Review: Fred Zeppelin @ Lichfield Guildhall

Lichfield Arts finished their Spring 2014 season with a performance from Fred Zeppelin – one of the best known and most authentic Led Zeppelin tribute acts in the country.

As a band, Led Zeppelin are a difficult group to tackle. In Robert Plant they had one of the best rock and blues voices ever committed to tape, Jimmy Page was a guitar virtuoso, and studio engineer who had an arsenal of guitar sounds and styles under his fingers, while the rhythm section of the late drummer John Bonham and bass guitarist John Paul Jones were equally effective in the recording studio and on the live stage.

The group had songs that inspired hundreds of bands and a loyal fanbase, so it was no wonder that this concert proved so popular.

Led Zepellin as a band tacked such genres as rock,blues, funk, folk, celtic and Middle Eastern music, so it is a brave act that tackles their work, but Fred Zeppelin proved more than equal to the task.

Fred Zeppelin have seen a number of recent personnel changes. Twenty-one years into their career, founding member Steven Gale fills Robert Plant’s shoes with aplomb and an enviable stage presence, while Steven Black fills the drum seat, but new recruits on bass and guitar fitted well into the strongly disciplined, but very loud band set up and dynamic.

The group played a range of music from the songbook, but missed out some of their more folkier sounds, preferring to concentrate on the rockier, bluesy sound of Led Zeppelin’s output.

They started with Good times/Bad Times and continued through songs such as Howling Wolf’s Killing Floor, but the number that had the biggest audience reaction was Stairway to Heaven.

The second half of the concert was a lot more raucous, with fine readings of such songs as Heart-Breaker, Rock and Roll and Immigrant Song, while the set closer of Whole Lotta Loving was an aural delight of virtuoso playing and musical interplay – a trend that was continued in the encore, a brooding reading of Kashmir.

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