Saturday, September 02, 2006

Live Review: Robert Plant, Ryan Adams Do It For Love at Arthur Lee Benefit Concert


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingRobert Plant ended his headlining hour at “We’re Doing It for Love” – a benefit for Arthur Lee, the ailing singer-songwriter of the pioneering Los Angeles band Love, at New York’s Beacon Theater on June 23rd – with “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin II. It was a perfect finale, a thrilling folk-rock gallop with Plant singing of those “days of old, when magic filled the air” with the same excited, forward motion he heard as a teenager in Love’s classic mid- and late-Sixties albums. Most of the acts on the bill played at least one Love or Lee song: Nils Lofgren (pictured) put Stratocaster electricity into the flamenco diamond “Alone Again Or,” from 1968’s Forever Changes. Garland Jeffreys sang “My Little Red Book” acapella, reading the lyrics from – what else? – a little red book. Yo La Tengo flashed their encyclopedic-geek credentials by pulling out “Luci Baines,” an homage to then-President Lyndon Johnson’s daughter, written and recorded by Lee in 1964 with his pre-Love band the American Four. (“Written” is stretching it; the song was “Twist and Shout” with new lyrics.)
But Plant – working with a band of New York-based players, on two days’ rehearsal – truly came for the love of Lee (who is battling leukemia in a Memphis hospital and has no medical insurance). Plant mixed psychedelicized Zeppelin (“In the Evening,” “What Is and What Shall Never Be”) with a genuine-fans’ selection of vintage Love, including the delicate Forever Changes ballad “The Old Man” (Plant acknowledged its writer, Love’s late, often overlooked guitarist Bryan MacLean) and a Zeppelin-ized reimagining of “Seven and Seven Is” from 1967’s Da Capo (with a surprise tease of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand”). Plant gave extra credit where credit was due by bringing original Love guitarist Johnny Echols out to reprise his leads on “A House Is Not a Motel” and “Bummer in the Summer.” But Plant is a catholic classicist. He followed a dynamic march through Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” with a rowdy duet with Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter, also on the show – the pair of them making like a heavy-glam Everly Brothers on “When Will I Be Loved.” Plant also showed off his big love of Elvis Presley with a startling, credible croon through “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”
There were some false notes on the long way (four hours) to Plant’s midnight set. Flashy Python and the Body Snatchers – a mix of members from Dr. Dog and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, with a bad-Sixties name – sounded like an under-rehearsed side project. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals played raw, hard urban-prairie rock: fine in itself but out of joint with the evening’s context. And singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, apparently shoehorned onto the bill for no other reason than he was in town that day, was a prolonged irritant, mangling Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” with exaggerated faux-soul. If he’d been there, Lee, legendary for his cantankerous manner and dictatorial quality control, would surely have kicked DeGraw off the stage in mid-woah.
But the late payoffs – Lofgren’s long guitar-solo revel in Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night”; Hunter’s serving of classic Mott – were worth the wait. And Plant’s dedication to the occasion, in performance and song selection, affirmed why Lee is an artist worth celebrating and aiding. Near the end of his version of “Hey Joe,” Plant took a detour into “Nature Boy,” the pastoral ballad made famous by Nat King Cole, repeating the last lines like both prayer and hurrah: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn/Is just to love and be loved in return.”
The best way to do that is while Lee is still here. For donation information and updates on Lee’s condition, go to

[robert plant photo:]

-- David Fricke

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Mashuganish Yogi | 8/4/2006, 8:45 pm EST

I was here, there, & everywhere that night. As proprietor of the Naked Luncheonette, I jus’ want to say thanks to Mistuh Lee. He certainly served up a delicious confection of aural candy at the Beacon which was channeled by many wonderful musicians and performers. We grooved to Arthur’s LOVE songs. All involved sang with sincerity and enthusiasm including the audience. Everybody’s gotta live and everybody’s gotta die. But in between… everybody has gotta embrace LOVE. R.I.P. Mistuh Lee.

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ED FADDE' LONG ISLAND | 7/21/2006, 7:15 pm EST

To have attended a show for Arthur Lee was one of the best things I have done in years. To know that his music is still appreciated by so many of his real fans (I’m 61)and so many Legends of Rock brought me way back that night. “Forever Changes & his “Greatest Hits” lives in my car CD player.

A speedy recovery & Best Wishes from one who you, Arthur, has given me years of listening pleasure. You are a musical artist to the max.

Long Live Arthur & Love

cheryl Victoria,b.c. | 7/15/2006, 12:05 am EST

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Robert and the strange sensation.Robert rocked and soothed my soul to it’s deepest! I’m still orgasmic!I could only Imagine the magical love that filled the air at the Arthur Lee benifit . I’m sure Robert was and always will be filling the air great love!!!!!!!!!

T Bear.. Jacksonville, FL | 7/8/2006, 12:09 am EST

Arthur Lee unfortunately is one of the most overlooked musical genious’s of the 20th century. I can’t begin to say how much his mucic has mean’t to me in my life. May God Bless him, and take special care of him through his ordeal. “In the morning we arise and start the day the same old way”
Bless you Arthur.

Anonymous | 7/2/2006, 8:46 pm EST

I was at the show and besides the cumbersome set changes the show was just wonderful. Robert radiated true concern for Mr. Lee and the audience from the beginning of the show was there for the Love. Robert’s performance was perfect. From the set list to the arrangements. I also thought Gavin Degraw was good. Not polished, but has the basics for a good blues singer. Ian Hunter rocked, could have used some more of Nils Lofgen. Ryan Admas and The Cardinals were not on the best of their game. Good time had by all and what a wonderful venue.

back2life | 7/1/2006, 5:45 pm EST

What a thrill it was to see Johnny Echols, the absolutely fantastic original guitarist and still Arthur’s brother after all these decades. Echols and Plant really rocked together. Thanks so much for including this long overlooked legend!

peggy coleman | 6/30/2006, 2:22 am EST

What a gift Robert has given over the years, my heart has always been so very grateful and humbled by the music I have had the honor of listening to for thirty five+ years. Zeppelin and Robert have and will always rock me to the depths of my soul. He is now showing truly the all encomposing giving and loving nature that is Robert Plant…he is not only ,in my opinion , one of if not “the most talented” musicians of all time, but also a wonderful man..

Reva | 6/27/2006, 9:35 pm EST

I just have to say that I was at the show and thought Gavin Degraw was fantastic. Most of the audience, at least from where I was sitting in the mid-back of the orchestra, gave him a well deserved standing ovation. He is incredibly talented, and, while much younger and a newcomer compared to the other performers, definitely held his own.

Darius Maximus | 6/26/2006, 9:46 pm EST

You forgot to mention the knock out performance of DJ BP Fallon in between the sets. I thought he kept up the atmosphere very nicely with his mixture of music by Love & their contemporaries and current music by Primal Scream & their immediate forbearers The Jesus And Mary Chain.



KIM SOLI, PHILADELPHIA | 6/26/2006, 6:10 pm EST



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