Something Different

It’s been a really long time since my last post.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening-or buying-LP’s, but I will say that except for the holidays, my record purchases have diminished.

annie rose

In October I wrote about my interest in Northwest music, and that tends to drive a lot of my interests.  I’ve picked up a few more records from artists from the late 70’s to middle 80’s.  One band I remember is Annie Rose and the Thrillers.  I ran across their seemingly self-produced album on Stress Records. I took it home and popped it on the stereo.  It’s a live record.  The sound is different than one would expect from a bunch of white guys from Seattle.  Rather than the hard rock many bands were producing, it had more of a Memphis-sounding R and B review.  And they were great.  Really enjoyable.  If you liked the Blues Brothers Briefcase Full of Blues, you’ll like these guys

harpo

My wife bought a copy of Harpo by Jim Valley.  I mentioned this in my discussion of Don and the Goodtimes. This record has a story.  My dad actually brought this record home to me when it came out in 1966.  The album was recorded on Seattle’s Panorama records.  I think my Dad got it gratis-he worked for an industrial laundry-wouldn’t have known Valley and maybe had it handed to him as a work bonus.  He brought it home to me and I was thrilled.  Valley was a guitarist with Paul Revere and the Raiders.  I didn’t know anything about his previous connections with Don or his earlier band The Viceroys.  I tossed it on my record player and that was like the only time listened to it. 50 years later, the album sounds great.  Classic Northwest sound with grunting vocals, screaming sax and strong guitar leads. “Little Sally Tease,” “Jolly Green Giant,” and covers of “Louie, Louie” and “Little Latin Lupe Lu” authenticate its garage rock cred.  I love it. Just to add to the weirdness of all this, I saw this copy at my local antique store.  In the dim light, I feared it might be damaged, and saw it was signed by Valley.  When Lorri stopped and picked it up, she noted the album was signed “To Kevin.” I knew I had to have it.

carole king writer

I’ve taken to walking into used record stores without a clear idea of what I want which gives me freedom to look at an album and buy simply on its coolness.  I got some Christmas cash and drove down to Rainy Day Records in Olympia and for five bucks snagged a copy of Writer by Carole King. This 1970 record languishes in the shadow of King’s masterpiece, Tapestry the following year, and is her first solo record after making her way out to California following her breakup with husband/collaborator Gerry Goffin.  It is a great record in its own right, though lacking the clear direction and spare production King would share on Tapestry.  Still, the singers and musicians that would grace the work of dozens of singer/songwriter albums for a decade-Danny Kortchmar, James Taylor and others are present.  My favorite songs are “Raspberry Jam” and King’s cover of her own song for the Rudy Lewis-led iteration of the Drifters, “Up on the Roof.  It’s terrific, just King and her piano, presaging the titanic success of her second record.

everly brothers

Finally, I’ve come to believe that after Chuck Berry and Elvis, the most influential American artists to influence the blizzard of British bands that formed throughout the UK and followed the Beatles to America was the Everly Brothers.  Listen to the Fab Four, the Hollies, and countless other bands, they were compelled to recreate Phil and Don’s close harmonies.  They are terrific.  However, a lot of Everly vinyl is limited to anthologies, because they primarily released singles.  LP’s didn’t really become big until at least the middle 60’s. Thankfully Wax Time Records in Europe re-pressed their 1958 self-titled album in 2013, and Lorri bought it for me for Christmas.  It is like eating the best tasting candy.  “Bye-Bye Love” and Wake Up Little Susie” are the best known songs on the record, but all of them are great.  This pressing also added some bonus tracks including “Cathy’s Clown.”  Really great and cheap at Amazon.

Here’s hoping some great listening.  I’m hoping to post a little more frequently during 2019

 

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Vinyl Mania Records is worth doing.

Vinyl Mania logoVinyl Mania’s Facebook logo

Six weeks or so ago I received a Facebook notification from one of my wargaming friends about a record show in University Place.  Vinyl Mania Records was hosting a record show at the VFW hall in University Place.  I knew nothing about Vinyl Mania Records, but it sounded interesting.  Record show are cool, and one never knows what might be found there.

It turns out Vinyl Mania Records isn’t a record store, rather a vinyl collecting family, with mom, pop and kids each with a collection of albums.  They had a connection to the VFW and sent the word out to record sellers.  Buyers like me collided with sellers and foof, my money was gone just like magic.

