MUSIC fans are more used to seeing Robert Plant on some of the world’s biggest and most famous stages but last Friday the rock star played live on the somewhat more intimate stage of Bishops Castle’s SpArC theatre.

The former leader of Led Zeppelin who now fronts a variety of musical ensembles, Plant appeared alongside Saving Grace and The Beez Neez to show his support for the venue battling a funding crisis.

It followed his visit to SpArC in late December with his friend and local musician Geoff Grimes, when Plant was looking for small intimate venues for his new music project.

Robert knows and loves the area and after a tour of the theatre by manager Elizabeth Still he was impressed with the venue, and was keen to support the theatre when he heard its future was under threat.

His new project called Saving Grace is a musical co-operative with Plant on vocals/harmonica, Suzi Dian on vocals, Tony Kelsey on mandolin, baritone and acoustic guitars, Matt Worley on banjo, acoustic and baritone guitars, and cuatro and Oli Jefferson on percussion.

Described as “music inspired by the dreamscape of the Welsh Marches”, the local gig came together with the theatre’s warm and intimate atmosphere completed by a capacity audience unaware of the identity of the bands until The Beez Neez kicked the evening off to a flying start, with Geoff Grimes on keys and vocals, Ted Bunting on saxophones and flute, and Sticky Wicket on percussion and vocals, playing their set of blues and soul numbers with skill, personality and joyful energy.

Then Saving Grace came on stage with Robert declaring that this was the band’s first gig and he was very happy to be back in “Bouncy Castle”.

He went on to say how they “deeply support SpArC Theatre and others like it “ and “how important it is to preserve these places of music, theatre and art for communities in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Everywhereshire”.

Their music was sublime, laid back and bluesy with eastern and folk influences.

Robert was in fine voice, Suzi’s vocals blended perfectly as well as standing out and owning it in her own right.

With warm harmonies from Tony and Matt, and beautifully crafted, textural guitar, mandolin, banjo and percussion too we couldn’t believe our luck!

With this celebrity endorsement of the Save the SpArC Campaign, Elizabeth Still said: “We feel unbelievably privileged and excited that Robert Plant and Saving Grace decided to perform at Sparc Theatre”.