Concert Review: Get Zep @ Cohoes Music Hall, 11/10/2023
Led Zeppelin released their fourth untitled album on November 8, 1971. Almost 52 years later to the day, Super 400’s alter ego Get Zep continued their project of themed concerts based around a Led Zeppelin album played front to back by playing Led Zeppelin 4 (as it has come to be known) at Cohoes Music Hall on Friday night. They have previously covered the first two Zeppelin albums live, although skipping volume 3, deeming its predominant mixture of folk and acoustic balladry not quite strong enough to hold an audience’s attention fully. But volume 4—that’s a different matter. It is Led Zeppelin’s biggest-selling album, shifting 38 million copies to date and providing many of the band’s signature songs, still evergreen cuts on classic rock radio and playlists.
Something magical happens when Super 400 adds vocalist Sean Matthew Whiteford and keyboard and harp player Chris Carey. They transmute, they transmogrify, they transform into the five-headed, ten-legged groove machine that is Get Zep. A tribute band? No, not really, more a unit that brings the mighty music of Led Zeppelin back to where it should be, live and on stage. Would you call the New York Symphony Orchestra playing Beethoven’s Ninth a tribute band?
The band slammed into the one-two punch of “Black Dog” and “Rock And Roll”, setting out their stall right from the off, Kenny Hohman’s snarling guitar riffs slashing and burning, Lori Friday’s freight train bass rumbling unstoppably, Joe Daley’s drums obliterating all in his path, and above it all, Sean Matthew Whiteford’s astonishing banshee wail summoning up the spirits of the delta, the crossroads, and the misty mountains.
Next came the absolute highlight of the evening for me. I was intrigued to see how they would tackle “The Battle of Evermore”, an atypical song in the Zeppelin canon and the only one to feature a guest female vocal (the late English folk singer Sandy Denny.).Interestingly,y Friday took Robert Plant’s lead vocal, and Whiteford handled Denny’s counterpoint. It worked to stunning effect; the harmony vocal between the two inducing chills. If that wasn’t enough, Friday also played the mandolin part, having just recently picked up the instrument. Goosebumps.
“Stairway to Heaven” was up next and was beautifully sung by Whiteford, displaying his range from the sensitive start to the grandiose conclusion.
Side 2 of the album is perhaps less well known and kicked off with the funky “Misty Mountain Hop”, Whiteford, and Friday having fun with the twisty harmonies driven by Carey’s pulsating clavinet. Carey was featured on the next song, too, along with Daley. “Four Sticks” relentless drum pattern is played by, yes, you guessed it, four drumsticks, while Carey and Hohman ground out a repetitive and ominous riff on synthesizer and guitar. It was intense.
There was a brief respite with the acoustic interlude of “Going to California,” Page and Plant’s nod to their appreciation of the music of Joni Mitchell. Friday once again featured on mandolin while Hohman played acoustic.
The first set closed out with the slamming “When the Levee Breaks,” probably the most sampled drum track in history. Helping Get Zep out with this track on drums was Kenny and Lori’s daughter, Ellie, laying down a fearsome beat.
For the second set, Get Zep hammered through a splendid selection of Led Zeppelin favorites, jamming on out as the night got later.
So, “Houses of the Holy” next?
I can’t wait.
Setlist: Set 1. Led Zeppelin 4:
- Black Dog
- Rock and Roll
- The Battle of Evermore
- Stairway to Heaven
- Misty Mountain Hop
- Four Sticks
- Going To California
- When the Levee Breaks
- No Quarter
- Immigrant Song
- The Ocean
- The Song Remains the Same
- Thank You
- I Can’t Quit You Baby
- Moby Dick
- Moby Jam
- Communication Breakdown
- Communication Jamdown