September 15th, 2019 was the final day of the Ottawa Folkfest (which is actually called CityFolk, but I doubt I will ever get used to that), a day that also marks the unofficial end of Ottawa’s very busy festival season. Alas, for the first time in memory I did not attend a smidgen of either the jazz festival or Bluesfest (due to general disinterest in the jazzfest lineup and not getting a free pass to Bluesfest) and had it not been for receiving CityFolk passes as an early wedding gift I wouldn’t have seen much of that either, saving money as I was for my upcoming move out east.
As a matter of fact, out of the whole summer of Ottawa entertainment this was the sole night that m’lady and I had purchased tickets for and how could we not? The answer is: we couldn’t…we absolutely couldn’t not buy tickets to the closing night of CityFolk, for the headliner was the legendary Robert freakin’ Plant.
Robert Plant has always made me think of a lion. And not just because of his unmistakable halo-like mane of hair…the guy roared for Led Zeppelin, a band that reigned as the mighty king of the hard rock jungle and ruler of the most classic of classic rock. Let’s face it, Led Zeppelin could eat most other ’70’s bands* for breakfast and still sound really, really hungry.
And standing right in front of that astounding powerhouse the whole time was Robert freakin’ Plant. I and the world shall always bow down before him, so like I say, we bought tickets.
My ticket book tells me that Dawes opened the show which further convinces me that I have a mental block when it comes to this band. First of all I always confuse them for another band that I loath so much I can never recall what they are actually called, and secondly I can never recall even a whisper of what Dawes sounds like, despite having seen them perform at countless festivals over the years (though to my credit that countless number might be somewhere below three).
But I do recall the Robert Plant set with excellent clarity, if only by comparison. I can tell you that it was a fantastic show and quite different from any other time I’ve seen him, which makes sense considering he was fronting a new band this time around, or at least one with a new name: The Sensational Space Shifters. Of course Plant stacked the show with Led Zeppelin favourites, starting with What Is and What Should Never Be and ending with Ramble On and with a bunch of gold in between, particularly the set-ending, crowd pleasing traditional tale of trickery and woe, Gallows Pole.
Ah, it was all so awesome.
As is the Ottawa Folk Fest (err…CityFolk) on the whole, settling as it has into its cool Lansdowne location and increasingly creative bookings. Unfortunately (I guess) CityFolk 2019 will likely stand as my last Ottawa festival (until I decide to give up on Newfoundland and move back to the city but don’t hold yer breaths b’ys) and I’m really, really glad I was able to attend.
*Yes, I know that Zeppelin released their first two albums and gained worldwide fame in the late ’60’s…