I looked at lots of LPs.  It’s funny when I went to one of these shows a few years ago, the money couldn’t fly out of my wallet fast enough.  But I was a bit more focused.  I was really looking for Northwest music from the sixties–any kind of interesting anthology, or something else.

Interestingly, the first table I went to was one representing N.W. MetalWorx Music. They were promoting  an unreleased album by Seattle band TKO.  TKO released their first record in 1979.  I remember them well, along with other lesser known lights such as Rail.

TKO

I didn’t bite on the unreleased album, but picked up a very nice copy of TKO’s debut, Let it Roll, still in the shrink wrap for only ten bucks.  TKO vocalist Brad Sinsei went on to form another band, Suicide Squad in 1988, so I snagged a copy of that as well.  Haven’t listened to either record yet, but I’m anxious to give it a whirl.  It’s a largely forgotten era of Northwest rock.

Suicide Squad

I wandered the floor some more.  Not a lot that caught my attention.  Met some nice people.  Had some great conversations. Unfortunately I had to get to a swim meet at Puyallup High School, so I couldn’t stay long.

Remain in Light

The last dealer I visited had an album I’ve wanted for a while.  I picked up Remain in Light by Talking Heads, which pretty much wiped out my mad money.  No regrets though.  I’d love to go back again if the Mania family puts together another gig.

The Big Buy

While we were away on our cruise last summer, Lorri made a big jewelry purchase.  It was kind of an in-advance gift.  She has her 60th birthday and 40th anniversary coming up.  In June.  She was buying in July, 11 months in advance.  But she also advised me I should think about a 40th anniversary gift for myself.

I had no idea what to go for, but after seeing that Amazon had the Tom Petty boxed sets in stock, I thought, this might be it . . .

We agreed I could get the Tom Petty Studio LP boxed sets.  They are here to be held for Christmas, which isn’t quite related to our anniversary, but go figure. The boxed sets are in two flip top boxes.  The first set includes the nine LP’s from 1976-1991, including Petty’s solo Full Moon Fever.  The second set includes seven albums 1994-2014, including Wildflowers which is almost an impossible, unbelievably expensive vintage purchase. Yes, it’s spendy, but not so spendy as to be ridiculous.  The vinyl is remastered. Only 3000 of the second collection will be pressed.  It’s a good deal.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are almost certainly my favorite American artist, so I’m pleased to add this to my collection

 

Where have you gone Don Gallucci?

Don Gallucci

One of my favorite things about rock and roll is the endless threads that lead from one song to another, one musician to a different band or a different genre.  Lately I’ve been captivated by Northwest Rock.  The Kingsmen, the Wailers, the Sonics and a dozen less well-known bands that produced some great music in the middle sixties.  But I’m really interested in one musician in particular that really got around.

The Kingsmen in Person

He’s the kid playing piano in the Kingsman’s legendary version of “Louie, Louie”  Don Gallucci was 16 years old when the song put the Portland band, and most of classic Northwest Rock on the map in 1964.  He was also too young to tour, so as the Kingsmen caught fire, Gallucci was thrown from the bus.

Where the Action Is

He went on to front Don and the Goodtimes.  Gallucci was buddies with Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders. They parleyed that relationship into appearances on Where the Action Is,  Dick Clark’s afternoon pop variety show featuring Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Jim Valley played lead guitar for the band and wrote some of their best songs before replacing guitarist Drake Levin in the Raiders. Valley went on to become “Harpo” with that band.  Gallucci and his bandmates released some popular (at least in the Northwest) singles, including “Little Sally Tease” and their cover of “Latin Lupin Lu” became a trademark.

They also released three LP’s.  The first, released on New York’s Wand Records in 1966 is a collection called Where the Action Is mostly a collection of light rock covers.  The best known song of local significance is “jolly Green Giant.”

harpo

A second record, recorded on Paramount Records in 1966, followed featuring Valley.  Harpo: Jim Valley with Don and the Goodtimes had the Raider guitarist with his former bandmates.  More of what the Goodtimes were known for with “Little Sally Tease”,  and, strangely, a cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

So Good

Their final record was recorded on Epic in 1967.  So Good was a collection of mostly light pop tunes.  It included their one pop hit, “I Could Be So Good to You.”

Touch

But key band members began to depart in 1968, leaving the 19 year old Gallucci to figure out what was next.  Gallucci moved his operations south and began experimenting with new rock forms that would be more familiar to Keith Emerson and Robert Fripp than Paul Revere or Buck Ormsby.  Forming a band called Touch, Gallucci and his colleagues began experimenting with jazz and rock forms.  Colisseum bought the rights to record Touch, but the deal fell apart when the band asserted the impossibility of reproducing the sound on tour. Touch died a one-album wonder.

