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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Concert Review: Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, April 1995

SignFrom oldbuckeye.com

Cincinnati was the place to be last night! It was an absolutely incredible show – it exceeded my expectations! For those of you that want to skip all of the descriptions and go straight to the set list, you can find this at the bottom of this message. Page and Plant put on an incredible 120 minute performance that left the audience in complete awe. Most notable was the absence of any new additions to the set list from the concerts previous in the tour, or any inclusion of the new P/P tunes like Yallah, City Don’t Cry, etc. Yes, this was almost a Led Zeppelin concert.

The band had had a 15 day hiatus, and they really looked well rested, and full of energy. Plant was all over the stage. At one point Robert was spinning around and he knocked a guitar amplifier mic over with his mic stand. Page danced about on many occasions, as well. Plant’s voice was in top shape, I think he cracked only once. Page was just a little, shall I say, sloppy, a couple of times. But, I’m being too critical here. The band has even improved since the filming of UnLeded, they are much tighter musically, and looser emotionally. Everyone in the band was really having a great time and smiles could be seen from them all night long.

Our seats were not real good. We were all the way back in the arena, up high, on Charlie Jones’ side of the stage. I brought binoculars, and it helped immensely. At the top of the stage was a large projection television screen where they showed action of the stage, and blended it with pre-recorded video clips and wild images. This screen really made the show so much better – it was great to see close-ups of Jimmy’s fingers as he blistered through the solos. The sound was very good for the arena, which suffers from the typical reverberations of most arenas in it’s class. The mixing was done excellently, and most importantly, Jimmy’s sound was never drowned out, like in the recent past (so I’ve read).

Of noticeable disappointment was the lack of any good Plantations. He did mention Cincinnati by name a few times, but I didn’t hear a whole lotta humor, as compared to other times. Also, I could NOT find the Miller Genuine Draft Led Zeppelin Memorabilia truck. We went looking for it earlier in the afternoon, as well as right before the show. Oh well.

The concert itself started promptly at 7:30 with the warm-up group. I never did hear what their name was! They were not Rusted Root, since this was a four-piece, all-male group. Could this have been Tragically Hip? The band kind of had a Seattle sound to it. Everyone except for the bass player had short hair and the blonde-haired guitarist didn’t move very much. The band was, for me, okay, at best, and we all gave them an obligatory applause, knowing what was ahead. This band exited the stage at 8:00.

I went down and got a Page/Plant coffee mug for $10. As I got to my seat, at 8:25, the lights went down again. This was it! The Tales of Bron poem was read in the dark, as people screamed and cheered. I couldn’t make out too much of the poem. Then the music started as the band launched into Thank You. Jimmy had his legendary Sunburst Les Paul. [Fashion Report: Robert had on a denim vest, open at the chest, with tight leather pants, and gray snakeskin boots. Page had on a semi-ghastly orange, baggy, shirt, with normal looking dark pants and shoes.] Porl was no where to be found until the band went into Bring It On Home. Next, Jimmy strapped on his gold Les Paul with the transperformance (sp?) tuning gizmo for Shake My Tree. Included in this tune was a famous theramin solo from Jimmy. Robert didn’t seem to mind singing this Coverdale/Page tune, as reported in past posts. Robert did a much better job, too, than Coverclone. Next was a showcase tune for Porl, Lullaby, the Cure tune. Charlie switched to a stand-up bass for this one. People began to sit down for this one.

The people who had just sat down, however, were back up quickly, as Robert and Jimmy sat down now, for No Quarter. This tune featured Plant and Page exclusively, with incredible video shots of the two intertwined with the video of an eagle’s view flying over a lush forest, a la the No Quarter (NQ) video. Plant’s voice wasn’t quite as processed (flanging, echo, etc.) as it was in the NQ video. Jimmy was playing his 12 stringed acoustic guitar. Next, Jimmy switched to his 2-neck acoustic and they launched into Gallows Pole, much to the audience’s delight. In mid song, the rest of the band joined in, including the first appearance of Nigel Eaton, the hurdy gurdy man. This was followed by a hurdy gurdy solo, which, when Robert introduced, said that perhaps this was the first time this instrument had been played in the city. People will not forget this either. Nigel made a very positive impression with this strange instrument. Then came Nobody’s Fault But Mine, the new NQ version. Page, still with his double neck acoustic, launched into some strumming that is quite familiar to us all, it was Hey, Hey What Can I Do. The crowd danced in the isles and sang along with Robert. Nigel played mandolin for this one.

