Gig Review: Robert Plant & The Sensational Spaceshifters, 28.07.2016

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It was Thursday, July 28th, that I got to see who is in my mind one of the greatest rock singers of all time: Robert Plant.
Famous as Led Zeppelin-frontman from 1968-80, the artist is currently touring Europe world with his Sensational Space Shifters, with whom he also recorded his latest studio album Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (review here).

Just in time for the start of the main act, I arrived at the well-filled Arena Wien and found a great spot on the lawn near the stage with excellent view. Just as good as the view was the sound that night, which was lengths better than of Wolfmother’s concert at the same location (review here).

At about 21:00 pm, Robert Plant emerged with a huge banner carrying the feather-symbol in the background. He himself on vocals and diverse membranophones, he brought five other musicians with him: Juldeh Camara on nyanyeru (an African one-string fiddle), Liam “Skin“ Tyson on guitar, Justin Adams on bass, John Baggot on keys and Dave Smith on drums.
What’s known is the different musical approach of the ensemble (compared to Plant’s earlier times). Not focusing on one specific genre, the artists freely mix styles and rhythms. The result is a colourful medley with folk and country elements as well as foreign African sounds paired with Led Zeppelin classics and the well-known mighty riffs.

This diversity lead to an interesting set list that included Poor Howard, Rainbow and Turn It Up from Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, a cover of Willie Dixon (Spoonful), the traditional Little Maggie, and lots of Led Zeppelin medleys that included (parts of) What Is and What Should Never Be, No Quarter, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You and Rock and Roll for the encore.

The band not only convinced the audience by its versatility and range of styles, but also by the quality of performance. Robert Plant still has that great voice of his and a very individual approach on singing that one recognizes immediately. Furthermore he really secured a great atmosphere by continually including the audience and performing with lots of energy.

This concert meant a great deal to me – and without any exaggeration: it was truly sensational.


More information / photo credits:
© Robert Plant


Gig Review: Wolfmother – Gypsy Caravan Tour, 11.05.2016

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Perfect weather, great location and tons of fans: the evening of May 11th had a promising start for the Australian rock act Wolfmother in Vienna’s Arena Open Air. I arrived only a few minutes before they started their set (the support band I unfortunatley missed beforehand was Electric Citizen).


© Wolfmother

To be honest, I never really got into Wolfmother that much as a fan, but I was aware of who they (or, more specifically, frontman Andrew Stockdale) are and what they do – and have always liked their sound. I was thus very excited to go to this concert without any expectations at all – which is probably the best way possible if you dig the unexpected, like I do. You just end up with lots of surprises – good and bad. So here they are:

First surprise: the band’s tempo and dynamics. Man, they played a set of twenty songs and took but three breaks (one to say hi, one to say thanks, and one before the encore), which lasted only a few seconds each.
Which leads me to the next surprise: they hardly said a word to the audience. Apparently, Stockdale is not much of a talker, but it would definitely have been his role to communicate with the fans a bit more. However, the band did not seem as if they did not enjoy themselves on stage – so even though there was no communcation, there was still a lot of energy in the performance. Which is probably what saved them from an angry crowd.
Third surprise: Alex Carapetis is a damn great drummer. In fact, the drums were the only instrument that sounded as they should all the way through the show. The others, from guitar to bass and vocals sounded horrible most of the time. That night’s horrendous sound was yet another surprise for me. I do not know who was responsible for it, but honestly I’d rather not even know at all – it was a real shame. The guitar sounded bad, the bass was too loud at times, whereas bassist Ian Peres‘ backing vocals were hardly audible at all. Well…drums and keyboard were fine, at least.
Fifth surprise: I already mentioned that Wolfmother have a cool sound. Main reason behind that is Andrew Stockdale, who is basically the brain behind this music project. The other musicians are rather professionals hired to play along. Big part of the sound, however, is Stockdale’s special voice, which mostly reminds one of Jack White’s. What I did not know, though, was that besides its cool and bright timbre it is pretty monotonous, too. I haven’t heard Stockdale sing much more than five notes during that show. It’s not like he tries and fails – the songs are just composed that way, without exciting melodic vocal lines. And they are fine like that, just a bit monotonous after a while.

To summarize all of that, I was most impressed by their efficient way of performing, playing one song after the next without even considering taking a break. This is naturally the most professional way to play a gig and shows that the band is really tight and knows what’s going on. On the other hand, there is not much space left for interaction with the audience or spontaneous improvisation on stage. Still, they played well, and the bad sound was not their fault.

So all in all I did enjoy this gig, and I am glad to have seen Wolfmother live. They do make cool music that definitely comes from the right sort of inspiration and surely inspire tons of young garage rock bands, which is exactly what today’s music needs.

More information / photo credits:
© Wolfmother,