Fun House

The last time we hear from Gallucci is in 1970.  He was a producer at Elektra Records, and was tasked with working with The Stooges on their second album Fun House.  Gallucci tried to reproduce the style and substance of the band’s chaotic and drug-fueled live shows. Fun House is widely regarded as a proto-punk masterpiece.

It’s been nearly fifty years since Fun House, and Gallucci has fallen off the radar.  No bands, no production credits, no obit, not even a Wikipedia page. Though it seemed he was in the record business incredibly long ago, he would be only 70.  According to a 2000 article by Mix writer Eric Rudolph,  Gallucci left the music shortly after Fun House and became a real estate developer.  Sigh.  I would love to talk with him.

Sadly, I own none of the these records.  I actually haven’t bought a record in over a month, and that’s just weird.  But yesterday I sold some of my excess miniatures and put the profits into Where the Action is, Touch, and Fun House.  They won’t arrive for a while–the nature of the mail order used record biz.  But I’ll let you know what I think when they arrive.

None of the records are super spendy.  A repressing of Fun House is about twenty dollars.  Used copies of Action and Touch are about the same.  Harpo is rarer and a good copy is likely to cost fifty bucks. It’s officially on my Christmas list.

Just a Few Words in Defense of Randy Newman

Randy Newman

Randy Newman back in the day.

Randy Newman.  Most people probably know him for his movie scores.  He comes from a family of composers who made their living writing soundtracks for movies.  His uncles Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman.  Alfred won nine Academy awards for movies such as Alexander’s Ragtime Band  and Camelot. Lionel was nominated for 11 Oscars and won one for Hello Dolly. Randy was nominated for a pile of movie related Academy Awards and Grammies, winning two Oscars and four Grammies.

But before all this movie business, Newman was best known as a distinct voice in the 1970’s singer-songwriter genre. While the some, such as James Taylor, Carol King and Jackson Browne became wildly popular, Newman offered songs that were thoughtful, witty and often woefully cynical. In my view, the only singer-songwriter who competed with Newman for smart songcraft was Warren Zevon.

The first time I’d ever learned of Randy Newman was hearing his song “Sail Away,” sung by Linda Ronstadt on her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now.  One of my friend’s at UPS had a fiancee who loved Newman’s stuff. When we watched Newman appear on SNL’s Mardi Gras special in 1977 I was riveted by his song “Louisiana 1927.”

In what seemed like a premonition of Katrina’s destructiveness, Newman lamented the effect of the great Missisippi flood that devastated most of northern Louisiana. in 1927.

Louisiana, Louisiana

They’re tryin’ to wash us away

They’re tryin’ to wash us away

Soon after, I acquired his 1972 record Sail Away, and 1974’s Good Old Boys.  Both albums included songs that were smart, biting observations of American hypocrisy such as “Political Science” in which the US in a fit of pique nukes nations critical of the America (remember the Vietnam War is still going on,) and “Rednecks” deriding northerners’ views of southerners while they maintained racial ghettos in northern cities. Others observed important historical events.  “Sail Away” offered Africans a view of America from a slaver’s perspective of America, while “Kingfish” reminded us of Huey Long and his pitch to the poor farmers of Louisisana.

 

Newman didn’t have a lot of hits per se, but one record that was played a lot was the song “Short People,” from 1977’s Little Criminals.  The song was intended to show the stupidity of bigotry against any given group-short folks became the object lesson.

They got little hands
And little eyes
And they walk around
Tellin’ great big lies
They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet
Don’t want no short people
’round here

Unfortunately, Newman got letters-from short people like my wife’s grandmother who hated the song.  Though it reached number 2 on the Billboard top 200, Newman literally disowns it.

In 1979, Newman released Born Again, and had a modest single with “It’s Money That I love.”  What followed is an album of new material  every few years, as he worked around his busy Hollywood schedule. Trouble in Paradise (1983,) Land of Dreams (1988,) Randy Newman’s Faust (1994,) Bad Love (1999,) Harps and Angels (2008), Live in London (2011) and Dark Matter (2017).

Every album has a few great songs, a song or two commenting on the current human or political condition, songs about some unique character-“Davy the Fat Boy,” from his first record and Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear” from Sail Away are two examples.  Some songs are anthemic, such as “I Love L.A.” while others are aching love stories like “Marie.”  All are thought-provoking, many are witty, some will make you angry.

