The Moby Dicks played Vamp’d on Friday, April 29th, and Saturday, April 30th, with Jason Walker and The Majestic 12 as the support act. This review is for the Friday show.
The music of Led Zeppelin is timeless. Even though the group had a recording career that lasted just over a decade, they squeezed into that time some of the greatest rock songs the world had ever known. So unsurprisingly, Led Zeppelin tribute bands are quite common. One of these groups is The Moby Dicks, previously known as The Zep Set. The band has featured a revolving-door lineup of musicians, but has almost always including drummer Brian Tichy. Also in the band for this gig were Gregg Fox, Brent Woods, Phil Soussan, and Chas West.
Starting the night off was a set from Jason Walker and The Majestic 12 ; I’d previously seen them as the opening act at the Smith/Kotzen gig back in January. This set was essentially more of the same of what I’d heard at that performance, though if you’ve seen Walker on the stage, you know that’s not a bad thing by any means. This guy is a guitar wizard who reinvents the classics like no other, including classic hits by acts like the Faces and the Yardbirds. But the real surprise of the evening here was hearing the group cover “Prelude,” a Jimmy Page reworking of a classical tune which appeared on the soundtrack of DEATH WISH II. When I’d first entered the venue, the group was finishing their sound check, and I couldn’t believe what piece of music I was hearing them cover. This gave them a fantastic way to explore the musical work of Jimmy Page without having to cover a Led Zeppelin song and potentially steal something from the Moby Dicks’ set. Mr. Walker and company rocked this evening, starting it in fine form. And a big thank you to his band for actually including a keyboard player, something far too many bands these days lack.
Majestic 12 Gallery.
And then came the headliners. Moby Dicks shows are intense, lengthy, and despite their dedication and perfectionism, a lot of fun with plenty of back-and-forth banter between the artists. Over the years I’ve seen the band in varying incarnations with assorted musicians, but this might just be the best lineup of artists I’ve seen yet under the moniker.
One of the best things about a Moby Dicks show is that the group doesn’t just play the most straightforward setlist of “the hits” that you’d expect. Sure, we heard plenty of those throughout the evening, but you have to admire the group’s dedication when it comes to farming the Led Zeppelin back catalogue. Where else are you going to hear live performances of “The Wanton Song” and “Carouselambra?” Much like Walker’s opening set, including a keyboardist, in this case the multi-talented Gregg Fox, gave the songs a whole new atmosphere other bands playing these songs lack (and without one, some of these songs would be impossible to perform anyhow).
When doing a tribute to Led Zeppelin, you’ve got to do Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Henry Bonham proud, and I believe the band did that on this evening. Needless to say, the man who everyone had their eyes on throughout this evening was Brian Tichy, a man who spares no expense when it comes to honoring Bonzo. His drum kit for the evening was absolutely massive, complete with a giant gong in the back! Both this kit and man behind it were worthy of Mr. Bonham’s legacy, and if that doesn’t speak volumes for this evening of rock and roll, I don’t know what does.
The rest of the band were all in fine form. Chas West is a fantastic vocalist who has the look and style of Robert Plant, although there were a few moments throughout the evening where he was very noticeably looking down at a lyric sheet or some other kind of aid, and having to turn the pages to this himself; this is where a roadie would come in handy! Phil Soussan, long one of the most reliable and entertaining bassists in the business with a resume that includes names like Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol, was the ideal partner to fill the rhythm section alongside Tichy.
The show was lengthy, intense, and full throughout. While the assembled crowd was not the biggest I’ve seen in the venue, all eyes were on Mr. Tichy, particularly during his ultra-long “Moby Dick” drum solo. This particular solo was so long and epic, the other members of the band left the stage, hit up the VIP area for drinks, and got back to the stage with time to spare! If there’s one minor complaint with this stellar show, it’s that it was almost TOO much. Around 1:00AM, the band had been playing for two-and-a-half hours straight. And I admittedly didn’t even last until the very end (not because I wasn’t entertained, but because spending this long on my feet had left me exhausted – I can only imagine how the band members felt!) The average Vamp’d headliner tends to play for roughly 90 minutes or so. While I don’t think the audience minded how long, intense, and epic this show was, it was a bit too much/too long for me despite how entertaining it was. If you’re going to play for this long, that’s fantastic, but start earlier and don’t book an opening act if that’s going to be the case!
The Moby Dicks are a truly epic Led Zeppelin tribute, and on this evening of rock and roll, they delivered the goods and then some. Over two-and-a-half hours worth! For Zeppelin fans, including those who want to hear seldom-seen deep cuts performed live, these guys are the real deal. The show was longer than it needed to be, though one has to admire Tichy’s determination and dedication to rocking the stage to these classic tunes. Fans of Led Zeppelin should absolutely see this band in concert. Just be forewarned; it's a long ride!
Moby Dicks Gallery.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Nikkita Christine for ZRockR Magazine - All Rights Reserved