alisonplant.jpg

Photo by 'Lil Scoop.

Who: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Where: WaMu Theater, SoDo

When: October 1

The first sign that the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss

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Concert Review: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at WaMu Theater

alisonplant.jpg

Photo by 'Lil Scoop.

Who: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Where: WaMu Theater, SoDo

When: October 1

The first sign that the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss show at WaMu (soon to be JP Morgan?) Theater might be something special was when Jim McDermott showed up at Sluggers in a bolo tie about an hour before showtime to prefunk. Sheepish upon my recognition of him, McD put his index finger to his lips, as if to say, "Yikes, if people knew I was back home enjoying myself amidst bailout negotiations, I'd be in deep donkey doo." No, you aren't, Congressman -- you're much the cooler for it. But, man, how thick is the irony of a Congressman sneaking home during bailout negotiations to catch a show at the WaMu Theater? Very.

Spokesperson Mike DeCesare reports that McD caught a Thursday morning flight back to D.C., where he quickly unveiled an economic stimulus package as an amendment to the bailout legislation. "My musical interest extends back to the days when Robert Plant was with Led Zeppelin, so I’ve been a fan from the day they started," explains the Congressman. "[But] the pairing with Alison Krauss is genius, [and] in the concert I would have liked more Alison and less hard rock."

The second sign of specialty was when my mother showed up at Sluggers, having scored a ticket from one of her neighbors. Upon ordering a red beer, she admitted to not knowing the difference between Robert Plant and Robert Palmer. I explained that Robert Plant was the rock star of roughly her age who partied hard and is still alive, while Robert Palmer is the lesser rock star of roughly her age who never partied and died prematurely. Nobody ever said life -- and death -- would be fair.

On with the show: I'd never been to a show at WaMu Theater before, in part because I figured the acoustics would suck, what with the room essentially being an exhibition hall and all. Not true; the sound was just fine. Now for the lone disappointment: Plant and Krauss failed to play "Killing the Blues," arguably the best song on their album, Raising Sand. But that's nitpicking -- the rest of their nearly two-hour set was nothing short of marvelous.

Temperamentally, the pair pose quite a contrast to one another. Krauss is reserved, and has gotten better looking with age (her mother was also in the audience tonight, albeit with better seats -- onstage -- than mine). Her singular expression is her voice, which is unrivaled in modern popular music. The depth of her vocal talent is almost unfair, and I think she knows it -- to the point where she feels subconsciously guilty and is therefore reticent to let loose onstage.

Plant faces the opposite emotional dilemma. Letting loose is what made him a rock god. He was incredibly playful and generous onstage, even though it was quite clear he was the main attraction. (That's not meant as a slight to Krauss, who could sell out the Paramount by herself. It's just that Plant could sell out KeyArena by himself; WaMu was no doubt chosen for reasons related to intimacy and service to song.) He even alluded to the infamous Edgewater incident of yore a couple of times, and noted that he stood on the same ground in 1977 "with the same hair and teeth" -- only then the ground he stood on was in the Kingdome. To watch him tone even his Zeppelin numbers down to where they sound natural with Krauss involved is to witness a master's course in restraint. Just as Plant would seemingly get ready for a sex-drenched vocal takeoff, he'd suddenly pull back. In that respect, he was taking batting practice, and it was phenomenal that he was able to resist cutting loose with a vintage sonic money shot.

Plant has demurred about going on a full-blown reunion tour with Zeppelin. But as different as his sensational pairing with Krauss is than what would come of that, I'm convinced it's exactly what he needs to convince himself that he's still got the juice to reunite with his legendary mates, even if Jimmy can't be forgiven for Coverdale-Page.

 
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