Black Dogs and Dark Horses

slims

It’s good to be skeptical at times. It leaves room for wonderment and surprise, the kind that grabs you by the throat at the moment you least expect it. Saturday night at Slim’s in San Francisco on 11th and Folsom proved to be a remarkable night. A band that called themselves Led Zepagain was set to play. I’ve never heard of them up until two weeks ago when my husband found them on YouTube, so yes, I was extremely skeptical. Especially after hearing of bands like the ghastly Dredd Zeppelin that mutilated Led Zeppelin songs for years on end. I’ve been a Led Zeppelin fan longer than I’ve been a Tori Amos fan. Those who have read my previous posts would know how long, indeed, that is. My husband and I couldn’t believe how good they were that we  just HAD to see them for ourselves.

This was beyond imitation and flattery. This was beyond cover bands and songs. This was (nearly) a paranormal event staging Led Zeppelin, because in the dim red and blue lights at Slim’s, a lingering buzz fromled-zepagain-jpeg1 knocking back a few Sierra’s, and the energy that ran through bodies electric, I swear I saw them. On stage. Live. It started with a screening of “The Song Remains The Same” a concert/movie of Led Zeppelin’s tour in 1973 filmed in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Juxtaposed with the bellowing crowd filmed in New York, the audience at at Slim’s lauded as the screen slowly lifed, unveiling Led Zepagain. And then it happened. Once the first chord was stuck, the first word sung, you had no choice but to sing along. Resistance is futile. You can’t help but give in, eyes closed, beads of sweat running down your cheeks, hands up in the air waving like a soft breeze just ran through a meadow.

What Led Zepagain has done (with almost a ritualistic flair) is to pay tribute to one of the most musically complex, intriguing, and controversial bands in the world. Led Zeppelin’s music is dark and captivating with bouts of enchantment and bliss. Their songs are brilliantly written, both divine and arcane that to this day, with a good ear, one can easily tell which musicans have been heavily influenced by the group. Considered as the BEST Led Zeppelin tribute band, the four members of Led Zepagain channel all four Zeppelin members Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (Guitar) John Paul Jones (Bass/Piano), and John Bonham (drums) with such discernng precision that Zeppelin Heads regardless of age, nationality, sexual orientation, shower-or-no-shower, arrived to celebrate the music, the memory, and the experience that has never again been embodied by any group and musician since.

“It’s amazing how much you sound like us.” “You must have grown up on this because you were inside the music, and you paid attention to detail in your presentation…I can tell you guys really love the music!” – Jimmy Page

thefoursymbols.jpg

The beauty of that is, Led Zepagain is not trying to mark their own territory. Members of Led Zepagain (Swan Montgomery as Robert Plant, Steve Zukowsky as Jimmy Page, Jimmy Wooten as Jonesy, and Jim Kersey as Bonzo) closely studied Led Zeppelin’s music and everything else about them. This group of people are hardcore fans, playing for a cult following of fans (for 18 years now!), determined to keep the music alive. They radiate Led Zeppelin down to the finest details of Robert Plant’s mannerisms. How he held his mic (not to mention his voice), his beckoning stage presence (although no one can EVER be like Robert Plant), and the frail snapping of his fingers while he sang. Zukowsky’s take on Page’s stage antics were spot on: His use of a Theremin (an electric instrument used to create sliding tones by placing your hands in its peripheral area), and the infamous cello bow used in the exact guitar solo. Even the guitars they used are the same.


Jimmy Page Bow Guitar Solo


Led Zepagain’s Steve Zukowsky (as Jimmy Page) Bow Guitar Solo

The band played a wide range of Led Zeppelin legendary hits: Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock N’ Roll, Immigrant Song, Kashmir, Going to California, Ramble On, Black Dog. Of course they were fabulous, as if the band crawled into each of the songs and lived there for a while only to come out emmanating the voice, sound, emotion and energy of each track. But it was the songs that I thought I would NEVER (in my life) hear live that startled me stupid. Not just because some of these songs are difficult to play in front of a live audience, but because these aren’t exactly Casey Kasem’s Top 40 hits material. They weren’t even released as singles. These were songs that made the night worthwhile: The heavily toked up track, Dazed and Confused, The Song Remains the Same (probably one of Led Zeppelin’s best songs in my opinion), Bron Yr Aur Stomp, and the deeply enigmatic, No Quarter.

zeppelin.jpg Led Zeppelin: Circa 1975

zepagain.jpg

LOOK AGAIN: It’s Led Zepagain!!! (Circa 2009)

The music lives on. Someday when the Mothership returns once again and lands on earth for a reunion concert (this time not just in London as they did in 2007!) My husband and I will be in line–up front–with Swan, Steve and the rest of Led Zepagain, waving our golden concert tickets. Jimmy Page will step down in his dragon suit, armed with his 1275 Gibson double neck guitar and a cure for cancer and say, “I’ll take over from here.”


You can visit Led Zepagain at: http://www.zepagain.com/ and the Legendary Led Zeppelin at: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/


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6 Responses to Black Dogs and Dark Horses

  1. Geneve says:

    Wow! I feel like I was there! Resistance is futile!

    You Trekkie!

  2. mick says:

    I relate Zepagain to that genious professor of some specific historical significance whose necessary contribution keeps alive the specific history for mankind mostly so that mankind does not repeat its mistakes. In the case of Zepagain, it is no mistake! Zepagain is not a tribute band but rather four professors guiding its students through the compelling story of one music’s most intriguing quartets. I’ve had the great pleasure of attending Zepagain “classes” and I profess to you with a bit of hyberbole that Zepagain’s reinactment “Zep ’77” at Oakland is far superior than Zep ’77 at Oakland. As a musical unit, Zepagain’s ode to the “Thunder of the Gods” is astonishly clear. The lads do not rely on heavy laden effects. As wth any good professor they have mastered their course work and do not require gadgets and gizmos to fake their way through their presentations. As actor Jack Black states with vigor in the hilarious movie, School of Rock, they “melt faces.” Swan and the boys simply melt faces. Sir Jimmy Page has annointed Zepagain as the heir to the Zeppelin sound. Only a fool would argue with Mr. Page.

    • stoneandstar says:

      It’s funny that you mention that Zepagain is akin to “genius professors” because I was actually thinking along the same lines when writing my review. I thought, if Led Zeppelin’s musicality was somehow pillars of academia, then Zepagain would be the only leading scholars in the field. Absolutely.

      I would dare not argue with Mr. Page, lest we forget the hammer of a god.

  3. Joy Eux says:

    Loving the retro comeback. Interesting to see how trends, style, and music of another era influence newer generations. HOOO HOOO

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