OK, a confession first.
I have never seen a tribute band and I always thought that there was something a bit odd about people going along to see other people pretending to be other bands.
Anyway, having said that, I was actually quite intrigued about the phenomenon and I had tried to get tickets for the Australian Pink Floyd a while back but the gig was sold out. However, while at the Bristol Hippodrome back in July - we went to see Chicago, very good too, thanks for asking - we saw posters for a Led Zeppelin tribute band called Letz Zep.
So, inevitably almost, we bought tickets and last night we duly rocked up to the Hippodrome for the gig.
Weirdly, in the audience were men wearing Led Zeppelin teeshirts. Now, it is one thing wearing band teeshirts at a gig by the band, but at a gig by impersonators? Odd.
Having seen Zeppelin three times in their pomp, I was naturally a bit wary. Nicky said to me that she knew I was going to be hyper-critical. She was right. I tried not to be but I knew I was going to be judgemental.
The opener, Rock and Roll, was a bit flat, the band seemed a bit lukewarm.
They don't really look much like the originals, certainly not the way that Rory Bremner manages to look like his victims and soundwise, at the beginning, they didn't sound much like them either. They sounded like a covers band.
I didn't think that the guitarist nailed the Black Dog riff properly, not a crime, I can't get it right either. Then again, I am not a Jimmy Page tribute guitarist.
This isn't going to be a slag-fest though, because they got better.
Either, they warmed up, or I lowered my standards, I think it was the former. The licks got sharper, the dynamics improved and they relaxed.
There were some really good moments in the first half of the show. Since I've Been Lovin' You was excellent, really.
They did a good No Quarter too.
The bass/keyboards/mandolin player and drummer are both really good, very technically accomplished. No complaints there at all. The guitarist, as I said, seemed to relax and loosen up and he hit his stride. He's a good player and I think that when he didn't try and do a carbon copy Pagey riff, he was better.
They did Dazed And Confused, extended version, just like in the Song Remains The Same film, complete with violin bow passage and he was GOOD.
The singer isn't really a Robert Plant soundalike, he has a lot of the mannerisms and he can sing a fair bit but he is different. I saw ol' Percy last year, with Alison Krauss, and he is still the business. No one does Plant, except Plant himself.
Having said that, the singer is OK, lots of personality and he clearly enjoys himself.
They opened the second half with an acoustic set - all pretty good, the guitarist excelling in himself in an extended Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.
They then got better and better. Confidence was high, I think and it showed. The riffs and licks came off and Stairway to Heaven was well done, really. White Summer/Black Mountainside, played on a black and white Danny, natch, segued into a really very well managed Kashmir.
They did Moby Dick too, giving the drummer a showcase. He was bloody good. They ended up with an extended Whole Lotta Love that left me happy, the guitarist pulled off some nice stuff, How Many More Times, Boogie Chillun etc and some nice freeform Rock and roll soloing, just like Pagey used to. They encored with Immigrant Song.
OK, they massively improved over the two and a bit hours and I ended up genuinely enjoying them. I'd even recommend other people to go along and make up their own minds. I'd probably go and see them again.
I still think that the whole tribute band phenomenon is a bit odd though.