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16 April 2019 1,681 views 3 Comments

Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin Masters

Hammersmith (Odeon) Apollo

April 14, 2019

The good lady Janet and myself were due to attend Sunday’s show but were unable to make it.

Long time TBL friend and contributor Michaela Tait was there to file this on the spot report:

The last time I was at the Hammersmith Odeon (I know it’s the Apollo now, to me it’s always the Odeon!) was to see the premiere of the Celebration Day film, an event attended with my son and friends from all over the UK and beyond. Last night I had the pleasure to be there again to witness the fabulous Led Zep Boys as they called themselves with a ‘backing band’ of the 35 piece ‘Black Dog Orchestra’.

The staff were very strict on photography so I just managed to sneak a shot of the stage with what seemed like dozens of seats waiting for the musicians, not quite like a normal tribute band set up.

The evening started with the orchestra settling in and then playing a short montage of sections of Zeppelin favourites for example sections of Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven and The Rain Song. It was utterly beautiful and a reminder, if you needed it, that this music is truly stunning. I’m not ashamed to say it brought tears to my eyes it was so powerful.

When this was finished the band came on stage to applause and the opening bars of ‘Good Times, Bad times’ started – a fabulous start, the first song of the first album. Vince Contarinois the lead vocalist is a mountain of a man with a voice to match. He is like a WWE wrestler in stature, more like ‘The Rock’ with long hair than a Robert Plant look alike!

Vince, with his strong Australian accent he expressed how privileged they felt to be in London, He introduced the band, the orchestra and then said, and we have you…LONDON!

A fitting start. What followed was a special kind of tribute that ran something like the 02 set. A kind of Led Zeppelin greatest hits.

Here’s the line up:

Nobody’s Fault But Mine

All My Love

Ramble On – my favourite!

The Song Remains The Same

The Rain Song – utterly beautiful already and supported by a string section was incredible!

Dazed And confused – played perfectly by Tzan Niko with violin bow and accompanying violin.

The first set ended with Rock and Roll where the seated crowd were invited by Vince to get to their feet and get moving.

Vince then suggested that at the interval it ‘may’ have been customary’ for bands to partake in certain substances. He alluded the only drugs they had back stage were blood pressure tablets!

The band returned for the second part of the evening to a phenomenal version of Kashmir.

The orchestra accompanying Kashmir makes one of our favourite tracks sound like a Bond theme tune. The power of the music was incredible. You can shut your eyes and imagine see the opening credits of the film.

No Quarter followed and then we were then treated to Moby Dick which not many tribute band drummers take on. Their drummer, Bradley Polain blasted through the solo with so much energy he broke through the skin of one of his drums. He casually carried on, got the audience to clap the beat and yelled for a replacement.

The mood softened and Tzan, Vince with a guitar this time and bassist Warwick Cheatle all took centre stage and played ‘Going to California’.

What followed was many peoples favourite, the iconic Stairway To Heaven with the crowds singing every word. The anthem we all know and love played a little differently.

This was followed by Heartbreaker and then Black Dog which got the audience to its feet singing and dancing.

The Zeppelin Boys Band left the stage but soon returned to finished with a riotous Immigrants Song and then Whole Lotta Love with full audience participation.

It is clear the not just the front men, but the orchestra love this music. It was so cool to see flautists and violinist nodding their heads in time and grinning throughout.

For me Kashmir was the highlight; the orchestra added so much depth and added power to what many Zep fans proclaim as the absolute peak.

Followed closely followed by The Rain Song. For different reasons the orchestra playing these songs added something special. For The Rain Song, the strings added melody and turned an already beautiful song into something quite ethereal.

The opportunity to hear Led Zeppelin music played live is something I would never say no to. The opportunity to hear that same music played with a 35-piece orchestra was something else! A fabulous way to start or end your week. Cath them when or where you can.

Michaela Tait – April 15,2019.

Many thanks to Michaela for that excellent report – hopefully we will catch up with Vince and the boys next time. Vince sent me a very nice message the day after to check we were all ok.

