A few days ago I attended a really amazing concert with my wife (Gina the Gorgeous). This was a group called the Black Jacket Symphony. These folks specialize in recreating classic albums as live performances.
What they do is to gather a handpicked group of musicians and singers who are specifically selected for the album in question. Each of the performers strives to master the fine details of the album to ensure it is performed as sonically perfect as it was recorded.
The performance we saw was a recreation of Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" from 1973. The triple image below is composed of images from this concert. We're sitting in the upper balcony on the left as seen from the stage (can you see me waving?).
The performance was separated into two sets. The first set featured the album, followed by an intermission, which was followed by a selection of Led Zeppelin's greatest hits. The singer from the Black Jacket Symphony had the timing spot-on, and did a very creditable job, but it has to be said that Led Zeppelin's lead singer, Robert Plant, is an almost impossible act to follow. On the other hand, when I closed my eyes, I was transported back to the days of my youth. In particular, it brought back memories of seeing them live at the Knebworth open air concert in 1979 with my best friend, Billy Shears. (Shears is sadly no longer with us; he was studying Russian near Chernobyl when the power station "threw a wobbly" -- he passed away a couple of years ago due to an aggressive brain tumor -- we all miss him.)
This set me to thinking about my older cousin Michael. Michael is a brilliant artist, and I really looked up to him when I was younger. Michael dropped out of art school to be part of the Principal Edwards Magic Theatre -- a 14-member communal performance art collective made up of musicians, poets, dancers, and sound and lighting technicians. The collective was originally formed at the University of Exeter in the late 1960s, and then was later based at a farmhouse in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
The last time I was in England to visit my dear old mom (November last year), we all went round to see my auntie Shirley and my cousins, Graham and Susan, and their families. For some reason, Graham and I got to talking about Michael and the Principal Edwards Magic Theatre. Graham said that he's run across an LP of their music at a flea market, but that it had been too expensive and he'd had to pass it up.
When we returned to my mom's house, I Googled the Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, and was amazed to find they have their own entry on the Wikipedia. Then I thought to myself, "There's no chance they are on iTunes, is there?" Well, blow me down, there they were on iTunes. I immediately downloaded one of their albums. They were surprisingly good (in my humble opinion). Graham was more than surprised when I told him about the iTunes connection.
All of this got me saying to myself, "They don't make music like they used to." Then I started thinking about TV programs like The Voice and American Idol. I bet if a young Robert Plant were to be transported from the mid-1970s to the present day and entered in one of these competitions, he'd be thrown out at the first round because his vocals were just so different. What do you think?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting