Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Featured, TBL News

JASON BONHAM LED ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE –TOUR WATCH ROUND UP

5 November 2010 7,907 views 2 Comments

Photo by Scott Heck

October 20th, 2010 | Riverside Theatre

Milwaukee Wisconsin

I had the concert experience of a life time Tuesday, October 20 when the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience landed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My nephew and I had Meet & Greet tickets. Jason, his tour manager and the girl handling PR were all very friendly. There were approximately 30 people or so in line to meet the man and get his autograph on the Remo drum heads provided as part of the Meet & Greet – or anything else you wanted signed. My option – as an alternative to the drum head, was my “John Bonham – The Powerhouse Behind Led Zeppelin” book written by the late Mick Bonham (John’s brother). I had the idea to have him sign the chapter that discusses Jason’s birth with a photo of him on a motocross bike with his name. I then was thinking of what I would say or ask him – given the chance. Ironically – I stumbled upon a very rare photo of John playing a double bass drum kit – which I’ve read about in the different books. I’ve never seen any photos of the kit or better yet – him playing it. I found the photo on the Bonzo Brothers Present website http://bonzobrosdrumspresents.com/fr_home.cfm. That was it. I printed the photo and used it as a bookmark for the page to be signed by Jason. When the time arrived – I opened the book and pulled out the photo – showed it to him and simply asked, “What did that sound like?” His first reaction – after showing it to his tour manager and PR girl – was, “Wow. This is a very rare shot.” He said it sounded like someone falling down a flight of stairs, boom, ba boom boom ba boom,,, He said John only played it a three times before they took it away.

From that point on – I was in-flight, Our seats for the show were eighth row – center stage – dead center with Jason’s kit. He played the same kit/bass graphics as the ’02 arena Zep reunion gig. When the first notes of the three-hour gig came through the speakers – it was instantly obvious this show was going to be a once in a lifetime experience – the closest thing to seeing an actual Zeppelin show. Jason and his band were simply outstanding. The set list was similar to Minneapolis – with the exception of opening  in Milwaukee with Rock n’ Roll. They opened the second set – after the 20-min intermission – with Good Times – Bad Times. They brought down the house with Kashmir and the encore Whole Lotta Love. Well done, Jason.

Rick Mackie

October 21st, 2010 | Star Plaza

Merrillville Indiana

I got to meet Jason outside the venue on his way in from his
tour bus. A few other guys were there with their Led Zeppelin LPs, a
CD booklet from the In The Name of My Father – The Zepset disc,
drumheads, etc.
All in all, it was a great bonus to the whole trip. A couple hours
later, I was inside the venue and looking for the restroom when I saw
the ‘official’ meet and greet area curtained off, with Jason at a
table signing drum heads and signing pictures for a fairly sizable
group of people in a pre-gig reception. It looked a lot less cool than
the kind of interaction I had outside the venue.

…As for evaluating the actual performance, I’ll qualify my remarks
by disclosing the fact that I was in the front row and acknowledging
that probably affected my impressions. I bought a ticket a week or so
ago but decided to see what was available on the day of the show and
ended up upgrading (not knowing it would be *that* much of an upgrade
at the time). Unfortunately I forgot my earplugs and it was pretty
damn loud sitting directly in front of the guitar amps. My right ear
still hurts. Anyway – what I’m saying is that based on my positioning
and the volume, I was not able to be as critical as I might have been
if I was further away or could hear better and discern individual
notes better without being blasted by a wall of sound (which is how it
felt much of the time).

It sounded like lead vocalist James Dylan of Virtual Zeppelin did a
fantastic job all night. This is not to say he was an auditory
dead-ringer for Plant the whole night, but he sang his ass off. I’ve
read some concerns about his ability to get through the entire tour
singing this way because no one knows if his voice has been tested
like this before, but I have to say that I was very impressed with his
power and range. His best moments came during Since I’ve Been Loving
You and Kashmir. Having seen each of the ex-Zeppeliners in concert at
solo shows and then at the O2, there’s always at least one or two
goosebump-inducing moments. I wasn’t sure I’d have that at this
concert, but SIBLY provided a couple. Dylan’s vocals/phrasing during
Since I’ve Been Loving You were so close to what you hear from Plant
on the third album that they defied belief. Incredible. This didn’t
happen with every song, but he’s really got that one down. Similarly,
Kashmir owed everything to Plant’s delivery at the O2 and it was
magnificent. I think Dylan’s had a pretty fair amount of training and
I bet he’ll be fine through the end of the tour.