Once again thanks to Dave Clarke for all his help.



Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook.

Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page

  • There has been continued debate online over the “Black Beauty” guitar in the Met’s new exhibition in New York. We spoke to a source close to Jimmy Page who confirmed that it is the original guitar that was stolen in 1970, not a replica.

John Paul Jones

Upcoming events:

April 16 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Carmarthen, Wales.
April 22 – Robert Plant will release a remastered edition of “Fate of Nations” on vinyl for Earth Day.
May 4 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Torino Jazz Festival with Tres Coyotes.
June 13 – Robert Plant will perform in Stockholm, Sweden.
June 15 – Robert Plant will perform at Bergenfest in Norway.
June 17 – Robert Plant will perform at The Big Challenge festival in Norway.
June 19 – Robert Plant will perform in Harstad, Norway.
June 21 – Robert Plant will perform in Bodø, Norway.
June 23 – Robert Plant will perform at the Secret Solstice music festival in Iceland.
June 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Tromsø, Norway.
June 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Svalbard, Norway.
June 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Svalbard, Norway.
July 2 – Robert Plant will perform in Halden, Norway.
July 4 – Robert Plant will perform at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
August 4 – Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis will hold a fan meetup in London to mark the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s Knebworth performances.
August 16 – Robert Plant will perform at the Woodstock 50 festival in New York.
September 20-21 – The 2019 John Bonham memorial concert is scheduled to be held in Redditch.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
November – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at


Paul Raymond RIP:

It was very sad to hear the passing of UFO guitarist and keyboard player Paul Raymond aged 73.

More here via Classic Rock website:


TBL Archive 1:

TBL archive special: 25 years ago on Sunday April 17th 1994, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant performed together for the first time in four years at a special memorial concert for Alexis Korner. This was the first sighting of the newly reunited Page & Plant on stage -they were already rehearsing  for their MTV Unledded project which would eventually see them perform two special shows at the London TV Studios on August 25th and 26th. Robert Plant had initially been billed to appear but the rumour mill was soon in overdrive that he would be joined by Jimmy.

alexis 1

I had already cleared the way to attend when it was announced in early March Robert would be performing. Even up to the day it was uncertain to what was actually going to happen but when the TBL crew of Gary, Kam and I we arrived at the venue in the late afternoon there was no doubt that Jimmy Page was going to be in the house.

So it was in the unlikely setting of the Buxton Opera House we watched in some wonderment as Bob Harris introduced the pair and the long awaited reunion of the pair was on. They kicked off with a cover of Them’s Baby Please Don’t Go and then on to a very authentic I Can’t Quite You Baby ably assisted by Charlie Jones on bass and the late great Michael Lee on drums – my review of the time noting that he ‘’crashed and clattered in all the right places’’ –something he would do throughout the P & P re-alliance between now and 1998.

Ah the review…Alongside feeding back for TBL, I was reporting in it for Kerrang! then the main rock music paper and  given the low key nature of the event I was billed as an ‘’undercover Big K! reporter’ – ooerr!

My review went on to reveal they then played an up-tempo blues jam built around Don’t Stop Me Talkin’ and then a loose instrumental work out with definite Crunge like leanings.

Here’s some extracts from my review:

alexsis 3

”And finally ’’At least two people haven’t played this song before’’joked Plant as Jimmy stepped on the wah wah pedal and teased out the intro to the classic Train Kept A Rollin’, a track Jimmy used to play with The Yardbirds before he formed Zeppelin and the same number that Zep used to open their set on their last tour in Europe 1980. Inevitably this one was met with a huge roar of appreciation and was performed with an irrepressible swagger that recalled so many past glories. And with that Page and Plant were gone..

This comeback proved conclusively that Page and Plant are more than happy to be back in each other’s company rekindling a partnership that was responsible for so much great music in the past. And judging from a delightful telling moment when Jimmy skipped around the stage chugging out a fierce blues riff against Robert’s incessant scat singing – the potential for this new alliance is awesome. Buxton might just have signalled a whole new beginning for the post –Zep era’.

