Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters kicked off their 2018 North American tour tonight in Raleigh, N.C., with a fantastic 15-song set. We're happy to report that his fearless exploration of new musical styles -- and constant re-interpretation of his past -- are fully in place and just as rewarding as ever.

Five of the evening's first six songs came from Plant's three most recent albums - including two each from last year's Carry Fire and 2014's Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. Except for one tinfoil-hat worthy ranting lunatic we were all politely ignoring / snickering at, nobody was clamoring for any extra Led Zeppelin songs, everybody was rapt and hanging on every word.

Of course, when he did break into his former band's catalog -- with a gorgeous "That's the Way," a dynamic centerpiece reading of "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" or noticeably energetic, amped-up versions of "Gallows Pole" and "Misty Mountain Hop" -- the crowd went extra bananas. But Plant's constant pursuit of re-invention was in effect throughout, most apparent in the fact that none of the Zep song arrangements relied on the almighty electric guitar riff.

In between album and tour campaigns with Alison Krauss and the Band of Joy, the ever-restless Plant has rather quietly established some consistency with his current band. Guitarist Justin Adams and keyboardist John Baggott have been with him since 2005's Dreamland. Each shone in their spotlight moments -- Adams blending awesome rockabilly riffs and primal dance moves during "Fixin' to Die," and Baggott suddenly turning "Little Maggie" into a Radiohead-soundtracked dance party while his bandmates led the audience in clapping along.

"It would be remiss of me not to say what a blast it is to be back in the U.S.A.," Plant noted at one point near the end of the show. Obviously, the pleasure was all ours. His North American tour continues Sunday night in Charlotte and is currently scheduled to end March 2 in Los Angeles. Of course you should go if at all possible.

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters Set List - Feb. 9, 2018

1. "New World..."
2. "Turn it Up"
3. "The May Queen"
4. "Rainbow"
5. That's the Way"
6. "All the King's Horses"
7. "Please Read the Letter"
8. "Gallows Pole"
9. "Carry Fire"
10. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"
11. "Little Maggie"
12. "Fixin' to Die"
13. "Misty Mountain Hop"
14. "I'm in the Mood"
15. "Whole Lotta Love"

Robert Plant, 'Carry Fire' (Live) - Official Video

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