Monday, 24 March 2014

11/10/2007 JOANovARC (nearly) and a Led Zep tribute band @ the Underworld

SubjectJOANovARC (nearly) and a Led Zep tribute band @ the Underworld

JOANovARC supporting a Led Zeppelin tribute band? It should be the other way round.  I knew the girls were going to be on early, but I didn't realisehow early. I rushed to get to the Underworld after work figuring they would be on around 8ish. When I arrived at the venue at 8.15 I thought that I'd still be able to catch at least half of their set. As I walked in the first thing I heard was a round of applause - as JOANovARC finished their last song.  Not a good start to my evening. To make matters worse, I'd just paid £12 on the door - about twice what I was expecting to see a mere tribute band on a Thursday night. And I'd missed the main band I'd come to see.  OK - I didn't get there in time - I'm shit. I need a personal manager of some sort to organise me, as I'm obviously useless at doing it myself.

So, I like Led Zeppelin - I've listened to all their albums quite a lot over the past few months after reading Hammer Of The Gods (all long before their London gig was announced) so at least I should enjoy the rest of the evening. The tribute band in question are Letz Zep - top quality pro musicians I would expect after paying £12 to see them. Well they look the part and have made the effort on that side of things - although I can't help thinking 'Jimmy Page' looks far more like Andy McCoy, or even Joe Perry.  They start off with 'We're Gonna Groove' - not one of the most obvious songs, but an interesting choice. 'Percy' looks and sounds the part, as does 'John Paul Jones' - a very good bass player. He also played keyboards on some numbers - particularly 'Kashmir' - a song which didn't really work in this setting. It didn't help that it sounded like he was playing a cheap Casio keyboard which made it sound a bit crap compared to the lush synthesised strings of the original - surely something which would be easy to replicate with a modern keyboard?  Unfortunately, the drums didn't have the 'Bonham' clout, but maybe that was as much due to the mix as anything else. When 'Moby Dick' came round I was praying they would leave out the three minute drum solo - even the original is highly overated in my opinion. To my dismay, they included the drum solo, or an approximation of it - cue another toilet/bar break... Jimmy McCoy/Perry had a fairly decent classic Les Paul/Marshall sound - plus the predictable double necked guitar later on - although I thought he used a bit too much wah or something pedal on the opening number, which should have had a much more raw sound as it was one of their earliest numbers. I was not alone in having serious issues with the setlist - having about four slow blues numbers in the first five songs is not a good thing. Led Zep always had a strong blues influence, but they knew how to pace things and had a strong grasp of dynamics - this band missed that point completely for the first half of their show. Led Zep had plenty of rockers on the first two albums, but the first part of this band's set totally failed to reflect this.  Basically, we were getting really bored. It wouldn't have been so bad if they were short songs - just go for a piss and get back in time for a rocker. This band gave you plenty of time to go for a dump, then go and get a pint upstairs - and when you came back they'dstill be playing the same song. I've only seen one Led Zep tribute band before (Stairway To Zeppelin) and they were much more entertaining than this. If I'd only paid a fiver to see this in a local pub I'd have been satisfied, but for £12 at the Underworld I expect something much better than this - I've seen far better bands for less money than this at the same venue on many occasions. You know when you go and see a band who are obviously competant musicians, but you feel the it's just not 'happening'? Well that's what this was like for me. I'm sure plenty of the people down the front wouldn't agree, but they were probably a lot more pissed up than me and don't get out much.

For this money I was expecting top quality musicians who had done their homework and could play the songs note perfect. Actually, as I always thought Jimmy Page was quite a sloppy and loose player (which to me is what made his playing genuinely exciting) I was expecting a guitarist who was technically better than Page as the pro standard is far higher in 2007 than it was in the 60's & 70's. So I was surprised when there were a couple of songs with very distinctive licks that were very obviously not right. I'm not saying I could do better, but for the money I paid I was expecting more than this as they must have been getting paid several times what I'm used to getting paid for playing other people's songs.

All that said, most of the songs we were expecting got trotted out, although as I said I had issues with the setlist. It wasn't till over halfway though the show that 'Robert Plant' asked us if we wanted some more 'rockers'? Predictably, the response was 'Yes!' It would have been nice to hear 'Good Times Bad Times', although to be honest I know a cover band who play locally who can knock out more exciting Led Zeppelin covers than Letz Zep. And, inexplicably - they never played 'Communication Breakdown' tonight. WTF! 

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