Robert Plant, ‘golden god,’ ages gracefully in solo career

Robert Plant (center), with the Sensational Space Shifters, will appear  Friday at the State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park. CONTRIBUTED BY OLI POWELL

Robert Plant (center), with the Sensational Space Shifters, will appear Friday at the State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park. CONTRIBUTED BY OLI POWELL

Though he recently met with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who were his mates in perhaps the greatest rock band of all time, Robert Plant doesn’t want us to make a big deal about that.

So, while quashing thoughts of any Led Zeppelin reunions, Plant, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this year, spoke about his latest tour with the Sensational Space Shifters, which brings him to State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park on Friday.

He spoke from Austin, Texas, where he had just arrived from his home in England to record a song on the new album from his former love interest (and former bandmate) Patty Griffin.

Q: How do you end up doing a rockabilly tune like the Ersel Hickey song “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” on your new album “Carry Fire”?

A: I like these side trips. Nobody gets excited about them but me. … We're given these ridiculous gifts that we sharpen and meld and bend and twist throughout time, and if we stay in the one groove, I don't see the benefit of that. It might be more fun being an accountant.

Q: What did you think about winning the UK Americana Award?

A: I think they were short of people. … Ozzy Osbourne wasn't available. Actually, there's not many Brits that you can say have sung alongside all these weirdo crackpots like the Milk Carton Kids, Steve Earle, Alison Krauss, Patty Griffin, Darrell Scott, Byron House. … I've played and sung with some amazing people who have given me so much more color, both to my gift and talent and to my own view of the whole deal about music. I've been very, very lucky. I could have just been a rock singer.

Q: You’ve got Elle King opening the show. What do you look for in an opening act?

A: You want somebody who's different to what you're like. Somebody who has a different appeal, will make the evening go one way or the other, and challenging maybe. You can't have too many golden gods.

Q: How did you team up with Chrissie Hynde (on “Bluebirds”)?

A: I've known her, been an acquaintance for too many years. In the ebb and flow of gigs and venues and concerts and stuff, you meet a lot of people. Some people you gravitate toward; some people you don't. She has a particularly original style. It's a very alluring voice she carries inside that little frame of hers.

Q: You have a big birthday coming up.

A: So they say.

Q: Does it make you more reflective?

A: It makes me much more careful about eating lamb bones. … I had a meeting the other day with the other two chaps from the old band. And I thought, "Geez, this is it." I didn't see any dragon suits (a reference to Jimmy Page's elaborately embroidered trousers) and I didn't see any bare chests (a reference to Plant's own Led Zep-era practice of going shirtless). Very well, John Paul Jones did fall off his chair. But he did it on purpose. They looked good.

Q: That’s a tantalizing bit of news. Why would you be meeting with those fellows?

A: Because there was nobody else around to hang out with. … Please don't suggest … I wouldn't leave the Sensational Space Shifters for anybody else. Except for, perhaps, Pink.


Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

Opening acts: Elle King and Seth Lakeman. 8 p.m. Friday, June 8. $53-$458. State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park, 4469 Stella Drive NW, Atlanta.