JASON BONHAM Says 'It Was Quite Emotional' Performing LED ZEPPELIN Music At Madison Square Garden

April 19, 2024

In a new interview with Brian Casey of the 93.5 Max radio station, drummer Jason Bonham — son of the legendary John Bonham — spoke about his LED ZEPPELIN EVENING show, which he is once again taking on tour across North America this spring. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "One of the reasons why we're still doing this 14 years in is the fact that I took something that was purely kind of therapeutic, just a way to play the music, didn't really think of it as something that we'd be carrying on doing much past the first time we did it, and then the second time, and the next thing you know, here we are, 14 years later, which blows my mind. You'd think we'd have learned the songs by now. So, it's one of those things, it's naturally grown. And to the point of, to get invitations to go and play with other artists… I never imagined us going out, and one of the highlights for me was to play with Peter Frampton, and we opened up for Frampton at Madison Square Garden. To go on stage and be playing LED ZEPPELIN music back in 2019, it was quite emotional. To think of this was where the ZEPPELIN concert 'The Song Remains The Same', everything was filmed there, Madison Square Garden. And the love, and to walk out at 7 o'clock — you know, most of the time, you don't go and see the opening act, but to walk out and see a house full was this huge respect that they have for the music of my father and LED ZEPPELIN. I'm still overwhelmed and just humbled that the fact that when we go out, like we're just about to go and do some shows with Billy Joel, we're doing some [shows] with HEART again, and we're going to do some shows with DEF LEPPARD, to get these phone calls, it's just amazing to be thought of, to come and bring my, what started off as a little bit of fun. So, yeah, we are still enjoying it."

Bonham also talked about the fact that JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING makes it a point to reproduce the music faithfully. "We had an insurgence of… one is a guitar player called Mr. Jimmy [Japanese musician Akio Sakurai] that came to the band in 2017. And his knowledge and his tone and the whole thing has really made all of us, like, we have to suddenly… He knew way more than me. It was great for us. It was a time that we needed to, if we were gonna continue on, he came in and just brought the joy back. It's been a wonder. His ability to take you to those places where, as I said, the guitar, the way Jimmy Page used to play it, it was like he'd make it sound — and it wasn't easy to do that. It was a struggle, and it was a conversation you had with the guitar that was making it do it, and the guitar would fight back. And that's the thing — you get players that can play all those runs, they make it sound too easy. That's not what Jimmy and LED ZEPPELIN were about. It's the feel. So, yeah, to find somebody that studied Jimmy, and only studied them like the Japanese can — they studied their subjects and their masters — and they go, 'This is what they do.' And it's a wonder to watch him do that."

Jason Bonham spent nearly a decade touring as JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE before changing the band's name to JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING. Bonham later explained that the switch was prompted by a request from the LED ZEPPELIN camp, who wanted to use the "Experience" name for a project involving the archive of ZEP live recordings.

JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE was formed in 2009 to pay tribute to Bonham's father, who died in 1980 at the age of 32. "It was meant to be part of my way of expressing my love for music and expressing myself with a tip of the hat to my father," Jason told Mixdown in a 2017 interview. "Soon after doing the 28 shows that we did with an orchestra, everyone said, 'You're not going to stop now, are you? You haven't been here, you haven't played there…' And so I said, 'As long as you guys want me to do it, I'll do it.' It's really fan-based. It's not us and them; it's about love for LED ZEPPELIN, and that's how it's grown, as a very honest, natural, fan-based show. You guys all knew him as Bonzo; I knew him as dad, and there's a great interaction."

Jason launched JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE two years after taking part in LED ZEPPELIN's one-off performance at London's O2 Arena tribute concert for friend and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. The rare live set, which saw Jason behind the drums in place of his late father, was released in 2012 as "Celebration Day".

He told the Chicago Tribune about JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING: "We're not LED ZEPPELIN. We are fans. We love the music. We give it 150 percent energy and time to make it as good as we can make it to give people that feeling and make people go back to their youth.

"I never wanted it to be we are just playing music. It had to be personal with stories to tell people what Dad was like at home. It's nice to know that so many people love hearing that music played in a live environment."

The performance includes LED ZEPPELIN favorites as well as deep cuts.

"The hardest thing is picking the songs," Bonham told the Chicago Tribune. " "There's more deeper songs — 'In The Light', 'Friends', 'Four Sticks' — songs that never got played live and never made it to a ZEPPELIN show. The list could go on for the more obscure ones that fans like to hear. Of course we still do 'Kashmir', 'Stairway To Heaven' and 'What Is And What Should Never Be'. We started doing 'Dancing Days', 'Houses Of The Holy' and 'That's The Way'. This show is one of the most fun things to do because I get to play all this great music in front of people that really appreciate it."

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