A Whole Lotta Love

Australia’s own Whole Lotta Love Led Zeppelin celebration will hit their tenth anniversary this year. Helmed by proven and highly capable director Joseph Calderazzo, Australian Guitar’s Paul Southwell managed to chat to the busy man about all things Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin has such a vast back catalogue. How do you pick and choose songs?

That is really hard and to get that right I think we’d need to do three nights. It is only a two and a half hour show. We’d probably get about 19 songs in as some are quite long. It comes down to picking the song that is most representative of particular styles like folk with “The Battle Of Evermore” to being kind of pressured into doing “Stairway To Heaven”. We have to do “Kashmir” and then “The Rain Song”. We use strings in the last half and that takes it to a different level within the journey. It is only three strings but it is just enough. There is a lot of great string stuff with Zeppelin such as “Four Sticks” and of course “The Rain Song”. We try to cover all of the elements that made Zeppelin what they were.

Have there been any copyright issues with Zep’s management?

No, it is just a cover band so there have been no issues. At a theatre level we have to pay APRA, we have to list the songs we are doing, they take a percentage of the box office and that goes back to the writers. If you are playing it in a pub, you don’t have to worry about that because there is a copyright fee that gets paid by the pubs. Stuart Fraser from Noiseworks will be playing guitar with us and he’ll do it the way he does it.

You’ve got a stack of different guitars in the show. Do you go to great lengths to replicate what was used by Led Zeppelin such as a Telecaster for “Stairway”?

We do use a lot of guitars but that is more about the tunings generally. A Tele for the solo on “Stairway To Heaven” just sounds right. The whole vision for the show started 12 years ago with a weekly music night for original artists to play in acoustic mode. I decided to get a bunch together all on the one night to do a song by a particular band. We did a Beatles thing so I extended that to Zeppelin. So, original artists came in with their own sound and gave it their own style. It is a cover band but our creative direction is about doing the songs with integrity but still putting our own thing into it. Getting back to the guitars, we are not trying to get every guitar that they used like double necks and Danelectros. If somebody has a 12 string Fender electric or similar then we’ll use that.

I seem to remember Jeff Martin had a B-bender Tele which was pretty cool.

Oh, that was amazing and he had the double neck as well. It is great to have that. He used the [violin] bow and the Theremin as well. He is a student of Jimmy Page. It was great to have him in the show with all of that. If people come along with that stuff, it is part of what they do and that is awesome, which was the case with Jeff Martin. We try to do it all in our own way but we do have a lot of guitars because there are lots of tunings.

For the tunings, have you gone back and looked at transcriptions?

No, I do it all by ear. I can usually figure out tunings with the opening chords. Most of the open tuning stuff is basic. Once you’ve got the tunings down, where you put your fingers down is in obvious places. Keith [Richards] from The Rolling Stones wrote on open G tuning with five strings, not six. He is a creative genius but the logistics of playing is easy. “The Rain Song” is the tricky one and it has taken me years to get that.

Has it been difficult to get a drummer that does what John Bonham did because his playing and groove was so unique?

Yeah, he was unique. We’ve used a few guys but Gordon Rytmeister is the guy that we use at the moment. He was brought up on Bonham so he gets it and he gets a pretty big kick drum sound. Before Gordon, there was Peter Drummond, who wasn’t brought up on Bonham but on all of the drummers that were influenced by him. Mick Skelton is another guy that I have seen do other stuff and he is very much like John Bonham in how he plays. There are guys influenced by it that have got it in their DNA. 

By Paul Southwell, courtesy Australian Guitar Magazine.

Jeff Martin: The Song Remains The Same

Jeff Martin, ex-Tea Party frontman turned Aussie citizen, found his home on the road Down Under with his new three-piece and shares a wealth of guitar knowledge with Australian Guitar’s fellow Led Zeppelin enthusiast Craig White.

