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.