Runes For One More: Zep Revivalists Mr. Jimmy Wield Hammer Of The Gods In Toronto

The Japanese guitarist brings his Led Zep tribute show to Toronto for three nights.

Sometimes the song really does remain the same — all the way down to the last wildly bent guitar note and subtle rustle of a satin jacket against a 1959 Les Paul. It’s something Toronto audiences are about to find out, as Led Zeppelin revivalists Mr. Jimmy take over Kobayashi Hall for an absolutely uncanny trip back to the days when giants truly walked the Earth (and the rest of us got happily Trampled Underfoot).

Presented by the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, the three concerts will lavishly recreate the mighty Zep’s historic 1973 three-night stand at New York’s Madison Square Garden — the same shows captured for posterity in the immortal concert film The Song Remains the Same and on its classic soundtrack album. On Aug. 8, 9 and 10, Mr. Jimmy bandmembers Akio “Mr. Jimmy” Sakurai (lead guitar), August Young (vocals), Alexis Angel (bass guitar) and George Fludas (drums) will offer a performance that replicates every nuance of those classic shows, from the peerless musicianship to the vintage equipment, wardrobe, lighting and staging. It’s a pitch-perfect spectacle of sight and sound that’s going to leave fans of the prototypical arena band plenty dazed all right, but less confused than simply awestruck.

Nothing less should be expected of Sakurai, a former kimono maker (and the offspring of same) who has spent three decades mimicking the music and mannerisms of guitar god Jimmy Page to a T. Having fallen under the spell of the human riff machine at age 17, Sakurai has not only played and replayed Page’s parts until physical graffiti became muscle memory, but learned to move and even look like the iconic axeman to the point where the devil himself would do a double take.

For the first 20 years, Sakurai was content to ply his purist’s trade in tiny Tokyo clubs — until one fateful night when Page himself showed up to watch, listen and ultimately give his enthusiastic blessing. The experience spurred Sakurai to relocate to L.A. and turn his six-string idolatry into a career.

What happened next is chronicled in the movie Mr. Jimmy, an eight-years-in-the-making documentary that recently played the Toronto Japanese Film Festival. With a fly-on-the-wall immediacy, the film shows how Sakurai’s American stint with the L.A. outfit Led Zepagain was only a stepping stone on the way to founding Mr. Jimmy, a passion project that’s brought his ongoing obsession to full flower in the most meticulous detail. As the Toronto audience is about to discover, the Mr. Jimmy experience isn’t merely a live re-creation of album tracks every FM listener knows by heart, but a reverent summoning of the particular power of Zep in concert, as orchestrated by a disciple who’s studied live bootlegs and other artifacts of the era with the devout diligence of a seminarian. “To play this music in a lackluster way would be inexcusable,” Sakurai says. “I just want to express the magic of Jimmy Page.”

Proceeds from the shows will go to supporting the not-for-profit Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Tickets for the Kobayashi Hall shows range from $125 to $500, with VIP and meet-and-greet packages offering perks like exclusive rehearsal access, a photo session with the band shot by Rush cover photographer Yosh Inouye, and keepsake commemorative merch. See all the details below.

In the meantime, Mr. Jimmy the movie will be screened June 28 at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and on Sept. 19 at The Whale Theatre in Greystones, Ireland. And Sakurai has shows booked for fall with another band he now happens to play for: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening. Yes, all those years of study have earned him the endorsement of more than one member of the family. As Robert Plant himself might say, that’s the way.

VIP tickets include:
• Front row ticket
• Exclusive afternoon rehearsal access
• Archival-quality studio portrait with you and Jimmy by iconic Rush photographer Yosh Inouye
• Mr. Jimmy Live at Kobayashi Hall T-shirt, poster and program
• Post-show reception with band and special guests, including hosted bar
• One-year JCCC membership for member discounts and the inside track on upcoming events and performances .

The Meet and Greet Package includes:

Mr. Jimmy Live at Kobayashi Hall T-shirt
• Photo on your camera with Jimmy and the band
• Autographed show poster
• Exclusive vintage-style show program

Get tickets HERE.