Ottawa CityFolk Fest – Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters @ City Stage – September 15, 2019

It was fifty years ago when the legendary drummer of The Who, Keith Moon stated that The New Yardbirds masterminded by Jimmy Page would “go over like a Led Zeppelin”.  Half a century later Robert Plant the former front man of the monumental Led Zeppelin returned to Ottawa yesterday with his incredible band The Sensational Shape Shifters.

The Great Lawn at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa was packed with about 50,000 enthusiastic fans waiting to witness a living legend strut his stuff in his inimitable style.  Judging by the reaction of last night’s crowd, Plant and The Sensational Shape Shifters did not disappoint. The set list included new songs from Plant’s latest release “Catching Fire,” Plant’s solo material, and Led Zeppelin classics (a la new arrangements) thrown in for good measure.

The show kicked off with the classic “What Is And What Should Never Be”, and continued on celebrating the artistry of Plant and his exceptionally talented band. The Sensational Shape Shifters consisted of: Justin Adams (guitar), Liam Sean “Skin” Tyson (guitar), Billy Fuller (bass), John Baggot (keyboards), Dave Smith (drums), as well as an extremely gifted young lady on the violin and guitars whose name I could not decipher. 

Song arrangements were altered throughout the show, thus giving a refreshing new take on some of the timeless classic Led Zeppelin numbers. “The Battle of Evermore” was saturated with Eastern influences, creating an otherworldly effect that went over extremely well, along with the awesome lighting. “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” was beautifully revamped, and included a tasteful drum solo which was inserted midway into the song. Bob Dylan’s “Fixin to Die,” was reworked masterfully. “Gallows Pole” was delivered with some country honk added to the mix, while the violin added a great deal to the piece.  “In the Mood” included a distinctive arrangement that gave the song a new sense of vitality. The Led Zeppelin standards were all done very tastefully, as they popped up throughout the amazing 90-minute set.

The fans enthusiastic spirit was not dampened by the chill in the air, as they danced, clapped, and sang along to both the new, as well as the classic tunes. A good time was had by all, both young and old alike. The songs were executed with extraordinary precision, and timing, all accentuated by the excellent sound crew (kudos to the sound crew). The musicianship skills of the band were incredible, as they offered up a mélange of musical styles, that blended extremely well. Truly, this show was exceptional in quality, and a joy to behold.

Thanks to our friends at the CityFolk Festival for including Robert Plant in their 2019 roster.  From Lucinda Williams’ opening the fest to Robert Plant’s closing set.  CityFolk 2019 included an awesome array of music that left most everyone in attendance delighted and looking forward to CityFolk’s 2020; hope to see you there.


Set List

  1. What Is and What Should Never Be
  2. Turn It Up
  3. The May Queen
  4. Black Dog
  5. Rainbow
  6. Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
  7. Carry Fire
  8. The Battle of Evermore
  9. Little Maggie
  10. Fixin’ to Die
  11. Gallows Pole
  12. Ramble On
  13. In the Mood

Home page photo credit: Sean Sisk

Aerial photo – photo credit: Scott Penner

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