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.