Easter Sunday is usually a day to spend at home with family, shoveling down chocolate and having quality time together. However many there were many people consisting of families packing out a sell out show for the legend Robert Plant. Coming straight from Bluesfest in Byron Bay, this will be Plant’s first performance in 5 years in Melbourne. Bringing with him is Seth Lakeman, a folk singer hailing from England also fresh from his Bluesfest set.

After setting off into solo work back in 2002, 44 year old Lakeman has made a name for himself in the folk and blues community with his unique stylings and mixes of both English and Irish folk music.

For an opening act, Lakeman had the attention of the whole crowd. Every single person in their seats was giving him their full attention while he regailed us with amazing tales told by song. He even brought us Australians a sneak peak of what’s to come once Lakeman rejoins his band back in the UK with ‘Educated Man’ which was dedicated to the teachers. For an idea of his style, think early Ed Sheeran with a mixture of Vance Joy and a hint of Simon and Garfunkel. If he was younger and released now, he would be a big name but, even then, his pure talent alone was enough.

Using a vast array of string instruments from violin to lute to guitar, Lakeman played songs so different in style and message, he’s definitely highly talented. Even going to playing a violin like a ukelele.

Closing on ‘Kitty Jay’, the crowd joined in, clapping to the beat, while Lakeman put on an amazing violin performance that made jaws drop. If you haven’t heard of Seth Lakeman before (like this writer before the night), I would highly suggest having a listen for a change of pace and sound.

 

The main event of Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters is just one of Plant’s many projects over the years. However it was easy to see why many people were here tonight is to see the legendary voice behind one of the worlds biggest rock acts, Led Zepplin. With very little Led Zepplin live performances since the tragic death of John Bonham back in 1980, this is the closest to seeing the man that anyone born around or past that time will ever get (bar the 2009 celebration day reunion in the UK). Tonight was bound to be nothing but Sensational Space Shifter songs, covers from Plant’s other solo projects and Led Zepplin classics making it a night this sell out crowd will never forget.

Once the silhouette of Plant hit the stage, everyone in the venue couldn’t contain themselves. The roar was huge as the legend himself grabbed the microphone and gave everyone exactly what they came here for.

After opening with a Led Zepplin classic cover, the first Sensational Space Shifters song ‘Turn It Up’ didn’t have the same energy from Plant with him staying mostly back and letting the band take front and centre. That was until he took to the mic to address the crowd and had people jumping out of their seats.

The single ‘The May Queen’ had Seth Lakeman join Plant on stage to join in on violin and backing vocals, showing exactly why Lakeman was picked to support the Sensational Space Shifters on this Australian Bluesfest sideshow tour.

People clapped along to the beat of ‘Rainbow’ yet people could help but belt out the classic ‘Going to California’. Every single Led Zepplin and Robert Plant fan went absolutely crazy over it. Plant’s voice may not be able to hit the notes he once could back in the day but that didn’t stop him from bringing smiles to every face there.

After explaining the reason for the name of the band, they jumped into ‘All the Kings Horses’ which showed how Plant’s vocals had matured and suited the style on show that night. Straight after, Lakeman joined the band on stage to join in for the cover of ‘Please Read The Letter’ which was written by Plant and former Led Zepplin member Jimmy Page. It’s great that Plant truly embraces everything he has done musically in his illustrious career and not just the present unlike many artists these days.

For a seated venue, it wasn’t long until people jumped up out of the seats and went berserk for 1970 ‘Gallows Pole’ from Led Zepplin III. Even in the top tier people were standing, dancing and clapping along while singing along.

After ditching the kabuki backdrop and replacing it with trippy projector graphics on a back screen, Plant, Lakeman and the Sensational Space Shifters brought the crowd ‘Carry Fire’ which also happened to be the final Sensational Space Shifters song of the main set.

Belting out an absolutely killer performance of ‘Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You’ that made my jaw drop when he hit the classic high note that, I thought, Plant couldn’t reach, they jumped straight into the cover of ‘Little Maggie’ but not until they got the standing ovation they deserved for that single performance.

For the penultimate song on the main set the crowd got treated to an incredible cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Fixin’ to Die’ followed by closing on ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ in which Plant told tales of the time he toured Australia in the 60’s and his trouble with the police. Thankfully a lot has changed in the 50 years since.

After a very short break, everyone was out of their chairs and moving around. The final song of this incredible night put everyone into a frenzy as they played a mashed up cover of ‘Bring It Home’, ‘Santianna’ and the ultimate rock classic that any rock lover would know ‘Whole lotta Love’ which cause the crowd to go absolutely insane as the man behind one of the greatest rock songs belted it out insanely beautifully.

If you are a Led Zepplin fan or just a classic rock fan in general, this is a must see show.

Photos by John Raptis