Newman isn’t for everybody.  He plays stride-piano in the style of New Orleans and Fats Domino.  It is as distinctive as can be.  Newman’s voice, especially has he’s aged, is nothing to write home about, but he succeeds with  his storytelling.  Most of his songs focus on Newman and his piano, but there are backing musicians.

If you really want to understand his musical genius, however, stick him in front of an orchestra.  His arrangements are simply stunning. Even his 1968 debut album has strings, and in them I heard the echos of the arrangements from his 1984 score for The Natural. You know that movie-Roy Hobbes vs. the Whammer, the home run that shattered the Chicago clock tower, the movie ending homer-the theme accompanies every World Series game. His Live in London LP performed with the BBC Orchestra is a revelation. His film work for Disney, Pixar as well as his many live-action movies such as Avalon and Seabiscuit show his pop sensibilities as well as his talent for composing and arranging.

As I said in the beginning, Randy Newman is my favorite to emerge from the 70’s singer-songwriter movement.  If you are interested and want to explore, I’d start with Sail Away and Good Ol’ Boys.  Both are excellent records.  But there are no bad albums here.  Newman is a unique talent and a unique voice.  Randy Newman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

Randy Newman

The post title is derived from a super song from 2008’s Harps and Angels: “A Few Worlds In Defense of Our Country.”  The song is a critical view of the George W. Bush administration. For your listening pleasure

 

The Roches

Back in the old days.  No not quite that old, like in 1981 or so, after I became a parent, I used to watch the coming announcements for Saturday Night Live.  Yeah, Chevy and Belushi were gone, and Bill Murray was the big name.  It didn’t matter because I couldn’t stay up late enough to watch anymore.  I had a charming but sleepless Galactic in the room next door and staying up until 1:00 to catch comedy was sort of like staying up all night to catch the Perseid showers.  Hey that’s tomorrow, isn’t it?

One of the musical guests I remember was The Roches, three sisters Terre, Maggie and little sister Suzzy (not pronounced Suzy.)  I never saw them on SNL or anywhere else, But recently I saw Suzzy’s daughter, Lucy Wainright Roche open a show for the Indigo Girls, and I decided it was time to give them a listen. Note: Lucy is quite good and entertaining in her own right, and is worth a listen or a look if she comes to your town.

I finally listened to the vinyl this weekend, their first two records, The Roches (1979)and Nurds (1980).  The sisters are funny and fun, a bit goofy in their songs about their daily lives, their romantic lives and experiences as sisters.  They harmonize very effectively and there is a very real charm to their songs.

It’s also hard to take it terribly seriously.  Maybe that was the point as the tumultuous decade of the 70’s was coming to an end and the Reagan era was beginning. Every once in a while they sneak in something insightful such as “The Troubles” about the ongoing violence in Northern Ireland, or “The Boat Family” as the sea lift of southeast Asian refugees was ongoing.

Nobody is going to compare The Roches to Dylan, but two artists they do bear a resemblance to are Kate and Anna McGarrigle (who also made at least one appearance on SNL) They are good, if quirky, songwriters and fun to listen to.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

This weekend marked my 63rd birthday.  About three and half years since I began assembling a record collection.  Most significantly, it is my last year as a working person.  Next summer, on my 64th birthday, I expect to be retired.  Fingers crossed.

On Saturday the family gathered and gave me gifts, including some excellent record choices.

Patrick always takes a chance on vinyl, and he did a super job, snagging Wilco’s 2015 release, as well as the TV soundtrack to Elvis’ 1968 comeback special.  Lorri consulted my wish list and bought two more NW Battle of Bands records.  I love this stuff, so I’m excited to give it a listen. Finally, my brother in law Paul gave me an Amazon gift card which I invested in Tom Petty and Randy Newman.  If I had to choose a favorite band, it would almost certainly be Petty.  I still have a way to go to get everything, but I’m close.  Randy Newman, before he was a great scorer for Hollywood was perhaps the most acerbic, interesting of the singer/songwriter genre not named Warren Zevon. 2008’s Harps and Angels is a terrific artifact of it’s time with his critique of the George W. Bush administration, “Just a Few Worlds In Defense of Our Country,” which seems kind of mild compared to 2018.  I’m looking forward to the day when I can just spend daylight listening to every Randy Newman record.

