Replicating the music of a band as iconic as Led Zeppelin is no easy feat. But that’s exactly what four-piece group CODA has been doing for years. As the troupe prepares for its performance in Abu Dhabi on 25th April, features writer Ferdinand Godinez speaks with Adam ‘Jimmy Page’ Rose, Peter ‘Robert Plant’ Byrne and Simon ‘John Bonham’ Wicker to find out more about their inspiration and the pressure of performing songs that are loved by millions around the world.
Where did the inspiration to form a Led Zeppelin tribute band come from?
Simon: Forming the ultimate Led Zeppelin tribute show has been a goal of mine for many, many years. I fell in love with the music of Led Zeppelin at the age of 17, about the same time I started to learn to play the drums.
My love of the music led me to study the drumming of John Bonham and my eventual desire to form a band capable of playing the music of Led Zeppelin in the best way possible.
Peter: This project has been almost 20 years in the making, but this band has been together for three years and has been through many line-ups until we finally hit upon the right combination of musicians, helping to create the right chemistry and recreate the sound and look of Led Zeppelin live on stage as closely as possible.
What attracted you to the band’s music?
Simon: We are all huge fans of the music of Led Zeppelin, and we have studied the studio recordings and live recordings in order to present the best of both worlds to both the casual Zep fan and the hard-core enthusiast.
I personally was attracted to the drumming of John Bonham because of his unique feel, musicality and the sheer power and excitement of his playing.
How challenging it is to replicate the band’s sound live?
Adam: Each member of the band really has their work cut out in order to present the music as faithfully as possible, as well as the look of the band on stage.
Led Zeppelin was a band of four incredible musicians in their own right. Each member of the band has studied the playing of their counterparts in great detail in order to pull off the most exciting and authentic tribute to Led Zeppelin in the world today.
Led Zeppelin had a wealth of material. How do you choose what songs to play each night?
Peter: With great difficulty! There are so many great songs to choose from and everyone has their own favourites so you can’t always please everybody.
However, each set has to include certain songs, like ‘Rock and Roll’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’, and then we will add a few live rarities or songs that Led Zeppelin rarely, if ever, played live. We then sprinkle in a few bigger numbers like ‘The Rain Song’ or ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, and some rockers like ‘Immigrant Song’ and a few acoustic songs.
Adam: We will sometimes have a set dedicated to a particular theme. For example, recently we played a series of special concerts dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin featuring a great selection of songs from their very early shows.
This year we are also celebrating 50 years of the Led Zeppelin II album and at certain shows the first set will consist entirely of songs from that great album.
Do you have to be a hard-core fan to join a cover band?
Simon: We think it is very important to be a big fan of the band that we are covering as we love to share our love for the music of Led Zeppelin.
We think that this is part of the appeal of CODA because we love the music as much as the fans do. This respect for the source material also means that we take great care to reproduce it as faithfully as possible, and to make sure that our shows are as accurate as possible.
CODA performs live on 25th April. AED 100. Porters English Pub, Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel, Hazza Bin Zayed Street. 9pm. Visit: abu-dhabi.platinumlist.net