Robert Plant- Meeting him in Richmond VA
Ever since I heard those first notes that begin the first Led Zeppelin album, I was hooked. All of the songs were great, but “Your Time is Gonna Come” was the entry port into a world of musical magic. But I’d never seen Zeppelin or Plant in concert.
So many years later in 1988, when I heard Robert Plant was coming to the Richmond Coliseum on July 20, I got a ticket immediately and headed down there on the appointed day. There were some really interesting characters walking up to the building; bikers, metal heads, all kinds of black leather and skulls, this was plainly an event of significance for many groups of people.
Cheap Trick opened, and the crowd really started going. They did a great version of “I Want You To Want Me,” and other tunes, and the audience went wild. But the crowd really wanted Robert, and finally the band walked on to the stage to wild cheers, and many fans were giving the sign of the devil with first and last fingers. I understand this hand gesture was started by Gene Simmons, who was merely holding his pick with his second and third fingers against his palm, but I’m not sure.
Plant strolled into the spotlight with long flowing blond hair, as the other musicians took their places. The guitarist was a slender, waif-like Londoner that looked remarkably like Jimmy Page, by the name of Doug Boyle. I believe Plant started with “Heaven Knows,” this tour was in support of that album, which featured Jimmy Page on guitar on that and another song. The sound was great for the Coliseum, it also helped that it was packed. He played “Kashmir,” and “In The Evening,” and then more tunes from the latest album. It was really spellbinding to see him pace the stage, and deliver great vocals to great songs, one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.
They were joking from the stage that the band would go to Matt’s British Pub in Shockoe Slip afterward, and I took note of that. But not really caring that much about meeting him or the band, I went over to Penny Lane Pub on 7th Street, in its earlier location. There I saw my friend, Jim Turney, who happened to be at the show also. We sat down and ordered some beers, and began talking.
A few minutes later I heard a stir in the crowded bar, and people looking at the entrance. In a few moments, musicians started to stroll in, and following them was Robert Plant, who is every bit of 6.2. It turned out that the information about Matt’s British Pub was a decoy, they were really going to Penny Lane, who is owned by a fellow Englishman who knew Robert.
I could not resist, so I went over to the bar, and introduced myself, complimenting him on the show. He looked pleased, and smiled. He has the greenest eyes you’ll ever see, impressive eyes, and I don’t ordinarily pay attention to eyes. But that was an overwhelming part of his personage. He immediately said, “Well, I hope everyone did not think I was too mellow,” and I responded, “not to me!” I really thought the quieter parts were some of the best moments of the show, his new material is great. He really liked that, as he probably gets annoyed at endless requests for “Whole Lotta Love,” or “Stairway To Heaven.”
We just chatted a few more minutes, can’t remember the details, but I went over to the guitarist eventually. Doug Boyle was very friendly, and I complimented him on his playing and sound, and asked him what effects he used. He said none, any effects I heard were from the PA. I’ve noticed that a lot, some of the best players don’t use much in the way of effects, yet others are masters at manipulating a huge set of pedals. Everyone is different for sure.
It was a wonderful evening, and made even more special by talking to one of the greatest singers in the world, bar none.
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