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Priory of Brion press review

Taken from the 26/05/2000 edition of The Times

Priory of Brion
Cheese and Grain, Frome (by Nigel Williamson)

They have never made a record, been interviewed or appeared on radio or
television.  The group plays only cover versions and the guitarist has a
day job as a college lecturer.  Just another bunch of semi-pro, pub rock
hopefuls, you might conclude.  So why is it that the band is a sell-out
attraction wherever it plays?
Although local promoters have been told not to advertise the fact on pain
of cancellation, the secret is out - the Priory of Brion are lead by none
other than the one-time Led Zeppelin stormtrooper, Robert Plant.  And last
weekend, in the latest of a series of clandestine dates, the Priories (the
Brions?) broke the box-office record at the Cheese and Grain in the sleepy
Somerset market town of Frome.
A modest achievement, to be sure.  But that is the point.  While Jimmy Page
tours American stadiums with Zeppelin surrogates the Black Crowes, Plant
has gone back to his roots, playing semi-secret gigs in tiny venues with a
four piece folk-rock band assembled by Kevin Hammond, the guitarist from
his pre-Zeppelin mid-Sixties outfit, Band of Joy.
Seated on a stool, Plant was relaxed and jocular as he swiftly made it
clear that he was there to have fun.  The repertoire consisted of songs
he's been singing in the shower for 30 years but never had the chance to
perform.  Most had a late Sixties vintage and he began with a sequence of
American West Coast obscurities from the psychedelic era which included
songs by Love, Moby Grape, the Youngbloods and Buffalo Springfield.
Then he moved effortlessly into an R&B groove with standards by Ray
Charles, James Brown and Bobby Bland.  Interspersed among them were
Greenwich Village coffee house classics such as Tim Hardin's If I Were A
Carpenter, Tom Rush's No Regrets and Tim Rose's Morning Dew.
A self-indulgent exercise in old fartdom?  It so easily could have been.
Except that this was Plant as you have never heard him before.  On occasion
he let out the familiar orgasmic wail he patented with Zeppelin.  It has
lost none of its power and still sends a shiver down the spine.  But, like
Van Morrison, over the years Plant's voice has developed a greater
character, intimacy and depth not always evident in his pomp.  
Of course, part of the thrill was seeing a rock god so up close and
personal.  But it was more than that, and the audience was enjoying itself
so much that no one even remembered to shout for Stairway To Heaven.
If you weren't among the 300 priveliged souls gathered together in the
Cheese and Grain, Priory of Brion are scheduled to play the Cambridge and
Cropredy folk festivals later this summer.  
But remember: it's supposed to be a secret.

Sadly neglected LP of the month:
Patto by Patto