Bakersfield gets a chance to let the Led out

Patricia Rocha, Reporter

Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, takes fans on his own personal journey with his father’s music in his show “Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.”

Before the show even started, the buzz of fans anxiously waiting was apparent. Crowds of young people in brand new Led Zeppelin T-shirts stood amongst older fans with faded vintage ones, swapping stories of attending past concerts and their shared excitement.

As the theater filled with fans and the 8 p.m. show time grew closer, fans could be overheard humming “Communication Breakdown” and asking one another, “What do you think they’ll open with?”

Minutes before the band members arrived on stage they were introduced by Bakersfield DJ Mike Bell.

“This is not just a concert,” Bell said. “It’s… it’s something else.”

This became apparent as the twinkling lights of the Fox Theater were transformed into a psychedelic light show and videos of the late John Bonham were projected onto the screen.

“The man who changed drumming forever, was my dad,” said Jason Bonham as he opened the show. “This is my story of what my dad and Led Zeppelin mean to me.”

Band members Tony Catania on lead guitar, James Dylan on vocals, Michael Devin on bass, Steven LeBlanc on keyboard and second guitar, and Jason Bonham on drums then kicked off the show with the song “Rock and Roll.”

Fans were cheering wildly, roaming the aisles, high-fiving each other and screaming along to the intro of “Immigrant Song,” all while home videos of a young Jason playing drums played behind them.

Jason often paused between songs to describe his feelings toward the music that made his family so famous.

“Welcome to a part of my life,” said Bonham. “A big part of my life.”

He then told the crowd of his earliest memory, of being two years old and being haunted by terrifying organ music, of which he would later realize was the song “Your Time is Gonna Come.”

The band then played the song, along with “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” “What is and What Should Never Be,” and “Lemon Song.”

He then took some time to honor his grandmother by playing the song “Thank You”, while videos from her personal collection of John Bonham as a child accompanied.

“I never got to tell him how great he was. He was just ‘Dad’,” said Bonham as he told the crowd how he had never got to play with his father while he was alive, but with the technological advances of the time he could now do so.

“When I play for you, I feel closer to him,” he said.

He then began the song “Moby Dick” as his father did the same on the screen. As father and son played side by side on the split screen, fans were so excited their sheering and stomping shook the floor. Some fans were in tears watching the two men play practically identically, with the same technique and mannerisms.

The feel of a family legacy was continued when Jason’s son, Jager Bonham, was brought on stage and drummed the first half of the song “When the Levee Breaks.”

Fans really responded to the personal feel of the show, and how Jason was honoring his Led Zeppelin family.

“I grew up with Led Zeppelin,” said fan Cherie Redd. “I really like how he’s attributing this to his father.”

The band continued to play favorites like “Over the Hills and Far Away”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, and “Going to California” before ending the show with the much anticipated “Kashmir,” “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love.”

Fans who had seen Led Zeppelin live in the past agreed the “experience” is as close to the original as you can get.

“Jason is awesome on drums,” said longtime fan Bryan Redd. “The guitarist sounds exactly like Jimmy Page.”

Jason Bonham ended the night by saying as long as the fans wish to experience this Led Zeppelin show, he would continue to tour and share it with them.