What do you get when you combine three parts 'Zepology', one part 'Coda' and one part 'The Police Review/SuperSonic'? You get a group of incredibly talented musicians who are ready to Get the Led out and take you along for the ride.
That's exactly what happened on Friday at Schuey's Bar & Grill in Toronto. It was exciting to learn that members from the three bands would be joining forces for the gig. I'm no stranger to Schuey's, having been there previously for both Zepology and Coda shows. The bar's back room, where all the concerts take place, is a rock and roll lover's paradise. The walls are decorated with various rock and roll photographs, posters and other memorabilia. It's a really cool place to spend an evening.
Before long, the members of Zepology were setting up their gear. Garry McDougall (guitar), Tim Haynes (bass/keys) and Nello Virdo (vocals), had previously put on an amazing show there the first time I had seen the band. Joining them on this night on drums would be Kelly Mauricette from Coda for the first set, and then Joe Di Pede from The Police Review/SuperSonic for the second set. It was shaping up to be a fun night. Prior to the show beginning, the guys sat down to negotiate a setlist. Since there were no opportunities for a rehearsal, they did not have a prepared list for the evening.
Soundcheck began with Kelly behind the kit, as they proceeded to launch into the familiar opening notes of 'For Your Life'. It was very exciting to watch them rehearse and hear this particular song unfold. Considering it was the first time Kelly had played this tune in over ten years, he did an amazing job. As did Garry on guitar, Tim on Bass, and Nello on vocals. The four sounded good together and it was obvious that the rest of the night was going to be very special.
Watch video: 'For Your Life - Soundcheck'
As more people began showing up, the guys continued to get ready. Soon, the instruments were tuned, lights were checked and in working order, so all that was left to do was grab their instruments and start to rock and roll.
They each took their place on stage and the show was on its way. As expected, it took a couple songs to iron out any minor flaws due to lack of rehearsing. But in no time they were a cohesive music machine. Everyone in attendance were enjoying themselves and it appeared that the band was as well.
Read review), there was no denying that Nello can manage the responsibility of portraying Robert Plant without trepidation. His range and tone in addition to stage presence provides something visually entertaining accompanied by some incredible music from the band on stage with him.
Whether he's tackling the demanding vocal runs in such hits as 'Immigrant Song' and 'Kashmir' or the soft, but powerful verses of 'Stairway To Heaven', 'Thank You' and 'No Quarter', Nello approaches the microphone with calmness, yet he delivers the lyrics strong and confidently.
Watch video: 'Kashmir'
There's no denying the importance that John Paul Jones played in Led Zeppelin's rise to fame. To be able to assume the role of bassist as well as keyboardist, requires dedication, determination and talent.
Zepology's Tim Haynes possesses all those characteristics. His euphonious keyboard playing during 'No Quarter' can mesmerize the audience. Equally captivating is his bass playing. He can link the harmonies of the songs with the distinctive rhythm that contributes to the feel of the music. He works alongside the drummer to secure the beat and momentum of whatever song they are currently playing.
Watch video: 'No Quarter'
Watch video: 'The Lemon Song'
What's better than having one great drummer to carry the load for a Zeppelin tribute band? How about having two. It was an exciting evening to have two of the greats taking turns behind the kit.
Coda~The Raw Led Zeppelin Experience' is no stranger to Schuey's, having played there numerous times with Coda and other acts. He has acquired great proficiency on the drumkit. Assuming the role of Bonham could be daunting to most, but Kelly is a confident player and gives it his all each and every performance. I've always enjoyed watching him play.
As the backbone to the band, his accuracy and ability to keep the beat and tempo is vital to the rest of his bandmates being able to successfully perform the songs. Having a scaled down drumkit on this evening didn't stop him from channeling the late John Bonham. While he didn't get to showcase his endurance with the 'Moby Dick' drum solo, he successfully demonstrated that with a solid sense of rhythm and timing, he could carry every song from start to finish.
Watch video: 'Bring it on Home/Black Dog'
Watch video: 'Over the Hills and Far Away'
Once the first set came to an end, the guys took a well deserved break. As planned, Kelly was going to be sitting out the next set and handing over the sticks to Joe Di Pede. I was familiar with Joe from seeing him previously with The Police Review, (Read review). I honestly had no idea that he played any Zeppelin material, so it came as a pleasant surprise to find out that he was going to be drumming with the Zepology guys.
What I had witnessed previously when it came to Joe's playing, was that he was an exceptional drummer. He has this calm demeanor about him, yet his playing is strong, powerful and refined.
After some slight modifications to the kit's setup in order to get it to his liking, Joe took the reigns and the second set of the show was just as incredible as the first.
They continued with some live versions of songs, taken from 'The Song Remains the Same'. Joe is an energetic drummer that plays powerful, without having to attack the drums with extreme force. He knows the material and appeared to have a good time jamming with the other guys.
Watch video: ''Immigrant Song'
Completing the line up, and the third member from Zepology is guitarist extraordinaire, Garry McDougall. I recall the first time watching him play back in March and I instantly became a fan. His style and techniques are reminiscent of Jimmy Page, enhanced with his own personality and flair.
Mid-way through 'Whole Lotta Love', he approached the theremin that was waiting patiently for its time to emit the haunting squeals and cries at the hands of its master.
No Zeppelin show is complete without the appearance of the beloved Gibson doubleneck. Garry didn't disappoint the crowd and strapped it on for a few songs.
A highlight at any Led Zep show for me is when the opening guitar riff of 'Since I've Been Loving You' is played. Zepology is known for recreating the iconic 'The Song Remains the Same' album/movie. That version of 'SIBLY' is simply magical. There's something about that song that takes hold of the listener and keeps them there till the very last note is played. Garry delivers the song with great prowess. The intensity of his playing takes the song to a whole new level.
Watch video: 'Since I've Been Loving You'
Watch video: 'The Song Remains the Same'
Due to time restrictions and the fact that it was the first time they had all played together, there were some songs that were excluded, but overall the setlist contained a variety of fan favourites and some underrated numbers that were equally as enjoyable. Both the crowd and band seemed to really enjoy themselves. My company and myself had a great time. It was definitely an entertaining evening and the guys are always very welcoming and friendly to chat with.
Thanks to Kelly, Garry, Joe, Nello and Tim for a great show. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon. Also, thanks to Serge and the staff at Schuey's Bar & Grill.
Keep up to date on Zepology, Coda, The Police Review and SuperSonic at the following links:
Zepology Official Facebook
Zepology Official Website
Coda Official Facebook
Coda Official Website
The Police Review Official Facebook
SuperSonic Official Facebook
For more media from this show:
Photos: Flickr Album
Videos: YouTube Playlist
Kaotic Notes Official Website
Kaotic Notes Official Facebook
Led Zeppelin Ultimate Fan Page Official Facebook
Led Zeppelin Ultimate Fan Page Official Twitter