For fans still yearning for someone to get the Led out live lo this many years later, Robert Plant was surprisingly willing to meet them more than halfway Sunday, effectively blending old and new and keeping the aud, himself and his current band Strange Sensation thoroughly engaged in the process.
Setlist, on the last night of the U.S. summer tour for his Sanctuary release “Mighty Rearranger,” was a nearly even split between songs from the new disc and Led Zeppelin classics — with nary a song from his two decades of solo work in between. (Actually, the edge went to the ’70s tunes.)
But whereas Led Zep guitarist Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes sought to emulate the arrangements of the originals as much as possible when they teamed up at the Greek in 1999, vocalist Plant and his present mates often sneaked up on songs, approaching from different angles and reflecting his varied musical influences.
Several band members took up hand drums to lead opener “No Quarter” down a far different path than that of 1973’s “Houses of the Holy” version; their take on “Black Dog” more accurately swung than rocked; and much of the late John Bonham’s thunder and bluster on “When the Levee Breaks” was excised in drummer Clive Deamer’s hands.
New material, particularly single “Shine It All Around” and encore “The Enchanter,” stood up well alongside the more familiar; they’re prime examples of Plant’s continued explorations in the merging of eclectic sounds, scales, song forms and rhythms.
But no matter the spin, every moment of Zep recognition seemed to have a galvanizing effect on the crowd, as Plant’s voice, though treated with plenty of reverb, was in fine form. And when the band did hew to largely faithful versions of the acoustic “That’s the Way” (accompanied by spinning mirrorballs that immediately brought to mind images of concert pic “The Song Remains the Same”), the percussive “Four Sticks” and good-time sing-along “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” the response was that much more rapturous.
Plant returns to play the Wiltern Oct. 1-2.