Celebration Day at the Pageant

The wife and I went to see the much renowned Zeppelin tribute band Celebration Day last night at the Pageant. The group features members from other locally popular bands including El Monstero, Joe Dirt, The Feed, and Dr. Zhivegas. Celebration Day lived up to the hype and delivered an outstanding performance despite a small mistake here or there. They are a 5 man band, utilizing a separate bass and keyboardist, and provide the authentic 70’s zeppelin experience with a nicely done stage show and video presentation.

The guitar player Jimmy Griffin was definitely the star of the show.  He channeled Jimmy Page without a doubt and had his slow, burning presence. After a riff he would light up the audience by himself with a smile of pure joy and wickedness. Of particular note was the incredible two song section of Babe I’m Gonnna Leave You and Dazed and Confused.  They employed a guest guitarist (ugh, missed his name sorry) for the dual acoustic beginning. Mark Quinn singing lead was at his best in these two songs as well and the accompanying bass, keyboards, and drums were as tight as you could get making for a powerful performance.

Mark Quinn’s overall vocal performance was excellent. Of course it is a rare human being that can ever match the vocal stylings, much less the stage presence of Robert Plant and Mark did an excellent job, and he has THE hardest job in this tribute band in my opinion. But, as my wife noted, he just wasn’t as ‘Robert’ as she wanted him to be. John Pessoni on drums was about as passionate and into a set as I’ve seen a drummer and pulled off a blistering and rocking performance of  Moby Dick, bare-handed drumming and all.

I thought the set they played was incredible and well thought out until they lost my energy by playing No Quarter and Since I’ve Been Loving You back to back. I was very happy to hear them play two more of my favorites, That’s the Way and In the Light.

Side note: Galactic is scheduled at the Pageant on Wednesday 3/14, touring for their new Carnival Elictricos album.

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Led Zeppelin Live, As God Intended It

I was a huge, huge Zeppelin guy as a teenager, and they’re still probably my #1 all-time band. Before I really knew how to play guitar very well, I could play a handful of Zeppelin riffs and solos. I knew all the songs, especially the deep cuts, and used them to begin figuring out how music is made, and how bands work.

But live Zeppelin always sucked, and in my 30s I moved on to more and different kinds of music. Then I heard Black Dog live one night on the radio about five years ago. I was blown away by how heavy and how tight it was, not at all like the sloppy, druggy Song Remains the Same. I figured it was a good cover by the Black Crowes or someone, maybe even with Pagey. When they said it was Zeppelin from ’73, I couldn’t stop grinning.

The next day I picked up How the West Was Won, a triple live album released in 2003. It features crisp versions of Immigrant Song, Black Dog, The Ocean, Dancing Days Rock and Roll; an acoustic mini-set with John Paul Jones on mandolin and Robert Plant on guitar; and 20+ min. solos and medleys built around Whole Lotta Love, Dazed and Confused, and Moby Dick; and an uplifting rendition of Stairway that makes you ashamed you ever grew tired of it.

Listening to Zeppelin live in 1973, in California touring for Houses of the Holy, makes me happy and makes me feel young. Rock and Roll.