The orchestra accompanied lead singer Randy Jackson, a bassist, guitarist, and drummer, mirroring the four-man setup of Zeppelin's original Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and John Bonham. Performing popular classics, such as "Black Dog," "Whole Lotta Love," and "Ramble On" along with lesser known songs, such as the quiet ballad "I'm Gonna Crawl" and the bluesy "Since I've Been Loving You," the musicians exhibited the disparate rock sounds that made Led Zeppelin so influential back in the 1970s. The acoustic classic "Going to California" and the instrumental tribute to Bonham's unsurpassed talent on drums, "Moby Dick," built to a crescendo with the iconic "Stairway to Heaven" closing out the show. For fans of Zeppelin, like myself, the symphonic accompaniment heightened the fluid melodies and pulsating bass notes on beloved songs, and for those less familiar with the band, the concert provided a nice sampling for appreciation.
Though the band didn't cover perhaps my favorite Zeppelin song, "Tangerine," there were a few particular high points. "All of My Love" and "Kashmir" were the two songs that most showed off the band's defining blend of rock and classical sounds and have the most recognizable orchestral components in the Zeppelin catalog.
Jackson's vocals were strong throughout the show, offering a serviceable reflection of Plant's unmistakable range and squealing falsetto. But one of the great performances of the night was guest violinist Renee Izzi, who stood out front on many songs, but she truly shined in the solo of "All of My Love" (clip below) and matched the ferocious guitar licks on "Stairway to Heaven" note for soaring note. Standing next to grizzled rockers, it was the pretty and petite violinist who rocked as hard as any of them.
A great time was had by all, and the show was an excellent reminder that an appreciation for classical music can show up in a variety of ways. Taking young people to such events can be an ideal way of introducing the best of what music can offer, showing how even a clarinet player can become a rock star on certain nights. The Phoenix Symphony will be producing similar shows in the coming months, with tributes to the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney later this spring. Support your local musicians and take in a concert if you live in the Phoenix area.