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Black Jacket Symphony Performing Led Zeppelin IV
October 03, 2014
Bijou Theater
Knoxville, Tennessee

Photo by James Patterson


Tribute acts, can be (to paraphrase Forrest Gump) like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Some are merely weak attempts at being a cover band. Some do a phenomenal job.  Most fall in the middle of the spectrum.

When the opportunity to see Black Jacket Symphony (whom I’ve never heard of until I knew they were coming to Knoxville) perform Led Zeppelin’s “IV” album (plus some of their greatest hits), I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, c’mon! They’re going actually try to cover “IV” from beginning to end? If it didn’t work, they’d be playing on sidewalks of the inner city of their choice.


To say that this southeast centric (as of now) band nails it would be a gross understatement. From the opening strains of “Black Dog” to the crescendo ending of “Kashmir” at the end of their encore, BJS is, musically, the next best thing to seeing an actual Page/Plant/Jones reunion.

After wowing the crowd with “Black Dog,” they bowled us over with an incredibly energetic treatment of “Rock & Roll”. But they thoroughly won the crowd with an eye-popping handling of “Over The Hills And Far Away”.

The crowd swayed to “Stairway To Heaven” and danced in the aisles while playing “Misty Mountain Hop” to perfection. They finished out the album’s performance with “Four Sticks,” “Going To California” and “When The Levee Breaks” (those last to were rewarded with standing ovations).

After an intermission that was just the right length, Black Jacket Symphony returned to the stage to play pretty much anything you’d hope and pray would be


Photo by James Patterson

on a Zeppelin set list. Tunes like “The Song Remains The Same” and “Good Times Bad Times,” which had the crowd enthusiastically on its feet, singing along.
During a wonderfully dirty and bluesy, “Dazed And Confused,” guitarist, Bryan Gibson, broke a string while playing his gold top Les Paul with a bow. The boy didn’t miss a lick and the performance was not affected in the least little bit. THAT, my friends, is a sign of a consummate professional.

Trading out guitars, the band went into an almost note-for-note perfect cover of “Battle For Evermore,” a brilliant “What Is And What Should Never Be” and the crowd singing right along on “Ramble On.”

The second set wound up with bang-on performances of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (the vocalist’s range un-flippin’-believable!), a well-oiled delivery of “Houses Of The Holy” and “Whole Lotta Love” (complete with a perfect use of a thermin).

For the encore, the band left the crowd in blissful exhaustion after an absolutely masterful performance of “Kashmir” that would have Page, Plant and Jones standing up and taking notice.

Yeah, it was that good.

Black Jacket Symphony has several bands that tour the country performing various albums and greatest hits. With this band’s performance of Zeppelin, you can bet I’ll be catching anything they’ve got going on within driving distance of me.

And the Bijou Theater?  It’s the first time I’ve seen a performance in the beautiful and intimate venue. The acoustics are great and the staff there are friendly, courteous and helpful. It’s a class act all the way and I look forward to seeing future shows there.