a banshee's voice. Perfect opening fodder for Zep/Plant fans. 8/10
Seeing the set lists that Percy had been playing it was a solid mix of his new stuff, old solo stuff and obviously some Zep classics (albeit slightly re-imagined). The throbbing electronic beat of No Quarter opened the evening sticking to the original for the most part before his multi instrmental band the switched instruments to bayou banjos and mandolins for the swamp stomp of Poor Howard. This would be a theme for the night as the much of Plant's set and indeed the songs on Lullaby.... And The Ceaseless Roar are all influenced by or indeed drawn from the Mississippi Delta. Bassist Billy Fuller and drummer Dave Smith left the stage leaving just the leonine Plant, Mountain man Skin Tyson on banjo, rockabilly madman Justin Adams on acoustic guitar and John Baggott who was bedecked in a leather shirt on keys,, loops etc for a run through of All The Kings Horses from the Mighty ReArranger album (these three men were all part of the Strange Sensation group, that performed on this album). So far so awesome, Percy can still sing like a man a third of his age, he is still every inch a rock god strutting and prowling the stage, he is also affable making jokes and putting everyone in the audience at ease (and thereby resisting the urge to shout "We're Not Worthy!!" at the the top of your lungs). Next up was Thank You which is still as emotive as it ever was before they worked their way through more songs from the latest album all of which brought together world music and especially the amazing Ritti from Juldeh Camara who is this bands secret weapon, he adds his flourishes to both the originals and the blues covers, as far as the original songs go Embrace Another Fall is majestic and features the Welsh language vocals of Julie Murphy and Rainbow is a percussive clap along with a drum for everyone and a hand full of joy, Plant crooning like it was the old days. After building throughout the set came to it's conclusion with the Adams playing the 12 bar boogie of Hoochie Coochie Man, which shifted into Etta James' I Just Wanna Make Love To You (possibly a 50+ Diet Coke moment?) but as the shuffle continued Plant uttered those immortal words "You need coolin', Baby I'm not foolin'" which in turn led to THAT riff and the evergreen Whole Lotta Love to finish the main set. With the crowd in his hands Plant could have read the dictionary for the encore but he didn't a short break and he was back with a lounge jazz version of Nobody's Fault But Mine which warped the original brilliantly before the folk/trance of Little Maggie ending things on a fantastic high. Seeing Percy in his natural habitat is always a treat but he does seem to be enjoying himself thoroughly on stage every night, with Page concentrating on remastering the past, Plant looks to the future and steadfastly refuses to look back. Still he will always be in the shadow of Zeppelin something highlighted by iconic feather symbol on the drumkit of Smith showing that it will always be there in the background as Plant and his Space Shifters progress on their cosmic journey. Simply stunning!! 10/10