Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alison Krauss & Robert Plant @ the Greek Theatre

"This is kind of weird," I said to my friend, midway through Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's great, genre-hopping and ultimately elevating performance at the Greek Theatre.
I was thrilled to get the opportunity to see Plant, period, in this lifetime, having had pivotal Led Zeppelin listening experiences many years back. Krauss earned my adulation when I first heard her Union Station Live disc. Both led me to buy the T-Bone Burnett produced CD of this odd pairing of two musical greats when it was first released. I enjoyed it thouroughly, but didn't go out of my way to vie for a ticket to this sold out show. Nonetheless, when the ticket was offered, I jumped. And I'm glad I did. The amount of excellence on the stage was jaw-dropping. Krauss, and Plant, and with Burnett, master producer, master musician, if less renowned, part of the band! And then who turns up as their lead guitarist but someone I do go out my way to see solo or with his wife, Buddy Miller! And of course, the rest of the band, if less-known to me, was top-notch, including, who Krauss called "the best musician I know," Stuart Duncan.
Krauss, looking as nonchalant as if she were waiting for the bus, would open her mouth and produce otherworldly, crystal clear notes that cracked your heart another notch and produced goosebumps at the same time. Plant, though singing bluegrass, singing harmony in his inimitable voice, couldn't contain his rock star self, picking up his mic and swinging it around at every opportunity. Periodically, he ceded the stage to Krauss to hang back completely or sing harmony. They played most of the tunes on Raising Sand, as well as covering Black Dog and Plant's "I'm in the Mood." Another highlight was Krauss's "Down t the River to Pray" (Plant, Miller and Nashville's offering three-part harmony behind Krauss's ethereal and powerful lead vocal). Mid-way through the show, they gave Burnett the stage to play a selection of his catalog. Miller sang a verse of "One-Woman Man," Duncan traded fiddle licks with Krauss. Greatness in action. They closed the glut of musical riches by sending us off with "Your Long Journey."

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