 

The Kindness of Others

I’ve enjoyed all of my 63 years.  Really it’s been a great life, or at least it is now.  I don’t have to count every penny.  I have a great family and wonderful friends.  I’ve had a super career doing exactly what I want to do with my life.

I couldn’t have done any of them without the help of others.  Colleagues and principals, my journalism family at WJEA, my students whom I hold in great fondness, my wargaming brothers who are also my dearest friends.  Most importantly, there is the help of my wife Lorri.  She makes all things seem possible, while I can’t imagine anything ever at all, period the end.

So let me shift gears slightly to my vinyl collection.  I’ve written incessantly about my records for the past three years.  I’ve shared the records I’ve gotten, as well as the records I’d like to have. I’ve shared the music I’ve written.  I’ve even shared the influence my son Pat and my cousin Kim have had on the music I like.

But recently I’ve had some folks contribute a great deal to my collection.  There are many  who often want to donate their record cast offs.  Frequently those folks are from a different generation, down-sizing their possessions as they prepare for a life-changing move and they offer their 78’s or their collections of Ray Coniff, Mantovani and Andy Williams (and Andy represents the good stuff.)

Last fall Kenn Fidler, a wonderful colleague and chemistry teacher extraordinaire liquidated his collection of LP’s and passed on about 25 great records, including Terry Reid’s first eponymously titled album, The Fever Tree’s first record, and a great copy of Their Satanic Majesty’s Request by the Rolling Stones. The only cost was beer and I was happy to pay.

While we were  in Rhode Island on our recent vacation, we visited my cousin Cheryl Casey and her husband Ron Rini.  When we headed out to the Sakonnet Winery (highly recommended) Lorri and I bought a case of wine.  But we couldn’t put it in the trunk of Ron’s car because it was full of records, four crates worth.  Ron was giving me his collection, about 250 records, They lived in his parents’ basement for 40 years.  He had no plans to listen and he wanted me to have them.

I don’t claim to know Ron super well.  We met in 2006 when we were in Newport.  He’s a couple years younger than me.  He loves music. Not only that, but he knows music incredibly well.  I used to think I knew stuff–by comparison I’m an ignoramus.

Ron’s collection of LP’s is “just the good stuff.”  Collections are interesting because you learn so much about what the donor likes. Ron is a Deadhead.  His collection had almost every Grateful Dead record, plus solo projects by Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir.  I was so thrilled because my Dead records were seriously underrepresented.

Just a representative handful of the records Ron passed along.  Individually, less impressive, taken as a lot-unbelievably thoughtful.

Ron also had a lot of Rolling Stones albums.  Mostly the seventies and later records.  I already had many of these that I’ll pass along to Patrick, but there were plenty I didn’t have as well.  Black and Blue, Some Girls, Sucking in the Seventies and many other titles joined the R’s in my bookshelf.

Johnny Winter, Jerry Jeff Walker, Gil Scott-Heron, Bob Marley are just a few of the artists represented by multiple albums in the Ron Treasure Trove.

Just as exciting as the collection, is its condition.  Elvis Costello’s first two LP’s and every Steely Dan album were so good, I simply swapped out his for mine. My spine-ravaged copy of Excitable Boy by Warren Zevon will simply find another home.

Ron and Kenn’s additions are pushing me to the brink of wrapping up my collection or at least throttling way back.  There is simply isn’t room for much more. And honestly I don’t mind.  I have no idea exactly how many albums I have, but it’s a whole bunch.  My cases and shelves are packed, and it’s with good stuff, bad stuff and weird stuff.  I couldn’t be happier. Thanks Ron.

What I’m Listening To

I really like Northwest music from the 60’s.  I have all the Paul Revere and the Raiders records.  I love the Wailers and the Sonics. But those are just the big names and there were tons of bands out there that are fun to listen to, with the distinct loud guitars, some sax, and limited vocals.

Flash and Crash

I picked up a copy of Flash and Crash! Battle of the Bands Vol. 1, a collection of recordings of Northwest bands, mostly that I didn’t know. The Sonics and Don and the Good Times are on the record, but it’s filled with luminaries such as The Sir Walter Raleighs, Rocky and the Riddlers, and The Bards.   I may not have heard of them, but the music is still fun.  “Trick Bag,” by The Counts, “Ski Bum” by The Moguls, “Crisco Party,” by George Washington and The Cherry Bombs, and “Little Latin Lupe Lu” by Don and the Good Times were staples of Northwest Rock.

I can only imagine what the other three volumes are like.