Lead guitarist Tony Catania was not perfect, but he was very good. He
has studied Page’s technique pretty closely and showed great
enthusiasm for the music all night long. There were some missed notes,
and sticky-fingered flubs at various times and the tone wasn’t
always right, but overall he’s very competent and capable. Catania’s
playing was most impressive on Dazed and Confused, The Lemon Song,
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, and Black Dog. He had a bit of trouble with
Over The Hills and Far Away and some interesting choices in Stairway,
but I didn’t have any serious problems with his playing. He was
infinitely better than whomever played Jimmy’s parts in the “Led
Zeppelin 2” tribute band.

I didn’t pay close attention to bassist Michael Devin or
keyboardist/lap steel/guitar player Stephen LeBlanc except during
select moments during the show – they were on the other side of the
stage from where I was – but they didn’t hit any clunkers that made me
whip my head over to them to cringe or drop my jaw in awe. Devin
played well when I really noticed him during The Lemon Song and during
Good Times Bad Times, so I think he was probably fine. I couldn’t hear
much of what LeBlanc did except Your Time Is Gonna Come, which was
fine. When he was adding accents on acoustic and lap steel, it wasn’t
very audible to me.

To Jason’s drumming – he did not disappoint. He has his own style
still powerful, but more straight ahead with fewer fills than his dad,
and when he does add fills, they’re more labored, as in Kashmir for
example.

You could tell that Jason got emotional during several points in the
show. This was – I think – the eleventh show of 37 or so on the tour,
so I wonder if those moments can possibly have the same import to him
now as they did the first few shows, and whether by the end of the
tour he’ll be very affected at all.

Photos:
http://tinyurl.com/JBLZEMerrilIN

Set 1
Rock and Roll>
Celebration Day
I Can’t Quit You Babe
*Home Movies-Jason Talks*
Your Time is Gonna Come
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
*Jason Talks – similar introduction to what Robert used for this song at O2…*
Dazed and Confused
What Is and What Should Never Be
The Lemon Song
*Jason speaks of emotional effect of next song*
Thank You
Moby Dick – *Jason drums along with footage of JHB at RAH ’70 and MSG ’73*
Set Break – 20 Minutes

Set 2
*Home Movies – footage of Jason, Pat and John… looks like it’s an
extended/full cut of what was edited down for TSRTS film*
Good Times Bad Times
Since I’ve Been Loving You
Black Dog
When The Levee Breaks – *Jason drums with original drum backing track*
*Jason speaks, takes a Red Bull break…*
The Ocean
Over The Hills and Far Away
I’m Gonna Crawl
*slight break – footage of Jason arriving at O2, voice-over comments
about the gig*
Stairway To Heaven
Kashmir
*Encore Break*
Whole Lotta Love

Twenty songs played over the course of roughly three hours and five
minutes, including a twenty-minute set break in the middle, one minor
break before Stairway and Kashmir, and then a final encore break
before WLL. Probably a solid 2.5 hours of actual Zeppelin songs.

Moby Dick was pretty well done with the video and audio accompaniment
from John Bonham from Royal Albert Hall and TSRTS footage from the
Garden.
WTLB uses the original JHB drum track from the fourth album to augment
Jason’s work – this probably had just as much to do with the
difficulty of replicating that sound on stage as it did with any sort
of tribute. It was pretty cool to see Catania play slide on what I’m
pretty sure was a Fender XII (it resembled the guitar that Page played
at Jeff Beck’s R&R HoF on Bolero/Immigrant Song). Meanwhile LeBlanc
looked to be wailing away on his lap steel, but again – it was so loud
that I couldn’t discern how much he was really contributing.

I’m Gonna Crawl was a real highlight since I’ve never seen anyone play
it live before. Dylan and Catania both acquitted themselves
brilliantly – the keyboards also sounded good. I was a little
surprised and disappointed that nothing from Presence turned up in the
set, but hearing I’m Gonna Crawl partially made up for that oversight.

