Most men go through a Led Zeppelin phase at some point in their lives. It bridges all the male archetypes — the bikers, the jocks, the stoners, the geeks, the choirboys, the outcasts. Zeppelin is sacred in the realm of rock and roll and for any fan born after their 1980 dissolution, a chance to see them live would be better than dining out with Jesus.
But alas, we'll have to settle for Whole Lotta Led, which, you know, is as close to the real thing as we're going to get for $10 cover.
Anybody who's seen them knows Whole Lotta Led will rip through its set, melt your face into butter and leave you sweating for "Trampled Underfoot" or some other deep cut they never, ever play.
No hyperbole man: they're a truly great Led Zeppelin cover band.
"This is some of the best music that's ever been made in the 20th century, as far as rock and roll goes. You can put Led Zeppelin in the top three of anyone's list as far as rock's most enduring acts," says vocalist Greg "Grateful Greg" Reamsbottom. "You still see as many kids in Led Zeppelin t-shirts as you ever did. It's just one of those bands whose music stands the test of time."
There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of Zeppelin cover bands currently working in the world. There are those whose entire schtick rests on dressing up exactly like the flamboyant Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. There are all-girl cover bands, namely Lez Zeppelin. There are Spanish versions, teenage boy versions and on and on.
Whole Lotta Led has no gimmick. They don't care about looking like the band, they just want to sound like the band. They want to provide for the fans the closest approximation of what a Led Zeppelin show would have sounded like. They're in the house to rock. The songs, well, they speak for themselves.
"For us, it's all about the music," Reamsbottom says.
Guitarist Phil "Creekside Phil" Richard and drummer Paul Rimmer had been working on a Zep project in the '90s with a different singer and bass player but, unsatisfied with the results, they disbanded after a couple of shows. When Reamsbottom moved to Whistler in 1999, he was invited to sing a Zeppelin song at one open mic night at the Boot. He nailed the song and by 2002 they were playing gigs as Whole Lotta Led, with bassist Mike Wilson in tow.
"It was just a matter of taking the set list and putting enough time in as a band to get really comfortable playing those songs with the proficiency that the music deserves," he says.
"You don't want to get up there and hack it. That's some pretty heavy duty music that those guys made and you want to do it justice."
In case you don't know: Reamsbottom, one half of the Hairfarmers, sings as if a surrogate through which Plant sings via satellite from the comforts of his English country home. And the band? Well, the band you just need to go see. They've spent the better part of a decade perfecting a set list that they know will appease both the diehards and the casual fans. It's tried and true. Yes, "Dazed and Confused" gets the super freakout treatment. Yes, "Moby Dick" has the endless drum solo. Yes, "The Lemon Song" will get you indecently excited.
But this will be your last chance to see them until sometime in the New Year. They only play a half-dozen shows every year, so you should probably get there early. It's going to be a full house. It's going to get heavy.