I managed to run across two wonderfully affordable albums by the Dutch band Golden Earring.  Perhaps you remember them for “Radar Love” in 1973, or “Twilight Zone” a decade later.  Both songs were great and periodically get stuck in my head.

moontan

The American release of this record replaced the naked woman on the European versions.  Sad.

Moontan is the 1973 album featuring “Radar Love.”  It’s a terrific record.  A great mix of a variety of styles.  Some driving hard rock with the hit single.  But side two features the psychedelic “Just Like Vince Taylor,” and synthesized prog rock opus in “The Vanilla Queen.”  The whole record is a great listen.

Cut

Cut is the 1982 home of “Twilight Zone,” a great song and an early MTV hit, that, in my view is very catchy and every bit as memorable as “Radar Love.” Unfortunately,  the rest sounds very early 80’s, and simply lacks the strength of Moontan’s compositions. It’s not a bad album, but the rest of the LP doesn’t rise to the level of its big single.

 

 

 

 

Robert Plant at Marymoor Park

Seeing rock legends in concert is always a crap shoot.  Are they just going to be on stage, play their songs the way they played them the night before, or are they dynamic and special.  I’ve been really fortunate in the concerts I’ve seen the past few years.  Patti Smith, Blue Oyster Cult, the Zombies were all fantastic with the players all older, grayer and balder, but still great performers with terrific energy on stage.

When I bought tickets for Patrick and I to see Robert Plant, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting.  Unlike the previous named acts, Plant is different.  He has a recent body of work, he’s still recording.  I received a copy of his newest record, Carry Fire, with my ticket purchase.  It’s really good, in line with his other recent recordings and collaborations.  I was a huge fan of his 2007 record with Allison Krause Raising Sand.  What has set Plant aside from other veterans of classic rock is his willingness to leave behind the glory days of Led Zeppelin for sounds that are new and creative. That was the Robert Plant I was expecting.

Prologue aside, I hadn’t been to a concert at Marymoor before.  We arrived at 5:30 just as the gates were opening.  We were expecting to see Texas folk/country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, but an e-mail I received on the eve of the show added Seth Lakeman, a member of Plant’s Sensational Spaceshifters to open.  He played six nice songs better heard in a pub than the wide open spaces of an outdoor arena before giving way to Williams.

Lucinda

I was excited about seeing her.  I owned a copy of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road some years back, and listened to some of her songs on KMTT back in the day.  She was excellent.  Great songs.  She has an extremely powerful voice that she uses very selectively to just belt them.  Her songs were wry, insightful and at times biting.  They were simple, like Tom Petty’s songs, but penetrating like Randy Newman’s best work. She was supported by her band, the Buick 6, with traditional rock pieces, guitar, bassist and drummer, and they were all excellent. I would happily see her as a headliner.

And then it was time for the headliner, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. First, some broad observations.  Plant is 69 years old.  He’s still has a sensational singing voice.  That alto voice that sounded so great with Zeppelin and and his solo work is still all there.  No scratchy, no straining, the man still has it.  He also has tremendous stage presence, maybe the most magnetic performance I’ve ever seen. Plant and his band, with encore played about two hours.  Aside from some irreverent banter with the audience, there was not a wasted moment.

And the time was filled with a mix of Led Zeppelin songs, six to be exact, and his own work.  Opening with “When the Levee Breaks,” ” Four Sticks,” “Going to California,” “Gallows Pole,” “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” and for the encore a brilliant version of “Whole Lotta Love” woven around the beautiful “Santiana.” All of the dozen songs were beautifully woven together artfully and masterfully by a band that really knows its craft.  As for Plant, he is not the young screamer of fifty years ago, but he’s mastered a low growl that supported by synthesizers in the background fills the bill.  I would put this performance in my top five concerts of all time.  It was a joy.

I wish I could say the same about the venue. I had mid-priced reserved seats, well situated just off the aisle–row 22. A great view of the stage from my seat, and things looked pretty good through Seth Lakeman and Lucinda Williams. As you might imagine, Plant attracted an audience across age groups, so a varied crowd of the middle aged and graybeards.  Marymoor also sells alcohol at the venue, and it was an enthusiastic, energetic gathering, many of whom were also heavily inebriated.  The concert venue isn’t exactly in a bowl, so with the crowd standing through nearly the entire show, together with the persistently “lost” dancing in the aisles it was fairly challenging for short people like myself to see.  Honestly I found it all quite distracting, and I question whether it is worth it for me to go to larger venues if the performances are as much about the audience as it is about performers.