Saturday, 11 February 2006

Whole Lotta Led - King Georges Hall, Blackburn

whole lotta led

King Georges Hall - 10th feb 2006

To be honest I don't much care for tribute bands, reason being, tribute bands by their very nature owe their existence to another bands ability to write and perform original material. Performing covers in an original way as a non-tribute band has its place, as many bands do this paying tribute to another band they have been influenced by. Few exceptions exist for me, Australian Pink Floyd and The Muffin Men, to name but a few. These do exactly as prescribed, they are tribute bands, they don't pretend to be anything else, but have a certain special quality, that enables them to rise above the run of the mill tribute band. Enough about the merits of being or not being a tribute band, its time for the evenings entertainment.

Packed into the Windsor Suite on a cold February evening, passionate followers of probably the most classic of all classic rock bands, have collected together to witness a tribute band attempt to recreate the music of Led Zeppelin. This has to be a most monumental task, how can you emulate the originators of all that is 'rock'. This attempt could be such folly, and fall so flat that no glue soaked patchwork of vulcanised rubber could re-inflate, but any attempt must be viewed with an open mind. Even if clouded with a modicum of alcohol.

The concept for the evening, for this band works with Led Zeppelin based concepts, is to play the Knebworth 1979 set list in its entirity. In the past they have performed other classic concerts, including Earls Court 1975. This attention to detail does have its plus points, rather than just playing all the popular tunes, or a greatest hits, a snapshot of Led Zeppelin history at the end of its glorious reign.

The Song Remains The Same opens the set to a pensive audience. The band obviously do not look like Zep, and in no way attempt to dress like them, but musically they have it. Older members of the collected inquisitors look upon the band not sure how they should respond, some perplexed faces look around for re-inforcement, some nod heads with eyes closed re-capturing a lost youth. Younger members just enjoy what is being performed for what it is, rock music carved in marble, classic, timeless, influencing all that followed.

Classic after classic permiates the room, the band are working hard, unfortunately punching the air does nothing but add an air of fermented cows milk, cringeworthy, and not worth repeating, unless you are Spinal Tap. This band must really enjoy what they do, despite the air punching. Professionalism is obvious, no lightweight could play such bombastic songs with such ease. Each member has time in the spotlight, from playing the keyboard part from No Quarter on bass, to the compulsary skin pounding that is Moby Dick, even including a bit of Theremin play on Whole Lotta Love.

Vocally, on a good day he could probably pull rabbits out of hats, but tonight he sounded a little tired and ragged around the edges, more Bon Scott than Robert Plant, but there is only one Percy. Playing the Knebworth set is a mighty task, not just for its length, but for the variety of style, unfortunately the vocals let them down in the detail. That detail cannot be overlooked, to be Zep you have to have it all, or its nothing.

Tribute bands are, as tribute is, not the real thing. Emulation can work, but you have to make it your own. Dread Zeppelin did just that, mixing Zep with Elvis, playing it in a reggae style making it original. Tonight I saw a tribute band, nothing more nothing less. Enjoyable but not too memorable, personally I thought they were ok, glad I saw them, but not too sure if I would go again.

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