We sat down with Boot-Led-Zeppelin's Raff Achour, band frontman and Jimmy Page impersonator ahead of his band's gig at New Wimbledon Theatre, set to be an electrifying recreation of Led Zeppelin's exhilarating shows of the 70s, to discuss all things Rock and Roll.
What is it like touring all over the country?
I really enjoy it. It's like being on an extended holiday! Last week we drove through the Lake District on our way to Scotland. The views were breath-taking, especially with the nice weather we've had recently. What really makes it though is that we all get on extremely well band and crew. It definitely wouldn't be enjoyable for me otherwise.
Is there anything you miss from home whilst on the road? Or anything you can't tour without?
I miss my friends and family. But we're never away for too long. I can't tour without my ego though! I always take it with me!
How did you get into performing in a tribute band? What drew you to it?
It's the music of Led Zeppelin that did it.
I grew up in Morocco where I got familiar with Arabic music. As a kid, I used to go to the cinema with my brothers and there would be two films showing, one of them would invariably be a Bollywood film, so I got exposed to Indian music as well at an early age. Then as a teenager, I started to play the guitar and got into Rock 'n' Roll.
When I discovered Led Zeppelin, I just loved how they blended Arabic and Indian music into their own material. I was simply blown away. Jimmy Page called it 'the CIA influence'. Celtic Indian Arabic!
All the members of Led Zeppelin are so unique in their style. Nobody plays like them. And together they created something magical.
In my early days playing in bands, I realised I particularly enjoyed performing Zeppelin numbers. So I decided I wanted to explore their music a lot more and looked for the best musicians I could find that would do the music justice. And so the idea of Boot-Led-Zeppelin was born.
Performing the music of Led Zeppelin is an amazing experience. It was designed to be experienced live. There is so much room for improvisation and experimentation. Songs can sound different from one night to the other. It's music that's alive and that's the spirit of Led Zeppelin!
They covered many different styles, from acoustic folk numbers like Going to California to epic tracks like Kashmir. And I get to play many different instruments, Acoustic guitars, mandolin, double necks it's fantastic!
It's demanding and you have to be focused at all times but ultimately very rewarding for band and audience alike.
What is it like impersonating Jimmy Page?
I get to wear very outrageous colourful outfits and get away with it!
It's great fun actually. We take the music very seriously of course and that's the most important part. But we also want to take our audience on a journey back in time. We pay great attention to detail recreating costumes, props, effects so our audience gets to experience as close as possible what it was like to see Led Zeppelin in their heyday.
What do Led Zeppelin mean to you?
The greatest Rock 'n' Roll band of all time. They wrote some fantastic music and had amazing musicianship on stage and great charisma. Their live performances are legendary.
Performing their music is total joy to me. The music and lyrics of Led Zeppelin are a celebration of life, a message of hope, friendship and all things positive. We hope we manage to channel those good vibes at our shows!
Do you have a favourite song to perform? Or favourite stage memory?
Ooh tricky one I like them all! I'm enjoying Dazed and Confused at the moment. The laser pyramid and low fog effects make it all the more dramatic.
What kind of challenges do you face when touring this show?
Getting from dressing room to the stage without getting lost.
How do you feel about getting to perform in Wimbledon?
Looking forward to it. All the band are based in London so loads of family and friends are coming along. The New Wimbledon Theatre is just such a beautiful venue. I've heard rumours there's a Turkish bath in the basement, I can't wait to check that out!
Boot Led Zeppelin will take London on a Stairway to Heaven for one night only on Sunday 27 May.