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Plant and Krauss seamlessly
sew opposite worlds together

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
June 18, 2008
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Story by Andy Argyrakis
Photos by Russell Jenkins & Patrick Gipson (Ravinia Festival)

The illustrious likes of classic rock hero Robert Plant and country/bluegrass beauty Alison Krauss don't generally run in the same circles, not just because of their seemingly opposite genres, but the eras each artist represents. Even so, the legendary Led Zeppelin leader and continuously blossoming Union Station figurehead shunned styles and cast aside ages for last year's critically acclaimed collaboration Raising Sand (Rounder) and this summer's tour of the same name.

The serene surroundings of the lush Ravinia was sold out to the rafters (even every last blade of grass was covered) to catch a glimpse of the historic pairing and the duo didn't disappoint. In fact, both entertainers were downright astounding at interpreting cuts from that roots rock album, but also covering a handful of random oldies, along with completely re-arranged takes of a few Zeppelin treasures. Starting the set with the mountainous blues beats of "Rich Woman" suggested the duo's studio CD was top priority, but the charismatic Plant and more subdued but still superb Krauss quickly showcased their soulfulness via the Ray Charles cover "Leave My Woman Alone."

Throughout the next two hours, the co-headliners (who mostly appeared on stage together) and their five piece band (led by Raising Sand producer T Bone Burnett on guitar) continued pulling unpredictable tracks out of the hat. "Black Dog" served as an early Zeppelin nod, but found the original layers of electricity peeled back against a meaty Appalachian appeal that would've been virtually unrecognizable if it weren't for the familiar lyrics. However, it served as a pinnacle of intrigue that found these two astute minds merging under the same creative banner and producing a relevant result.

Later in the evening, Zeppelin's "Black Country Woman" (off side four of Physical Graffiti to be specific) followed a similar pattern of complete overhaul, as did Plant's 80s solo staple "In the Mood," which translated gallantly to acoustic guitars and gentle harmonies. Krauss also had plenty of time to shine thanks to the dirty guitar centered darkness of "Trampled Rose," an emotive take on Emmylou Harris' underrated "Green Pastures" and a gorgeous a cappella recollection of "Down To the River To Pray" (her O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack smash, also produced by Burnett).

The constant stream of highlights also included the bluesy/gospel beats of "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)," an extremely soulful stab at the Staple Singers' "Don't Knock" and the mandolin-soaked simplicity of the southern streaked "Your Long Journey." No matter what they touched, Plant and Krauss' chemistry was instantaneous, suggesting these collaborations could go on well beyond a mere one off. Of course, there are ever looming Zeppelin reunion rumors to ponder and Krauss' core fans are surely waiting for her return to traditional form, but anyone who caught this particular performance would likely to agree those projects can wait since the present tense for both artists is truly exceptional.

Related articles:

Robert Plant / Alison Krauss - Raising Sand CD review - Dec. 2007
Robert Plant / Pearl Jam Concert review - Chicago, IL - Oct. 2005
Robert Plant and The Strange Sensation - PBS Soundstage - Chicago, IL - Sept. 2005
Robert Plant Concert review - (SxSW) Austin, TX - Mar. 2005
The Who and Robert Plant Concert review - Tinley Park, IL - Aug. 2002
Robert Plant and Strange Sensation Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - July 2002
Robert Plant - Dreamland CD review - July 2002
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - June 1998

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

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