Percy pulls it off
From page 92 of Classic Rock Magazine January 2007
Well-executed balancing act between Zep classics and solo stuff.
ROBERT PLANT AND THE STRANGE SENSATION
Wherever you stand in the debate about whether Led Zeppelin should – or definitely should not – get back together, there’s no denying that Robert Plant is the sole surviving member of the band who has made the better fist of doing exactly that: surviving. And never more so than now, as evinced by this – remarkably, the first all-music DVD Plant has ever made – where the singer and his band, The Strange Sensation, manage to both approximate the classic Zeppelin sound at the same time as stand clearly apart from it.
A recording of their performance in September 2005 on the classic America Public Broadcasting Service show, Soundstage (hence the title), what we have is a roughly equal amount of re-workings of classic Zeppelin numbers and the best material from the tellingly Zep-like Mighty Rearranger album.
Hence, a more slinky Black Dog (though still explosive on the chorus); Four Sticks (dedicated to “my friend” John Bonham, whose death it was the 25th anniversary of the month the concert was recorded); Gallows Pole (as close to the Zep version as anything here); and Whole Lotta Love (an object lesson in having your cake and eating it too, dragging the song back to its purist blues roots before exploding into full-on Zeparama, including a credible freak-out mid-section, its original libidinousness replaced by a more dignified percussive chant, just the right side of sensible).
The only Zep-revisited moment that grates on the ears is the opener, No Quarter , which compared to the original sounds hopelessly disjointed without the signature electronic keyboard and stickytoffee guitar.
Between times, we get the defiantly riffing Shine It All Around , the brilliant post-9/11 commentary Freedom Fries ( ‘And burns and scars...’ ), the dig at newly tuxedo’d Rod Stewart (or is it Sir Mick?) in Tin Pan Alley , and the obligatory foray into mysticism that is The Enchanter . Extras include videos of Dreamland -era single Morning Dew , Fate Of Nations -era single 29 Palms and a horribly stilted performance of Big Log from Top Of The Pops in 1982 (not live as the sleeve claims but inadequately mimed), where the newly repositioned, post-Zep Plant looks like Simon Le Bon’s weird uncle. Thank God he’s over that now.