Bring It On Home: The music of Led Zeppelin came to Milwaukee for an epic night of honest tunes
A preamble of simple drums, and then a tempest of harmonica and guitar, the symbiotic force filling the arena and the ears of all eager listeners. This is the epic beginning of the blues song "When the Levee Breaks," the last track on Zeppelin's fourth album (1971). This is the epic opening to Get the Led Out's show last week on Saturday, September 8th at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
Cue fog machine.
As the curtains opened, I admit I was a little confused. I am not usually a tribute band concert-goer, but thanks to the Marcus Center's Facebook page, I entered their trivia contest and won two free tickets to the show (and thus sort of vowed to, from then on, become a tribute band concert-goer). My confusion I think was derived from a complete lack of expectations, but the second that harmonica started going, my soul instantly melted back to being one with the Hermit: all things Zeppelin I welcome whole-heartedly.
Musically, Get the Led Out had a glorious start to the night, but it took them a while to adjust to the stage at Uihlien Hall, the crowd, the Milwaukee love. It was their first time in Milwaukee and I think by the end of the evening the audience (and perhaps the band members themselves) were hoping it would not be their last. Once everyone was a little more comfortable in their surroundings, the night of Zeppelin really got going.
The thing I really came to overwhelmingly appreciate was hearing Zeppelin favorites that I was not expecting from their setlist: Trampled Under Foot, Custard Pie, In My Time of Dying (all Physical Graffiti), and The Battle of Evermore come to mind (see the end of this post for my compiled setlist from the performance).
It just so happens that is what Get the Led Out is all about.
They play the music of Led Zeppelin based off of their studio recordings: you aren't getting a recreation of The Song Remains the Same live soundtrack played at Madison Square Garden in 1973. You're getting every nook and cranny of the technical beauty that is Zeppelin's carefully crafted sound. So all of those little moments you have always picked to jam out to and sing along with are all right there: what was presented to you via vinyl record on a spinning turntable is personified in the group Get the Led Out. And what a beautiful thing that is.
Lead vocals and frontman Paul Sinclair couldn't have said it better during the show: "So I know, some of you are wondering… why is Ted Nugent on guitar [referring to band member Paul Hammond, electric and acoustic guitar player]? And why is this guy [himself, of course] wearing Ted Nugent's clothes?" Laughter ensues, and I realize my curiosity as to why the guy with Page's hair is singing and the guy with Plant's hair is shredding a double-necked guitar is about to be cleared: "We're not here to impersonate the band. We're here for the music. We love it just like you guys do, and I hope you guys like how it's played. And with that…" he cuts himself off and lets the intro to "Fool In The Rain" take the reins, and with such a bouncy feel the crowd is up and dancing. About two minutes into the song, that infamous whistle that redirects the uppity beat sounded, on stage! Someone from the backstage crew (with uniform, nametag, wristbands and all) casually stepped out and sounded his whistle at the appropriate timing. That surely got everyone really going. It was perfect, and true to what the timeless record of In Through the Out Door provides. Right there, right there on stage.
And thus the music continued, and while most remained seated, a couple (including this gal right here) couldn't help but get out of their seats and dance along and feel the realness that was Zeppelin as I, being only 20, could have never really experienced before in my lifetime. Until now.
The show ended perfectly with Whole Lotta Love. As Sinclair explained earlier that evening, everyone sort of has a "gateway album" that really gets you into Zeppelin. And for him, it was Led Zeppelin II (ME TOO MR. SINCLAIR. BUT REALLY! We're musical soulmates!!), so it was an appropriate finish to a perfect, Led Zep-filled night. GTLO, we hope you come back to Milwaukee again.
Although Zeppelin has such an extensive song catalog, the two-and-a-half hour performance still surprisingly fit in 20 whole songs, including time for an intermission and encore. I compiled the setlist throughout the performance. It is listed below:
When The Levee Breaks
Trampled Under Foot
The Lemon Song
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
Over The Hills And Far Away
Dazed and Confused
Going To California
The Battle of Evermore
Hey Hey What Can I Do
In My Time of Dying
Fool In The Rain
Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)
Bring It On Home
Stairway To Heaven
Whole Lotta Love