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Jason Bonham at the Fillmore, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, December 7, 2018

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If you want to hear Led Zeppelin these days, Jason Bonham is the man to see.

Ever since performing with the band during its 2007 reunion concert, the son of Zep's late drummer John Bonham has made it something of a mission to keep the music alive on stage. During 2009 he's taken a show on the road -- first as Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, now Led Zeppelin Evening -- that recreates the group's, along with personal anecdotes and vintage video, including a virtual drum duet with the old man.

Bonham, 52, has other music jobs, with Sammy Hagar's The Circle and the all-star Black Country Communion. But LZE is a deeply personal passion, and one he plans to maintain no matter what else he has going on...

• The name change for Bonham's show was generated by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, who wanted to use Experience for an upcoming online archive of live concerts. Bonham says he was alarmed when he first received the letter about the switch from the attorney he shares with the band. "As I read it I felt very upset. It was my wife who saved me from getting into a rage; I was about to group-dial Jimmy (Page), John Paul (Jones) and Robert (Plant) and go 'What the hell...!' but she said 'Read the rest.' And I saw it wasn't personal. They wanted to free up the terminology. It was my wife who said, 'Why don't you call it Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening' -- that way I could keep the logo the same. I said, 'You're a genius! That's why I've been with you 30 years!'"

• Bonham says that over the years he's seen ample evidence of how much playing the music means to fans. "It's kind of a heavy thing. A lot of people say this show helps them with closure. It's not Jason Bonham playing Led Zeppelin music -- it's way more than that. There's a feeling that we create between us and the audience. It's meant to be a personal journey for me in relating to my father, who died when I was very young. It was like a little side project. I didn't imagine it would be the longest band I’ve ever been in."

• While this year marks the 50th anniversary of Led Zep's formation, Bonham is gearing up to really celebrate in 2019 to commemorate the release of the group's first two albums. "I've got a few plans. I'd love to play the Royal Albert Hall (in London) and do the set they played back in '69. So next year's a big year and I think it will go on from now on because each year will have a 50-year something. I can imagine celebrating 50 years of 'Led Zeppelin IV' (in 2021) will be a big one."

• This year Bonham has also introduced a new guitar player to the band, Jimmy Sakorai. "I was wary of him 'cause he was so much like Jimmy (Page) and I didn't want this to become like a puppet show. But we're getting standing ovations now after guitar solos, which I haven't seen since I actually played with Jimmy Page, so it blows my mind that he's so good and so knowledgeable. It kind of woke us up a little; We'd started to steer away from some of the original ways of doing things and he brought us back to some of the most popular live versions of some Zeppelin songs, which people are really loving."

• Though he's often asked about Led Zep reuniting again, Bonham has known since shortly after the 2007 reunion that it wouldn't. "My son and I went to a football game with Robert (Plant) a little bit after that, And on the way back I said, 'I've got to ask you -- are we gonna get the band back together?' And he said, 'I loved your dad way too much. It's no disrespect to you, (but) no one can play it who's alive. I can't go out there and fake it. I can't be a jukebox. I can't go out there and try and do it that way. Because your father left us, left the world that was it for Led Zeppelin.' And I got it. I was absolutely fine with that. And I still am."

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening performs Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 6 p.m. $29.50-$75. 313-961-5441 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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