The Tea Party formed in Canada in the early-‘90s, and over the course of that decade became one of the most successful bands in that country. Now Canada is a country crawling with inventive and exciting musical acts that barely rate a mention outside of its own borders, and the Tea Party may well have become yet another assured ensemble enjoying a successful domestic career while not even registering a blip on the international radar. Worse yet, they might have hopped the bus for south of the border, where their intriguing blend of hard rock and world music could easily have been lost as it flew right over the heads of American youth hungry for yet another Nirvana.

Instead, a prescient manager who had spent time Down Under suggested they make their first international foray an antipodean excursion, where the band found an appreciative audience of fellow Commonwealth citizens. I begin my conversation with former Tea Party frontman Jeff Martin by asking whether he feels the historical ties between the two countries and a certain similarity in national character caused the band to resonate with Aussie audiences, which it definitely did, as they eventually toured this country a dozen times.

“Well, we put the hard yards in. We did something that a lot of international bands won’t do. When we first came over to Australia, we just did Sydney and Melbourne, and we did a month here. So we did one show in Sydney and one show in Melbourne the first week, in front of 25 people; the next week it doubled; the next week it tripled; so by the time we left that month, we were playing in front of 800 people. Then Triple J got on board, and the rest is history.”

Jeff now lives in Australia. The Tea Party disbanded in 2004 (though they are reuniting for some festivals in the Canadian summer), and after a spell in Ireland, Jeff and his Australian wife settled in Perth, adding a son named Django to the mix. Jeff has pursued several musical avenues since the demise of the Tea Party, the most recent of which is 777, with former Sleepy Jackson members Jay Cortez and Malcolm Clark.

Martin has always been regarded as something of a gun guitarist, particularly as the Tea Party first came to prominence during a period when instrumental chops were not necessarily fashionable.

“I mean this with all humility, but I don’t know many guitarists in rock music who push it as far as I do with the tunings and the tonalities. I basically took a page out of Jimmy Page, and I ran with it.”

Alright then, the elephant in the room is now definitely out of the bag (if I might be allowed to mix my metaphors), so best that we discuss it. The Tea Party spiced their hard rock with Indian, Middle Eastern and North African elements in a manner that was dubbed “Moroccan Roll” by witty commentators, while less than appreciative scribes simply pointed at a perceived similarity to the manner in which Led Zeppelin incorporated folk and world music elements.

While Jeff accepts that not all were fans of his former band (“what the Tea Party did was we polarised; you either loved us or you didn’t like us at all, there was nothing really in between”) and that therefore there might be motivation for mockingly over-stating the influence, he does not go out of his way to avoid the comparisons, and our conversation is peppered with references to Page and Led Zeppelin.

Furthermore, throughout our discussion of gear there are mentions of particular pieces and modifications that any Page fan will instantly recognise. For example, there’s “a little Supro that I use all the time, for just really precise tones and all that”.

Like Jimmy Page’s?

“Mine’s a little older though. It’s not actually a Supro, it’s just Jensen Speaker Company.”

Similarly talk turns to Danelectros. Now, they sold a ton of these guitars back in the day and to suggest that simply using a Danelectro indicates Page fetishism would be going too far, however there is a particular bridge replacement that suggests Jimmy as the inspiration.

“There’s some work you can do to Danelectros, like to get them shielded properly, because they can be the greatest radio antennas in the world, but there’s a way of shielding the guitars inside. Then you put the Badass bridge on, and you get better tuning pegs and it stays in tune, because I use a lot of sort of drop C tuning on the Danelectro, so I’ve got to put heavier gauge strings on it, but when it’s tight and it’s locked in, it’s an amazing guitar.”

Now, for guitarists of a certain vintage, it would be odd not to be massively influenced by Jimmy Page, and I certainly count myself as one of them. After all, whose ears are the ones pricking up at the mention of Supro amplifiers and Danelectros with Badass bridges? So when Jeff mentions the Danelectro, I know before I ask which model it is, but I go ahead and ask anyway.

“I have got the double cutaway, two pick-up one.”

I knew it! While we are mining the Jimmy Page vein, there is also talk of double neck SGs, however when conversation turns to Les Pauls, I am surprised by Jeff’s stated preference.