Pleasingly that latter statement proved to be somewhat prophetic. By the end of August the pair had recorded in various locations and performed the memorable Unledded concerts which formed the contents of the No Quarter Unledded film aired on MTV in October and accompanied by the release of the soundtrack album.  The next year they hooked up with the Egyptian Ensemble and orchestra for an ambitious world tour that delighted audiences across the globe.

The initial spark of all this reunion activity occurred on this remarkable Sunday evening in the Derbyshire countryside all of 25 years ago. …who knows where the time goes…but it does and all too soon.

DL – April 16,2019


TBL Archive 2:

TBL Archive – it was 31 years ago this week…

31 years ago this week I was very lucky to attend this Robert Plant gig during his Now And Zen UK tour
Jimmy Page joined Robert and his band for an extended cameo appearance – it was an unexpected delight for all those lucky enough to be in attendance. Originally scheduled to play on three encore numbers, Jimmy stayed on stage for half an hour, performing a stunning ‘Tramped Underfoot’, ‘Gamblers Blues’ (including snippets of ‘I Can’t Quit You’ and ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’) and ‘Rock And Roll’. It was absolutely sensational. unforgettable night when the Page & Plant on stage chemistry was right before my eyes all over again …something I did not expect to see…

DL – April 16, 2019


DL Diary Blog Update:

As mentioned above, Janet and I could not make it on Sunday for the Stairway To Heaven Led Zeppelin Master s show. Without going into detail, something of an unexpected curveball came our way – things are improving now. All in all, it has been something of an up and down week.

In amongst all that – on the upside, there was without doubt, some record buying euphoria…

It was an absolutely fantastic Record Store Day last Saturday.

Many thanks to the staff of Black Circle Records in Leighton Buzzard and Slide Records in Bedford. Max for getting us there – Phil Harris and Max for sharing in it all and great to see Pete Burridge later in the day for more RSD discussion.

It was also awesome to see so many people’s passion for records of all tastes and styles. Most things on my wants list were sorted and the two that I missed out on (Bob Dylan and John Lennon) are coming from Ireland via Dec Hickey – thanks mate! …the good lady Janet was well pleased with her request for The Rolling Stones She’s A Rainbow 10 inch one of all time her fave songs! Here’s some pics – the Fate Of Nations album as purchased in Black Circle Records and the Sonny Boy Williamson album via Slide Records.

Here’s myself, Phil and Max with our queue buddy from last yea Lisa who know works at Black Circle Records.

The fact is, life sounds better to music and never does that phrase count for so much as it does on Record Store Day…

Busy here on the usual with TBL 45 text and design ongoing and a project that involved me recently interviewing the legendary photographer Jorgen Angel who captured many a Zep photo on stage in Denmark. More on all this soon.

Finally …it was 50 years ago….50 years of DL musical passion:

50 years ago around this Easter period, The Beatles released their first single of 1969. Get Back coupled with Don’t Let Me Down – these tracks had been recorded in January during the infamous Get Back sessions.

This is a significant release for me as this is the record that attracted me back to music – an attraction that has grown manifold over the past 50 years.

I say ‘back to’ as aged 7 I did have a brief flirtation with music mainly focused on The Dave Clark Five. I was pretty obsessed with Dave Clark’s drumming skills and replicated his drum kit in our garden using old paint tin cans. Glad All Over remains one of my all time fave singles.

However this passion was eroded somewhat by other distractions such as Thunderbirds, The Man From Uncle, James Bond and from 1966 Tottenham Hotspur and football in general. My love of music took a back seat and remained somewhat dormant until that Easter of 1969.

Back then in the local café there was a juke box – sixpence for two goes. My gang were often in there and one of the records that was played constantly from the moment it was released was Get Back. Now this I liked – really liked. I liked its driving rhythm, bustling drumming ,cool vocal with talk of ‘’Sweet Loretta martin thought she was a woman’’ and Billy Preston’s rolling keyboards.

I also loved the B side Don’t Let Me Down which was also often played on the juke box. The pleading vocal of John Lennon hit the mark every time.