The drum stool remained empty for the beginning of Stairway and
Catania used a standing acoustic guitar to pick the introduction
before using the double neck. Dylan had an acoustic strapped around
him and played it during Catania’s electric solo, which was a little
weird, but I had no complaints about the vocal climax and coda, so I
didn’t stress about it too much. The break in Whole Lotta Love was
vaguely 1975-ish, but different. The theremin section was brief.

Parting words… I feel like almost every Zeppelin fan would enjoy the
show that Jason is putting on. As I said, I admit that I was probably
casting a less critical eye and ear toward things than I otherwise
might have, due to my proximity to the stage, it was hard not to get
caught up in the moment. but because I think it’s healthy for Jason to have his own thing going
This whole
tour is probably a bit of a cathartic experience and he will probably
mentally benefit from it.

Wyatt Brake
Chicago

October 20th, 2010 | Riverside Theatre

October 21st, 2010 | Star Plaza

When I first heard many months ago that Jason Bonham was going to be involved in a Led Zeppelin Experience project, I was excited, to say the least. I had the great opportunity to see Jason in a small venue in Champaign, IL about 13 years ago when he was touring the “In The Name of My Father” tribute project, but I had not idea what to expect from this latest tour. Would the LZ Experience be something closer to the Hendrix Experience project, another “tribute band”, or something very different. As it turns out, I would have the privilege of witnessing “something completely different” for the second and third U.S. shows of the tour on back-to-back nights (Milwaukee, WI on Oct. 20th and Merrilville, IN on Oct. 21st).

For the Milwaukee show, I was in the front row, just off to the left of the drums (perfect view of Jason and his set of “cannons” right in between the bass player, singer, and a few PA speakers set up on the stage). Perfect! The show started with a nice video montage of family life with the Bonhams and an introduction by Jason. The theme of rare home videos and heartfelt commentary from Jason would be the theme carried throughout the evening. It was very clear early on that this was to be no Zep tribute nor a sensationalized production around “Bonzo”. This was all about John, Pat, Jason, Mick, and the entire Bonham clan…who they really were, and what family life was really like during the time when Zeppelin wasn’t on the road playing to millions of adoring fans.

The set list was the same each night (sorry…didn’t manage to write it down), but the songs were an interesting mix of fan favorites, Bonham showpieces, and personal favorites of Jason’s. There was one particularly touching moment in a show chocked FULL of touching moments, when the band launched into Thank You, with some amazing never before seen (at least by my eyes) footage of John Bonham hamming it up in front of the family movie camera. Another interesting set list inclusion was the rare gem “I’m Gonna’ Crawl”.

The same production and same set list was featured the next night in Indiana. The crowd may have been a little smaller, but I felt like the Indiana crowd was much more into the music. Unlike the night before, where there was a mixture of sitting and standing concertgoers speckled throughout the venue, everyone on the main floor was standing up and rocking out to a band that seemed to have become much looser and a little more improvisational in the span of just one day. Very interesting, and nice to see that even though the set list was the same, the performance, solos, and overall vide was quite different from night to night (just like Zep in the old days).

Another interesting observation from show to show is that Jason had a Zildjian gong behind him during the Wednesday night show, but was supplying gong sound from a sampler on the right side of his kit. The same Alesis or Roland device was still there on Thursday night, but the gong was no longer behind the kit. Also, while all of the video content is stunning and clearly stirs emotions in both the audience and the guy sitting behind the drum set, the one piece of video that I thought was the most amazing was an extended bit of footage from the Bonham family living room that was shot during the filming of The Song Remains The Same. We get to see a little more of the footage of a young Jason playing drums with John banging away on a set of bongos by his side, with the two changing roles at one point, with John taking the drum throne and Jason keeping time with a movie clapper off to the side. The most hilarious footage featured Jason dancing and prancing around the room as a laughing and smiling John and Pat look on in pure bewilderment.

Overall, it was great to see Jason perform again, the live music sounds great, and the footage and commentary throughout the evening from Jason is worth the price of admission alone. Not that this should come to a surprise to anyone who saw the genuine outpouring of emotion and appreciation to the fans that came from Jason toward the end of the O2 Reunion concert, but Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience proves that Jason truly loves Led Zeppelin, he loves the music, the fans, and he most certainly loves his Dad very much.

