I got out of my car at the Robert Plant concert Monday night and thought I was in Sun City, the S.C. retirement community. Cool to see so many old people out and about. And even though it was only 7:30, most had already eaten dinner.
I hadn't been to a full-blown concert since U2 came to Time Warner Cable Arena, although I've seen good talent at Charlotte clubs and even in restaurants. I've heard the Spongetones twice in the last year and in the last month I've twice heard Matt Stratford. People that don't think Charlotte has musical talent need to get out of the house and listen to the Spongetones or Stratford or others.
The North Mississippi Allstars opened for Plant at Ovens Auditorium, and they were excellent. Two guys, both craftsmen; I'd love to hear them again.
When Plant came out with his Band of Joy, and opened with an Americana version of Black Dog, the first song on Led Zeppelin IV, everybody stood. There was Robert, hair still long, still moving, still smiling, still enjoying being who he is and what he does and the impact he has. No wonder everybody stood. They wanted to see the guy.
Fans never sat again. I've never understood that. Why would you stand just to stand? Why not wait until you're moved? I hadn't seen so many white people stand for so long since the PGA tournament at Quail Hollow.
So I stood. I had to see, you know. Plant is my favorite muscian of all-time. I told a friend that if I could meet anybody in the world, it would be Robert.
My friend was aghast.
"You'd rather meet Robert Plant than Muhammad Ali?" he asked.
"I've met Ali," I told him. It would have been a tough call.
Plant is 62. A lot of artists that have performed as long as he has stick to their hits. Listen to the Eagles. Listen to the Who. They might play in arenas, but they're better suited to a garage.
Plant came out of rock and blues. Nobody has ever fused the two like Led Zeppelin. But he keeps reaching. Every CD is an adventure. Each has little to do with the one that preceeded it.
Plant played new stuff, old solo stuff and Led Zeppelin stuff. He played at least six Zep songs, among them Ramble On,Tangerine, Gallows Pole (they didn't write it but they made it theirs), and superb renditions of Nobody's Fault But Mine and Rock and Roll.
I heard a woman say as she walked out that she really wanted to hear Stairway to Heaven. No way was Plant going to do that. I wanted to hear Fortune Teller, which he and Alison Krauss did so beautifully.
Still, I was moved.
I think we all were.
And we got to stay up really late.