Review: 'WHOLE LOTTA LOVE' LED ZEPPELIN CELEBRATION - Palais Theatre, Melbourne Saturday 21st March 2015

‘Whole Lotta Love’ made its debut in 2003 and, for your average ‘tribute’ show, it could have ended right then and there. But the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ Celebration is neither average nor what you would necessarily call a ‘tribute’ show. Yes, it pays homage to one of the greatest rock bands of all time and yes, it features a great repertoire of Led Zeppelin songs but this is nothing like rocking up to the local RSL on a Friday night to listen to some old hits that you would probably normally listen to when browsing through your vinyl record collection. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is a whole lotta Zeppelin music including some of their true classics as well as a couple of lesser known songs, all performed by a revolving door of artists.

This is the 12th Anniversary of the show so obviously they are doing something right. Over the last 12 years, the line-up of performers has altered from show to show and the list has included such names as Steve Balbi, Simon Meli, John Swan, David Campbell to name just a few and Jack Jones (aka Irwin Thomas) makes it a priority to return to Australia to be a part of the celebration.

On this occasion the line-up featured Jack Jones, Jimmy Cupples, Stonefield’s Amy Findlay, Shay Liza, Frank Lakoudis and a kilted Jack Jones.  The venue was the iconic Palais Theatre in Melbourne. The show has been held there several times before and the theatre staff spoke fondly of past performances. It seems that they were loyal fans of the production and eager to see it again in ‘their’ venue.

As each artist took their turn on stage to deliver their own interpretation of a particular Led Zeppelin song, a large video screen behind them gave everyone a closer view of the show so, no matter where you were seated in the theatre, you felt close to the action.

Jimmy Cupples fits perfectly into this homage to Led Zeppelin. He certainly exhibited some damn fine Robert Plant style vocals with his version of ‘Black Dog’

Stonefield’s drummer and vocalist, Amy Findlay, steps out from behind the drums to take centre stage for her own inspiring take on the bluesy ‘In My Time of Dying’  and Shay Liza blew me away with her soulful rendition of ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’.   

I had only previously heard Frank Lakoudis singing on The Voice so I was quite looking forward to his performance and I wasn’t disappointed. Frank sang the Zeppelin ballad, ‘The Rain Song’ which also featured the string section that was a part of this show, led by violinist Adrian Keating who is also responsible for arranging the ensemble music for the show.

And Jack Jones commanded stage for his interpretations of both The Immigrant Song and Kashmir, taking the audience to another place as only he can. That’s probably why he appears to be a regular fixture at these performances.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Whole Lotta Love without an encore featuring the entire cast singing the song of the same name, to finish off the night in superb fashion.

Backed by a company of first-class musicians, including the show’s Creative Director, Joseph Calderazzo on guitar, the show was nothing short of a Led Zeppelin feast for the ears and eyes, presented by an impressive cast of performers and one that keeps delivering the goods, time and again.

by Sharyn Hamey

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