Lez Zeppelin at Hawks and Reed-June 7th, 2018

Lez Zeppelin performs at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield, MA - photo by Kelly D
Lez Zeppelin performs at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield, MA - photo by Kelly D

Lez Zeppelin

Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, Greenfield, MA

June 7, 2018

Story, photos, and video by Kelly D

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Lez Zeppelin tore through a night of classic rock at Hawks and Reed in early June, sparing no one mercy. In what could’ve been an evening that relied solely on a gimmick, four talented women took the stage to faithfully perform the music of Led Zeppelin to the glee of a packed house.

My companion and I arrived to the last song of the opening act, She Said, but I heard they wailed (if anyone wants to write a review of their set, send us your thoughts at lmnandr@gmail.com)! I noticed June Millington of the legendary all-female group Fanny, who now runs the Institute of Musical Arts in Goshen, was in attendance as well (and would photograph most of the show from front row). After about half an hour, the all-female quartet that is Lez Zeppelin walked onstage and brought the ineffable combo of fury and majesty that makes Led Zeppelin’s music immortal.

The four women who make up Lez Zeppelin are founding member Steph Paynes on guitar (and theremin, we came to find out later on), lead singer Marlain Angelides,  bassist and keys gal Joan Chew, and drummer Leesa Harrington Squyres. Holy crap, they brought the bombast.

Things started off a bit slow, with a chugging version of “Immigrant Song” that was more of a jog than a full-on sprint like the original. But after a blistering version of Zep’s take on Anne Bredon’s 1950s folk song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” I was hooked. (Funny that a song written by a woman and made legendary by men can come full circle in a situation like this.) These women were not messing around.

A rollicking version of one of my favorite Zep tunes, “The Ocean,” came next. I was heartened to see Angelides sing the “doo wop, shadoobie doobie doo wop” scat part of the bridge that I love so much. The attention to detail in recreating the originals was definitely on display. . .

. . . Which brings me to “Dazed and Confused.” Any Zep fan worth their salt knows the famous scene in their concert film The Song Remains the Same where Jimmy Page busts out a violin bow, using that instead of a pick on his guitar strings, to blow the audience’s collective mind. In this case, Steph Paynes did it much the same way but with an added sensual flair, which is saying something because Jimmy Page is pretty freaking sexy. Women ARE the fairer sex, after all. There’d be some rubbing and then flick! She’d whip the end of the bow at the crowd, pointing at us concertgoers standing stage right. Some more rubbing, then flick! She whipped it at the center of the crowd. This happened several times until the audience members were damn near begging for mercy. It was fairly gotdang sexual, is what I’m getting at. And believe me: no one was complaining.

The hits kept on coming. “Misty Mountain Hop”! “Heartbreaker” (surprisingly not followed by “Living Loving Maid”. . . hmm)! And, perhaps the coup de grace of the evening, “Whole Lotta Love,” with said theremin being busted out. Paynes once again played the role of sexy mysterious witch (cuz, well, it’s clear that she is one) and took full advantage of the weird wonderful instrument that acts like an antenna to another dimension. In between caressing the air around the theremin, zoop! She’d shoot energy towards Angelides like she was casting a spell. As I was more towards stage right than Paynes’ position stage left I worked my way through the crowd on the other side of the room to get a glimpse up close for myself. I was not disappointed.

Throughout the performance I was bopping up and down, singing along to every word, and occasionally taking a peek around the ballroom to see how everyone else was enjoying it. One of my friends mentioned at the end of the night how she felt like a teenager again after Lez Zeppelin’s set. I couldn’t agree more. Nostalgia is a heady trip and one that does a fine job of ensnaring us- especially when the band we grew up listening to, driving around to, and making out to isn’t around anymore.

After a “thank you, you’ve been a wonderful crowd, good night”-type fakeout, the quartet ended the evening with a snippet of “Traveling Riverside Blues” on Paynes’ guitar and then a heavy AF version of “Kashmir” from Zep’s Physical Graffiti masterpiece double album. After they had left the stage and gone to sit at the merch table to greet their throngs of new fans, I was left thinking “No ‘Stairway’! Denied!” like Wayne from Wayne’s World. Indeed, Lez Zeppelin did not perform “Stairway to Heaven” and that’s just dandy. Clearly there were plenty of other legendary songs in their catalog that were also omitted- and now I have incentive to go see them again.

Setlist:

Marlain invites the crowd to sing along
  1. Immigrant Song
  2. Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
  3. The Ocean
  4. Dazed and Confused
  5. What Is and What Should Never Be
  6. Misty Mountain Hop
  7. Trampled Underfoot
  8. Heartbreaker
  9. Ramble On
  10. Rock and Roll
  11. Whole Lotta Love
  12. Communication Breakdown

Encore:

  1. Traveling Riverside Blues > Kashmir

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.

To submit an article an article or review, or to just say hello hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com