Danny Zelisko Presents brought Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience concert to the Celebrity Theatre in downtown Phoenix on May 13, 2016.
Rolling Stone Magazine called Led Zeppelin the biggest rock band of the 70’s. After their drummer, John Bonham, passed away in 1980, however, the rest of the band stopped touring and only did a small number of gigs over the next couple of decades. During some of those gigs, they had John’s son, Jason Bonham, an accomplished drummer in his own right, take his father’s place on drums. Jason put this band together to both honor his father, John Bonham, and because Jason loves the music of Led Zeppelin. But unlike a lot of tribute bands, Jason actually played with the original band. They also did not try to look like or act like the original Led Zeppelin members, but instead were just excellent musicians that played the music of Led Zeppelin. The current 2016 line-up consists of Jason Bonham (drums), Tony Catania (lead guitar), Dorian Heartsong (bass), Alex Howland (keyboards, guitar) and James Dylan (vocals).
I saw Led Zeppelin twice in the 70’s and they put on fantastic shows, Robert Plant’s captivating voice, Jimmy Page’s amazing guitar work, John Paul’s driving bass and John Bonham’s speed, power and fast bass-drumming. They were unlike any other band before or after. Like his father, Jason is a very strong drummer with a huge stage presence. Whenever I see a tribute band, I determine how good they are by closing my eyes and just listening. If the band sounds like what I remember and the vocals sound similar then they are, in my mind, respecting the band they are covering. After the show, I listened to some of the original songs just to see how the concert compared to the original and was impressed with this band. James Dylan’s voice was strong and clean and reminded me of Plant’s voice, especially when he did Good Times, Bad Times. When Tony Catania played both Kashmir (one of my favorites) and Stairway to Heaven reminded me of when I saw Jimmy Page in 1978. During Moby Dick, Jason’s drum solo was synchronized with a video of John playing and it was amazing how similar they are. During the concert a number of other videos of John Bonham were shown in the background that coincided with the current song the band was playing. One of the best videos was of Jason as a child dancing to music and his parents laughing.
The concert was over 2.5 hours and made up of 2 sets, with a short 15minute intermission. The Celebrity Theatre is a unique venue that has a rotating stage in the middle with seats all around. No seat is more than 100 feet from the stage. For this show, the stage did not rotate, so they only used ½ of the venue. The venue was designed for concerts, so the sound system was very good. The sound was very well balanced with Jason’s voice, Tony’s guitar clean and Jason’s drums not overpowering. The fans at this show really enjoyed it and were dancing in the aisles and singing along with the songs. During Whole Lotta Love, Dylan even pointed the mic at the crowd so they could sing along. If you are a Led Zeppelin fan, then this show is a definite must.
Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2016
Set List 1: (Album)
- Wearing and Tearing (Coda)
- Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin III)
- Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin)
- Over the Hill and Far Away (Houses of the Holy)
- The Wanton Song (Physical Graffiti)
- What Is and Should Never Be (Led Zeppelin II)
- Thank You (Led Zeppelin II)
- Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin III)
- Going to California (Led Zeppelin IV)
- Moby Dick (Led Zeppelin II)
Set List 2: (Album)
- Night Flight (Physical Graffiti)
- Hots on for Nowhere (Presence)
- Kashmir (Physical Graffiti)
- Rain Song (Houses of the Holy)
- Fool in the Rain (In Through the Out Door)
- Trampled Under Foot (Physical Graffiti)
- When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin IV)
- Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin IV)
- Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin II)