Dear Robert Plant. Thank you for ditching the red jump suit. That's what you were wearing back in 1986 when I first saw you at the Pacific Coliseum. You strutted on stage and announced you were in the mood for a melody.

You weren't kidding. But something wasn't quite right.

Don't get me wrong, our first encounter was a very big deal.

You see, your picture had adorned the walls of my bedroom, the inside of my school locker and the front of my t-shirts since I could remember. But the red jump suit just wasn't you.

Now, thanks to your current incarnation which lands at the Queen E on Sunday night, I think I finally understand what was going on. You were looking for a new identity, and who can blame you?

After all, you'd spent the entire 1970's fronting the most popular rock band in the world, and you'd paid a dear price. Being away on tour when your young son died from a sudden illness, almost dying yourself in a car accident, watching Led Zeppelin crash and burn after the death of your best friend, drummer John Bonham, and all of it happening before you were 30 years old.

No wonder you exchanged the ripped jeans, flowery shirts and Middle Earth jewelry for that jumpsuit.

No wonder you sailed around on a sea of 1950's nostalgia with The Honeydrippers.

No wonder you looked so uncomfortable for that much anticipated reunion at Live Aid. You needed a clean break. You needed to find yourself again.

The title of your new disc, "Band of Joy," tells me you've done both. Bringing back the name of the band you and Bonham founded as teenagers before Jimmy Page plucked you both out of obscurity tells the world you're ready to celebrate your past rather than run away from it.

It's about time.

You sound comfortable again as you continue to explore American roots music. You sound excited again as you take us on another journey into a little known but incredibly rich musical culture. You did it before when a trip to Morocco gave us 1975's Kashmir, your favourite song from the Zeppelin canon.

I'll confess, I've been reading reviews from the Band of Joy tour and I'm excited to see you're experimenting and improvising with a few Led Zeppelin melodies again. But that's not because I only want to hear the songs that made you famous; it's because it tells me you're whole again.

Welcome back, old friend.

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy play Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Sunday night. Tickets start at $83.50 through Ticketmaster.