Led Zeppelin beat goes on

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Cran­dell SOUTHFLORIDA.COM

Ja­son Bon­ham is as amazed as any­one that his “side project” play­ing his old man’s mu­sic has turned into the kind of thing that packs are­nas such as Hol­ly­wood’s Hard Rock Event Cen­ter.

The last time the Palm Beach County res­i­dent per­formed at the Hard Rock was as the drum­mer for Sammy Ha­gar and the Cir­cle in Septem­ber, and af­ter the show he men­tioned to Ha­gar that he’d be back to play the same room in Novem­ber with his own band on a tour for Ja­son Bon­ham’s Led Zeppelin Evening.

Ha­gar was sur­prised, Bon­ham says.

“He said, ‘How do you do?’ And I said, ‘We sell out.’ He goes, ‘No s---?!’” Bon­ham says, laugh­ing. “I said, ‘That’s why you pay me the big bucks, Sam.’ ”

Stop­ping in Hol­ly­wood on Fri­day, the 21-city tour of Ja­son Bon­ham’s Led Zeppelin Evening is a show­case of mu­sic from through­out the discog­ra­phy of the band his late fa­ther, John “Bonzo” Bon­ham, helped make leg­endary as, ac­cord­ing to the rank­ing in Rolling Stone, the great­est drum­mer of all time.

The show of­fers a mes­mer­iz­ing vis­ual jour­ney, as well, with gi­ant back­drops of his­tor­i­cal pho­tos and video, in­clud­ing a re­mark­able duet with Bon­ham per­form­ing “Moby Dick” with footage of his fa­ther from Led Zeppelin’s land­mark 1970 Royal Al­bert Hall con­cert.

Ja­son Bon­ham’s Led Zeppelin Evening has been tour­ing off and on for eight years, but the long­time Del­ray Beach res­i­dent says that those who may al­ready have seen the show are in for a sur­prise in the form of new gui­tarist Jimmy Saku­rai.

Along with the req­ui­site gui­tar skills and the lean, mop-topped ap­pear­ance of Led Zeppelin icon Jimmy Page, Tokyo na­tive Saku­rai brings an en­cy­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge of the band’s ground­break­ing canon.

“No­body usu­ally chal­lenges me. But we have these de­bates now, in the bro­ken English that he can speak, about bootlegs of songs, which ver­sions, which years, what color un­der­wear Jimmy was wear­ing. This was my ar­gu­ment: ‘You haven’t played with them. I have,’ ” says Bon­ham, who has per­formed with the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of Led Zeppelin, in­clud­ing their famed 2007 re­union at Lon­don's O2 arena.

“So we’ll find the boot­leg of the night that he’s re­fer­ring to,” Bon­ham says. “He’s right.”

The drum­mer says Saku­rai has re-en­er­gized him and forced the band out of the com­pla­cency that had been steer­ing ar­range­ments of the songs. The band has now re­turned to ar­range­ments that are closer to the orig­i­nals Led Zeppelin used.

“On this tour, I said I want to fo­cus more on the ‘Song Re­mains the Same’ live ver­sions,” Bon­ham says. “So we are gonna do the 35-minute ‘Dazed and Con­fused.’ I’ve seen [Saku­rai] do it. It’s note for note, ev­ery part, ev­ery jam. We’re bring­ing back ‘Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.’ We’re gonna do B-sides, like ‘Hey, Hey, What Can I Do.’ ”

Ja­son Bon­ham’s Led Zeppelin Evening tour runs through Dec. 8, when its fi­nal stop will be in De- troit. That puts the band about 90 min­utes from the Michi­gan town of Franken­muth, birth­place of Greta Van Fleet, the young rock quar­tet whose sound has drawn po­lar­iz­ing com­par­isons to Led Zeppelin. (Greta Van Fleet per­forms May 7 at Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena in Mi­ami. Tick­ets cost $44.50-$54.50 at Live­Na­tion .com.)

Greta Van Fleet’s first ful­l­length al­bum, “An­them of the Peace­ful Army,” pre­miered atop Bill­board’s lists of top rock al­bums and top hard-rock al­bums on its Oct. 19 re­lease. The thou­sands who bought the al­bum must not have seen Pitch­fork’s hand-wring­ing re­view that dis­missed GVF’s mu­sic as “overly pre­cious retro-fetishism.”

Bon­ham says the purists aghast at the smudg­ing of the line be­tween mu­si­cal in­flu­ence and lazy pil­fer­ing have not been pay­ing at­ten­tion. And, frankly, he doesn’t hear Led Zeppelin in Greta Van Fleet.

“I don’t get it. I don’t hear the re­sem­blance as much to Zeppelin as I do to the Black Crowes or early Geddy Lee, ‘Work­ing Man’ [era] Rush. That’s what I’m hear­ing mu­si­cally,” he says.

Bon­ham thinks crit­ics may be dis­tracted by the vis­ual pre­sen­ta­tion.

“Funny, I heard them way be­fore peo­ple started say­ing they sounded like Zeppelin. And I didn’t get the Zeppelin thing at first. Un­til I saw a video of the singer [Josh Kiszka] do­ing the hand on the hip and the fin­ger and that. Then, I went, ‘Oh, dear. He’s do­ing the Robert,’ ” Bon­ham says. “But so did [Black Crowes singer] Chris Robin­son put his hand on his hip, and do that. It’s how you per­ceive it.”

Bon­ham’s taste in young, Zeppelin-style rock ’n’ roll bands fa­vors Royal Blood and Ri­val Sons. He says he hopes Greta Van Fleet can with­stand the crit­ics.

“I love the fact that young peo­ple are into rock ’n’ roll mu­sic. So, I hope the pres­sure doesn’t ruin them. Be­cause they are young mu­si­cians, and we want to en­cour­age rock ’n’ roll,” Bon­ham says.

Ja­son Bon­ham’s Led Zeppelin Evening will be­gin 8 p.m. Fri­day in the Hard Rock Event Cen­ter at the Semi­nole Hard Rock Ho­tel and Casino, 1 Semi­nole Way, in Hol­ly­wood. Tick­ets cost $60, $45, $35 and $25 at MyHRL.com, at all Tick­et­mas­ter out­lets, in­clud­ing Tick­et­mas­ter.com, and by call­ing 800-745-3000.

Ja­son Bon­ham, Aero­smith gui­tarist Joe Perry and other rock per­form­ers will take part in a South Florida-based Rock ’n’ Roll Fan­tasy Camp Nov. 8-11, cul­mi­nat­ing in pub­lic per­for­mances at Mar­gar­i­taville Hol­ly­wood Beach and Hard Rock Cafe Hol­ly­wood in the Semi­nole Hard Rock Ho­tel and Casino. Visit Rock­Camp.com. bcran­dell@sun-sen­tinel.com


Ja­son Bon­ham, son of iconic Led Zeppelin drum­mer John Bon­ham and long­time res­i­dent of Del­ray Beach, says he’s fi­nally met some­one who knows more about Led Zeppelin than he does.

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