Review from Chris Welch, music journalist and author of several Led Zeppelin books:
When Robert Plant sang the haunting Ten Years Gone on Physical Graffiti nobody expected that fifty years gone Led Zeppelin aficionados would still be celebrating and performing the music of a band that reached its peak in the 1970s.
Yet in 2018, five decades on from the birth and demise of the world’s greatest rock band, their legacy lives on and their songs are being recreated to wildly enthusiastic audiences. And we have the band Coda to thank for keeping their music alive with great gusto and expertise. Indeed ‘Keep Zeppelin live!’ was the insistent chant from the floor when Coda appeared at the Flamingo Room, O’Neill’s, Wardour Street, Soho (October 18th).
The upper room of the venue was packed with fans who cheered the quartet that not only SOUNDED like Led Zeppelin, but actually managed to look eerily like the once youthful lads who revolutionised rock in 1968. We are so used to seeing the now somewhat weather beaten faces of the original members, it came as a shock to see Adam Rose-Alison (lead guitar), Peter Byrne (vocals), Rob Deery (bass guitar and keyboards) and Simon Wicker (drums) looking – well so YOUNG.
It has to be said that for those who saw Led Zeppelin in their earliest days, first contact with Coda is a bit alarming. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or shed a tear. It’s a bit like seeing ghosts or holograms come to life. But this was a sincere and moving tribute by a group of excellent, nay brilliant musicians who captured the spirit of the legendary group perfectly.
More importantly as Coda warmed up during this special gig billed as Celebrating 50 Years Of Led Zeppelin, they unleashed their own personalities and played with an interactive energy that was all their own. The first time I saw Zep ‘live’ was just a few hundred yards further up Wardour Street at the old Marquee Club in 1968. So it was quite a poignant experience to feel the same kind of excitement as the band launched into one of my favourite songs from the first album I Can’t Quit You Baby.
Adam, clad in the kind of Home Counties pullover once favoured by James Patrick Page, played the bluesy guitar theme with almost chilling accuracy as Peter matched him with a soulful Robert Plant-esque cry from the heart. It was at this moment that I warmed to these cheeky upstarts and realised they were for real. Talking of ghosts, I could imagine Zep manager Peter Grant would have approved too, if he were looking down from rock heaven (we hope not up), and would have bustled into the Flamingo Room demanding that their fee be tripled and they be sent off on an eight month tour of America.
Coda had warmed up with Train Kept A Rollin’ after a recorded Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman style announcement had welcomed them to the stage. “Are you ready? We are here tonight because we have good taste!” Soon the band were embarking on a magnificent rendition of the block busting Dazed And Confused with Rob Deely not only playing the famed bass line like John Paul Jones but even managing to look like him.
As Adam’s guitar rang out across Soho the use of a violin bow heightened the spine chilling effect of the haunting theme. Soon Coda were racing into the up tempo section of the arrangement, driven by Simon Wicker’s consistently explosive drumming.
It was during this successful recreation of a Zeppelin classic that a young girl dancing in front of the stage came into her own, long blond hair flying as she shook and shivered. This was not mere head banging. This was head ballet.
Coda showed they were not just about recreating the excitement of a rock band playing at high speed and maximum volume, when they performed a sensitive treatment of Thank You from Led Zeppelin II. This was of course Robert Plant’s magnum opus, the song which first established him a substantial lyricist. Peter Byrne rose to the occasion singing If the Sun refused to shine I would still be loving you. When mountains crumble to the sea here would still be you and me…to rhapsodic keyboard accompaniment.
Ah, ha but now what!? Yes it was time for Simon Wicker to shine on that tumultuous explosion of percussive power, the thunderous Moby Dick drum solo also from Led Zeppelin II. Mustachioed Simon blessed with unfathomable reserves of energy was left on his own to execute the famous battering snare, tom tom and bass drum patterns with stunning accuracy.
He even recreated the bare handed routine that often drew blood when I espied Bonzo playing his showcase number on tour. John Bonham would have been proud of him. And Robert Plant would have bowed and presented him with a banana.