Jimmy then switched to his famous red Gibson double neck electric. It was The Song Remains The Same. Jimmy let Porl play about half the solos on this. Next Robert introduced the Cincinnati Symphony and Symphonium, about a 20-piece orchestra. Jimmy, drenched in sweat, led off the familiar notes of Since I’ve Been Loving You. Porl, who must have had too much of a workout with the solos of the previous tune, took a break. This song, which is one of my favorites off of the NQ show, for me, didn’t seem to be quite as hot. Jimmy was a little tired, but plowed ahead, with some stunning fret work.

Robert then introduced the Hossam Ramzy Ensemble, or as he called them: the “Egyptian Pharaohs”. These guys were loads of fun. They should hire out to do parties! My favorite one is Ibrahim Abdel Khaliq, the guy that does the finger cymbals, and has the protruding teeth. He is always dancing about. At times it looked as if he were doing Robert Plant imitations, with the mystic hand motions and such. They also threw their tambourines high in the air and caught them, and Robert did this too (no drops that I saw!). The band launched into Friends, with page on an acoustic, and Porl still resting somewhere.

Calling To You, a Plant solo from Fate of Nations, was next, as the video screen showed footage from Egypt and other far-away lands. Page was playing a cherry-red Les Paul, and hey, Porl was back, even getting a solo! This song went into an extensive, all-out jam, progressing into the Door’s Break On Through, Dazed And Confused, and back to Calling. Plant, singing the Doors tune an octave higher than Morrison, gave the song a refreshing change. At this point, the crowd was absolutely wild, at the first notes of Dazed, we were all in ecstatic.

Page, back to his double neck acoustic, and Jones with his stand-up bass, went into Four Sticks. Michael Lee, who I neglected to mention had done an absolutely powerful and tight job on drums, with his ever-present smile, started in with two sticks in each hand. Next, with a intro that included some tribal-sounding drums and violins from the Pharaohs, the band launched into In The Evening which led seamlessly into a bit of Caroselambra and back into Evening. Jimmy brought out a Fender Stratocaster for this one. After quite a bit of powerful jamming through this one, the lights went out. It was 10:05, and we finally had a chance to catch our breath! The lighters were out in full force, as the place lit up like a smoky, stary night.

The band soon reappeared. Robert dressed the same, with Jimmy wearing a black Second Harvest T-shirt. “Hey Hey Mama” was the so familiar chant that opens Black Dog, as the crowd was louder than ever. The crowd sang along and sang the responsive “ah ah” parts. But through the loudness of the crowd, Robert’s voice emerged quite strongly and all-out powerful, even for all of the high notes. I was very amazed that he still has it in him to hit those notes at that power level! I have bootlegs of Led Zeppelin, even 20 years ago, where he had trouble hitting those notes. Perhaps a newer lifestyle has helped his throat and lungs recently, I don’t know. At then end of this tune, Robert appeared to be drinking a beer, a Corona or a Miller, clear glass, anyhow. Page strapped on his Gold Les Paul (with the transperformance) and slipped into Kashmir. Personally, I had always thought this song was over-rated, but since the re-arrangement of it in the NQ version, I have a new-found fondness of it, greater than before. The whole orchestration of it really brings the tune to new heights. For everyone on stage, this was just an all-out jam. The Hossam Ensemble’s Wael Abu Bakr had a wonderful violin solo, much like he did in the NQ video. This song was a stunning conclusion to a wonderful night. I guess it had to end somewhere. It was now 10:30. Page, Plant and the band members (without the Orchestras) all joined at center stage, arms interlocked, and bowed to the audience, first in front, then to the sides, then the back of the arena.

They came, they jammed, they went. It will never be forgotten. It was unreal.

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April 4, 2013 - Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Cincinnati 1995 |

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