Led Zeppelin tribute band drums new life into classic songs

Led Zeppelin tribute band Out on the Tiles rocked the Wadsworth Auditorium on Wednesday Oct. 22 with covers of many of Zeppelin’s classic rock hits. Made up of University of Rochester professors Jimmy Warlick, John Covach and Jason Titus as well as drummer Rob Thurman, the band opened with a roaring version of “Immigrant Song” to set the tone for the remainder of the set. Led Zeppelin is viewed as the originator of modern heavy metal, drawing on guitar-heavy blues influences to create its iconic sound. Out on the Tiles remained faithful to that sound during its performance; capturing the heavy, power riff-laden sound of Zeppelin’s influential guitarist Jimmy Page.

Out on the Tiles guitarist and Chair of the University of Rochester’s music department at the Eastman School of Music John Covach faithfully rendered the now-famous licks of Page on songs like “Black Dog,” “Whole Lotta Love” and “What is and What Should Never Be.”

In addition to being loyal to the original, Covach also played each song on the same type of guitar Page used––bringing out the iconic double-necked Gibson EDS-1275, Gibson Les Paul and Danelectro 59-DC. In addition to these classic guitars, Covach played the mandolin on “Going to California” and “Hey Hey What Can I Do.”

The rest of the band also covered the Zeppelin songs with integrity, with Titus giving a sound performance on bass and keyboard and Thurman tearing through his own version of the famous drum solo in “Moby Dick.” Vocalist and second guitarist Warlick nailed many of Robert Plant’s infamously high-pitched vocals, especially on “Whole Lotta Love.”

In its nearly two-hour long set, Out on the Tiles performed tracks from across Zeppelin’s ultra-successful first six albums, from 1969’s Led Zeppelin to 1975’s Physical Graffiti.

Despite the challenges of playing such heavy music for a seated auditorium audience, Out on the Tiles still managed to rock; with the audience clapping along to “Heartbreaker” and bobbing their heads to the riff of “Moby Dick.” It is a credit to the musicians that their sound was perhaps too loud for the venue, as they were able to capture much of the weight and power of Zeppelin in its prime.

There are two ways to cover songs by Led Zeppelin, whose live music was known to be slightly sloppier and more aggressive than the recorded, studio versions. Out on the Tiles found itself somewhere in the middle.

Covach’s guitar was generally far cleaner and more faithful to the studio recordings than Page usually was when playing live. Meanwhile, the drums and vocals still surged with the ferocity that was created in “Wall of Sound.” The result was a fantastic tribute to the music of one of rock and roll’s biggest names.