Concert Review: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening at Hard Rock Live
Disclosure: I was invited to attend Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening in exchange for this post. All opinions here are my own.
Hard Rock Live was packed with audience members ranging in preteens to middle age. While the majority adorned Led Zeppelin attire, one thing was for certain: everyone was there to have a good time, regardless of what they were wearing.
Jason Bonham came onstage, donning a black beanie, black Led Zeppelin tee, and sunglasses. He motioned with his hands for the audience to stand up, ready to start the show.
The show kicked off with “Immigrant Song”, which was complimented with blood red lights. Followed by “Good Times, Bad Times”, Bonham greeted the audience, calling the Hard Rock Live venue his home. Fitting, since he lives in Delray. “It was a strange two years and then Covid happened,” the drummer joked. “We want it to be lighthearted and fun here…Let’s go over the hills and far away.” Of course, this was a segue into “Over the Hills and Far Away”. Lead singer James Dylan was having a good time; it was clear with his dance moves. He hit the notes just like Robert Plant: If you closed your eyes, you could easily imagine you were decades away at a Led Zeppelin concert.
Next was “The Ocean”, which gained lots of audience participation. Dylan pointed the mic at audience for the infamous “ooh yeah” sounds as well as the “laa laa” section of the song. Dylan once again showed off his dance moves, gliding across the stage during the instrumental portion.
The dance moves reached a new height during “Ramble On” as Dylan looked like he was about to do a split. “We got together for the first time in 2 years to rehearse and catch up,” said Dylan, following the upbeat number. “One of the things we talked about was how Led Zeppelin IV is 50 years old. And how Jason got a Grammy when he was the other band members’ age.”
The band then broke into “The Levee” with the audience following Dylan’s lead. He clapped, the audience clapped. This was the church of Led Zeppelin fans, with Dylan and Bonham giving the sermon.
After a quick jam sesh, Dylan introduced “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, stating that it was an example of when Led Zeppelin was good with the blues. The arena erupted in joyous cheers when Dylan hit the famous first note. And he hit it good. Pink and red lights displayed with the song, perfect for the mood. The guitarist had skills that were unmatched, much like Jimmy Page himself.
Bonham took the stage again for one of the night’s most memorable moments. “Tonight is the last night of the tour and I’m happy to end it here so I don’t have to travel far to my home,” he joked with the audience. He then dedicated the next song, “Thank You”, to Joan Bonham, his paternal grandma who took John Bonham to jazz clubs when he was just 14 years old. In the touching story, Bonham credits his grandma with Bonham’s success and joked that she was a heavy drinker. Following the song, Bonham expressed his love once again for it. “I love that song, absolutely love that song,” he gushed.
Bonham’s love for Led Zeppelin was apparent not just in his skillful drumming, but the expressions on his face. Like a kid in Disney World, his energy was unmatched and sometimes was paired with a huge grin or himself singing along. This was more than a standard tribute; it was his passion.
“If we didn’t do this next song, we wouldn’t be doing this tour justice,” the drummer said before “Going to California”. “There’s another side we love, the acoustic side…This is my home gig. Get your voices ready and let’s take the new roof off with this song,” he added, with a subtle nod to Hard Rock Live’s new arena. Soft pink and yellow lights accompanied the gentle song, along with the audience’s vocals. Bonham sang along as well, bobbing his head.
Bonham’s pride for his father and the band also shown through. He mentioned how the band wrote many songs before they were 25 years old that were still around today. “And I’m pretty proud of my father for that reason,” he reflected.
“1979 was a big year for me,” he said later on in the show. “I started to buy records of my own and share them with my father. Well, not really share, but say ‘these guys are better than you’.’’
Bonham also mentioned that he “worshiped” The Police. “My dad wasn’t pissed at me [for saying they were better than John], he took me to see The Police. He took me backstage to meet them”. He joked that he used to have blonde hair at 13 years old and now has none because he bleached it, pointing out that this was also payback for saying The Police was better than his dad.
He segued into another story of his dad driving them both to practice and getting pulled over for speeding. In the States, John Bonham got off by saying “I’m John Bonham”, but the trick didn’t work in England. “That’s why I moved to the U.S.,” Bonham joked.
Bonham briefly took his father’s place during practice that day on the drums while his father stood back and watched. A journalist asked John, ‘What are you doing?” John replied, “I’m watching Led Zeppelin play. I’ve never seen them play before.” And with that, the band launched into “Kashmir.”
“I like to think of all of you as my new friends…to do this show, I will play this show as long as you want,” said Bonham before thanking everyone who worked on show for a “wonderful 6 weeks”. He then introduced the band members, with a particularly funny story about Dylan. He found the lead singer online (“Not like that, he had a shirt on.”) and thought, “That can’t be that voice coming out of that face.” The band then played the legendary “Stairway to Heaven”, which Bonham dubbed a “song about hope”.
The encore concluded with “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock and Roll”. It was an evening of feel good vibes, touching memories, and a mutual love of Led Zeppelin. Bonham and crew, once again, provided an unforgettable evening and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come.
Good Times, Bad Times
Over the Hills and Far Away
What Is and What Should Never Be
Since I’ve Been Loving You
Going to California
Fool in the Rain
Misty Mountain Hop
Stairway to Heaven
Whole Lotta Love
Rock and Roll