“I’m a big fan, especially for recording, of the low impedance Gibsons; the Recording, the Professional and the Personal. I’ve always had a Recording model; it’s beautiful. When I acquired my Recording model, I sent it to Les Paul’s technician, who I met in Manhattan, when Les was playing at Fat Tuesdays. He rewired the guitar to the schematic, and then some, so all those tonal variations started coming out of the guitar. It was just beautiful. That was the first one I fell in love with. I fell in love with those guitars, so much so that I wanted to get the other two that complete the range, so I got the Personal and I got the Professional. I’ve got the holy trinity of low impedance Gibson guitars.”

I ask Jeff if the Recording model plays like a regular Les Paul.

“It feels like a Standard, the neck feels like a Standard, but the sound, and the way that you play it, is a very different approach. It’s a guitar meant for very precise parts, it’s not a guitar you are going to wash out with distortion or overdrive or whatever. It’s not that sort of guitar; it’s for more of the ethereal, ambient element that you can achieve in rock’n’roll music. I love that guitar. A lot of people, when they got these low impedance guitars in the ‘70s, and they tried to play them on stage, they tried to do the rock’n’roll thing. Well, they weren’t a rock’n’roll guitar, they were more of a jazz guitar. The ’71 Recording model should have been the guitar that came out in the ‘50s, the original Les Paul, but Gibson took a look at the schematic and said, ‘no way’.”

Now, Jimmy Page has a Recording model himself (as can be ascertained by consulting the exhaustive equipment list at www.led-zeppelin.org), however it is not a guitar with which he is readily identified, so I ask Jeff how it was that he discovered the low impedance Les Pauls.

“It was something that I just dove into, because I kept wanting to expand the tonality of my guitar playing, and what my options were. It was an old jazz guy in Montreal actually who turned me on to these guitars. He had one. It wasn’t wired properly, but he did have one. I played it and fell in love with it. This was ’95 or something. I went and found one immediately. It wasn’t hard to find, although there aren’t many of them around, but it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg, that’s for sure. I think I bought it for like eight hundred dollars or something like that.”

While there is no doubt that Martin rocks out when required, he is a multi-faceted player, as likely to be found laying down 12-string guitar or oud or some alternate tuning in the interest of creating texture and instrumental depth. It is a quality that has been consistent throughout his career, and one that he brings to 777 with as much enthusiasm and creativity as any project he has undertaken in the past.

“The thing that I wanted to do was a modern day version of Houses Of The Holy, and I think we achieved that with this record. That’s what always impressed me, that’s what I fell in love with, when you got to those records, when you got away from the blues-rock and you got to those records, like Houses Of The Holy or Physical Graffiti. There were so many style variations, but you could tell it was the same band, all the way through.”

“It’s the same with what we’ve achieved with 777. Malcolm’s drumming is very, very Malcolm Clark, yet there’s a lot of influences – John Bonham, Keith Moon, Animal from the Muppets. Jay Cortez is just a master multi-instrumentalist, and his bass playing is just so gorgeous and melodic. What it’s allowed me to do is, for the first time since the halcyon days of the Tea Party, I’ve got a rhythm section behind me that is so just anchored, and because of their relationship, and they’ve known each other for so many years, there’s a telekinesis going on between the two of them, where I don’t have to think about it.”

Being another three-piece, 777 is not ploughing an entirely different field from that which the Tea Party worked. While doubters once spoke of similarities to Led Zeppelin, contemporary naysayers have made the accusation that the new album sounds a lot like a Tea Party record.

“What people need to understand is that I wrote all the songs with the Tea Party, so what I did was very similar to what I’ve done with Mal and Jay. What I did with Jeff and Stuart (in the Tea Party) was I brought the songs to them and then the three of us composed them up together. So they offered their own individual personalities, Jeff’s drum style, Stuart’s bass styling and all that. Mal and Jay are very different musicians, but the music that I write lends itself to people like doing sort of almost the same thing. To a certain extent, the song remains the same.”

