Whole Lotta Love for Elise Testone in Providence

Elise Testone brought her All Star Tribute to Led Zeppelin to The Spot Underground in Providence, Rhode Island on Friday, Dec. 4. Rhode Island band Sgt. Baker and the Clones opened for her, and Breakfast for the Boys from New Paltz closed out the night.

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The Spot Underground, now in its third location in Providence, features two stages. Sgt. Baker and the Clones took the stage in the smaller room around 9:20 p.m. Their sound is ’90s grunge meets rockabilly and country. The band consists of three guitarists, two on acoustic; a bassist; and a drummer. The crowd was still filing in throughout their set. They opened with “Stick Fishin’,” which features quotes from The Beatles’ “Cry Baby Cry” outro. This was followed up by a cover of Robert Cray’s “Phone Booth,” which brought some energy to the crowd as folks started dancing. A country influence could be heard in the slower “Flesh Puppets.” They also played a few more covers, including Mars Volta’s “The Widow” and Cold War Kids’ “We Used to Vacation.” The latter featured additional vocals from local singer/songwriter Nate Cozzolino. They closed out their set with a raunchy cover of “I Will Survive,” played in a similar vein to Cake’s version with some altered lyrics. The lead guitarist played a really nice solo before the band finished the song to end their set. The highlight of the set was “Pigs,” which featured some fun animal sounds from Baker to start. While a bit rough around the edges, the set was enjoyable for all the smiling faces in the room.

Testone’s set was delayed a bit. To keep the fans happy, Cozzolino, who is also the venue’s cook, played a short set with Mike Baker, aka Sgt. Baker, on djembe. His set started with a cover of Sublime’s “Badfish.” He then played through a handful of originals to a small crowd eager to hear Elise Testone and her tribute to Led Zeppelin.

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Elise Testone and her all-star tribute to Led Zeppelin took the main stage around 11 p.m. The band consisted of Todd Stoops (RAQ) on keyboards and backup vocals, Michelangelo Carubba (Turkuaz) on drums, Danny Mayer (Alan Evans Trio) on guitar, and Jed Lingat (Timothy Bloom) on bass. Testone, of course, handled the lead vocals. They opened their set with “Black Dog.” It took a little bit for the crowd to really get into it, but when the opening notes to “When the Levee Breaks” were played everyone was pulled in. The set ran through 19 of Led Zeppelin’s more notable songs. “Trampled Under Foot” featured a short, but fun keyboard solo from Stoops. “No Quarter,” one of the highlights of the night, saw an unexpected piano solo, one of the few moments the band took some creative license with the music. This was followed by two of the other highlights of the night, “Kashmir” and “Nobody’s Fault by Mine,” which featured excellent keyboard and guitar solos. “Fool in the Rain,” while a bit rough, was one of the crowd favorites of the night. The entire venue was dancing along. “Heartbreaker” was played without the expected segue into “Living Loving Maid.” Carubba played a solid solo in “Moby Dick,” and his perfect keeping of the beat held the band together throughout the night.

The set ended with “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” an odd choice given slower tempo. They came back out to encore with “Rock and Roll.” The one other highlight of the night was “Over the Hills and Far Away,” which featured some nice interplay between the guitar and keyboards during a short jam. The crowd was quite pleased with the two hour set. The band was tight and well-rehearsed. Testone’s vocals, while not completely appropriate as a Robert Plant replacement, handled the songs as though they were written for her. If any criticism is to be made, it’s that they simply covered the songs as Led Zeppelin would have played them. With a band of such talented musicians, it would be nice to see them use some creativity in the future, making the songs more their own and fitting them better to Testone’s voice.

Breakfast for the Boys played a late night set in the smaller room. Their female-led soul closed out the night as the crowd slowly dwindled. Their sound can be compared to that of Lake Street Dive.

All in all, it was a great night of music in Providence. The Spot’s new location isn’t the most ideal, though the larger room has great sound, which might be better than their previous locations. If you have the chance to see Elise Testone doing any type of show, don’t hesitate. Her voice is fabulous and quite adaptable to many different genres and styles of music.

Elise Testone will be playing with her All-Star Band on Thursday, Dec. 17 at The Hollow Bar in Albany at 9 p.m. Brian LaPoint and the Joints are the supporting act. Tickets are currently available.