On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience played the House of Blues as a part of their annual winter tour. Founding member Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, crafted a group of band members that mimic the ‘70s blues rock band almost exactly. Jason, along with Dorian Heartsong on bass and Alex Howland on keyboards and guitar, found later on in this project’s timeline the two remaining members that would turn the band into a visual representation of Zeppelin themselves. They found their singer, James Dylan on YouTube. He posted videos of Zeppelin covers, sounding just like Robert Plant in his prime. When their original guitarist, Tony Catania, who had worked with Bonham on many projects previously, left the band, they found their very own Jimmy Page. Jimmy Sakurai, a long time Page impersonator, not only mimics his sloppy blues guitar sound, but also happens to be the spitting image of the world famous guitar god.
The crowd was full of Zeppelin fanatics who wanted to relive their 1970s pasts, with a few younger college-aged fans who looked to fulfill their fantasies of seeing the closest thing to their favorite band. There was no opening act, so the audience could unwind with over two hours of their favorite tunes. Bell bottom-clad, middle-aged couples stayed near the bars, while the younger audience members tried to get as close to the action as possible.
The band opened with “Immigrant Song,” followed by “Good Times Bad Times,” general favorites of Zeppelin fans. It was beautiful to see how happy a song from the golden age of rock music could make such a mixed audience feel. Singer James Dylan roared with thunderous shouts and Plant-like moans, and if you closed your eyes, you could imagine yourself 45 years ago, front row for the audacious Led Zeppelin.
Sakurai showed off his sauntering yet frantic Page licks, especially on songs off of Led Zeppelin III and Houses of the Holy, arguably their prime era of sound. Wearing an exact replica of a Page outfit, adorned with a dragon-printed tank top and flared pants, not to mention his dark, long locks of hair, Sakurai made it easy to forget you weren’t watching the real thing. Bonham’s drum fills, along with the visuals displayed above his set, were a touching and iconic remembrance of his father. Heartsong’s mastery of the bass rivaled John Paul Jones’ style and tone, standing out as the funkiest, most energetic member of the band.
Moving on to an emotional version of “Thank You,” probably one of the most common wedding songs of the time, Sakurai brought out a double neck Gibson, and all the guitar-junkies in the crowd were visibly floored. Dylan’s vocals continued to wow, even though he sounded much better on the louder tunes of the night.
“Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven,” two of the most famous songs of the 1970s, stunned the excited and already-emotional crowd. This is where all of the slightly-wasted mothers began pretending to know all the lyrics, shoving their fists into the air off-tempo, but looking to be having the time of their lives. This is where Dylan’s voice, much like Plant’s, became a bit shouty and less thunderous, which is understandable based on all the ceaseless moaning and belting previously. Nevertheless, the effect was, dare I say, on the same level of iconicness as their inspiration.
As they left the stage after “Stairway,” every 50-year-old man drunkenly screamed “One more song!” They got two, “Whole Lotta Love” as well as “Rock And Roll.” Each performance visceral and well-done as the next, the most iconic moment was when the crowd sang into Dylan’s microphone, “Been a long time, been a long time, been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time!” For a lot of them, it was true. It’s been a long time since we all rock and rolled that hard.
Overall, the set was pleasurable, iconic, and liberating. For a solid two hours, the music transported us to the height of rock music, each band member creating the image of their predecessor, and giving the audience a whole lotta love.