Tribute bands are a funny, yet delightful thing when they’re well done and well crafted. The audience gets a chance to relive the memories of concerts gone by, or an opportunity to hear their favourite songs from artists long passed played with reverence. For the musicians, it’s a chance to pay homage to the music that inspired them, all while being their heroes for one night.
When Led Zeppelin performed on July 7, 1980, at the Eissportehalle in Berlin, Germany, they didn’t know that it would be the last with legendary drummer John Bonham. Not one to turn down a good time, Bonham died on September 25, 1980, from pulmonary aspiration after downing around 40 oz (!) of vodka the day before. With that, any hopes for future Led Zeppelin performances (apart from a couple of one-off reunion shows) were dashed.
This is where bands, such as Arizona-based The Zeppelin IV comes in.
Get the Led out
The Zeppelin IV is one of Arizona’s preeminent tribute bands to Led Zeppelin. The band strives in their approach to recreate an authentic and accurate experience of seeing the original band live. The four members of The Zeppelin IV take to the stage with the looks of their heroes. There will be no mistaking who’s playing who, with Jimmy Page’s colorful outfits, John Paul Jones’ renaissance-fair-inspired attire, John Bonham’s bowler hat and white jumpsuit, and Robert Plant’s blond mane of hair. The band definitely looks the part.
However, looks are one thing, the sound is the other. The members of The Zeppelin IV cut no corners here. Everything on stage looks like it was carried out of a scene from The Song Remains The Same, with Marshall amplifiers, double-necked guitars and even a theremin for guitarist Nic Sterling (who for a time also played with Sebastian Bach). The violin bow even comes out during
Nick Marshall also has the tools to recreate John Paul Jones’ live setup, from mandolins to Fender basses to various keyboards to capture the sounds Jonesy used on stage. Keeping the authenticity going, the band does not rely on another bass player when Marshall is at the keys, opting to play bass parts on the lower keys, just as John Paul Jones did.
No Zeppelin tribute would be proper without a proper setup for the Hammer of the Gods, as played by the drummer, Filiberto Lopez. He goes full Bonham in style and sound, replete with the amber Vistalite drumset, timpani and a massive gong, just as Bonzo used on tour.
The line-up is rounded out by singer Danny Taylor Pettit, whose long blond locks and impressive stage presence channels Robert Plant in the 1970s. But don’t let the looks fool you, Pettit has the pipes to match, capturing Plant’s range and wail that is as much part of the Zeppelin sound as the other three musicians. He even gets in on the musical fun, blowing a mean harmonica on several Zeppelin classics.
Bringing a Madison Square Garden show to you
Where the Zeppelin IV truly shines is in its dedication to delivering an authentic version of an actual Led Zeppelin show. The band goes for appropriate live arrangements that mirror what the original quartet would have done in concert, including John Paul Jones’ keyboard arrangements, to Page’s theatrics with a violin bow and a theremin. Fog machines and laser lights further enhance the experience, much like you would have seen in the arenas in the 1970s. Fans can expect a three-hour show every time, playing the hits and diving into some deep cuts from the Zeppelin catalogue.
Those who know Led Zeppelin also know of the band’s improvisational nature. The band really played things off the cuff, delivering unique performances every night. The Zeppelin IV takes the stage with that very spirit in every performance, playing the material with reverence while respecting the era and its penchant for some improvisation. As the band tells us, you’ll never get the same show twice. This is an oddly refreshing notion in today’s era when shows are meticulously timed and click-tracked for the most part.
The Zeppelin IV can be seen regularly throughout Arizona and beyond, with many dates booked in 2023. To see if they’re playing in a venue near you, you can visit their website at http://www.thezeppeliniv.net. You can also like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheZeppelinIV.
In the meantime, you can hear all of your Led Zeppelin favorites, as well as many great songs from the classic rock area, here on The Well!
For The Well Classic Rock