Jason Bonham’s band brings new life to Led Zep
Rock ‘n ‘ roll classics sound great with faithful renditions
By Steve Metsch
Midway through his band’s concert at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Jason Bonham paused Monday night and said playing Led Zeppelin’s music “makes me feel so close to my father.”
It was a touching moment during a great night of music in the show billed as Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening.
Bonham, a fine drummer in his own right, was talking about his late father John Bonham, one-fourth of one of the greatest rock bands ever, Led Zeppelin.
The younger Bonham – at 55 he’s much older than John Bonham was when he died at age 32 in 1980 – and his band delivered many of Led Zeppelin hits we know and love.
The elder Bonham’s death effectively ended Led Zeppelin, which never toured again as a band and quit recording. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did tour together long ago, but have not toured with John Paul Jones.
The three remaining members performed with Jason Bonham for a legendary concert in December 2007 at London’s O2 Arena, which he did discuss. That’s the one that saw 20 million people worldwide try to buy tickets.
There was no hoped for reunion tour, but the music lives on.
Jason Bonham and his band were in fine form, wrapping themselves around the classic rock songs he said he loves to play.
Much of the credit goes to Bonham, who, as was his father, is the driving force of the band. But it wasn’t all drumming.
He told amusing stories about growing up the son of a famous drummer, about his not being appreciative of his father’s talent until 1979.
He was a big fan of The Police as a kid and wondered if his father was as good as drummer as Stewart Copeland.
To John Bonham’s credit, he took no offense. He did take young Jason to a Police concert. He got them backstage although he was ready to punch out Sting, his son told us with a laugh.
The other musicians also made for a memorable evening of music.
On that note, I owe you an apology. I tried and tried to find the musicians’ names, but came up empty-handed. It’s frustrating as I can’t give credit where it is due.
I will say the lead guitarist from Japan not only plays very well, but he even resembles Page in height, build and hairstyle. Oh, yes, he made good use of a double-neck guitar a la Page.
The lead singer had his Plant moments, but he wasn’t trying to mimic the golden-haired rock god. Rather, he interpreted the songs. His pipes, which may not soar to Plant’s heights heard during the band’s heyday, are very good.
The role of bassist and keyboardist Jones was shared by two musicians, both quite good.
Some musical highlights included faithful versions of “Good Times Bad Times,” and “Over the Hills and Far Away” and “Going to California” with band members sitting in front of Bonham’ drum kit.
The trifecta of “No Quarter,” “The Song Remains the Same” and “The Rain Song” was a definite highlight as the band really got its Zep on.
“Fool in the Rain” sounded fresh. And how can you top “Kashmir” which was followed by “Stairway to Heaven,” with perhaps the best guitar solo ever.
After that, Bonham said “you know the drill, raise the roof.”
The band soon returned for a blistering encore of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock and Roll” that had the crowd on its feet.
Personally, I was hoping to hear “D’yer Mak’er” or “Achilles Last Stand” but ya can’t play ‘em all. The band did play for 2 hours and 20 minutes No complaints.
Need a Led Zep fix? Tickets are available for the band’s concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.