Some bands take you back to a significant moment in rock music history. When it comes to saluting famous event anniversaries, I saw four professionals in Lez Zeppelin honoring fifty years of Led Zeppelin’s iconic 1972 Long Beach Arena concert.
Knowing that the Gramercy Theatre was jam-packed with Zepheads representing decades of timeless music made the fact that I was giddy from the unpredictability of the endurance test that Led Zeppelin prepared to crush much more special. The moment I walked to the venue, I felt the electricity. I got there around the time doors were opening. The line was long. People young and old showed up to enjoy this legendary 1972 classic concert played in 2022.
The evening started at 8:00 p.m. The East Coast legendary hard rock / heavy metal DJ Alex Kayne opened up to set the mood. Alex nailed it with a unique playlist, getting everyone ready for a great time with Lez Zeppelin and spinning a great variety of current and recurrent heavy music to wake up the boomers. Surprisingly, Alex did it up for probably two hours and received much admiration from the audience who was there for the headliner.
With a quick introduction from a Lez Zeppelin spokesperson, Marlain Angelides (Robert Plant), Steph Paynes (Jimmy Page), Joan Chew (John Paul Jones), and Leesa Harrington Squyres (John Bonham) took New York back fifty years back, and four hundred thirty-seven miles to a Californian summer day in 1972.
While most of the audience was not even born to experience that famous show, it was still awesome to see these songs come to life as Lez Zeppelin showcased Zeppelin at their best. Everyone was jamming along to classics like Immigrant Song, Black Dog, and Stairway to Heaven. Although the classics are classics, the deep cuts were what I was most excited to see, like Since I’ve Been Loving You and Dancing Days.
One of the other night’s highlights was watching Leesa behind the drum kit and keeping time all night, especially during the more “jamming along” Zeppelin songs like “Dazed and Confused” and Whole Lotta Love. Leesa paying homage to the drum talents of John Bonham, played with style and swagger just how “Bonzo” did during the much preferred Long Beach Arena bootleg recordings.
Add that to the amusement and delight of Steph Paynes’s singular moment of using a bow to play her guitar like a cello was undoubtedly the highlight for the die-hard Led Zeppelin fans. It taught the more casual attendees that Jimmy Page was a madman.
As far as tribute bands go Lez Zeppelin set the bar high. The evening was everything I expected and more. Three acoustic moments? Check. Keeping it loose? Check. Testing their might of honoring an outstanding concert with expertise? That’s a check. Manhattan time-warped to California in June of 1972 for a little while to immerse ourselves in a killer, no filler evening with Lez Zeppelin.