Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience tour opens

Jason Bonham called opening night "one of the best gigs of my life!"
Jason Bonham called opening night "one of the best gigs of my life!" (Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis)

Jason Bonham kicked off his inventively titled Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience tour last Friday, 8 October, at the Encana Events Center in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada.

Bonham's famous father, the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, died 30 years ago on 25 September 1980, and the 'JBLZE' trek, with a top-to-bottom Zep setlist, has been mounted by Jason to celebrate his dad's life and music. "But it's also about my life, as well," Jason told MusicRadar last July. "It's going to be quite a multimedia spectacle, with film clips and photographs, great lights and sound."

At the time, the younger Bonham was mum on who would be appearing with him on stage. "I have everybody picked out, all the musicians, and they're going to remain nameless until opening night. I don't want anybody to have a prejudged idea about the show going in, so I'm keeping those kinds of elements to myself. On the opening night, the audience will sit down and that'll be the first time they see the people up on stage in that environment."

Well, now the Led Zeppelin Experience band can be revealed: along with Jason on drums, the group consists of James Dylan (Virtual Zeppelin) on vocals, Tony Catania on lead guitar, Michael Devin (Whitesnake) on bass and Stephen LeBlanc on guitar, pedal steel guitar and keyboards. Not exactly the stunning list of notables we were expecting, but perhaps that was the plan.

Along with the Black Dog performance clip above, here's the band covering When The Levee Breaks.

On his Facebook page, Jason Bonham has detailed the setlist:

Immigrant Song
Celebration Day
I Can't Quit You Baby
Your Time Is Gonna Come
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
Dazed And Confused
The Lemon Song
Thank You
Moby Dick
Since I've Been Loving You
Black Dog
The Ocean
The Song Remains The Same
I'm Gonna Crawl
Stairway To Heaven
Whole Lotta Love
Rock & Roll

With opening night under his belt, Jason also enthused on Facebook about the tour's debut: "This was the opening night of the tour and all I can say is , Thank you for making it one of the best gigs of my life !!!!!!! xoxo."

Predictably, fan reaction has been mixed. Wrote concertgoer Jeff Charles on the Zeppelin fansite Lemon Squeezings, "I loved the whole experience...it had everything that a Jason Bonham or Led Zeppelin fan could want...the music lacked nothing, the vocals,guitar leads and the drumming was perfect, if you closed yours eyes it sounded like Led Zeppelin was really there..."

Over on Blabbermouth.com, however, the reaction is decidedly hostile, with many fans (and to be fair, the majority of whom haven't seen show), rejecting the very idea of the tour: pullmyfinger21times wrote, "You are crazy if you think this is a tribute to his dad. A sons tribute to his dad doesnt involve charging admission and traveling around for maximum buck. Its called riding coat tails and making money by association."

So what do you think? Is the Led Zeppelin Experience a well-intended son's tribute to his father or, well, what pullmyfinger21times says?

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.