(Article originally featured in Issue #86 of Australian Guitar Magazine)

WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – Led Zeppelin Celebration

Burswood Theatre, Perth
Friday 3rd December 2010
Shane Rockpit

They were all out in force for this celebration of Led Zeppelin’s music – baby boomers, generation X and Y couples and hipsters, Dad’s chaperoning teenage sons and daughters, middle aged ex-rocker couples sporting faded black t-shirts declaring their love of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and (everywhere) Led Zeppelin themselves. In fact the only demographic thin on the ground was long haired rockers – maybe the refined surroundings of the Burswood Theatre (more used to hosting George Benson, the Nutcracker Suite and stand-up comedians) scared them off?

Anyone who stayed away missed a fantastic night of some of the very best rock music ever written – and a Celebration it most certainly was: joyful, loving and impassioned, not to mention riveting from start to finish!

Reasoning that no single singer could adequately represent the entire canon of Zep’s work, the show features no less than FIVE vocalists, each with a vibrant and riveting personality of their own.

Opener ‘Rock and Roll’ dispelled any fear that this was going to be a cabaret act – the core band rocking hard and faithfully, whilst still expressing themselves and not being mere copyists.

Simon Meli of Sydney band The Widowbirds took the crease for this first delivery, and throughout all his tunes tonight his soulful textured vocals proved a revelation.

Screaming Jets frontman Dave Gleeson was next up, throwing himself about the sparse stage like a demented Aqualung looking figure. The band slink through ‘The Ocean’ with Gleeson, playing funky, heavy rock with an emphasis on the roll. Magnificent stuff!

Demented chicken-haired man boy, Steve Balbi of Noiseworks, looks like the product of a twisted union between Black Crowe Chris Robinson & Tyla of the Dogs D’Amour, as he joins the stage for a mandolin driven ‘Black Country Woman’ which – like pretty much every song tonight – evokes the spirit along with the sound of the masters.

Adelaide singer Zkye delivered a fantastic, emotionally powerful ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, full throated and blues soaked with a touch of Joplin to her voice, this rendition alone might be enough to make Pagey kick himself for not thinking of the multiple-singer approach when auditioning for an alternate vocalist after Robert Plant pulled out of the much-vaunted Zep reformation tour!

Calderazzo plays his fingers off, sounding and looking like a beardy-era Page, finally stating “Okay I think we’re warmed up now” as he takes a seat with an acoustic guitar for the mighty ‘Ramble On’, again featuring Meli, lad in super skinny jeans, oversized sideburns and a denim shirt, and a viola solo adds a lush depth to this fantastic pastoral rocker.

The show is constructed like a Led Zeppelin performance might be, complete with ebbs and flows, and it’s a beautiful thing – a moody John Paul Jones keyboard intros ‘No Quarter’, which goes on to feature a fine piano solo courtesy of Charmaine Ford, then Zkye is back for a dramatic ‘Immigrant Song’, featuring a fiery solo from second guitarist Steve Edmonds.

Obviously the joker in the pack, Balbi returns from the intermission to barnstorm his way through a stomping ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’. His playful mad-hatter sense of joy brings a real levity to the proceedings as he runs around hitting cymbals and bass drum, tickling and playfully pushing Calderazzo during his solo. “Steve Balbi, ladies and gentlemen – you never know what he’s going to do next”, Calderazzo announces as the wild one wanders off stage right.

Then Gleeson is back doing what he does best – rocking hard – on ‘Black Dog’, thrusting his groin every which way as he does repeated bog laps of the stage, punctuated by random outbursts of headbanging and face pulling, before the tone is changed again for Steve Balbi to eke out the playfulness of the Led Zeppelin III classic ‘Bron-y-aur Stomp’.

Over East they’ve been known to use up to nine singers at a show, and whilst budgetary restrictions must limit us to five tonight, perhaps for future tours they could consider a local performer? I’m sure I’m not the only one who can imagine the divine Abbe May tearing some bluesy early Led Zep numbers apart with her amazing vocal talents…

Zkye strolls assertively to centre stage next, and accompanied only by viola, violin, cello and piano, dazzles the crowd as she surrenders herself to a dynamic and magical ‘Going To California’.

