Robert Plant – Ole Blues Festival 2001 (NightHawk NH-01006)

Ole Blues Festival 2001 (NightHawk NH-01006)

Ole Blues Festival, Bergen, Norway – May 1st, 2001

(40:42):  If I Ever Get Lucky, Hey Joe, Song To The Siren, A House Is Not A Motel.  Bonus tracks, Montreux Jazz Festival, Auditorium Stravinski, Montreux, Switzerland – July 7th, 2001:  Heart In Your Hand, Baby Let’s Play House

In 2001 Robert Plant initiated the transition from the Priory of Brion, which toured for two years, into the Strange Sensation.  More than just a name change, it involved new musicians and a move away from producing the classic obscurities into a more adventurous musical idea.  Like for many of Plant’s musical projects, it began live performance with low key gigs in Scandinavia beginning in April, 2001 witha  show in Denmark. 

On May 1st the Strange Sensation played a set at the Ole Blues Festival which was broadcast on the radio. NightHawk reproduce the half hour, four song set in excellent soundboard quality.  It starts off with the DJ introducing the set (in Norwegian) while the band begin with “If I Ever Get Lucky.” 

Afterwards someone in the audience requests “Spooky” which makes Plant giggle.  Someone requests another song (inaudible on the tape) which Plant says is even older!  “Hey Joe” follows and is a masterpiece of expressionistic romanticism, producing a creepy vibe with the use of drones, repetitive loops and discordant melodies stretched over ten minutes. 

“Song Of The Siren” is a cover of the 1969 Tim Buckley song.  Someone in the audience seems to grow impatient, but overall is well received.  The use of the mellotron produces a deep melancholy.  Plant mentions Elektra Records and Jack Holtzman before the encore “A House Is Not A Hotel,” a cover of the Love tune.

The final two songs on the disc are “Heart In Your Hand” and “Baby Let’s Play House” from Page & Plant’s appearance at the Montreux Festival later that year.  The entire show is available on an excellent DAT recording and found on Empress Valley.  But these two are sourced from an excellent soundboard recording, begging the question if the complete half hour set is available from this tape.  

Ole Blues Festival 2001is a very good release by NightHawk, who were a label who released the occasional Led Zeppelin title.  It’s packaged in a standard jewel case with very nice, professionally printed inserts.  The only criticism is that the duration of the music is too short.  The label could have found more bonus tracks or interviews to pad out the disc.  Nevertheless it’s a solid release with excellent sound quality and is worth having.

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