Live Review: Zepparella; this just in from Nielsen: album sales down, vinyl sales up, and everyone is streaming…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:31 am July 9, 2014
Zepparella at The Waiting Room, July 8, 2014.

Zepparella at The Waiting Room, July 8, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

The problem with any Led Zeppelin tribute performance is that — in the mind of a hardcore fan — every riff, every nuance, every musical cue has been permanently ingrained. I’ve been listening to those Zeppelin records for nearly 30 years. And as such, there are things I’ve come to expect when listening to a band try to perform those songs, no matter how attractive the performers are.

And when the riff, the nuance, the cue is missed, mangled or glossed over, well, it does not go unnoticed. Thus it was last night at Zepparella at The Waiting Room. Four young-ish ladies playing the hits we’ve come to know and love. And while they were fun to watch, they missed the mark musically more than they hit it, whether it was singing verses in the wrong key, mangling a central riff or re-imagining a solo or vocal phrase.

On the plus side was the rhythm section. Lots of people were there to see the drummer, Clementine, who has family here in Omaha and has a personal connection to local legend Tim Moss (Ritual Device, Porn). While her drumming wasn’t as thick and throaty as Bonham’s (and whose is?) she respectfully captured the essence of his style. I’m sure she made her family proud.

Bassist Angeline Saris also was impressive in the John Paul Jones role, sticking tightly with Clementine, keeping the bottom intact during some rather loose moments. Frontwoman Noelle Doughty sounded like Nancy Wilson aping Robert Plant, while Gretchen Menn took the biggest liberties with Page’s work, inventing riffs where recognized standards belonged.

Only the most fearsome Zep nerd would make the above comments, especially considering the crowd of 100+ didn’t seem to mind the skipped notes during the slide guitar part on “In My Time of Dying” or the strange vocal take on “Immigrant Song.” They were too busy grooving, or in the case of the table of fat middle aged guys behind me in Tommy Bahama-wear, too busy yelling not-so-clever one-liners at the band like, “You can squeeze my lemon.” Har-har.

Maybe the rust and the band’s lack of energy had to do with this being only the third date on a tour that runs into August. I made it to “Moby Dick” then hit the road, listening to the remastered Zeppelin II recording in my car on the way home.

* * *

Well, the Nielsen Mid-Year 2014 sales report is out and it continues to look bleak for traditional album sales. For the first six months of the year, album sales were down 14.9 percent vs. the same period last year. Total album sales (CDs, cassettes, LPs, and digital albums) were 120.9 million, vs. 142 million last year through June.

Meanwhile, vinyl sales grew a whopping 40.4 percent to 4 million (vs. 2.9 million through June 2013). Yeah, I know 4 million ain’t squat, but at least the number is growing.

The most disheartening fact in the Nielsen report (other than the top 10) is that on-demand audio streams rose an amazing 50.1 percent in the first six months of 2014 to just over 70 billion songs . Holy Spotify.

For you vinyl fans, here’s the vinyl chart for the first six months of 2014:

— Jack White, Lazaretto, 49,100 units
— Arctic Monkeys, AM, 25,100
— Beck, Morning Phase, 21,300
— Black Keys, Turn Blue, 21,000
— Lana Del Rey, Born to Die, 16,500
— Bob Marley/Wailers, Legend, 13,000
— Beatles, Abbey Road, 12,600
— Lorde, Pure Heroine, 12,400
— Mac Demarco, Salad Days, 11,900
— St. Vincent, St. Vincent, 11,400NCENT 11400

And if you’re still bummed about the music industry’s downward spiral, just read Tayler Swift’s Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal (here). Taylor would like to point out:

“…people are still buying albums, but now they’re buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone. It isn’t as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us.”

So there. Get challenged, rockers!

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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