30 years ago today: Robert Plant plays the Pacific Coliseum with the Black Crowes, holds his own with the upstarts

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      Remember concerts?

      Thirty years ago today Robert Plant played the Pacific Coliseum on his Manic Nirvana Tour, with the fast-rising Black Crowes as guests.

      Maybe you were there?

      To jog your memory, here's my review, which was originally published in the September 27, 1990, issue of the Georgia Straight:

      Robert Plant threw me for a loop at the Coliseum last Friday (September 21). From the lacklustre sound of his latest album, Manic Nirvana, I had the impression that the 42-year-old rock legend had drifted off into boring-old-fartsville, never to return again. I even expected the former Zepman to be blown off the stage by up-and-coming openers the Black Crowes.

      No such luck.

      The Black Crowes were good, mind you. But after seeing them close up last month at Club Soda, the big old rink couldn’t compare. Their sound was lousy, too, even though the righteous feel of thoroughly rockin’ tunes like “Jealous Again”, “Thick N’ Thin”, and the new video/single “Hard to Handle” came through in the crunch.

      These guys are young, and if they stay on the right track should have a great future ahead of them. The fact that the trusty bottle of Jack Daniels they brought on stage remained untouched beside the drum kit during the entire show says something about their priorities.

      When Plant and his four-piece band hit the stage, it was a totally different story, sound-wise. I can’t remember the last time I heard such clear, echo-free vocals in the Coliseum, and all the instruments sounded fine too.

      Wearing steel-tipped cowboy boots, black jeans, sequined vest, and a Jimmy Page t-shirt—and with a long-stemmed rose dangling from a back pocket—the golden-haired rock god led his vibrant young apprentices through a collection of his top solo hits (“I’m In the Mood”, “Ship of Fools”) and the odd Zeppelin gem (“Goin’ to California”).

      Guitarist Dougie Boyle was a stand-out, recreating all the trademark body shifts and loose kicks of Jimmy Page, without blowing a note. Plant himself pulled out a square-bodied, psychedelic-looking guitar for some bluesy riffs on “Anniversary”, but a guitar god he ain’t.

      He seemed to be enjoying himself, though.

      For his second encore Plant came out gripping a can of Sprite, making you wonder if he gets paid for that. But any real or imagined soda-pop plug was quickly forgotten when he launched into “Living Loving Maid”—driving the 11,000-plus fans wild—and topped things off with “Tall Cool One”.