Jason Bonham Experience: Like Father, Like Son

Jason Bonham’s visit to the Wellmont proves that even though he bears a massive name, his personal touch keeps the crowd going from start to finish.

Jason Bonham came out of the darkness to show off a nostalgically empirical side.

jason bonham
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

On Wed., June 1, the son (or prodigy, if you will) of Led Zeppelin’s legendary drummer, John “Bonzo” Bonham, brought an experience like no other to Montclair’s very own Wellmont Theater. With an impressive backing band made up of bassist Dorian Heartsong, lead guitarist Tony Catania and singer James Dylan, Jon Bonham found an explosive paradox in this enduring love letter to his father, not even letting the likes of an opening band draw you away from his sheer passion.

What made the “experience” such an experience in the first place was the innate nostalgia holding the show together. And no, I am not just referring to Jason Bonham’s sentimental tales of how his father lived a sense of normalcy outside of Led Zeppelin (even though that home footage is surely a pure delight to any Led-Head). Better yet, the audience made a collective attempt to spring back to those younger years, where “getting the led out” was definitely a common commodity on a global scale.

As an audience member who managed to get his diehard Led Zeppelin-loving father to tag along, it was euphoric to see such a juvenile smile on his wistful face. He felt the music in a way that I have attempted to for years on years, noticing his transitions from the pounding snare of “Rock N’ Roll” to the somber gong chime in “The Rain Song” to even the intensely gradual buildup of the magnum opus that is “Stairway to Heaven.”

“Jason Bonham and his backing band were incredible,” said Richard Zang, both a loyal fan and a loyal father. “He carried his own among such a huge shadow. Yet, he still managed to pay huge tribute to that same shadow, which I think sold it for me in the long run.”

Jason Bonham is a fantastic drummer and has his father to thank for it. Nevertheless, through seeing him simultaneously play Bonzo’s notorious “Moby Dick” drum solo to a back-wall projection of the holy ghost himself, it’s apparent that he carries a generous swagger that means more than just a surname or an understanding of genetics. Bonham loves the art form in his own way, and it’s that individualistic style that’s enough to sell out our very own Wellmont Theater.

Jason Bonham promised to bring the show back to downtown Montclair every year if it means that much to the audience at his disposal. Therefore, let me be the first to say that his two-hour performance left me holding on to that promise with all my might. And it’s mostly because his love and enthusiasm was enough to let my father and I connect on a whole new level, despite an age gap that spans almost 30 years.

In other words, one thing is evidently clear: fathers truly deserve a whole lot of love.

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