What Should Never Be

The Paul Green School Of Rock Boston Presents A Tribute To Led Zeppelin at the Middle East Upstairs, October 25, 2008
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  October 28, 2008

“WAYYYYY DOWN INSIDE!” Who says kids can’t play Zep?

“Does anybody remember laughter?” 

On this Saturday afternoon, the legions of the School of Rock (Boston branch) were pretty much indistinguishable from the real Led Zeppelin, who were themselves teenagers when they formed in the late ’60s. Except: switch golden gods like Plant and Page with awkward adolescents in oversized Tool T-shirts, sub in a petrifying terror of screwing up for Zep’s sexual bravado, and replace arenas filled with screaming nubile groupies with, uh, the performers’ parents. You’ll never realize how tedious a rock-and-roll song can be till you’ve watched a group of really young kids struggle to complete “How Many More Times,” the reckless juggernaut of the original stretching into one musical hurdle after another, the band members bracing for every change as if they’re running over traffic cones on a highway.

The net effect of this was exhilarating, perhaps because it was more of a recital than a rock show — and had all the requisite drama and anxiety. It struck me more than once in this room filled with kids forced to play old rock and parents clearly unschooled on deep cuts like “The Rover” and “Night Flight” that I might be one of the few actual Zep fans in attendance. When Harley Spring sang, in “Rock N Roll,” “I don’t know but I’ve been told/A big-legged woman ain’t got no soul,” he was oddly convincing — though it felt messed up to be in a room with a child singing the orgasmic breakdown of “Whole Lotta Love,” complete with “wayyyyy down inside, woman you need it,” right in front of his folks.

I was especially impressed with the powerhouse drumming of Ben Dealy, who was able to channel the galloping whump of John Bonham even though he could probably have fit his entire body inside one of Bonzo’s legs. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that any of these kids who goes on to play in a band in the real world — that is, sans parents — will shudder at the memory of this gig.

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  Topics: Live Reviews , Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin, John Bonham,  More more >
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