Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Page-Plant Reunion Rocks, Laurie Anderson Intrigues

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Page-Plant Reunion Rocks, Laurie Anderson Intrigues

Article excerpt

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

At Meadowlands Arena.

'Are you ready to rock?" singer Robert Plant yelled to the sold-out Meadowlands Arena. When the crowd shouted in the affirmative, one of Plant's fellow musicians walked to the front of the stage and proceeded to perform a blistering instrumental solo on ... the hurdy-gurdy?

Plant helpfully explained that the instrument was developed more than 900 years ago in France, and if music-history lessons seemed a bit strange coming from the former lead singer of the rock band Led Zeppelin (which used to tear arenas apart) it reflected an adventurousness and a willingness to expand musical horizons that has made the Plant-Page reunion tour more than just another dinosaur band on the road.

They have paid a commercial price for their daring. While their new album, "No Quarter" (Atlantic) has sold a million copies and the tour is a consistent sell-out, their sales figures and box- office grosses pale next to a band like the Eagles, which has done little more than re-create its old sound with uncanny precision.

Plant and Page, who did not invite their old bandmate, John Paul Jones, to join them for either the album or tour, are in the midst of their first tour in 16 years; they have participated in one-shot reunions at such events as Live Aid and the Atlantic Records 40th-anniversary bash.

But the years have not dimmed their vitality. From the moment they hit the stage, with Plant doing his trademark whirling-dervish spin, they rock the house. They use their long-held enthusiasm for multicultural music to give the old Led Zep classics a new spin with fresh, internationally flavored arrangements. The music doesn't quite have the same visceral punch that it had in the old days, but it seems newly vital.

The pair are deliberately avoiding most of the familiar songs: There's no "Stairway to Heaven," "Whole Lotta Love," or "Rock 'n' Roll" in either the album or show. But they do rip through other songs from their past with abandon. Plant still displays his banshee wail, and Page continually dazzles on his twin-necked guitar, displaying the instrumental virtuosity and dynamic inventiveness that have made him a guitar legend. …

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