‘Stairway to Heaven’ starts acoustically with orchestral help, Meli giving a classic reading of this old favourite.

I never thought I’d be lucky enough to hear these immortal songs performed by a troupe as accomplished as the original band, but tonight was as exhilarating and magical, not to mention diverse and rocking, as anyone could have hoped for.

Finally the fifth vocalist for the night – Blue King Brown singer Ngaiire – appears on stage and lends an ethereal and mystical quality to ‘Friends’ as she dances around the microphone exuding an infectious and earthy voodoo mother vibe.

Zkye dances on for ‘Four Sticks’, Meli performs out front of a lush and beautiful string laden version of ‘The Rain Song’, dancing to every instrument at the same time, then Gleeson stands uncharacteristically still for ‘Battle of Evermore’ while Ngaiire dances behind him, shuffling back and forth as if in a trance, their voices weaving together seductively over the Lord of The Rings inspired lyrics

Balbi makes room for a beautiful violin solo on ‘Kashmir’, allowing every bit of the passion to seep through this magnificent favourite, then asks “Is it good to be alive?” – Oh yes – with music this fantastic performed so flawlessly!

The encore consists of electrifying drum solo-cum-song Bonzo’s Montreaux, followed by a dynamic ‘Whole Lotta Love’ featuring the entire cast of fourteen musicians, and with a little high drama at the end (Malbi makes to break up the drum kit, instantly incurring the ire of drummer Gordon Rytmeister and earning himself a stern “Fuck Off”. Rytmeister storms offstage the moment the song ends and I would have loved to have seen what went down in the dressin room!) this magical night of stunning music and passion and celebration draws to an end.

Naturally everyone has favourites from the Led Zeppelin catalogue which couldn’t be played (‘Misty Mountain Hop’ would’ve been the cherry on my cake, or perhaps ‘Boogie With Stu’ for something right out of left field!) but no-one filed out of the Burswood Theatre tonight in the slightest bit disappointed. A celebration it was billed as, and a celebration we all got – bravo Mr Calderazzo and team, WHOLE LOTTA LOVE was a triumph.

Shane Rockpit talks with Joseph Calderazzo

Shane Rockpit talks with Joseph Calderazzo
about Whole Lotta Love
December 2010

Calderazzo is the creator of the WHOLE LOTTA LOVE Led Zeppelin tribute show, now in it’s eighth year in Australia and about to visit Perth for the first time. The two and a half hour show features a variety of singers such as Dave Gleeson (The Screaming Jets), Steve Balbi (Noiseworks), Ngaiire and Zyke to recreate the eclectic back catalogue of arguably rock’s most consistently stunning band.

SR – Thanks for talking to The Rockpit! Firstly, what is it about Led Zeppelin that made you want to create an act in tribute of them?

JC – I love the fact that they write powerful songs with meaningful lyrics. I’m also attracted to the variety of influences that shape their music.

SR – How closely do you present the band onstage – both musically and visually?

JC – Some of the tracks are quite close musically, however we don’t do the visual thing. We just present ourselves as we are, we’re not trying to be them, we’re just playing their songs.

SR – You have an amazing group of artists involved – Dave from The Screaming Jets, Steve from Noiseworks, Swanee joins in over East, plus people from Blue King Brown, Ooh La La and more. With such diverse backgrounds, were there any hurdles in getting everyone to gel stylistically during rehearsals?

JC – The reason we have so many artists from diverse backgrounds is so that they bring their own style to the table. This gives the show a twist that the audience is not expecting and lots of memorable moments that can only be delivered from artists that have their own style and sound. Hence this array of beautiful people.

SR – The show is into its eighth year on the East Coast, do you keep things fresh by introducing new songs each year or is the setlist locked in?

JC – Yes we do have a floating roster of songs which keeps the whole thing interesting, also the fact that we only do it once a year certainly keeps it fresh.

SR – On that note, how do you narrow down such a stunning canon of work into just 20 songs?

