(photo credit: Courtesy)
Having a musical palette as wide and varied as Led Zeppelin’s to choose from every night is as challenging as it is satisfying for Billy Kulke, the British vocalist in the world’s greatest Zeppelin tribute band Letz Zep.
“We try to change the show around, but people expect certain songs. We may focus on the earlier material in some shows, but then we’ll come back and do a half hour of later stuff – people expect to hear “Stairway to Heaven” and you can’t let them down,” said Kulke from his London home. “We try to encompass the whole range of their material.”
Letz Zep hasn’t been letting them down in their seven years of touring the world, precisely recreating the music and the experience of an authentic Led Zeppelin show. It doesn’t hurt that Kulke, from his long curly mane of flowing hair to his banshee vocal wails, bares an uncanny resemblance to Zeppelin’s legendary vocalist Robert Plant.
In fact, when Plant began hearing about the group that did Zeppelin better than Zeppelin and decided to check Letz Zep out a few years ago, his reaction was, “I walked in, and saw me.”
One of the reasons for Letz Zep’s success is that Kulke and fellow band members Andy Gray on guitar, Steve Turner on bass and keyboards and Simon Jeffrey on drums, aren’t just professional musicians, they’re Led Zeppelin fans.
“I was a huge fan growing up… so obviously, when we started the band we wanted to play the music of someone we all admired,” said Kulke, who saw the original band perform live once, at the Knebworth Festival in 1979.
Disbanded in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham, Led
Zeppelin has only reformed for one-off shows, the most recent being a
highly acclaimed performance at the Q2 Arena in London in 2007. For
Kulke and Letz Zep, their mission is to enable subsequent generations
who have fallen in love with the music of Led Zeppelin to experience
what a show was like.
“When we play, we get fathers bringing their teenage sons to the show,
and they know every word. For them, it’s quite magical – that’s the
great thing about performing for a new generation,” said Kulke. “Music
should be a living thing, and if it inspired you, then it keeps the
wheels turning. That’s a great thing.”
Letz Zep performs tonight and Saturday night at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. www.barby.co.il
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