BEAT MAGAZINE MELBOURNE
an interview with Joseph Calderazzo
Righto – first things first – the event name: how did you come up with it, and what’s it all about?
Whole Lotta Love is the name of a well known Led Zep song and we play this show with a whole lotta love.
And what’s the damn show all about?
It’s all about the passion we share for the music of the mighty Led Zeppelin.
What made you decide to put together the event?
It was something that I’ve wanted to do for years and it kept visiting my conscious mind and eventually got to the point where I couldn’t NOT do it.
Why should people be interested in what you’re doing?
Because it’s a glimpse into some great music of the 70’s. Because it’s done for the right reason; we love what we do. Because it features a mix of amazing fresh Australian talent as well as some well-seasoned favorites. Because most of us have traveled from Sydney to do this show.
Who should people check out – because if they don’t they’ll hate themselves for it?
This is a straight ahead concert so unless they fall asleep they won’t miss a thing.
If one was to ignore their ears, what will the event smell, feel, look and taste like?
To ignore your ears at a Led Zep celebration show would be difficult as it can be quite loud, however; it will look quite the spectacle with lights, big screen action and some larger than life personalities on stage, it will taste like a glass of French Champagne and will smell like a balmy Friday night in St Kilda.
If you had to talk someone into coming, how would you convince them?
I’d say, “if you love classis rock then you really need to be at this show ‘cause it rocks baby!!”
What sort of tunes influenced you into putting together the event?
Well it’s a collection of my favorite Led Zep songs and what a treat it is to be doing this Whoo hoooo!!!
What is the most challenging aspect of putting this show together?
Deciding on which songs to omit from the repertoire.
Do you believe music can make a difference in the world?
Yes, it affects the way we feel and the way we think. It’s very influential, especially during our teen years and it’s amazing that when we hear a song from that time how our memory can take us right back to a particular place in our memory bank.
What do you hope to achieve with the event?
As dramatic as this sounds I know that for some people this event has been a life changing experience, I would be elated if this were to continue.
What would you recommend as the best activity to pursue whilst the event is happening?
Chilling out, taking in the sights and sounds and having your mind open to the wild yet hypnotic journey that you will be taken on.
The AU review.com
WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
Enmore Theatre 16/09/10
It was a capacity crowd for the return of the Whole Lotta love show at the Enmore.
The featured singers this year are John Swan (Swanee), Dave Gleeson (Screaming Jets), Steve Balbi (Noiseworks), Simon Meli (Ooh La La) , Ngaiire (ex-Blue King Brown), Danny Marx Young (son of John Paul Young) and Zkye (pronounced Skye).
The band, under the excellent creative direction of Joseph Calderazzo (guitars), includes Peter Northcote (guitars), Gordon Rytmeister (drums), Greg Royal (bass), Charmaine Ford (keys), Tony Azzopardi (percussion) and the ‘Sydney Lyric Strings’ with Adrian Keating (violin), Michelle Hood (violin), Rachel Thompson (viola), Ian Cooper (viola), Charlotte Roberts (cello) and Janine Ryan (cello).
Rytmeister is one of the few drummers around that can successfully reproduce Bonham’s heavy handed sound. He’s the driving force behind a group that works very well together.
Steve Balbi was the highlight of the night, memorably covering “What Is and What Should Never Be” and “Kashmir”. With a powerful voice and no hesitation in using it to its full range, he was the first vocalist to seem fully integrated into the band, rather than a guest, even if the band were slightly on edge not knowing what he’d do next. He ranged around the stage, throwing his mike stand, manhandling the guitarists and encouraging the audience to join him in various parts of the songs. He used his whole body, often ending up crouched on the floor, pulling the mike down with him, then leaping up to jump on the drum riser.
The second half owed a large debt to Page and Plant’s reworking of their classic tunes with the Egyptian orchestra. Kashmir, the audience favorite, in particular was greatly enhanced by the strings and percussion. All of the string arrangements were very well done. Simon Meli sang an excellent version of “Stairway to Heaven” with Peter Northcote doing a slick, almost note-for-note rendition of the album solo.