JC – It’s the big question, it’s all about what to leave out, and there are enough great songs to do 3 nights with no repeats. I try to make sure that all the facets of their music are represented, i.e. rock, blues, folk, country, middle-eastern, and we use lots of acoustic guitars, lots of tunings, plus mandolin and strings. So I guess the set list is formed around those elements to present a well rounded representation of what Led Zeppelin were about.

SR – What do you think Zep would be doing now if John Bonham were still alive?

JC – Touring and recording, there’s such an interest from the younger generations in [Led Zeppelin], they influenced three decades of rock bands in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.

SR – With such a stellar cast of musicians, I’m sure the backstage jams are fantastic – have you considered making some original music with some of these guys?

JC – Most of us have had or do have original projects, as for collaboration with the team, I’ve thought about it but that’s as far as it’s gone so far.

SR – Do you think there is potential for ‘tribute’ acts to release their own recordings

JC – I think there is a market for a good live recording especially with some of the interpretations that we do.

SR – It seems every new generation of kids goes through a rite of passage with bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Cure and The Doors – why do you think their music is so enduring and still relevant?

JC – Much of the music of the 70’s was written with no commercial goal in mind, it was written to satisfy the calling of the writer so it’s real and heart-felt. Music like this will usually appeal to all generations because it touches the place it’s written from which is the soul.

SR – Is playing in a tribute band a better financial prospect than slogging away in an original band?

JC – At the end of the day it’s all about selling tickets so it doesn’t really make any difference.

SR – Which Led Zeppelin song would you most like to have had a hand in creating?

JC – ‘ In My Time Of Dying’ – which they didn’t write anyway, it’s a traditional gospel song.

SR – Have you ever heard Dread Zeppelin – the Led Zeppelin tribute band with an Elvis singer done in a reggae style?

JC – Yes…

SR – If you had to create another mash up of Zeppelin, who would it be combined with?

JC – Jazz/Latin, swings and bossanovas

SR – Where’s the best place for fans to find out all the latest news from Whole Lotta Love?

JC – http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Whole-Lotta-Love-Led-Zeppelin-Celebration/146556392048902

http://www.ccent.com.au/

SR – Finally, what for you is the Meaning of life?

JC – To be the best person you can possibly be and to be abundant in all areas.

SR – Thanks for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit– looking forward to seeing the gig when you get to Perth!

JC – Thank you

Whole Lotta Love Live Review

by Christie Eliezer

“You don’t know what a joy it is to sing these songs,” Dave Gleeson of the Screaming Jets told the crowd midway through “Whole Lotta Love”. That was obvious in the way he leaped, ran around the stage and swirled his butt at the audience. He was one of the night’s singers brought together by Sydney guitarist and music director Joseph Calderazzo of CCEntertainment.

Tonight was not a by-numbers gallop through the Zep songbook. Rather it was a celebration which reassembled the songs respectfully and captured the spirit that originally drove the music. The hammering riffs of “Rock and Roll”, “The Ocean”, “Black Dog” and “Immigrant Song” kept purists happy. But the others threw in Zep’s palette of Middle Eastern, blues and celtic that transcended a music created by four white males. “Battle of Evermore” took on Eastern tinges and “Four Sticks” a blistering blues workout, that highlighted the light/shade of Zep music.

So the roll-out of singers wasn’t confined to males Gleeson, John Swan, Dave Larkin, Steve Balbi of Noiseworks and Simon Meli of Sydney’s The Widowbirds. Adelaide’s Zkye Compson-Harris and Ngaiire, ex of Blue King Brown, put in thunderous performances, while keys player Charmaine Ford, who shone on synths and piano on “No Quarter”, took turns on guitar and percussion.

The most magnificent moments came when the ensemble, joined by the Sydney Lyric Strings, stretched to 15 minutes utterly glorious “Stairway To Heaven”, “Rain Song” (with such wonderful guitar interplay by Calderazzo and Peter Northcote that at the end they shook hands), “Moby Dick”, with a drum solo from Gordon Rytmeister, and the peak with “Kashmir” where you could see the red sands. The night finished with the entire ensemble on “Whole Lotta Love” to a standing ovation.

