Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on Their 2024 Tour, ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ Retirement, and Much More

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss aren’t ready to stop singing together just yet. “We’ve been doing this on and off since 2007,” says Krauss, “and it’s just gotten better every time we’ve gotten together.” So after touring for the last two years behind their second collaborative album, 2021’s Raise the Roof, they’re adding 28 more tour dates this year, beginning in June. Krauss and Plant jumped on a Zoom with Rolling Stone for their only interview about the new tour, explaining why they just can’t quit each other, discussing future plans, breaking down their set list, and much more.

Obviously you’ve been enjoying these shows enough to add more. What makes them so special for you?
Robert Plant: Well, we’ve been growing from the nervous formality of the very initial kicking it off after so many years of being apart and not really being sure, or even imagining that we would ever get back together. If you go back to all that time ago, in the beginning of the Raise the Roof recordings, the idea of taking it beyond there was it was very tentative, really, but nerve-wracking. And if I don’t know if you think this, Alison, but when we doing some TV clips [early on] with Duane Eddy and James Burton and stuff, how are we to know from that kind of formal delivery, very neatly done, that we would end up as a particularly far-out, loose band, quite funky and extending all our songs? I think that’s the thing. We just grew more and more into a new place, and that’s what gave us the impetus to try this again. 

Alison Krauss:  It’s felt great. I’m really glad that we’ve been able to revisit this as many times as we have. The band has more room, and I get a little more consistency with what’s happening when it’s time for me to jump in and sing harmony. And I thought, “Oh, it’ll be too long in between…” But it’s amazing how quickly the months go by before we go out again. I’m really looking forward to doing it again.

Alison, when you mentioned a little more consistency, I know that was always kind of an issue. Robert sings with a lot of freedom and improvisation, so it was always a challenge to harmonize. How are those things changing to make it easier?
Krauss: Oh, I don’t know if they’re changing [laughs]. It’s just that I can catch a little bit more of his phrasing when he looks my way.  He’s always very funny, because he’s like, “Don’t worry about it!” He goes, “It’s the same. It’s the same every time.” And i’m like, “It’s never the same!” So, you know, I gotta hang on for dear life.

Plant: I don’t notice any of that!

Of course not.
Krauss: [Laughs.] He doesn’t notice.

Plant: I think you do such a great job. I feel the viking lodestone moving around to magnetic north when you are doing the things that you do. So regal and beautiful… For me, it’s like Asbury Park, like a fairground ride at times, just to try and remember harmony positions, which I was not born into, because I was a rock & roll singer, trying to be Dion, all those years ago. 

I’ve learned a lot, and those moments are hair-raising. It’s great to be learning and be contrite and humble and come into your dressing room bowing and saying “Can you just explain the last harmony to me again?”

Krauss: It’s not quite like that!

Plant: But whatever it is, it worked. The thing is it worked. Everybody stepped out from the place that they began. I can’t wait to do this again, stand side by side and enjoy where people are going. Instead of it just being “Here’s the rendition. And here it is again.” Instead of that, we’ve got a lot of intuitive expression within the songs, which was why we didn’t want to let it go when we got to the very last shows. It was quite emotional, really, saying goodbye to it.

What have the two of you both been up to since July, when the last dates ended?
Krauss: I’ve been in the studio recording. And that’s a tedious process.

Plant: I’ve got a group of friends that I play with over here a little bit from time to time. I’ve also been going through all that stuff that I never released and never quite got finished. And getting excited about it. Going, “Wow. What am I going to do with that?” It’s the idioms, the visitation, the places that I’ve been musically which were not complete are just mind-boggling, and they’re a little bit overwhelming.

Are you writing new songs as well, Robert?
Plant: I’ve got a Tascam digital recorder, and I sing, and I put the vocals through a guitar pedal, and then I record them on that over there, and it sounds great. Why bother to go to the studio? But I can’t find words. This is a very difficult time to try and wax lyrical out there.

Robert, you recently found the poster from your very first gig, which is extraordinary. “The Black Snake Moan, the weirdest, wildest sound in R&B.” It must have been a bizarre thing to contemplate the idea that it was 60 years ago.
Plant: Yeah, in fact, I’m looking at it now. I opened a box up and I found some letters. And I found this advert. Self-made, very amateur, but I was 15. It’s just fantastic. Oh, I could do that all again. That’s an amazing piece of music, “That Black Snake Moan.” Many mornings I play that when I start my day, just to remember how incredibly, remarkably talented [Blind] Lemon Jefferson was and how funny his lyrics are. He’s pulling together all those very questionable lyrics. A “Black Snake Moan” is quite a way to start the day.