I was well aware who The Beatles were of course. I had been to see both the Hard Days Night and Help films at the cinema. Anyone growing up in the 60s could not really avoid them – they were everywhere. My interest in them though had been from afar.

That all changed when I heard Get Back. A little over a month after this release The Beatles had another single in the charts titled The Ballad of John And Yoko. I loved this one too.

One of the distinctive aspects of these Beatles records was that the label depicted a green apple, while the B side was the core of an Apple. I quickly learned that the Beatles now released records on their own Apple label. I thought this design was a deft touch – it ignited something in me that would lead to a deep fasciation for actual record labels, designs and sleeves. It all went hand in hand with the affinity I developed for the long playing record and 45 RPM single.

I could not get enough of all this. As the song goes music was now my first love – big time. I wanted to hear it, read about it, and talk about it. Remarkably,in a matter of five years I would be selling it.

From that moment of hearing and admiring Get Back grew an intense passion. I avidly read the NME and other music papers, I listened to Alan Freeman’s Pick of the Pops chart show every weekon Radio One. I kept right up to date with all the weekly chart happenings and my appreciation of so much music grew and grew – The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, The Who, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Free, Family, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Jethro Tull to name but a few, all appeared on my musical radar during the next few months – and stayed there.

Of course there was one other act  of much importance as all this would lead me to the biggest passion of all – Led Zeppelin. And anyone reading this will realise the immense consequence of all that. For me, this was not just a band…it was a way of life.

When I could afford it I began buying singles and albums – The Who’s Pinball Wizard and the Island Records sampler LP You Can All Join In being amongst my first purchases in this new era. Many more would follow.

The Beatles Get Back single was announced via a very clever press advert. It described this new record with a series of incisive phrases.

It carried the headline The Beatles as nature intended. It read as follows:

‘’Get Back’’ is The Beatles new single. It’s the first Beatles record which is as live as can be in this electronic age.

There’s no electric watchamaclit.

‘’Get Back’’ is a pure springtime number.

On the other side there’s an equally live number ‘’Don’t let me down.’’

Paul’s got this to say about Get Back…

‘’we were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air. We started to write words there and then …when we finished it we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to rollercoast by’’.

P.S. John adds its john playing the fab live guitar solo.

An now John on Don’t Let Me Down.

John says don’t let me down about ‘’Don’t let me down’’

In ‘’Get Back’’ and’’ Don’t let me down’’ you’ll find The Beatles as nature intended.

I could easily apply my then new found enthusiasm with the same statement because it rely did feel like I had found redemption in music – as nature intended.

50 years on nothing has changed – music is the DNA that defines who I am and what I do. In sharing it over the years, it has built lasting friendships and created much camaraderie. As of now I am officially celebrating 50 years of music passion.

So thank dear Beatles for opening the music floodgates for me that Easter all of 50 years ago.

Oh and John…I did not let you down about Don’t let me down – and you never let me down either….

Dave Lewis – April 16, 2019.

Until next time – have a great Easter…

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    I think it was Paul not one I have but it must be out there somewhere!

  • Paul Gross said:

    Hello Dave,

    Regarding TBL Archive 2, I’ve been searching for this recording from the Hammersmith Odeon for some time. If memory serves, It’s on a vinyl called “After The Crash, vol.2”. Just wondering if you’ve heard of it?


  • Aris Roskam said:

    Hi Dave, my wife and I, together with 2 friends, also attended the “Stairway To Heaven Led Zeppelin Masters” show march 27th in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Although Vince is quite a showman and the other 3 are really good musicians, of course together with the orchestra, we all found it to be a bit disappointing.
    The main reason is the poor musical balance between band and orchestra. Sometimes you hear guitar and bass, sometimes the orchestra. A very positive exception is/was – also mentioned above – Kashmir. A very intriguing performance of a real classic.
    In the end we thought the concert “Physical Graffiti-Celebrating 50 years of the albums Led Zeppelin I&II”, we saw January 4th, much more exciting, better. Cheers, Aris.

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