Last Thursday night I saw the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Evening (JBLZE), superlatives of joy and acclaim can’t even capture the significance of this evening for myself. As I had hoped the drums thundered, the riffs grooved, and the bass pumped through an impressive set list. In the earliest moments of the show I soon realised this was the closet Zep experience I am ever going to have in person.
So many times, during the night I was transported deep inside the songs captured by the musician’s skills and the diversity in Zeppelin’s catalogue of songs. I was rocked by Immigrant Song, engaged by Stairway to Heaven and enveloped by the sonic lushness of Kashmir.
It was a blast!!
My own view of Led Zeppelin, and like most other fans, is that they were Rock Gods that had once walked and toured the planet – they were beyond normal life. As a group they were untouchable in their skills and always seen from a far. Today they live in the memories of a mythical and foggy time which has long since passed. The press at the time didn’t seem to understand the music and no doubt this lead to the band being very defensive and cagey against the main stream media, isolating the group further from wider communication and connection. Your only real connection as a fan was with the album covers, the posters and the records themselves.
Pausing for a few moments from the rocking pace at around the middle of the show, Jason Bonham began to talk about Led Zeppelin and the legacy of his father John Bonham’s famous drumming work on the Zeppelin Albums.
Jason’s love, respect and fandom like the rest of the band for Zeppelin music was evident in every note during the performance. The real twist of the evening was the showing and discussion of old home movies of Jason Bonham as a child with additional grainy footage of a very young John Bonham shot by his grandmother. It was a strange and surreal moment as Jason and the audience was returning to a very personal history of the Bonham family.
And with that the draw bridge came down on the impenetrable castle of Zeppelin.
And then it happened! I was now sitting at an old wooden kitchen table with a cooper kettle boiling in the background, hearing the crackle of a wood stove, being genuinely welcomed and invited in to break bread with the family – Grandma, John and Jason Bonham.
It was an impossible, inconceivable and unimaginable event at a rock concert, but also an incredibly humbling experience. I understood a little more of where the family had come from, its demons and maybe some of its motivations. For me, it really changed the context of the evening.
The evening’s music was amazing – enjoyable and a real thrill.
The real honour was the invitation into the Bonham’s home.
Thank you Jason Bonham.