posted on September 11, 2013 00:00
Close your eyes. The first notes of “Stairway to Heaven” filter through the wide open spaces of an outdoor concert venue. The sounds, the atmosphere make you feel as if you’re experiencing the real Led Zeppelin. For a moment, you believe.
Open your eyes. And there you’ll see St. Louis’s own Mark Quinn, Jimmy Griffin, John Pessoni, Cub Smith and Dave Grelle. It’s Celebration Day – the 314’s Led Zeppelin tribute band doing what they do best.
“The band – not even locally – the band period is just pretty top notch..,” said Pessoni, Celebration Day's resident drummer. “We’re about as close as you’re gonna get. There are moments it’s pretty darn close.”
And this Saturday, Zeppelin fans old and new will experience Celebration Day in a way they never have before – at Jefferson Barracks (JB) Park for the band’s first outdoor show. Pessoni, also a member of Pink Floyd tribute band El Monstero, said Griffin (guitarist) has wanted to do a summer show “for the longest time.” With El Monstero compatriot Kevin Gagnepain wanting to promote more shows, the time is now.
“[Kevin’s] big idea was for us to try playing at JB…,” Pessoni said. “We’re just kind of seeing how it goes… whether or not people turn out.”
Despite being an outdoor show, Pessoni said he does not think it will be too different because there aren’t any “El Monstero-sized theatrics.” However, not performing at the Pageant will give the show a “different vibe.”
“[The Pageant] is a very sort of roomy room, very ambient. You can’t really remove the sound of the room from the room,” Pessoni said. “It’s a lot drier outside. I think it’s going to be really cool. Zeppelin music is usually playing to the vibe of [an] outside, summery … rock festival.”
The tough part of the show, according to Pessoni, is the logistics. For shows at Jefferson Barracks, all of the equipment has to be brought in and set up.
“It’s certainly great for the people watching it…,” Pessoni said. “It’s not going to be drastically different visually… [but we] always change it a little bit. There will always be a surprise or two. I think it’s going to be an enjoyable watching experience…”
The set list, according to Pessoni, is “pretty well banged together,” and will consist of mostly studio versions of songs. But the tribute act will also throw in more live versions than normal.
“[There are] a lot of live versions of songs that are really cool, and [there’s a] really interesting way to pull it off live…,” Pessoni said. “That’s nothing drastic, but it’s pretty cool. [We are] becoming more jammier.”
As part of their way to keep the show fresh for regular attendees, Pessoni said they will change the stage setup and band members may have different outfits that reflect the original Zeppelin members. But the biggest year-to-year change is the set list, which Pessoni said is partially updated based on suggestions from fans.
“A couple years ago, we busted out “All My Love,” which is pretty much the most ‘ballady’ thing they ever wrote…,” Pessoni said.
They can also change up the theatrics, but Pessoni said it is the music that really makes the show.
“[Zeppelin is just] ‘blast you in the face’ rock,” Pessoni said. “Hopefully, we bring the rock and the theatrics take a backseat.”
Even though the future of a continuous summer Zeppelin experience is uncertain, Pessoni did not rule it out.
“If we did [another outdoor show], I don’t know if we’d do JB or not… It really remains to be seen how this goes…,” Pessoni said. “One of the most enjoyable experiences I have is playing with these guys and playing Led Zeppelin music…”
Tickets for Saturday’s show can be purchased HERE.
PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Addotta