I love that. Alison, in your genre, it’s taken for granted that people will stay onstage until, basically, they can’t stand up anymore, even beyond. You’re quite young still, but I’m sure that you’ve always taken it for granted that you’re going to be doing this if you can when you’re 80 or 90.
Krauss: You never know how you’re going to feel, and you never know when you’re going to feel different. With this music, I think so many people started so young, and they toured so much. It’s all they knew. It’s hard to say, what I’m going to feel when when I get older. 

Robert, there’s people of your generation retiring. Do you think about retirement?  You seem to love being on the road, so do you want to just push it as long as you can push it?
Plant: The camaraderie, the things that you share up there, and the frailties that you know you’re carrying with you quietly, the exposure of yourself to yourself, is something that I would hate to say goodbye to. I can’t just sit back. Out there in the real world, people say to me, “What about the book?” And I say, “Are you kidding? What? This is spectacular. Why think about it twice?” This is today. What happened in Schenectady in 1969 is another story. And for me, the continuum must keep going. Today, I was pulling all my lyric books out and going, “Gotta get the groove back. I’ve got something to say.” So yeah, I’m going to keep going — as long as they’ve got effects machines that make me sound good [laughs]. Well, it worked for Elvis! Listen to the compression on his voice on some of those big ballads in ’57.  

Robert, you sang “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time in many years at a charity event last year. What did that feel like?
Plant: It was cathartic. People go, “Oh, that’s good. He never was going to do that.” But I didn’t really do it! I just blurted it out. ‘Cause it’s such an important song to me for where I was at the time and where I was with Jimmy and with John and Bonzo. So on that night, it was what it was. It was a trial by fire, but I felt better at the end than at the beginning. 

I was thinking it could be the last time you ever sing that song. Would you be OK with that? 
Plant: Yeah, I think you’re probably right. I haven’t got around to doing the ice-skating rinks in Finland yet with a small orchestra [laughs]. So I don’t think I’ll be doing that, but I don’t know. Who knows? Something could change somewhere. Spirit and heart could come back in the soul. It’s a long song. Who can remember all those words? 

Finally, you have these 30 or so dates, and you have your own careers. What are your hopes for the future of this collaboration?
Plant: I really hope that we pull a cat out of the bag again.  

Krauss: We have had such a great time making those records and touring that I’d love to see it happen again, too. I feel like we’ve made something new when we recorded together. The whole thing has been a surprise for me. And I know it was for Robert too, although he seems to have more bravery in this department. 

Plant: Doing gigs is doing gigs, but actually making magic in the room is the only way you get to a gig. Once you’ve got it, you can’t really blow it out of the water unless you have a real difference in personality. We don’t have that because we laugh at each other, but underneath it all there’s a lot of love and a strong affinity. It’s good. It’s really good.


Can’t Let Go Tour 2024
June 2 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
June 4 – Camdenton, MO – Ozarks Amphitheater*
June 5 – Lincoln, NE – Pinewood Bowl Theater*
June 7 – Prior Lake, MN – Mystic Lake Amphitheater*
June 8 – Madison, WI – Breese Stevens Field*
June 11 – Des Moines, IA – Lauridsen Amphitheater at Waterworks Park*
June 12 – Highland Park, IL – Ravinia Festival*
June 14 – Toledo, OH – Toledo Zoo & Aquarium – Amphitheater*
June 15 – Burgettstown, PA – The Pavilion at Star Lake*
June 18 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap*
June 19 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap*
Aug. 8 – Missoula, MT – KettleHouse Amphitheater*
Aug. 9 – Missoula, MT – KettleHouse Amphitheater*
Aug. 11 – Edmonton, AB – Edmonton Folk Music Festival
Aug. 13 – Vancouver, BC – Queen Elizabeth Theatre*
Aug. 14 – Vancouver, BC – Queen Elizabeth Theatre*
Aug. 16 – Seattle, WA – Venue TBD*
Aug. 17 – Seattle, WA – Venue TBD*
Aug. 19 – Eugene, OR – The Cuthbert Amphitheater*
Aug. 21 – Murphy’s, CA – Ironstone Amphitheatre*
Aug. 22 – Stanford, CA – Frost Amphitheater*
Aug. 24 – Paso Robles, CA – Vina Robles Amphitheatre*
Aug. 25 – Highland, CA – Yaamava’ Theater*
Aug. 26 – Flagstaff, AZ – Pepsi Amphitheater*
Aug. 28 – Santa Fe, NM – The Santa Fe Opera*
Aug. 29 – Santa Fe, NM – The Santa Fe Opera*
Aug. 31 – Colorado Springs, CO – Sunset Amphitheater*
Sept. 1 – Vail, CO – Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater*

*w/ JD McPherson