Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Your Long Journey (Wardour-063)

Your Long Journey (Wardour-063)

Merriweather Post Pavillion, Columbia, MD – June 13th, 2008

Disc 1 (71:42):  Rich Woman, Leave My Woman Alone, Black Dog, Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us, Through The Morning Through The Night, It’s Goodbye And So Long To You, Fortune Teller, In the Mood/Matty Groves/In The Mood, Black Country Woman, Bon Temps Roule, Shut It Tight, Trampled Rose, Green Pastures, Down To The River To Pray

Disc 2 (41:53):  Killing The Blues, Nothin’, The Battle Of Evermore, Please Read The Letter, Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On), “I had a phone call from Richard Cole…”, You Don’t Knock, I’m A One Woman Man, Your Long Journey

Raising Sand was released in October 2007, right in the middle of the long preparations for Led Zeppelin’s reunion for the Ahmet Ertegun tribute to be held in December.  What got lost in all the rhetoric of Zeppelin’s reunion and reformation was that Robert Plant’s album with Allison Krauss was close to the best work he’s ever done. 

This effort was confirmed when they won five Grammy awards including album of the year, awards for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Rich Woman”, Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for “Killing The Blues”, and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for Raising Sand and a Grammy in 2008 for “Gone, Gone, Gone.”

Your Long Journey documents the June 13th appearance in Maryland.  Wardour use a professional sounding source.  They call it a soundboard, it’s most likely a well-balanced ALD recording.  The mix in the music is perfect and the audience noise is faintly heard.  With so few silver pressed titles from this tour, this is worth having for the clarity and level of performance. 

The setlist remains unchanged from others on the US tour.  “Rich Woman,” the first song on the album also begins the show, followed by the Ray Charles cover “Leave My Woman Alone” and the Led Zeppelin cover “Black Dog” rearranged in a minor key for banjo, acoustic bass and guitar.

Plant introduces “the Raising Sand revue” before introducing Allison Krauss to sing “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us.”  One of the early highlights of the set is “In The Mood,” the scant reference to Plant’s early solo output.  Played extremely mellow and upbeat, it segues into Krauss singing the traditional folk ballad “Matty Groves.”  The gravity of the subject, a story of an adulterous tryst, provides deep dissonance to Plant’s joyful exclamations.  It is one of the most brilliant arrangements of the night.  

After they sing “Black Country Woman” T Bone Burnett has a two song interlude.  “Bon Tomps Roule” and “Shut It Tight” envelop his exclamations about the great vibe in Washington D.C.

Krauss has her little interlude with “Trampled Rose” and the sublime “Down To The River To Pray.”  Plant sneaks onstage to join her by singing harmony. 

After “Killing The Blues” Plant speaks about the depth of American  music and how T Bone Burnett introduced him to the work of Townes Van Zandt.  The follow with a cover of Van Zandt’s “Nothin’.”  The show ends with extraordinary versions of “The Battle Of Evermore” and “Please Read The Letter” with a cover of “Gone Gone Gone” closing the show.

Before the encores Plant tells the audience about a phone call he received from former Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole.  He was reminded that back in May 1969 Led Zeppelin opened for The Who at the Merriweather Post Pavilion calling the headliners “that band, those miserable bastards,” and there was so much damage caused that night that they had to give their earnings back. This brings great cheers among the crowd to which he cheekily followed up with “And next week, Iron Maiden!”

The encores seem a little subdued when they sing “Your Long Journey.” T-Bone Burnett mentioned their sadness of the news of Tim Russert’s passing earlier in the day, and he dedicated the song to him.

Your Long Journey is an excellent release and is worth having even if this would be your only show from the Plant / Krauss tour.  Even though Wardour’s first two titles were Robert Plant titles, they’ve unfortunately not been prolific in producing them.  But this one is one of their best and worth having.   

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