There was more to come! Yes the crowd, who had cheered Moby Dick now leapt to their feet for an extremely fast Communication Breakdown. To complete the madness Adam stepped in front of a real Theremin to pass his hands over the aerial and produce spooky effects in time honoured Pagian tradition. The first set ended with a medley during which I tossed aside my notebook, raised a glass of lager and just enjoyed every note.
What better way to celebrate 50 Years of such great music and the achievements of giants who once roamed the earth. Go see them. Not so much a Coda as a new beginning…CHRIS WELCH
So, so good. First gig for my boys as well - they were delighted with the signed set list! They’ve done nothing but keep listening to Kashmir today (as have I to be fair...). We’ll be back! - Simon Rose
I first saw CODA in a professional capacity as their photographer for a gig at the Eastbourne Underground Thearter late 2017. I have been to see them several times since and just can’t get enough. One of the gigs I had the pleasure again taking photographs was at a gig in Dartford (The Mick Jagger Centre) and also took my 13 year old son who absolutely loved it (and has been learning various Zep tracks since on his guitar) - Not just a great band but an inspiration to an up and coming guitarist as well!!.
Looking forward to attending many more gigs .... All the guys (Pete, Adam, Rob and Simon) are simply fantastic and dedicated musicians and put on and brilliant show ....
If you like Led Zeppelin then you must go and see there fantastic show . NOT TO BE MISSED
Simply Amazing .... Book tickets NOW
I saw Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979 - at least I am reliably informed I was there. Fast forward nearly 40 years and I've now had the Led Zep live experience via CODA a further eight times. Yes, they're that good. Individually fantastic musicians, but collectively it's just like seeing Robert, Jimmy, Jon Paul and John all over again, but actually being there this time. Adam gets every riff, lick and solo to perfection, Pete hits every note and scream and so on. They should be very proud of what they've achieved.
More comments from our fans:
He's still singing this morning! His highlight was your incredible drum solo in Moby Dick, and high fiving birthday boy! Really impressed us both. The Ocean ripple drumming was spot on! Highly recommend people go see them. - Phil.
I had such a good time at your concert from Mia (I don’t have my own web page because I’m 8)
A selection of some of our 5 star Facebook reviews:
The best Led Zepp tribute band on the circuit at the moment...... CODA - Jay Nolan-Latchford
Close your eyes and it's difficult to tell they're not the real thing, then open them and it's STILL difficult to tell they're not the real deal. I saw Led Zeppelin a number of times and never thought I'd hear them live again but these guys are soooo good and what's better than seeing your favourite band in a pub with a pint in your hand. They have a great stage Presence, Pete Rambles on a bit, How Many More Times do we have to tell him, Thank You for many a great evening guys....
Thanks for a Brilliant night, we will be highly recommending you to others who may be interested and will definitely be coming to see you again - Liz Dyer.
It was my 8 year old daughters first gig and we all had a brilliant time!!! I felt a bit emotional listening to the music I grew up with live ♥️ ♥️
Thank you so much xxxx - Linnea Lillie
It was a very special evening made especially perfect by hearing you play Thank You. We Thank YOU all xxx - Michaela Tait
Saw Coda last night at a sold out show in Eastbourne they were Awesome great musicianship great set list seriously recommend them many thanks for a great night. Stephen Summerfield.
We love to hear your feedback and find out what you think of our show. We have worked very hard to produce the best and most authentic Led Zeppelin tribute show around, and we hope you like it. If you have seen us recently, please do let us know what you thought of the show by getting in touch via the Contact page.
This band are just incredible - CODA truly epitomise all that made Zeppelin great. I have seen several Zeppelin tributes in the UK and abroad, and CODA are without question the best, and most authentic tribute to the Led Zeppelin legacy. I have seen them twice, and both performances were superb - the look, the sound, the raw energy, and that chemistry between the band members - which mirrors that of Led Zeppelin.
You experience what it may have felt like to be at a Zeppelin show - that incredible vibe -which is all any Zeppelin lover wants, especially those of us who never got to experience a Zepp show back in the day.
The passion and dedication these guys have for Zeppelin is obvious- they do each and every song so much justice and with such authenticity and attention to detail. Mind-blowing stuff - but grab some CODA tickets and go and see for yourself - you are sure to relive some rock n' roll dreams and fall in love with Led Zeppelin all over again...