This show was the first foray to Melbourne by CCEntertainment which has been holding such celebrations of Eagles, Stones, Beatles etc in NSW and ACT. Given the crowd reaction to “Whole Lotta Love”, we should see more of theses in Australia’s most musical city.

A Whole Lotta Love! The Palais, Melbourne

by Jake Schatz (Schatzy)

CCEntertainment’s Annual ‘WHOLE LOTTA LOVE’ Led Zeppelin Celebration made it’s Melbourne debut on Friday the 1st of October.The well reputed show has grown to be a staple performance at Sydney’s Enmore theater each year, and it was an absolute pleasure to have the show in Melbourne on it’s 8th anniversary.
Generally speaking, tribute band’s aren’t my thing. Not in their usual sense anyway, with people dressing up like the original band members and imitating something that they are not. However, this wasn’t a typical tribute show, and the performers were certainly not trying to blatantly copy the music of the greatest rock band to ever exist. They were merely celebrating the music with combined musical brilliance, and a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ for Led Zeppelin.

It is undeniable the effect that Led Zeppelin have had, and are still having on rock music. Many of the greatest and most imitated guitar riffs have come directly out of Jimmy Page’s guitar playing. If there were ever four absolute legends of music to form a bond as a band it was Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. All four were absolute masters of their individual instruments, and together they created music that was godlike.

The host of incredibly diverse and talented musicians that tore up the stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday night did Led Zeppelin perfect justice, in giving their own renditions of Zeppelin classics with an evident mutual love for the band. For a tribute band to receive a standing ovation is something very special indeed.

Renowned vocalists including John Swan (Swanee), Dave Gleeson (The Screaming Jets), Steve Balbi (Noiseworks), Simon Meli (Ooh La La), Ngaiire Joseph (ex-Blue King Brown) and Dave Larkin (Dallas Crane) all gave impressive takes on songs taken from Led Zeppelin’s 12 year career. The idea of rotating vocalists appealed to me because it kept the performance fresh and exciting, and helped separate the show from the typical tribute show stereotype.

Steve Balbi particularly impressed, with a rendition of Kashmir that was both unique and innovative whilst bringing on the vocal power and prowess that Robert Plant was famous for. I’ve listened to a few of my Dad’s Noiseworks records, but Balbi was the bassist for the band and as far as I’m aware I had never heard him sing before. I am currently on the hunt for some of his solo records, because his voice is absolutely phenomenal.

In my eyes, the stand-out performer of the night was Adelaide born vocallist Zkye. Her entire performance of ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ had me in chills. The brilliant guitar soloing of Joseph Calderazzo was exhilarating, and had the crowd absolutely roaring. The live strings section were incredible, essential in the ‘Stairway To Heaven’ performance. Charmaine Ford’s virtuosic keyboard solo during ‘No Quarter’ was breathtaking, firmly stating to the hordes of people in the packed out theater that she is one of New Zealand’s finest performers.

After this incredible show, I looked into CCEntertainment and discovered that it was one of many shows in a Classic Rock series. I would love to see more of the shows brought to Melbourne. As a kid born at the wrong era of music, it is painful to think I will never have the opportunity to see Led Zeppelin perform, along with bands such as The Doors, Pink Floyd and of course The Beatles.

It’s this knowledge that prompts me to think that while music is timeless and lasts forever, live music opportunities shouldn’t be ignored, you never know what tragic accident could lie around the corner ready to rob a new legion of fans from seeing their favourite band perform. So long time Eagles and Rolling Stones fans, you would be crazy to not go and see them on their upcoming runs around the country, every show could potentially be their last one.

If this Led Zeppelin celebration show was indicative of all of the CCEntertainment’s production’s, I am convinced that it really is the next best thing to seeing the actual band perform. Rather than cheaply ripping off a legendary act, the musician’s celebrate the band’s music with the raw passion and love for the act that has deeply influenced their careers.

CCEntertainment, you have found yourself a new customer.

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