Thursday, October 10, 2013

CLASSIC ALBUMS LIVE: "Led Zeppelin III" (Guest Post)

Concert Photos: Michelle Wilson
"Guest Contributor"
Michelle Wilson returns 
to recap another amazing
concert performance.

The King Center / Melbourne, FL 

It’s that bittersweet time of the year for me as I find myself back at Melbourne, Florida’s Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, reveling in the sights and sounds of the last Classic Albums Live performance of the 2013 season.

Wrapping up with a bang, Craig Martin’s Canadian-based collective was slated to recreate Led Zeppelin III "note for note, cut for cut" to a sold-out house. I looked around at all of the familiar faces, saying hello to people with whom I have become acquainted throughout the season, and I realized how lucky Melbourne is to be treated to these shows in our own backyard. For anyone who has never attended a CAL performance and may be thinking that this is just another cover band, think again. These are world-class musicians who will blow your mind.

Frontman Nick Hildyard
Tonight’s players included long-time frontman Nick Hildyard on lead vocals, Dom Polito and Shain Honkonen on guitar, Rick Vatour on drums, Jen Benton on bass, Carol Hensal on keyboards, Chad Berney on percussion and Bo Frazer on pedal steel and banjo.

The juxtaposition of Led Zeppelin III during the first half of the show with the heavier, more rockin’ material in the second half could not have been more diverse.

Multi-instrumentalist Bo Frazer
Zep III opens strong with such tracks as “Immigrant Song,” “Out on the Tiles” and “Gallows Pole,” but much of the remainder is fairly acoustic and mellow. Hildyard’s vocals were in top form, and the renditions of “Friends,” “Celebration Day,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Tangerine,” “That’s the Way” and “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” (complete with a clap-along quartet featuring Frazer, Hensal, Honkonen and Berney) were nothing short of impressive. Hometown multi-instrumentalist Bo Frazer added the pedal steel flavor to “That’s the Way” and “Tangerine,” and also provided the banjo on “Gallows Pole.” By the time “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” was over, the crowd was on its feet in mad applause and ready to tackle the second half of the show. 

Dom Polito
After the brief intermission, followed by a haunting version of “Thank You,” Hildyard informed the audience that it was “time for the caveman — we’re letting him out of the cage.” And on came Rick “Bonzo” Vatour who absolutely slayed “Moby Dick” with his own unique brand of showmanship. Next up was “The Song Remains the Same,” followed by “Heartbreaker / Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman),” “Ramble On,” and “How Many More Times.” The show rounded out with “Kashmir” as the encore, and the crowd once again was on its feet — sad to see it end. A stellar evening, to be sure, and a phenomenal end to an already memorable CAL season. 

Rick “Bonzo” Vatour
With so much drivel being passed off as music today, I happily will fork over the nominal fee to hear iconic albums being performed by professional, incredibly tal- ented musicians — especially given that many of the original artists no longer perform. But thankfully, the King Center gets it. And don’t think for even a minute that the performers don’t get it, too. Lead vocalist Nick Hildyard and bossman Craig Martin could not thank the venue and its staff enough, right down to the caterers and the office workers. Heck, Hildyard even went so far as jokingly (maybe?) to suggest a once a week gig at the King Center and to flood the inbox of Executive Director, Steve Janicki, echoing his suggestion. Uh, yeah! 

Hanging with Dom Polito and Rick Vatour.
Yes, another Classic Albums Live season has come to a close, but it certainly concluded in spectacular fashion. After attending four of the five shows this season, including Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Animals and this performance of Led Zeppelin III, I am disheartened that the run is over, for now.  However, prior to the troupe taking the stage to delve into the evening’s performance, Martin popped out to address the eager crowd, thanking Melbourne for its unending support of CAL and reaffirming the King Center as one of CAL’s favorite venues. Martin further offered a glimpse into next season’s fresh lineup through a fun on-screen manual montage of album covers, compliments of Martin’s daughter (with the hint of one or two more shows before year’s end). Martin also mentioned the addition of a sixth performance next season rather than the usual five. The faithful flock of followers cheered and applauded enthusiastically as the new catalog was offered onscreen, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elton John’s Greatest Hits, Purple Rain from Prince, Band on the Run from Paul McCartney and Wings, The Beatles’ White Album and Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. I know that I, for one, will be in attendance for at least four of these, and I await next season with great anticipation.

-Michelle Wilson
(October 2013)

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