Listen To This Dragon! (Apocalypse Sound AS142)
Exit Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia – July 12th, 2007: 7 And 7 Is, Black Dog, Tin Pan Alley, Going To California, Four Sticks, Freedom Fries, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Gallows Pole, The Enchanter, Whole Lotta Love. Bonus features, Cornbury Music Festival, Charlbury, UK – July 8th, 2006: Win My Train Fare Home, Let The Four Winds Blow. Caprices Festival, Crans Montana, Switzerland – March 12th, 2006: When The Levee Breaks
EXIT is one of the more intriguing festivals around. Staged annually since 2000, it lasts for four days in the Petrovaradin fortress of Novi Sad, Serbia, by the Danube river. Initially organized by three university students, Dušan Kovačević, Ivan Milivojev and Bojan Bošković for both entertainment and to foment political action against then President of Serbia Slobodan Milošević. Although his resignation and arrest occurred after the first festival, there is still a political dimension to the event.
EXIT 07 was held from July 12 to July 15, 2007 and was attended by 190,000 people, with more than half being foreigners. Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation’s set was the second of the festival, and Listen To This Dragon! presents it in its entirety. Plant is on stage with Strange Sensation consisting of Justin Adams (guitar), John Baggott (keyboards), Clive Deamer (drums), Billy Fuller (bass), and Skin Tyson (guitar). This is a multi-camera professional shoot with the roaming camera over the audience and in front of the stage to capture very dynamic images throughout the set.
The set begins with a cover of Love’s “7 And 7 Is” followed by a radically rearranged cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” where he repeats “just listen to this, dragon. Just listen to this, dragon.” “Tin Pan Alley” is the first “new” original played, dating from the previous year’s Mighty ReArranger and is one of the most intriguing tracks played that night. Two more Led Zeppelin covers follow with great versions of “Going To California” and “Four Sticks.”
Plant introduces “Freedom Fries” by dedicating it to “the esteemable family from the United States. The Bush family. And our President of the United Kingdom Anthony Blair. Soon to become the new Pope.” The song, whose title refers to the suggestion by some in the US to rename french fries to freedom fries in protest of France’s non-involvement in the Iraq war, is perhaps the most political Plant has ever been. The song is awash in Biblical imagery and includes a quote from the William Blake hymn “Jerusalem.” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is introduced as an old folk number, and the set end with an intense version of “Gallow’s Pole.”
The encores are the contemplative “The Enchanter” and a slow version of “Whole Lotta Love” with a “Hootchie Cootchie Man” reference in the middle, a throwback to the Chicago blues and ends with Moroccan style melodies. There are three bonus tracks. Two are taken from the Virgin 1 telecast of the Cornbury Music Festival on July 8th, 2006 with two songs: “Win My Train Fare Home” from Dreamland and “Let The Four Winds Blow” from Mighty ReArranger. The disc is pressed on NTSC region zero for compatibility for all DVD players. Robert Plant has an interesting solo career with an amalgamation of eclectic sources. Moving between new age mysticism, political comment, and explorations of his blues roots is a dizzying, but ultimately satisfying, experience.