Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters transcended musical genres and time during their Wednesday night Mann Center performance. With a band made up of members from both Portishead and Massive Attack, Robert Plant not only “shifted space” but he also traveled through time, transcended culture and generations, and a number of other things that may sound like they’ve come from an episode of “Fringe” or “Wayward Pines”.
Perhaps the reason Plant has become so successful is because of his “space shifting” and “genre bending” which was visualized perfectly on Wednesday night as he dove into a fourteen song set littered with classic Zeppelin tunes.
Opening act (often headliners) The Pixies played a feverish 17 song set that was tight, gritty, and unapologetic. As young and old alike strutted into the venue, they were welcomed by The Pixies raw singing and grimy string of hits. Belting out early singles like “Where is My Mind” and “Nimrod’s Son” surely set the tone for their set. Their playing was tight, the singing was rather punkish and the Pixies were every bit as bluesy as a fan would want them to be.
Love for the blues genre surely had to be what brought these musicians together, as Plant entered the night with Zeppelin’s “The Wanton Song” and let loose his classic wails on the Mann Center audience. He had the energy of the crowd in his grasp. He drug concertgoers through a mash up of genres, blending his classic Led Zeppelin grooves with moroccan beats and celtic folk.
Plant was truly having a good time, quipping “ This is the classic rock you’ve been all dying for, just like a cocktail. Just give them a little twist.”
He danced through a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “No Place to Go” that led into “Dazed and Confused” followed by another flurry of Zeppelin songs, like “Black Dog”, “The Lemon” song and finally “Whole Lotta Love”. Several in the audience commented on how fantastic his voice sounded on the last night of his tour. It was as if he had be cryogenically frozen for about twenty years and just let loose that day. While he may not be kicking as high or jumping around on stage, Robert Plant and his tambourine are still intact and shifting through new spaces in the world of music.