JASON BONHAM’S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING (JBLZE)
Perth Concert Hall, WA
May 26th, 2018
I know what you’re thinking.
Why are we covering what is basically, 99.9% a cover band? A cover band, none less than a Led Zeppelin cover band, one of the greatest rock bands, if not “the” greatest rock band in the history of music. It’s a hard act to follow or emulate. So despite the Bonham name being linked, despite my scepticism spiking, I headed down to the tranquil setting of Perth’s Concert Hall to check out the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Evening or JBLZE.
Jason, if you don’t know, is the son of former Led Zep drummer, John Bonham, more affectionately known as Bonzo, who died tragically in 1980. His drumming was unique in that he often followed guitarist Jimmy Page in his rhythm and not bassist, John Paul Jones as is more often the case in most rhythm sections of bands. He was adventurous, over the top, flamboyant and his legacy now lives on in the form of his son, Jason. His father John, was voted #1 by Rolling Stone magazine as the greatest drummer of all time so it must be a hard title to live up to, but Jason is carrying the flame on with gusto. His father would be proud.
Jason formed this ‘experience’, more recently renamed ‘evening’ in 2009 and has been touring ever since covering some of Led Zep’s finest works in what is more a holistic sensory experience or theatre than it is a rock show. Incorporating stories into the show and old photos and video of his father, John and himself as a child, JBLZE is definitely entertaining despite what you may think from the outside, as just another cover band. Sounding closer to the recorded versions than the original members did live, perhaps a little too much oddly, JBLZE provided enough energy to deliver a night of heart felt warmth and reminiscing.
Kicking off the set with ‘Immigrant Song’ and ‘Good Times Bad Times’, JBLZE immediately had the Concert Hall in awe. Having not seen or heard JBLZE prior, I was amazed at vocalist, James Dylan’s performance, clearly channelling Robert Plant’s range, so much so that if you closed your eyes, (which unfortunately was often due to some lighting issues for the audience on the balconies) you would be unable to tell the difference between Dylan and Plant. The similarities don’t stop there as guitarist Jimmy Sakurai has obviously made it a fine art to copy Jimmy Page. From his hair to playing style to his stage moves. It’s uncanny.
Many Led Zep fans would have been very happy with some of the more obscure tracks JBLZE ripped through. I can only guess that leaving out classics such as ‘Black Dog’, ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ and ‘D’Yer Maker’ were for Bonham to showcase his immense talent behind the drum kit with more the more diffilcult arrangements. It works too, as the audience was drawn to Bonham’s playing and it’s in these moments you realise just how good his father was in coming up with these beats and rhythms which at the time were out of the ordinary, and have been emulated and worshipped ever since.
Jason Bonham interrupts the rock show every few songs to take the audience on a small journey of his childhood, growing up as a child of Led Zeppelin. One of the more ‘tear jerker’ moments was the drum solo from instrumental track, ‘Moby Dick’ where he battles his father on the big video screen playing behind him as they ply their trade simultaneously to the raptures of the crowd. Bonham is heartfelt in his joy of playing these songs and his handpicked musicians do the Led Zeppelin name proud.
Incredible musicians emulating some incredible songs with a few family cherished moments of the Bonham family thrown in. Unfortunately JBLZE doesn’t have video clips of the actual Led Zeppelin in the background during the night, something which would have added to the theatre of the show. I can only guess that is a legal situation JBLZE has with the original band. Either way, a great night from not your usual Saturday night cover band experience.
Good Times Bad Times
Over the Hills and Far Away
The Wanton Song
What Is and What Should Never Be
The Lemon Song
Going to California
Fool in the Rain
Since I’ve Been Loving You
Misty Mountain Hop
Trampled Under Foot
Stairway to Heaven
Whole Lotta Love
Rock and Roll
Review by James Birkin @KeepnTabs73
Jason Bonam’s Led Zeppelin Evening
May 28th @ The Tivoli, Brisbane