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Robert Plant & Band of Joy – Beacon Theatre – 30/1/2011

HockneySun, 21/07/2019 - 12:42

A great gig, suffering from a New York audience. They talk. We were near the back of the stalls, under the balcony, which didn’t help the sound, but it was the talking that got me down. Running commentary from one side, babysitter discussions on the other… Aaaaargh!
This was Plant’s period of realisation that he was allowed to play Americana, despite being from Birmingham UK, not Birmingham AL. After the gob-smacking Alison Krauss collaboration, this band had Patty Griffin instead of Krauss, and Buddy Miller instead of T-Bone Burnette, but was otherwise a similar line-up (could be wrong) and an obvious evolution of the sound.
Plant was having fun – lots of covers, a few trad. songs and the inevitable re-working of a few Zeppelin numbers to rile the purists. It’s always fun watching the reaction of the crowd as they slowly recognise “Rock & Roll”, for instance, only with a different groove and totally different arrangement. It’s even more fun to be one of those who don’t recognise a classic until the vocals start – that’s when you know they’re on to something! Plus, we got solo single “Tall Cool One” in an Americana stylee – definite improvement for that number.
Quick word about the Beacon Theatre – it’s a gorgeous converted cinema on the West side of Manhattan. Situated on Broadway (minus any Lambs lying down), and about 1/3 of the way up Central Park; convenient to the Dakota building (where John Lennon lived and died). Smaller than the Hammersmith Odeon, but bigger than Kentish Town Forum, and it has décor the Forum can only dream of. The interior is decked out in cod-Roman style – lots of gilt statues, mosaics and general finery. A beautiful venue with generally excellent sound (except for under the balcony), and I saw some classic gigs there during our time in New York. The one that stands out was Levon Helm – drummer of The Band. This was my first visit to The Beacon. I remember standing in the auditorium taking photos like the tourist I still was. That gig turned me on to Steve Earle who was the support act, and was the closest I’ve ever come to seeing The Band in concert –close enough because we got a ‘Ophelia’, ‘The Weight’ and a few others, in amongst country classics and all sorts of stuff from the southern states. From then on, The Beacon was my favourite New York venue, if only we could get the New Yorkers out of it…

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