Plant and Krauss define 'Americana' music at Dodge Theatre - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Plant and Krauss define 'Americana' music at Dodge Theatre

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 11:37 pm | Updated: 10:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

You know it's going to be a unique concert going experience when, upon entering the venue, several attendees can be seen wearing various retro Led Zeppelin T-shirts and others are gussied up in cowboy hats, western shirts and blue jeans.

SLIDESHOW: See photos from the concert

You know it's going to be a unique concert going experience when, upon entering the venue, several attendees can be seen wearing various retro Led Zeppelin T-shirts and others are gussied up in cowboy hats, western shirts and blue jeans.

SLIDESHOW: See photos from the concert

The crowd was as diverse as the headliners Tuesday night at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, where former (and maybe, someday, future) Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bluegrass giant Alison Krauss played a two hour set of cuts from their stellar 2007 disc "Raising Sand," some country and bluegrass covers and, yes, even a few Led Zeppelin songs.

While not exactly a duo – Plant and Krauss sang several tunes together, but each singer got a chance to shine on their own Tuesday night – the two legends share a musical background steeped in Americana roots music, with Plant fascinated by blues, rockabilly and country growing up in England and Krauss a bluegrass fiddle champion as a youth in Illinois.

Kicking the show off with "Rich Woman" from "Raising Sand," Plant, dressed all in black with tan cowboy boots, and Krauss, wearing black pants, black vest and a white patterned blouse, blended their instantly recognizable voices in perfect country harmony on the slinky blues tune before launching into a rockabilly version of Ray Charles' "Leave My Woman Alone."

The first Led Zeppelin tune of the evening was next, with banjo player Stuart Duncan (who along with guitarist T-Bone Burnett – who produced "Raising Sand" – and guitarist/pedal steel player Buddy Miller highlighted the five piece backing band) picking out the notes to "Black Dog" before the band slipped into a much slower groove than the frenetic, 1971 Zeppelin version.

Among the highlights from the show were Krauss' haunting solo vocal (with Plant, Miller and Duncan forming a three part harmony gospel choir behind her) on "Down to the River to Pray," which she performed on the wildly popular "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack, Plant's take on the garage classic "Fortune Teller," a beautiful vocal duet on Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" (with Krauss pitch perfect on the Sandy Denny parts), Krauss' stunning version of Tom Waits' "Trampled Rose" and the stomping duet cover of The Everly Brothers' "Gone Gone Gone (Done Me Wrong)," which earned Plant and Krauss a Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocal.

The set was a tour through America's musical roots, from country (a fine cover of the waltzing "Through the Morning, Through the Night" by The Byrds' Gene Clark), bluegrass (the traditional "Green Pastures"), voodoo blues (Burnett's version of the swampy " Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler") and rockabilly (a hopped up cover of bluegrass great Mac Wiseman's "Goodbye and So Long to You").

While the crowd may have been itching for Plant to bust loose his legendary wail on some hard rocking Led Zeppelin tunes, the singer showed how versatile his former band's catalog is, especially during a beautiful acoustic folk blues rendition of Zep's "Black Country Woman." Stripped to its essentials, most of Led Zeppelin's music is a fine blend of folk, country and blues band when the amps aren't pegged on 10.

For her part, Krauss was exquisite, her ethereal voice strong during here lead vocal moments and soft when harmonizing with the gruffer Plant, and her legendary fiddle playing took center stage on occasion, reminding the crowd that while she and Plant's vocals were the main attraction, her musical chops are as good as ever.

If the "Raising Sand" album and subsequent tour is just a one-off project before Krauss gets back to her day gig fronting Alison Krauss and Union Station and Plant (fingers crossed) reunites with Led Zeppelin in 2009 for what may be the biggest rock tour ever, then it was great while it lasted, and if the duo teams up again, you'd be hard pressed to find anybody at the Dodge Theatre Tuesday night who would not pay to see Plant and Krauss together again.

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