THE legendary Robert Plant and his talented collective of musicians, the Sensational Space Shifters, performed at the City Hall on Friday as part of their Carry Fire tour.

Opening with ‘New World’, the swirling rumination on colonialism from the new album, he then launched into ‘Turn It Up’, its churning, distorted riff brightened by guitar work from Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson. The third number, the folky ‘May Queen’ saw the introduction of the latest recruit to the “Shifters”, folk star Seth Lakeman who’s fiddle playing added subtle touches throughout the evening.

Plant introduced Zeppelin’s ‘That’s The Way’ as being written by “two young boys, a long time ago, on a misty mountain”. ‘All The King’s Horses’ was followed by a surprising, rocking cover of Richard Thompson’s ‘House of Cards’.

Each track raised the bar higher. ‘Gallow’s Pole’ had Lakeman shredding hairs from his violin bow, before a brooding ‘Carry Fire’ led into ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’, with Tyson adding Spanish style guitar to the bluesy romp.

Bukka White’s ‘Fixin’ to Die’ provided guitarist Justin Adams the opportunity to play like a man possessed, and Lakeman returned to give some extra mysticism to ‘Misty Mountain Hop’.

Returning for the encore the band tore through a pounding version of ‘The Lemon Song’ and Leadbelly’s ‘Poor Howard’ before a climactic ‘Whole Lotta Love’.

While Plant remains as creative as on ‘Carry Fire’ and delivers performances as powerful as this one, it’s easy to understand why he has no need to consider the ridiculously lucrative offers to reform Led Zeppelin.

Dave Lawrence