Jay M. Lewis

October 27th, 2010 | Hamilton Place – Great Hall
Hamilton Ontario

Just returned from an evening witnessing Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience in Hamilton, Ontario. Nothing but ZEP – all evening. Full house in Hamilton. Mixed crowd of old Zepheads and young new Zepsters. I can just reiterate what Kathy wrote last week: an outstanding rock concert focusing on the life of John Bonham. All five band members played almost to the note – the visuals in the back ground enhanced the music. Not one dull moment. This is the closest any Zep fan can get to the real thing – and I don’t believe in miracles. A must hear and see.

Edward Klenk Mississauga, Ontario

Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario

October 28, 2010

“Kitchener,” says Jason Bonham from the stage, bowler hat much like his father would occasionally wear perched on his head, “is very special to me. The background picture on my phone is of my dad in Kitchener.”

John Henry Bonham, Jason’s father and the Raison d’etre for the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience, visited Kitchener once as drummer of Led Zeppelin. On Nov 4, 1969 Led Zeppelin played the Kitchener auditorium to a “with it,“ crowd of 2,000  mostly college kids. “Coming into town,” Bonham continues with a laugh, “it doesn’t look like it’s changed much.” 41 years later, almost to the day, the crowd of 2,000 people ranging in age from pre-teen to people who might have seen the original when they played Kitchener, had a great time rocking out to the fathers music, the sons beat.

JBLZE ran through a 20 song set that had fans stomping the floor boards of the usually staid Centre in  the Square.  From the beginning of Rock and Roll to the final lick from Rush’s Tom Sawyer, (an add on to the end of Whole Lotta Love for JBLZE’s Canadian crowds) the band was on a rocking journey and the fans happily came along for the ride.

Very little attempt was made to be Led Zeppelin outside of guitarist Tony Catania efforts to channel Jimmy Page. The visual representation on offer came from the video screens behind the drum set. They offered glimpses of home movies, pictures from the Bonham family album and on some numbers, offered a psychedelic backdrop to create atmosphere. Despite the pre-tour talk about the home movies making this more than just a Led Zeppelin tribute, it was it’s use for psychedelia when the screens were most effective.

The show was presented in two parts with a twenty minute intermission. Each half began with Bonham home movies and a Jason Bonham monologue. The beginning of the second half offered a young Jason Bonham hip swinging, sexed up dance routine for his mother and father that was hilarious. A third monologue and video, prior to Stairway to Heaven, was on the 02 concert: “the greatest night of my (Bonham’s) life.”

When the band was playing, however, the screen was secondary, at least from my seats in the fifth row. The show’s much talked about highlight was Moby Dick. Not being a fan of drum solos I sat almost transfixed as Jason matched John Henry beat for beat, bass pedal roll for bass pedal roll. The screen offering sometimes dad, sometimes son and sometimes both in split screen made an extremely effective ending to the first half of the show, and gave he band their first of many standing ovations on the night.

For this tour Jason Bonham put together a very good band and on this night, they were on fire. It felt, seemed from close in, that it was a special night. Some early reviews had suggested flaws, and video evidence suggests this to be true. Not on this night. The band, simply put, were white hot.  They nailed the evenings second song, Celebration Day as it was done on The Song Remains the Same, and you just knew it would be a good night. Celebration Day was always to my ears a hit and miss song for Zeppelin. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience played it bang on. A good start that got better. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You was spine tingling good, Catania bouncing back and forth between electric and his stand mounted acoustic. What is and What Should Never Be was outstanding.

But the shows real highlights were in the second half. Good Times, Bad Times flat out rocked, Since I’ve Been Loving You steamed, Cantania having his moment and nailing it, The Ocean was a blast of good fun, I’m Gonna Crawl heart wrenching. When The Levee Breaks was magical, Jason leaving the drumming duties to his father early in the song: “It’s such a simple beat, but such a difficult feel,” Bonham tells the crowd beforehand. On Stairway to Heaven Catania again pulled out the acoustic guitar stand, and they played a variation of studio and live version that left you wondering why Page never thought of taping his acoustic to a stand. Kashmir, which Bonham declared was, “my favourite song, period,” had everyone on their feet.

