healing sounds

Last night Han & I went to see Alison Krauss and Robert Plant at Humphrey’s, a stop on their “Raising Sand” tour.  Han was in love with the album instantly as it is produced by one of his favorites, T Bone Burnett.  I liked a few songs on the record but wasn’t drawn in as much as he.  But after last night, I’ll return to the songs with a different ear.

We went to the show with our friends, Charlie & Martha, who ironically both recently lost brothers, too.  We were eager to have our souls soothed a bit with the music.  It felt right to be there though Han & I had thought about skipping it.

The Humphrey’s venue is pretty special.  Situated on the bay, it seats about 1400 paying customers.  People can also pull up in their boat to hear the music free of charge, and last night, the boat area was packed.  The weather was just right and the opener, Sharon Little, was okay.  Though we hoped to stand near the back, we were forced to move on by the security guards.  Our seats, however, were in a good location to still be able to stand without getting harassed.   There was about half an hour between the end of the opener’s set and when Robert, Alison, and everyone came out which we filled by chatting and taking in the gorgeous evening.

When they took the stage, color-coordinated in black and white, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant brought the crowd to their feet.  Unlike nearly everyone else, Han & I stayed on our feet for the whole show.  They kicked it off with “Rich Woman” and what followed was a beautiful night of music that was restrained (for Plant) and exuberant (for Krauss).  This pairing is pretty genius and they seem to really dig it.  But really, Plant is the odd man out so to speak.  Everyone else on stage (T Bone, Buddy Miller, Stuart Duncan, T Bone’s drummer and bass player) are all familiar (some experts of) the folk/bluegrass/Americana sound.  Plant is pure rock and roll so he’s in rather strange territory, but he did just fine.

I would say the majority of the crowd was there for Plant but he graciously let Krauss have much of the spotlight.  Of course, for many, she’s not unknown, but for diehard Led Zep fans, she might not be on their radar.  This was my first time seeing her live in person and I was enthralled.  Her voice is so pristine, she was able to swell and hush her voice in a way that you never lost its sound and you just found yourself carried away on it like the breezes blowing off the bay.  She was stellar with, among others, “Trampled Rose,” “Green Pastures” and “Down to the River” which brought tears to my eyes.

But Plant got his turn, too, with “Fortune Teller” and “I’m a One Woman Man” but it was the tunes they did together that were the highlights for me, especially how Krauss added to the classic Zeppelin songs they performed, “Black Dog,” (with a smokin’ violin solo by Duncan), “Battle of Evermore” (the vocal range was amazing) and “When the Levee Breaks.”  The songs were arranged differently (that crazy T Bone!) and were awesome.  And of course, from the album itself, they did multiple tunes including “Please Read the Letter,” “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” “Through the Morning, Through the Night,” “Gone, Gone, Gone” and, my favorite, “Killing the Blues.”

Their encore consisted of the aforementioned “One Woman Man” and they ended the evening with something that was beautifully appropriate for the still solemn feelings I held in my heart, “Your Long Journey” written by Doc and Rose Watson.  I think the words are appropriate to repeat here to close out this show review and this post.

“Your Long Journey”
(D. Watson/R. L. Watson)

God’s given us years of happiness here
Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pains of grief tug at my heart

Oh my darling
My darling
My heart breaks as you take your long journey

Oh the days will be empty
The nights so long without you my love
And when God calls for you I’m left alone
But we will meet in heaven above

Oh my darling
My darling
My heart breaks as you take your long journey

Fond memories I’ll keep of happy ways
That on earth we trod
And when I come we will walk hand in hand
As one in Heaven in the family of God

Oh my darling
My darling
My heart breaks as you take your long journey

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