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Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Jason Bonham and his band celebrated the music of Led Zeppelin at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey on November 15, 2012.

Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey
Jason Bonham's LZE on stage in Montclair, New Jersey in 2012.

Jason's father John Bonham "Bonzo" was the larger than life drummer of the legendary band Led Zeppelin. Jason Bonham who started playing the drums at age five had to face the dilemma of embracing or straying from his legacy. Jason has achieved both. On his own, Jason was in the group Airrace and has performed with an impressive list of players including his bandmates Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes and Derek Sherinian of Black Country Communion.

In 2007, Jason joined forces with the three remaining members of Led Zeppelin for a reunion concert. It was that gig at the O2 Arena that proved to Bonham and the world that Jason could rightly sit behind the kit with the three circle symbol. The show was well received and the seed was planted for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience (JBLZE). The Experience pays tribute to John and the band. On November 19, 2012 Celebration Day the film from the 2007 concert will be released in several home video formats.

Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey
Tony Catania paid a fine tribute to Jimmy Page with his high caliber performance.

With the utilization of art, lighting, multi-media and vintage video footage Bonham brings Led Zeppelin back to life in a unique format that only the son of Bonzo could share. Jason began his presentation with a montage of photos and described the mid 60's as tough times for John who was working in a factory as he pursued his passion for music. But as we know Bonham and Led Zeppelin would attain huge success within a few years.

"This is my story, what my Dad and Led Zeppelin meant to me," proclaimed Bonham as the rest of his capable crew stormed the stage with a rousing "Rock and Roll". The piece was riveting and the use of lights and videos added to the energy of the moment as it flowed into "Celebration Day".

"Good Evening," greeted Jason who chatted a bit and recalled that playing the reunion concert was "a dream come true although it was bittersweet". Bonham took the fans back to Led Zeppelin I with "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You". Vocalist James Dylan brought just the right subtle inflections to the song as it slowly simmered into the heart racing hook.

Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey
Jason Bonham was master of ceremonies as the celebration of his Dad and Led Zep unfolded.

"Over the Hills and Far Away" had fans singing and dancing. It was countered by the atmospheric "No Quarter". The dreamy quality of the piece was enhanced by Stephen Leblanc's cascading keyboard solos. The fog along with the heavy use of green and purple lights elevated the musical and visual impacts of the tune. "Four Sticks" ran the gamut from fluid to forceful.

Jason mentioned that his late grandmother was responsible for encouraging John and in turn Jason as drummers. "Thank You" was Bonham's tasteful tribute to his family. It is a beautiful song that was executed beautifully. Before performing "Moby Dick" Jason alluded that he would be playing along side John noting that in the coming clips that his father was "20 years younger then I am now".

"I really appreciate what he handed down to me," said Bonham as the band went into Moby's massive riffs and rhythms. Various camera angles were shot as Jason nailed the dynamic drum solo. The screen split and there appeared John. Now father and son like mighty thunder clouds were playing their kits in perfect time. As the tune and first set concluded series of the three circle symbols were reflected on the ceiling and walls.

Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey
Powerful vocalist James Dylan was discovered on the Internet and impressive on stage.

The second set opened with a home movie of Jason dancing for his parents. Even as a small child Bonham had good rhythm. Then the band segued into a stellar version of "The Song Remains the Same" with axe man Tony Catania aptly handling a double necked guitar.

"Welcome to part two - feel free to get up and dance," encouraged Jason. Fans were on their feet for "The Ocean". JBLZE's version was vibrant with the liquid artwork and other visuals adding to its flowing groove. They slowed it down for a bluesy and bold "Since I've Been Loving You".

The second half of the show ended with a triple assault starting with the potent "When the Levee Breaks" followed by a magical and mesmerizing " Kashmir " and concluded with a heavenly "Stairway to Heaven". The band did all three justice. For the encore JBLZE's blazed on a lively and lusty interpretation of "Whole Lotta Love".

Throughout the evening Jason mentioned that he and the band were fans and that they loved this music. This point was proven over and over again in presentations that were passionate and precise. JBLZE performed many of the tracks true to form with some expansion on the instrumentation. They were skilled and their diverse set of songs and stories were a celebration of Led Zeppelin and drummer John Bonham.

Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey
Jason Bonham put on a powerful drum clinic that lasted well over two hours.

JBLZE's host the Wellmont Theater showcases a wide range of entertainment. The theater is located in the heart of downtown Montclair where there are plenty of restaurants and shops to check out before a show. Upcoming events at the Wellmont include Ray LaMontagne, John Steward, Halestorm, The Hold Steady with Lucero, Cake, Dwight Yoakam and Matchbox 20.

Jason Bonham - drums
Tony Catania - guitar and theremin
Stephen Leblanc - keyboards/pedal steel guitar
Dorian Heartsong - bass
James Dylan - lead vocals

Set List: Rock and Roll / Celebration Day / Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You / Over the Hills and Far Away / No Quarter / Four Sticks / Thank You / Moby Dick / Intermission / The Song Remains the Same / The Ocean / Since I've Been Loving You / Going to California / Fool in the Rain / When the Levee Breaks / Kashmir / Stairway to Heaven / Encore / Whole Lotta Love

Jason Bonham & LZE - The Celebration Continues in New Jersey

Related Links: For more information on JASON BONHAM and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Jason Bonham's LZE | Wellmont Theatre


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