It was a very good show: great music, done by a band having an on night. Aside from the story-line that went with it, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience put on a great rock concert.

It’s safe to suggest the feeling is mutual, the Bonham’s are very special to Kitchener.

Brian Gardiner

www.briangardiner.ca/rambleon

*************************************

Setlist: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience:

Centre in the Square,  Kitchener, Ontario

October 28, 2010

Set One

Video

Rock and Roll

Celebration Day

Black Dog (w/Bring it on Home intro)

———-Jason Bonham Monologue—————-

You’re Time is Gonna Come

Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You

———–Bonham Chatter————–

Dazed and Confused

What is and What Should Never Be

I Can’t Quit You Baby

———–Bonham Chatter————–

Thank You

Moby Dick (drum solo with” John Bonham)

———————-Intermission————————

Set Two

Video

Good Times, Bad Times

How Many More Times

Since I’ve Been Loving You

When the Levee Breaks (“With” John Bonham)

The Ocean

Over the Hills and Far Away

I’m Gonna Crawl

——Video – 02 concert Dec 2007 ————

Stairway to Heaven

Kashmir

—————–Encore————–

Whole Lotta Love (w/ Tom Sawyer)

Count Basie Theatre

November 3, 2010

Red Bank, New Jersey

Set List:

Rock N’ Roll

Celebration Day

Black Dog

Your Time is Gonna Come

Dazed and Confused

Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You

What is and What Should Never Be

Lemon Song

Thank You

Moby Dick

Intermission

Good Times, Bad Times

How Many More Times

Since I’ve Been Loving You

When The Levee Breaks

The Ocean

Over The Hills and Far Away

I’m Gonna Crawl

Stairway

Kashmir

Encore

Whole Lotta Love

On November 3, 2010, Jason Bonham appeared at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey.  While the show was not a sell out and tickets could still be purchased for the meet and greet as well as seating in any portion of the theatre, the crowd that did attend made up for the few empty seats.  Bonham began with the 1-2-3 punch of Rock N Roll, Celebration Day and Black Dog as heard during the 1973 tour and accompanying Song Remains the Same soundtrack.  Based on the amount of applause received, the best part of the evening was when Bonham addressed the crowd and discussed his younger years with his father (including discussions of John Bonham’s car collection and trips taken together as a family).  His stories were set to the backdrop of old family photos and video.  Highlights of the first half of the show were the Lemon Song with superb bass playing by Michael Devin and, obviously, Moby Dick.

Photo Scott Heck

During the intermission, there were grumblings that the first half of the show was not exciting the crowd.  This was interpreted in two ways: (1)someone decided to rush the stage to get the crowd in a frenzy and was promptly removed and (2) Bonham and company played a blistering version of How Many More Times, which they revealed was a first for this tour.  Clearly, the latter was the proper way to get the crowd involved.  This set the mood for the rest of the show as everyone was on their feet through the encores.  Highlights included a very powerful When The Levee Breaks and Kashmir.  The band is clearly in fine form and the interaction amongst the musicians was a joy to watch.

Overall, the entire event is highly recommended and one that should not be missed.  All in attendance were treated to a somewhat intimate view of Jason Bonham’s childhood and interaction with his father. Jason was clearly moved by the applause given throughout the night.  From my front row center view, some excellent photos were taken.  I was also fortunate enough to meet some rabid tight but loose readers (inc. Sunday and her husband) who are planning on attending future shows in NY and Florida.  As this was the first time I had seen Jason since the 02 show in ’07, it was a reminder of how powerful a drummer he has become and what a disciplined student he is of his father’s work.

Scott Heck


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

2 Comments »

  • ledhed58 said:

    Just saw the show in Houston last night and all I can say is WOW!!!!! Truly awesome and emotional was the Moby Dick footage from Earls court played along side of Jason as he and his dad wailed on the drums. Jason’s backing band was superb and did not disappoint at all, the choice of songs was perfect and the version of STH was just breathtaking…Thank you, Jason, for doing this for your father’s fans and the fans of the worlds greatest rock band, you did your dad proud..Peace from the U.S.A. ….

  • ian baker said:

    This looks great, and is coming form the right place, not just a souped up tribute band..
    Dave, any news about Jason bringing the show to the UK?

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.