Stick To Pledge (Calm & Storm 008)
Shibuya Koukaido, Tokyo, Japan – February 19th, 1984
Disc 1 (55:57): Opening, In The Mood, Pledge Pin, Messin’ With the Mekon, Moonlight In Samosa, Thru’ With the Two Step, Other Arms, Horizontal Departure, Wreckless Love
Disc 2 (56:36): band introduction, Slow Dancer, Like I’ve Never Been Gone, Burning Down One Side, Big Log, Little Sister, Spoonful, Stranger Here… Than Over There
Stick To Pledge documents Robert Plant’s February 19th, 1984 show in the Shibuya Koukaido in Tokyo for the first time on silver disc. This is the third show of the tour and, with a capacity of 2,084, the smallest crowd to see Plant. Calm & Storm, like all the titles on this label, utilizes a previously uncirculated Miracle Man recording.
It is a slightly distant recording, but the intimacy of the venue insures it is clear and very enjoyable. There are a few chatterboxes by the taper, but nothing intrusive and all members of the audience are quiet and respectful while the band play.
The set list for the main set remains the same as the other Japan shows, containing a mix of tune from the first two solo albums Pictures At Eleven and The Principle Of Moments. Only the encores had any kind of variations.
After the opening Plant and the band play the mellow “In The Mood,” his biggest solo hit up to that point, “Pledge Pin” and “Messin’ With The Mekon” in quick succession. Plant’s initial steps into his post-Led Zeppelin solo career were a conscious attempt to avoid the obvious and stereotypical musical figures of his former band. Instead, he attempted to almost reinvent a new form of melancholy pop music at odds with the prevalent popular styles.
The songs are challenging and waver between Robbie Blunt’s expressionistic guitar to the quasi-psychedelia of Jezz Woodruff’s keyboards.
After the opening salvo, Plant says he’s happy to be in Tokyo for the fourth night, but the corrects himself to say third. His cryptic statement that “all Japanese hearts must flutter… this is a real expensive American – English – Japanese love song”he says before “Moonlight In Samosa.”
“Open Arms” was his latest hit and is perhaps the most “heavy” song of the night, punctuated by Plant’s shrieks and moans, doubling Blunt’s guitar lines.
Plant jokes along with the crowd’s strange little noises. While speaking, a female shouts and Plant mockingly gives out his hotel room number. The actual set ends with “Like I’ve Never Been Gone.” After two solid minutes of applause (uncut on the tape) the return for the first encore “Burning Down One Side.”
“Big Log,” another of Plant’s biggest solo hits to date, is the second followed by the Willie Dixon cover “Spoonful” close to Cream’s arrangement in the mid-sixties. The Elvis number “Little Sister,” which Plant sang with Rockpile at the Kampuchea Concerts in 1979, is followed by the final encore of the night “Stranger Here…Than Over There.”
The front and back artwork features serious black and white photos, matching the somber mood of much of the music, but there are some nice color photos in the inside including a great far stage shot from the show.
The past fifteen years have seen a good number of these shows pressed onto silver disc in definitive editions. Swing And Sway (Wardour-077) has the February 20th and February 22nd shows in Osaka, In The Spoonful (Private Masters PM-062/063) the February 24th show and Moody Guy Moments (Image Quality IQ-063/064) with the final night on February 26th, both at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo along now with Stick To Pledge. These four titles provide the most comprehensive anthology of one of Plant’s earliest solo tours.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)