WILMINGTON — After delaying their show by five days, rock ‘n’ roll icon Robert Plant and bluegrass legend Alison Krauss made their way to Wilmington’s Live Oak Bank Pavilion on Monday, May 15.
The two have been touring in support of their latest Grammy-nominated album “Raise the Roof,” a followup to 2007’s Grammy-winning “Raising Sand,” both produced by T Bone Burnett. The albums feature covers from artists both musicians have been inspired by throughout the years.
There is magic between their combined voices: Krauss, a subdued, ethereal presence, at times sounds like a young Dolly Parton. Plant, who snapped, clapped and engaged more with the audience, maintains his tenor, a voice that’s barely aged in his 74 years.
Together, the hard edge and soft tones become otherworldly and create a grace without losing the power both musicians have in their own right.
Their 16-song set blended tracks from their two albums along with Led Zeppelin hits. The Brit band’s sound was stripped down from the electric verve that have cascaded the airwaves since the ’60s into an Americana take.
While “Rock and Roll” and “The Battle of Evermore” highlighted early Zeppelin, Page and Plant’s “Please Read the Letter” from the late ’90s — also recorded on “Raising Sand” — made it to the lineup.
According to photographer Tom Dorgan, who took photos of the show for Port City Daily, one fan in the audience nailed the general consensus of the crowd: “I love bluegrass Led Zeppelin,” she said.
Surrounded by vintage amps, the five-piece band soared during a captivating version of “When the Levee Breaks.” No one can mimic Jimmy Page’s guitar-playing, but Stuart Duncan and Krauss, both on violin, suffused a classical, haunting approach to the swamp blues solos, transforming its appeal.
Guitarist JD McPherson — known for his retro sound and who has performed at Wilmington’s Brooklyn Arts Center before — opened the show with eight songs, including a moody, sultry cover of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.
When onstage with Krauss and Plant, he showcased a rich tapestry of guitar work, from the ’50s rockabilly of “Gone Gone Gone” (The Everly Brothers) to the indie rock of Calexico as heard on “Quattro (World Drifts In)” from the Arizona band’s 2003 release “Feast of Wire.”
Also backing up Krauss and Plant was drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch, and Viktor Krauss on keyboards and guitar. They paid tribute to Allen Touissant on “Fortune Teller” — a song covered by other British invader bands of the ’60s, including Rolling Stones and The Beatles — and to Ray Charles in “Leave My Woman Alone,” part of a two-song encore.
Below is Krauss and Plant’s setlist and photos from the concert, courtesy of MoonFrog Media.
Rich Woman (Dorothy LaBostrie and McKinley “Li’l” Millet)
Quattro (World Drifts In) (Calexico)
Fortune Teller (Allen Touissant)
The Price of Love (The Everly Brothers)
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)
Please Read the Letter (Jimmy Page & Robert Plant)
High and Lonesome (Robert Plant and T-Bone Burnett)
Last Kind Words Blues (Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas)
You Led Me to the Wrong (Olla Belle Reed)
Trouble With My Lover (Allen Touissant)
In the Mood (Robert Plant)
Can’t Let Go (Randy Weeks, made famous by Lucinda Williams)
The Battle of Evermore (Led Zeppelin)
When the Levee Breaks (Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy, made famous by Led Zeppelin)
Leave My Woman Alone (Ray Charles)
Gone Gone Gone (The Everly Brothers)
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