Deciding to be a cover band of one of the most revered acts in rock ‘n’ roll history takes a serious set of stones.
Clementine, drummer and founder of the San Francisco based Led Zeppelin cover band Zepparella, named her website “clemthegreat.com.” That’s serious chutzpah.
Friday night at Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room, she and her bandmates showed both ability and respect while delivering two hours of Led Zeppelin cuts that absolutely delighted a solid crowd on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore.
Adorned as always in white from head to toe, Anna Kristina (vocals, harp), Gretchen Menn (guitars), Holly West (bass) and Clementine create a striking image onstage before they even play a note.
As they opened the show, fittingly, with Clementine’s kick and hi-hat intro of 1993’s “The Rover.” I wondered if cover bands ponder whether show patrons are there to relive the music and its nostalgia, or to see and hear them play those songs.
On this night, the answer was a resounding both.
Both Zepparella and the crowd got what they came for. Live music is at its best when band and crowd get cosmically swirled together with one another. That organic, unpredictable happening known as music magic, on Friday, made another unscheduled appearance.
There was joy on the faces of the crowd hearing the signature riffs from each instrument, singing along, and mimicking their favorite Zeppelin mannerisms.
There was joy on the face of Anna Kristina as she belted Robert Plant’s power vocals, while being able to hear them coming right back at her, song after song.
There was joy on the face of Gretchen Menn deftly cranking out the solo parts everyone in the building knew by heart, and as she drew a violin bow across the strings of her Les Paul during a dramatic “Dazed and Confused.” She captivated her fans, a la Jimmy Page with every stroke.
There was joy on the face of bassist Holly West, well pretty much all night. The statuesque and energetic West alternated between gleaming smiles to her bandmates and classic power rock stances as she produced the low-end canvas for Menn and Kristina’s edgy guitar and vocals.
And there was joy on the face of Clementine who days earlier had broken her left foot, fiercely powering through the entire show and leaving nothing in reserve, precisely as John Bonham would have.
From pounding away on tunes like “Communication Breakdown” to delivering a drum, conga, and open hand solo on a big and brash “Whole Lotta Love” closer, she and every member of the charismatic Zepparella quartet earned all the cheers and adoration they received Friday.
Whole Lotta Love, all around.