Forty years ago saw the release of Led Zeppelin’s seminal rock album, Led Zeppelin IV, featuring such classics as ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Black Dog’ and that, I guess, is as good a reason as any to bring back the show that celebrates the music of this iconic band. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is an epic production that brings together some of Australia’s finest talents to perform a range of songs by one of the greatest rock bands the world has known. This is not the first time this show has hit the road. In fact, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ has been thrilling audiences around the country for nine years now. So what is it that keeps the crowds coming back to see this show?
Steve Balbi, bass player with Noiseworks and one of the stars of the show, maintains it is a combination of a great line-up giving strong performances and, of course, the music. “It blows me away just watching the audience. If you like Led Zeppelin, you’ll love this,” he enthuses. “Come and check it out. It really is a special show.”
The production includes songs from throughout the history of the band. “There are lots of different songs in there,” he explains. “If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, I don’t think you’ll be going away saying ‘I wish they’d played that one’. I don’t know exactly how many songs there are but there’s a lot.”
The vocals are shared throughout the show by Steve, Jeff Martin (Tea Party) Simon Meli (Widowbirds), Natasha Stuart and Zkye, backed by a fantastic band of talented musicians, including Gordon Rytmeister on drums, Greg Royal on bass, Charmaine Ford on keyboards, Darren Evans on percussion, Adrian Keating on violin, Rachel Thomson on viola and Charlotte Roberts on cello and Creative Director, Joseph Calderazzo on guitars. They will take the show to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and even Gosford in NSW. “It’s a great show with great people and everyone knows what they’re doing, except for me.” he adds with a laugh.
Steve thinks that there is a real and growing demand out there for shows like this one. “I reckon it’s come about because all of the baby boomers are grown up, their kids have grown up but they’re still young at heart and they still want to listen to all that great music. And the chances of seeing Led Zeppelin for real…well, it’s not going to happen. But here’s a chance to see some of Australia’s finest presenting that music. The boomers don’t want to hang out in pubs anymore but they want to go out to the Theatre and have a great night of rock and roll. I think a lot of them are asking ‘where’s the rock and roll gone?’ so we’re here to give it to them.”
And of course Led Zeppelin had an influence on Steve’s musical style. “Oh yeah. They hit me like a ton of bricks,” he tells me. And that influence still plays a part in his approach to making music today. “I’ll be going in next week to work on a Noiseworks record,” he reveals. “and I’ll do my normal mike techniques but also use the Led Zeppelin technique of the mikes around a drum kit that they used on some occasions and it’s still used a lot in music today. My son plays drums and he had these Green Day and Lincoln Park things to learn and I said to him ’You’ve gotta play rock. Just come and check this out’and I played him ‘When the Levee Breaks’ and he couldn’t believe it. His eyes just lit up and I think my eyes did exactly the same thing all those years ago. Their legacy is truly great.”
Apart from the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ tour, and his Noiseworks commitments, Steve is involved with numerous other projects, keeping him very, very busy. But that’s the way he likes it. “I’m doing something that I love and I’m very grateful for that,” he reveals humbly. “I love music and I’m very blessed.”
The 9th Annual ‘Whole Lotta Love: Led Zeppelin Celebration’ tour kicks off in September. For full details, go to our touring page.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2011. All rights reserved