BLUES: Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant performs in the Mojo Tent at Bluesfest.
BLUES: Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant performs in the Mojo Tent at Bluesfest. Patrick Gorbunovs

Legends let it rip

IGGY POP was the last man standing at Bluesfest on Saturday night, storming home triumphantly in front of a rapturous crowd in the Crossroads tent.

With both the Stooges and Robert Plant hitting the stage around the same time that night the crowd had to make a tough choice - was it to be Pop or Plant.

Numbers favoured Plant, seeing him outdraw Pop, but in terms of crowd devotion and response the Stooges and their crowd took out the award for sheer commitment to rock and roll.

Foot traffic around the Mojo tent came to a standstill as Plant and his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, stepped out to face an audience that seemed ready to hear something new from Plant.

His six-piece band moved through a set of songs with roots firmly in rock and blues but refracted through a prism of African, Middle Eastern and Appalachian influence.

 

So the signature guitar intro of Black Dog was re-imagined on the one-stringed Gambian ritti by Juldeh Camara with the crowd latching on gratefully to the familiar guitar and vocal call and response.

 

At 65 Plant's voice is not what it once was but he still uses it to dramatic effect. His timing is still superb and the band and sound are restrained enough to let it his vocals shine through.

Next came the gentle reverie of California and on into a radically re-arranged version of Heartbreaker.

Meanwhile there was nothing gentle going on in the Crossroads tent because Iggy and the Stooges were on a mission.

Drenched in sweat and stripped to the waist, Iggy was churning and gyrating across the stage and down into the audience like no 65-year-old has a right to do.

Supremely aware of his own ridiculousness yet totally committed to the music, Pop waved, winked and grinned out at the audience while the band hammered out their hits one after another.

With break-neck versions of Search and Destroy, Kill City, I Wanna be your Dog and Your Pretty Face is going to Hell the Stooges were tight and targeted on delivering.

They even played a couple of solidly melodic new songs that kept the audience right there with them.

Iggy seemed genuinely surprised and humbled by the Bluesfest audience's devotion and several times he jumped down off the stage and pressed against the security barrier so the audience could touch him.

Finally, after the encore, the band left the stage in cacophony of guitar feedback with the drums pounded into submission. They left it all out there on the stage and the Bluesfest crowd lapped it up.



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