“Battle of Evermore” – sung by Dave Gleeson and Ngaiire – had a lovely lush arrangement. However the duet became unstuck with Ngaiire’s slurred words and vague wandering off. It seemed less like a duet and more like herding a cat. Gleeson seemed mystified, but persevered despite his confusion.
John Swan was underused within the show, singing only 2 songs, when some of the others did more. He returned for the “Whole Lotta Love” encore, along with the rest of the cast, which brought the house down.
This is the 8th year of the Whole Lotta Love show at the Enmore. It’s probably the closest most Zep fans will come to seeing the real thing these days.
WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
Enmore Theatre 16/09/10
by Michael Smith
With a show like this, based as is it on a fixed repertoire and the expectations of an audience not looking for interpretation but reasonable facsimiles of that repertoire, the biggest question is always more about what songs don’t get a run. The official tally of some 65 songs sprawled across a number of genres, from the early heavy blues to folk rock to country rock, and tonight, the singers gathered together for what was being dubbed a Led Zeppelin Encomium, or “formal expression of praise”, proved just as diverse and surprising as many of those songs were when they first appeared on the nine studio albums the band released in the 12 years they were together.
The most surprising also proved to be one of the most impressive interpreters, Adelaide-born Zkye Compson-Harris channelling the voice of Robert Plant with an elegant ease that blew everyone away, particularly on her first performance, the slow blues Since I’ve Been Loving You, from Led Zeppelin III.
That’s not to say the male singers that came before – Danny Marx Young, Ooh La La’s Simon Meli, Dave Gleeson and Steve Balbi – didn’t deliver their songs with an equal passion and flair; it was just Compson-Harris, in her elegant gown, just came closest to Plant’s tone, at least in the first half of the program. She was followed by an equally surprising performer, the pint-sized powerhouse Ngaiire who, together with Compson-Harris and keyboards player Charmaine Ford, proved that while this extraordinary repertoire might have created by four white Anglos-Saxon males, music of calibre, delivered with power and passion, recognises no gender.
Among the male singers who strutted the stage tonight, it was interesting to see how the younger ones – Young and Meli – delivered their particular contributions with a certain ardent respect, while the more mature group – Gleeson, Balbi and the underutilised John Swan, were more casual, playing with the expected stereotype of the male hard rocker. Gleeson ran around with his usual cheeky energy, while Swan looked on when he wasn’t singing, like the genial father figure proud of his musical progeny. Balbi was gloriously iconoclastic, teasing out the clichés and then subverting them, slapping his mic like it was some skanky ho as he let the band take over for some extended soloing in Kashmir.
The band was truly impressive, even if it took two guitarists to deliver what Jimmy Page used, at least live, to deliver alone. Joseph Calderazzo was the guitarist most obviously in tune with Page, reproducing both acoustic and electric solos with astonishing accuracy, while Peter Northcote allowed more of his own dazzling personality to filter into his interpretations.
Bass player Greg Royal was as solid as John Paul Jones, locking in nicely with drummer Gordon Rytmeister, but it was Ford who really shone in the backline which, in the second half, included a six-piece string section, replicating the amazing arrangements Jones had created in the original recordings.
Percussionist Tony Azzopardi added another subtle layer when necessary. So, what was left out? Dazed And Confused was an obvious one, Communication Breakdown too, and How Many More Times. But then, for the Led Zep tragics who attended, the 21 songs that did get a run should have kept them more than happy. The obvious ones were there – Rock’n’Roll, Ramble On and Bron-y-Stomp from Young, Immigrant Song from Swan, Stairway To Heaven convincingly delivered by Meli and Black Dog and The Battle Of Evermore, the latter in duet with Ngaiire, from Gleeson. Everyone had fun, the punters left happy, having got their Zep fix for another year.
In the end of course, it was just a cover band with some guest vocalists, but it was all delivered with such obvious reverence for the band and its musical legacy, with a professionalism to match anything in this vein being presented anywhere in the world, to diminish the event would be churlish, a job well done.