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Robert Plant astounds crowd at Phoenix Symphony Hall

Robert+Plant+mesmerizes+fans+with+both+new+material+and+reworked+Led+Zeppelin+tunes.+The+69+year+old+plays+to+a+sold+out+crowd+at+Phoenix+Symphony+Hall+in+downtown+Phoenix+on+Feb.+26.
Robert Plant mesmerizes fans with both new material and reworked Led Zeppelin tunes. The 69 year old plays to a sold out crowd at Phoenix Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix on Feb. 26.

Robert Plant mesmerizes fans with both new material and reworked Led Zeppelin tunes. The 69 year old plays to a sold out crowd at Phoenix Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix on Feb. 26.

Sharlene Celeskey

Sharlene Celeskey

Robert Plant mesmerizes fans with both new material and reworked Led Zeppelin tunes. The 69 year old plays to a sold out crowd at Phoenix Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix on Feb. 26.

Sharlene Celeskey, Contemporary Culture Editor

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As soon as Robert Plant’s “Carry Fire” album came out, I began checking daily for news of an upcoming tour. I loved the mesmerizing melodies and hypnotic harmonies of the new album. I was anxious to hear Plant perform it live.
Finally, the cities for his U.S. tour were posted on his website. I quickly scanned the list of 12 cities and my heart raced when I saw Phoenix near the bottom of the list. I felt even more excited when I discovered Plant would be playing in small theaters with less than 3000 seats. Scoring tickets for his “Carry Fire” tour seemed easy enough. After all, in 2016, I secured a ticket for Plant’s performance at David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption which sold out in five minutes.
Plant tickets rapidly sell out, especially those at smaller venues. I discovered pre-sale tickets would be available on a lottery style basis for his registered fans. It was required to sign up on his website so I opted in for half of the tour locations. I was willing to fly as far as Minneapolis, even in the winter. Registered on his official website, I knew I would receive an email announcing my pre-sale code at one of six locations. As I impatiently waited I felt like the children who tried to secure the golden ticket in Willy Wonka. When the coveted email arrived, I was in disbelief. I was only on the lousy back up list for pre-sale tickets for Phoenix. Using my highly sophisticated research skills, I fervently searched the Internet for other pre-sale codes. Every time I found one, the tickets were sold out. Because my search failed to produce tickets, I vowed to be online the moment the tickets went on sale to the general public. To my dismay, every city I tried said, “Sold Out.”
It was most important for me to see Plant in my hometown. I signed on before tickets went on sale and was both shocked and amazed when I found that I could buy tickets before the general public sale. Because I had purchased other concert tickets several weeks earlier, I automatically received a pre-sale code. I snapped up the two closest seats available in row 30. Later, when the general sale started, I found two tickets in row 26. I bought those. Still disappointed with both pairs of seats, I checked for a single ticket at Phoenix Symphony Hall. To my great surprise, there was one lone ticket in row 13 which I hastily purchased.
Afterward, I read fan comments on Plant’s official Facebook page that made me feel extremely lucky to have found these tickets. Many long-time fans were bitterly disappointed and downright mad that most tickets sold out before the general public sale. Somehow, ticket scalpers had secured a large amount of Plant tickets and were charging anywhere from three to 10 times the original price. I do not condone gouging fans so I refused to put my extra tickets up for sale online. Instead I gave the coveted Plant tickets as Christmas gifts to family and friends.
On the night of Feb. 26, my four friends and I stood in a long line at Phoenix Symphony Hall and waited over 40 minutes to enter the venue. Most of the crowd consisted of old classic rockers and Led Zeppelin fans. My experiences at classic rock concerts have taught me that this type of crowd contains a lot of smokers. This time was no different. The waiting became more miserable as my lungs burned from air filled with endless cigarette smoke.
Now inside, I was pleased that my seat in row 13 had a good view. Usually I would try to scope out the theatre and seat jump to get closer, but the theatre was well stocked with watchful ushers that night. I sought out a female usher and asked if I could take photos. She looked slightly annoyed and said, “Yes, it is allowed. The rules are different tonight. They also can take food in!”
At 8:30 p.m., the lights dimmed in the auditorium. I heard movement on the stage as it became a void of darkness. I could barely make out human shadows scurrying around the stage. Audience members began clapping and yelling which signaled to those in the lobby to run in and find their seats. When I heard the first notes of the opening song I knew they belonged to the beautiful haunting melody of “New World” from Plant’s new album. It was pure bliss to finally hear Plant’s new music live. The sound in the theatre was exceptional in the way it heightened Plant’s dynamic voice and his exceptional sound. It was so stirring to hear him sing both his old and new songs with such passion even as he nears the age of 70.
When Plant quickened the pace with the soulful bass laden “Turn It Up,” the audience stood up and swayed to the beat. One of his loveliest songs was another new one called “May Queen” which has a folksy Americana sound and is about new awakenings. An important addition to Plant’s band, “The Sensational Shape Shifters,” was Seth Lakeman. Lakeman’s excellent fiddle playing brought a lively and down to earth feel to the performance.
Plant brought back several songs from his last album which has a folk, blues and country sound to them. I enjoy his new music for its clever combination of various music styles. His songs ranged from ‘70s Zeppelin covers to ‘80s new wave pop to his current mix of folk, country, blues and rockabilly. Plant has moved on from the Zeppelin days. It is unfortunate that many of his fans have not. I regularly heard them scream out for old Zeppelin songs during Plant’s performance.
After the band initially left the stage, those that needed to beat the traffic hurried out. Although ushers closely watched the crowd, I managed to maneuver into an abandoned seat in the seventh row. I beamed as I rocked to “Whole Lotta Love,” because I could see the stage perfectly. A middle aged male usher also smiled as he rocked out. A senior female usher just sat there, covered her ears, shook her head and looked disgusted.
Tickets for the second leg of Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters’ U.S. tour just went on sale. He will be performing in larger venues this time and more fans will have the chance to secure tickets. Luckily, I was able to find a pre-sale code for his show at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys and purchased a great pair of tickets.

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Robert Plant astounds crowd at Phoenix Symphony Hall