Robert Plant gives fortysomething rockers a good name. While peers like Phil Collins smear the airwaves with pap ballads and Eric Clapton continues to sound like a beer-jingle writer, Plant continues to refine and redefine hard rock for the '90s.
Monday night at Capital Centre, Plant showed he still has the goods to make an old rocker roll. His post-Zep music unabashedly borrows from the past -- nobody would mistake guitarist Doug Boyle's divebombing guitar swoops as original -- while at the same time celebrating technology by employing sampling devices and keyboard-induced polyrhythms.
The hint of both menace and sexuality -- the essence of Plant's early years -- was all there in new songs such as "The Hurtin' Kind," a kind of cosmic swing-bop that sounded like a collaboration between the Jetsons and the Stray Cats. "Tie Die on the Highway" followed a similar hard-psychedelic mantra, complete with film clips from Woodstock and other paisley-era images projected on a twirling screen behind the band.
There were token doses of hard Led Zeppelin -- kinetic versions of "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and "The Immigrant Song" were included -- along with light breaks where the whole four-piece band used acoustic instruments to create a shimmering "Going to California." Plant and the band even revived the former Zep marathon-dirge "No Quarter," but this time wisely spiced it and sliced it to a more tolerable length.