Tribute bands often divide music fans as some see them as poor imitations of the original acts, however as time takes its toll on many musicians and bands, tribute acts keep the music of these classic bands alive and well. You can’t fault the musicianship in many tribute bands and the Led Zeppelin Masters certainly step up to the mark when it comes to re-creating those Led Zeppelin classics. The closest I have come previously to Led Zeppelin is the Page & Plant tour from the 90’s when they added world music backing to a smattering of Led Zep songs.
Fronted by Australian vocalist Vince Contarino, the Led Zeppelin Masters (also known as the Led Zep Boys) are on their first UK tour after over thirty years playing Led Zeppelin tunes back in their homeland. For the UK they are backed by the Black Dog Orchestra who really bring out the grandeur and pomp of some of the Led Zeppelin classics like ‘Kashmir’.
The set list had a good variation of rockers, Led Zep’s quieter moments – ‘Going To California’ one of the evening’s highlights for me – and a few epics like ‘No Quarter’. Vince Contarino certainly has the vocal power to do the songs justice and he gets those Robert Plant high notes and howls off to a tee, none more so than on set closer ‘Whole Lotta Love’. The orchestra as mentioned earlier really add depth and sound to songs like ‘The Rain Song’ – this one sounds so powerful with the added strings. They do get drowned out a little on the more energetic songs like ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ but then they are up against heavy guitar and drums on this one.
Guitarist Tzan Niko (who looked uncannily like Michael Bolton at times!) had his moment as he started to play the first notes of ‘Stairway To Heaven’, which needless to say drew one of the biggest cheers of the night from the audience. Not to be outdone drummer Bradley Polain hammered his way through ‘Moby Dick’, one of the few drum solos that you actually want to watch.
Good to see the musicians on stage enjoying the music as much as the audience and the songs certainly mean a lot to Vince Contarino. Led Zeppelin classics played a talented band, backed by an orchestra, in a suitably impressive venue like the London Palladium, what’s not to love? Both the musicians and the audience enjoyed the evening’s music, job done and really hope they come back soon to the UK.
Review by Jason Ritchie