Get The Led Out: Zeppelin’s song remains the same
(The Guide, 6/19)
The path to musical success isn’t always the obvious one. Take Paul Sinclair, a Philadelphia native with Jimmy Page hair and a record collection full of the founding fathers of hard rock, who set his sights on one day following in the footsteps of his idols by belting out lyrics to a packed arena crowd.
But he quickly discovered success would require following his idols a lot more closely.
Sinclair put in a few years’ worth of effort in his band, Sinclair, slogging through the club scene and occasionally sharing a bill with notable acts such as Foghat. But a breakthrough remained elusive.
Get The Led Out (A Tribute To Led Zeppelin)
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Shoreline Ballroom, Ocean Center, 40 Folly Field Road, Hilton Head Island.
Tickets: $15 in advance; $20 day of show
Information: 843-842-0358. www.shorelineballroom.com
So one day, Sinclair agreed to help a friend who was putting together a Led Zeppelin tribute show. And after playing just a few shows, Sinclair saw a reaction he wasn’t used to.
“I didn’t want to be part of it after the first gig. I just wanted to help them out,” Sinclair, 44, said by phone last week. “I saw the potential, and said, ‘This could probably go somewhere.’ ”
By its third show, Get the Led Out was playing a festival in upstate New York in front of 10,000 people.
“Here we were on this giant concert stage, playing Led Zeppelin as ourselves, and having 10,000 people react to it. I thought, ‘Wow we could definitely do something with this.’ ”
The group set out to differentiate themselves from other similar tribute bands. Those tended to focus on aping the live Zeppelin experience based on the concert film “The Song Remains the Same,” with flashy outfits and long improvisational jams. That wasn’t the route Sinclair envisioned.
“I never wanted to do that. I always wanted to create the versions that were on the record,” he said. “Those are the versions that everyone knows.”
That meant long hours researching, listening and studying — and occasionally guessing — what instruments the band used in its recordings. It also meant the band required six members instead of Zeppelin’s original four to compensate for tracks in which Robert Plant’s vocals and other instruments are doubled or looped. Sinclair even trained his voice to crack in certain parts like Plant’s.
Some of the band’s work is as much academic study into the history of the rock legends as it is a musical exercise, Sinclair said.
“Zeppelin’s known for trying to capture a vibe and a moment and just rocking it,” he said. “If there were blemishes, if the guitar wasn’t perfectly in tune … sometimes, in a lot of cases, they just left it. That’s some of the brilliance of Led Zeppelin. A lot of the stuff they left on tape, my instincts would have been to redo. That’s part of what creates the mystique Led Zeppelin — there’s so much of the human element.”
Though the band isn’t focused on giving audiences an exact theatrical replay, Sinclair said the band keeps the spirit of the mighty Zep alive.
“It’s not like a bunch of accountants up there on the weekend that put on wigs and costumes,” he said. “We sort of have lived this our whole lives.”
The set list is designed very much like a big rock concert: a lot of the fan favorites, a few more obscure tracks for the die-hards and some staples that show up at every show.
“You’re not going to come to a Get the Led Out show and not hear ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ ” he said. “There’s a core group of songs that we always do.”
Maybe the highest profile Led Zeppelin tribute band is Lez Zeppelin, the New York-based all-female act. So would Get The Led Out fight them if they passed on the street?
“God bless ‘em,” he laughed. “No, I wouldn’t fight them. There’s room out there for all of us.”