Bass player Billy Childs has noticed lately that his Philadelphia-based tribute band Get the Led Out gets a lot of respect for playing nothing but Led Zeppelin songs.
But the band is also a popular attraction – they can go out on the road and play venues the size of Durham Performing Arts Center, where the band performs Sunday night. A good booking agent plays a part in that kind of success, of course. But respect was not something Childs would have predicted, especially from reviewers.
“I think one of the main reasons may be,” he figures, “that if you look around right now, brother, there’s just not many rock bands out there – tribute, or otherwise, you know?”
Childs is the kind of guy who looks around for that kind of ’70s-rooted hard rock band. He was an original member of the ’80s-era Philadelphia glam-rock band Britny Fox, best known for the 1988 hit “Long Way to Love.”
When he was contacted with an offer to join Get the Led out about four years ago, Childs was living in California and touring with a version of Britney Fox that he now refers to as “Britny Faux.” By then, Childs was the only original member.
He already knew some of the members of Get the Led Out from the Philadelphia music scene. He’d even played with some of them. Right away, the concept behind Get the Led Out was something Childs found “very interesting.”
“It was like, you know, note-for-note recreations of the Led Zeppelin studio stuff,” he says.
“And it’s no short order there. You know, that’s pretty impressive, if you can pull that off.”
One thing the band doesn’t try to pull off is a visual re-creation of Led Zeppelin’s live shows, although long-maned lead singer Paul Sinclair could maybe pass for Robert Plant from a distance.
Instead of having just four members, like Led Zeppelin, the lineup of Get the Led Out includes six people, so the layered guitar parts of Zep’s Jimmy Page on masterworks like “Dancing Days” don’t need to be consolidated into one.
Childs says the band has a completely different lineup than when it started a decade ago.
Over the years, as members left, they were replaced with musicians that were nurtured to duplicate the sounds of classic albums, instead of trying to bring old concert footage to life.
“It works great with Elvis,” says Childs.
“And it even works with The Beatles to a certain degree. But when you start getting into these iconic rock bands, I don’t know that you can really imitate that. Like, I see these guys, and they have blond wigs, they’re 30 pounds overweight – it just doesn’t work for me.”