PHOTO: DOT HOPKINS
After his much lauded appearance on The Voice in 2012, Jimmy CuppIes had a phone call from the people behind the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ show which is now in its thirteenth year, having made its humble debut at The Basement in Sydney in 2003. In 2009, the show moved to bigger stage of the Enmore Theatre and the show has continued to grow ever since. Jimmy was thrilled when he received the call. “I was over the moon because I wanted to be part of that show for a while and when I got asked to do it, I pretty much said yes straight away. When they showed me the places I’d be playing, I thought that would be great and the calibre of talent is awesome and the band, of course, is just amazing. So I was pretty happy when that came about.”
The singer has performed in four of these productions so far and is excited about the upcoming shows in Sydney and Gosford this month.
Jimmy says that the songs each artist performs vary from show to show. “Quite often, it’s shuffled around a little bit. I do tend to end up with the big sings like ‘Black Dog’, the high vocal thing but I always say just give me whatever you want to give me and I’ll take it on. It’s always a challenge. I just enjoy whatever comes my way. When they say ‘Oh, we’ll give you this one’, I’m quite happy to do that. I was worried about singing ‘Stairway to Heaven’. There are so many words in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and I always get a little bit nervous when I sing hundreds of words in front of people,” he laughs.
I ask if he has a favourite song to sing. “Probably ‘Black Dog’,” he responds. “But I think my favourite to listen to would be ‘The Rain Song’. It’s just typical Led Zeppelin. It builds up and builds up. It’s a great crescendo. It’s a little bit like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but to me, it’s just the most beautiful, beautiful song, the way it’s sung and the guitar playing is just gorgeous. That’s the thing with Jimmy Page; he was the most incredible artist. He could just create these most incredible things. You wonder where these creations come from. They’re just other-worldly sometimes. ‘Kashmir’ is a good one too. People just love that string section because it’s based on that Egyptian scale and when you hear it, it’s quite haunting. The last show that I did with the guys, Jack Jones performed that one and it was just as haunting. He just possesses that haunting sound too at times I think, if I can say that. It’s kind of something else that’s going on that he’s able to tap into and it’s just wonderful hearing the two together with that string section and I think the audience really felt that. It seemed to shake them up a bit. There seemed to be a bit of applause for that; just magical moments. It’s just something that I can’t explain. It’s a great feeling. I love hearing that powerful band behind you but when you hear that string section, it’s just wonderful.”
Jimmy is full of praise for his fellow singers and musicians. “I always scratch my head about all these musicians. I guess from the outside you think there are so many people all up in this band. How in the world can they get it sounding so incredible? People just think it’s a show that tours constantly but it’s not and Joseph (Calderazzo, the show’s Creative Director), likes to use different musicians to get different flavours for each show. I think he must have nerves of steel because, a lot of the time, people just tend to use the same people because they are too scared to venture out but that’s one great gift he’s got. He will always use different singers and guitar players, different bass players, different keyboard players. That takes a lot of guts and, really, the band only get a short amount of time together and it forces you to really be on your stuff; to really learn your stuff, to the point where you know it backwards; no words to look at; no safety nets and that’s hard sometimes but it’s a great, great feeling and the calibre of musicians is good enough that they can do that. I never have to be nervous about the guys behind me. I only get nervous about my own part because I don’t want to let it down. It’s a great feeling because you’ve got that nervous tension but at the same time you feel relaxed because you know you’ve got this incredible band behind you. When you look out into the room, you think ‘This is bouncing off every wall in the room.’ How exciting that is. It just seems to happen. It keeps you right on your toes and I think when you meet new singers too, that is exciting as well. We all do our solo things and then at the end of the show, we come out and we all sing ‘Whole Lotta Love’ together. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was the classic Led Zeppelin song. You come out and do that one together and it’s exciting to hear all the different voices. It can either be messy and not great or be just fabulous. It’s that part of the night where the audience is singing it louder than the band.”
You can catch ‘Whole Lotta Love’ at the Laycock Street Theatre in Gosford on Saturday, 20th August and at The State Theatre in Sydney on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th August. Click here for more information and to book tickets.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved