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Concert Reviews

Led Zeppelin 2 at the Paradise

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“And five, now this is the most important, Rat. When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.”

For this writer, that’s the most she knows about Led Zeppelin, in addition to the overhaul of “Kashmir” in P. Diddy’s embarrassing “Come With Me” (for the Godzilla soundtrack!) and the fact that people reminisce about slow dances to “Stairway” because it’s really long, guys!

But Led Zeppelin prevails in the heads and hearts of rock lovers, with liege adherents of all ages. This is where the Chicago-based Led Zeppelin 2 comes in. Not just a tribute band, they tout, but an experience, the band commanded a packed floor at the Paradise Rock Club on Thursday night.

Lead singer Bruce Lamont, drummer Ian Lee, guitarist Paul Kamp and bassist Chris Klein took the stage after 9, but they didn’t come on fully as themselves; upon first glance the sensation of the uncanny took hold—the dress was pretty damn spot on—making some (i.e., myself) feel like they triggered some radical time paradox. Opening with “Rock and Roll,” Lamont’s vocals were fantastic and eerily identical to Robert Plant’s. The crowd was beyond psyched and blew up on the announcement of “The Song Remains the Same.” Some crackling from the speakers popped in here and there, but in no way killed the enthusiasm during that opening set.

After some adjustments, Led Zeppelin 2 returned with “Stairway to Heaven.” The Renaissance quality of the opening sounded a bit synthetic, lacking the more genuine woodwind sound, but the synth substitution made do. But Kamp’s gallant effort with the double necked guitar kept the audience pleased as the show progressed to an acoustic set.

“Love this crowd,” Lamont announced, armed with a bottle (of whiskey, perhaps?). “It’s almost like being home in Chicago.”

Solo skills were put on display; Kemp moved a bow along the double neck for “Dazed and Confused” as Lamont mewled. Lee hammered the drums for “Moby Dick.” By the time the ‘end’ rolled around with “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” an encore was imminent, and the crowd knew it but chanted anyway.

The band exploded into “Kashmir” suddenly, bursting the expectant bubble that hung around the show—the audience could see it coming but it was still a surprise. The performance continued with “Misty Mountain Hop” and two more songs with no loss of energy, the band shifting back and forth between the tribute foursome to the assumed roles as Led Zeppelin incarnate.

Despite the show’s earlier incarnation as an immersive 1970’s experience—the embodiment of Zeppelin in some present mode—the encore was all about the crowd’s expectations—it did not become a greatest hits compilation per se, but gave everyone what they wanted to hear. The band was generous with thank-yous to the Boston crowd and the Boston crowd shouted back with appreciation; it was clear with the smiles on many a face that concert-goers got the good time they were looking for.

Led Zeppelin 2 is a devoted tribute willing to break the norms of mere cover band. The band continues its fall tour through September and October. Dates and cities can be followed on the band’s web site, Facebook and Twitter.

Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.

Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”

Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.

The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.

What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.

Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.

Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.”  The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.

Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.

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