Two Zeppelin tributes to tide you over till fall
Can't wait for Led Zeppelin's much-rumored reunion tour next fall? After the stunning commercial and critical success of the band's one-off...
Seattle Times music critic
The Music of Led Zeppelin, performed by the Windborne Symphony, featuring guest conductor Brent Havens and vocalist Randy Jackson, 8 p.m. Friday, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $25-$65 (206-628-0888, www.ticketmaster.com or www.livenation.com; information, 206-467-5510 or www.theparamount.com).
No Quarter: The Ultimate Tribute to Led Zeppelin, 9 p.m. Saturday, The Tractor, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; $15-$18 (206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com; information, 206-789-3599 or www.tractortavern.com, www.myspace.com/noquarterzeppelintribute).
Can't wait for Led Zeppelin's much-rumored reunion tour next fall?
After the stunning commercial and critical success of the band's one-off benefit concert in London in December, a North American tour is a near certainty. Seattle is a city that looms large in Zeppelin lore, so a stop here seems almost mandatory.
Sure to whet the appetites of the band's many local fans are two tribute shows coming this week: a symphonic treatment of Zep music by the 50-piece Windborne Symphony Friday at the Paramount, and No Quarter: The Ultimate Tribute to Led Zeppelin, a cover band that not only sounds like Led Zeppelin but looks like the band did in its youth in the '60s and '70s, playing Saturday at the funky Tractor Tavern in Ballard.
Symphony orchestras throughout America have presented the Zeppelin tribute program, with upcoming concerts set by the symphonies of Dallas, Phoenix, Buffalo, San Antonio and other cities. The Windborne Symphony is assembled when a local ensemble is not available, as is the case here.
No Quarter will be more like a real Led Zeppelin concert experience — although re-creating the guitar flourishes and improvisations of the brilliant Jimmy Page; the screamo vocals of the incomparable Robert Plant; and the solid foundation of probably the greatest rhythm section in rock history, bassist John Paul Jones and the late drummer John Bonham, is nearly impossible.
Sleazy fish tales
A certain slimy incident in Room 342 at the Edgewater hotel here in 1969 has been cited by Spin magazine as "the sleaziest moment in rock." Immortalized in Frank Zappa's hilarious song "Mudshark," it reportedly involved a groupie and a mudshark. Taking advantage of the hotel's slogan, "You Can Fish From Your Room!," Page caught a spiny dogfish (also called a mudshark) and introduced it to the groupie. The rest of the details we cannot go into here.
The Edgewater did not learn its lesson from that incident, and foolishly let the band stay there again in 1973. That time, the boys in the band and their entourage caught some 30 mudsharks and left them under beds, in closets, elevators, hallways, bathtubs and all over their rooms. They threw beds, TVs, mattresses, lamps, drapes, china and glassware into Elliott Bay. They paid $2,500 for the damage, and were banned forever from the Edgewater.
Leading the Led brigade
The band also has made musical memories in Seattle. Its second show in America was here at the Arena, two days after Christmas 1968, opening for the now deservedly forgotten Vanilla Fudge. Led Zeppelin was unknown — its debut album had not yet been released in America — and the audience almost completely ignored them. The houselights were not even turned down during their set, because so many people were still finding their seats. People talked over the music.
It's one of the greatest shows I ever saw. The opening song, a cover of the blues classic "Train Kept A Rollin'," hit me so hard that I stood on my chair, waved my arms and yelled and screamed. Somebody behind me said, "Will you please sit down?" I turned and loudly pleaded, "Didn't you hear that? Don't you get it? Shut up and listen!" Everybody around looked at me like I was nuts.
Two months later, after the album had come out, I started my first radio show as a disc jockey at KOL-FM, Seattle's first progressive rock station, by playing the whole album. The phone response was immediate. "Who is that? What album is that?" I was so happy to tell them.
Over my nearly four years as disc jockey/music director/program director at KOL-FM, I played Led Zeppelin on every one of my shows. I like to think I helped make Led Zeppelin one of Seattle's favorite bands — although I know that Steve Slaton, now at KZOK and previously at KISW, has as big a Zep Jones as I do, and has carried that torch for all the 35 years he's been a fixture on Seattle radio.
That 1968 Arena show wasn't the only memorable Led Zeppelin concert here. There was that odd one at the old Greenlake Aqua Theater in 1969, where some fans jumped in the lake (I met the band backstage and invited them to an after-party at my house; they never showed). Equally unforgettable are shows at the Seattle Pop Festival at Gold Creek Park in Woodinville in 1969, where they pulled out all the stops because they preceded The Doors, and before 65,000 fans in 1977 in the Kingdome, where they nearly overcame the sound problems.
Led Zeppelin played a dozen shows here from 1968 to '77. Hopefully, the lucky 13th will come later this year.
Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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