Led Zeppelin Classics Mastered by Violins and more
Tonight, was the juxtaposition of classic rock courtesy of Led Zeppelin favourites with the Heart of England Orchestra, renamed for the UK Tour with Zep Boys Black Dog Orchestra. Tonight the Colston Hall stage had the unusual combination of Marshall Stacks with music stands for strings and brass; with the drummer front and left of stage held within a Perspex cage.
Australian Zep Boys have a passion for Zep’s music and have created something more than a tribute band. Does it work for me a mix of yes and maybe? The Colston Hall audience was definitely won over as they got up and danced and cheered the boys from down under. The lightshow was spectacular and the musicianship superb. For me though there was something missing, the orchestration by Nick Buck was good, but something was missing. What was it? Then it dawned on me it was the freedom of improvisation that a live rock show has that makes live music have that element of danger and interest as the rock on stage goes off-piste.
The thirty-Five piece Black Dog Orchestra added a new dimension of strings, brass and woodwind. The trombones overpowered at times, and more cellos would have given a deeper tonal texture. Upfront was the Zep Boys who knew how to rock with Vince Contario leading with vocals that capture the essence of Robert Plant. Joining Vince were Tzan Niko with a phalanx of guitars including the trademark double neck; bassist Warwick Cheatle and in his cage drummer Bradley Polain, who in 2017, thrity-Seven years after the untimely death of John Bonham found the inner Bonzo in the delivery of Moby Dick. The set list was divided in two halves and there is no doubt that some worked better than others in this experimental format.
The opening of the evening with Black Dog Orchestra, was an intriguing overture and insight into the evening as Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven Kashmir and other snippets flowed out over the auditorium.
The first set highlight was The Rain Song, though it did lose the balladic form with the addition of the orchestra. Ending with Rock n’ Roll the audience were left wanting more; there were a lot of happy Zep fans in the house tonight.
Opening the second set with Kashmir, the combination really worked the sound was balanced and the ethereal sound of the orchestra exploded with a wall of lush strings cascading over the guitar. In the set was Stairway to Heaven another outing for the twin-neck from Nico as was Song Remains The Same. Closing the night with Whole Lotta Love, the audience went wild and there was a lot of love on the room for Zep Boys and Black Dog Orchestra.
The combination was a crowd pleasing winner, proving once again the power of Zeppelin’s songs. Rock is a flexible beast and Led Zeppelin discography certainly met the world of classic instruments front on and came out on top. Yes, the combination of Marshalls and violin stands worked most of the time and certainly the first tour to the UK of Zep Boys combining with Black Dog Orchestra is a success in the eyes of the audience last night in Colston Hall.