Alban Arena 9th March 2012
Led Zeppelin are perhaps the greatest rock group of all time and therefore a hard act to follow. It has to be said that Hats off to Led Zeppelin are an equally amazing tribute band, and managed to follow in the originals footsteps. I have to agree with the comments of another reviewer that it really is true that if you close your eyes you could almost be listening to THE Led Zeppelin.
The complexity of light and shade in the music, the haunting and sometimes erotic emotion of Robert Plants immediately recognisable vocal, the brilliance of John Bonham’s exuberant drumming, the bluesy feel and mastery of the guitar by Jimmy Page together with the driving and solid bass of John Paul Jones were all captured there when Hats off took to the stage, without which the Marshall stacks, Gibson EDS-1275 and 70's jumpsuits would have been mere window dressing.
The set started with a energetic version of Rock and Roll Celebration. Peter Eldridge as Robert Plant was quite simply amazing. His vocal is so close to that of Plant it is uncanny. Peter is an absolute pro through and through and has been around as a professional singer for years. Having initially performed in Rent in the West End End (I've still got the programme, thought I recognised him from somewhere...) and later We Will Rock You, he is no stranger to the rock ballad and boy did his musical training show. He was able to capture every nuance in Whole Lotta Love (an amazing feat in itself) and the soulful raw feeling of Since I've Been Loving You, a song which Peter felt was 'Plants most heartfelt lyric' and he conveyed this emotion perfectly. Without his training and talent a lesser singer's voice would have probably cracked by the third song. His vocal dexterity and power was second to none and he had total mastery of the vocal.
The ease with which Jack Tanker interpreted the oh so distinctive playing of Page was uncanny. It also added to the experience that he looked a bit like him too. His awesome playing was upbeat and energetic and his driving force on Kashmir surely added to the standing ovation they received at the end of the song for this remarkable version. Kevin Oliver Jones was solid and gutsy as the bass player John Paul Jones, but also demonstrating other talents as a mandolin and keyboard player. Simon Wicker as John Bonham was phenomenal. He recreated the complicated drum rhythms effortlessly and was always right on the money.
The band displayed equal precision and attention to detail in their performance. From getting the same Zeppelin sound by using identical instruments, to capturing the 'look' of the band. But lets not forget these guys although these guys are emulating Led Zepplin it takes a certain calibre of musicianship to bring to life the wonderful back catalogue of Led Zeppelin. They are all very talented musicians in their own right.
I have the added advantage of being able to say that I saw the Led Zeppelin the first time round. But for those who either don't have a time machine were too young or who missed out first time round. They will be touring across the UK this year don't miss them, whole lotta talent!