Friday, August 21, 2009

Letz Zep

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.


Blimpy said...

I once saw Cheap Purple, and very good they were too.

Not as good as Nearvana though...

RustyB said...

Been to see a few cover bands, mixture of good and ropey, end of the day though as Jeremy Clarkson said "the London symphony orchestra are a tribute band, they just turn up and play other peoples music" so like you i actually really like it.

Chris said...

Ever seen the Dark Star Orchestra, Carole? Despite being a little reverential, they do approximate to the Grateful Dead better than Ratdog, PL&F or even, from what I've heard, The Dead. I'm sure I could point you to some footage or audio if you're interested.

gordonimmel said...

Did the Letz Zep drummer play with broomstick handles like John Bonham? When I played drums and was drumming along to Led Zep tracks I used to turn my sticks around and strike with the handle end to try to get that authentic Bonzo sound.

@Blimpy, I don't like the sound of 'Cheap Purple'. That would probably be too disturbing for a man of my tastes.

A mutual friend of me and Darceysdad used to be in a Pink Floyd tribute band called Off The Wall. I saw them once in Halifax Piece Hall and they were good but I didn't feel like going again.

And Carole, I need a dond off you for 'Since I've Been Loving You' over on the mothership.....unless you heartily disagree with the nom, that is.

CaroleBristol said...

He used big heavy sticks, gordon.

I've not been over on the Mothership for a few weeks. I've been busy on Fridays for a while and the topics haven't been grabbing me. By the time I take a look there are usually 5 or 6 pages of comments to wade through. I think I am losing my interest in RR a bit.

I'll nip and and dond Since I've Been Loving You though.

I did think of two songs for this week's topic but both were already there.

@Chris - not seen the Dark Star Orchestra but I've heard of them. I'd like to hear their stuff please.

Chris said...

Carole: here's a link to a search I just did on for the DSO.
I really don't know which one to suggest but there seem to be several 5-stars.
I'm sure there are videos of them on but you may need to sign up (for free) to access them. There are Ratdog and Phil videos there, too.

Shoey said...

Only run in with a tribute artiste was a Tom Jones/Neil Diamond impersonator who played at one of my haunts. Was very convincing - but the combined sets went on for over 4 hours. If these things are a means to an end, such as paying the rent so an original project can get off the ground, I have no problem. Otherwise, it just seems like a waste of talent.

tincanman said...

Mrs Tin and I went with trepidation to see a Smiths tribute band here in Birkenhead a couple years back and had a great time. They really put a lot of effort into it.

Inspired we went to see a Queen tribute band (awful) and a U2 tribute band (pretty good).

I look at it as an afoordable way to have the live music experience. We're not exactly spoiled for choice here, and travel to larger centers isn't in the budget for us so it suits a purpose.

Proudfoot said...

I saw the Japanese Beatles at the old Mean Fiddler.
Apart from that the only ones I've seen were two T.Rex tribute bands. T.Rextacy and (I think) Too Rex. It's not that am a mad Bolan fan but having seen one my curiosity was piqued.
They were pretty indistinguishable from each other, except that Too Rex played some pretty obscure stuff which left the audience a bit bemused. One punter kept yelling 'play Tiger Feet!', which I thought was pretty funny. Compared to the bootlegs I've heard of the real T.Rex live I'd say I didn't miss too much by never seeing them in the flesh.
I've nothing against tribute bands as long as it's live music and not karaoke masquerading as such.
I'd like to see a Mahavishnu Orchestra tribute band. Well maybe not that much.

Proudfoot said...

PS would a tribute to Sham 69 be called Real 69?

DarceysDad said...

Sorry Carole, but I can't agree with "tribute band phenomenon is a bit odd".

The tribute band phenomenon is COMPLETELY F-IN' ODD !

I hate the concept, and with the exception Gordon mentioned earlier - which was ONLY done for our friend - I avoid them like the plague.

If a band break up, they're gone. If they die, it's over. Tough shit if you missed them: move on. REALLY tough doo-doo in my case with Zep, as I've related before that I had a ticket for the second Knebworth'79 date in my clammy mitt, but was made to part with it without going. Even that near-miss would not EVER make me want to see a reflected-glory approximation of them, or anyone else's coat-tail hangers-on.

I can get really het up on this subject, but I won't. Suffice to say, don't ask me if you plan a repeat night out.