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Friday, October 14, 2011


If just for one night, you could relive the various moments of musical, lyrical, sonic bliss of your youth, your love or loves and an escapism that you could come down from without a hangover or visit to the hospital would you do it, OF COURSE YOU WOULD!  But when did you do it last and when will you do it again?  I just did and I'm still feeling the euphoria from it when I recall the magic strumming of the guitar by what was originally Jimmy Page.  The symphonic resonance echoed by the deep bass of John Paul Jones.  The literal lyrical masturbation, cat calling and nymph like cowling of Robert Plant.  And finally the barrage of bashing beats by the Thunder god of drummers in John Henry Bonham.

That was Led Zeppelin and not opting for a cheap imitation, you will get not only your money's worth, but the chance to feel good again about the simple things in life with the newly formed Led Zeppelin Experience headed by the son of the aforementioned hammering beast in Jason Bonham filling in for his father and quite well I might add.  The group isn't listed with all stars like a Velvet Revolver but more like a humble yet more than adequate "No Name Defense" of the '72 Miami Dolphins.  This was a special night and Bonham let the crowd know it as he made sure to point out that LA was always a special stop for Led Zeppelin.  This time a Bonham is joined by Dorian Heartsong on bass guitar, Stephen Leblanc on keyboards, James Dylan with the lead vocals and the man who many felt stoled the show as well as myself, Tony Catania on lead guitar.  They all perform their parts immensely well.

I must say I was pleased with the overall sound and arrangement by TLZE (The Led Zeppelin Experience) even as I drove by the Greek I heard them calling as I listen to the whaling of "The Immigrant Song".  As we parked literally "Over the Hill and Far Away" walking down the hill parking lot leading to the Greek Theatre entrances I hear "Rock 'n Roll" and yes it had been a long time.

Now to cover the repetoire of Zeppelins one and only drummer is a task that could only be filled by perhaps an Alex Van Halen maybe a Travis Barker.  It's apparent in an old proven song (i.e. Hot For Teach by Van Halen) that a guy like Alex could keep up such fast rhythms and unmatched drum solos.  The hyper intensity, speed and overall symphonic bashing of sticks on canvas is so very distinguishable in the Zeppelin songs and I've heard Robert Plant quoted as saying that John Bonham was the loudest drummer he'd ever heard.  Keep that thought with the idea that every man at his position plays like a Hall of Fame Rock and Roller and as testament, Led Zeppelin IS IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME! HAHA.  I have heard good things about the band, I know Jason played with the rest of the real Led Zeppelin in Robert, John and Jimmy at the only reunion at 02 in London back in 2007, so he must be more than adequate, heck he grew up with it!

A quick trek down to the walkways leading into the Greek along with a quick check by security and by design we are on the same corner we entered, but stop for a beer as there is a break in before the next song in which Jason Bonham talks to the audience.  It is a great way to give some backstory and becomes somewhat of a trivial pursuit game if you will as to what they will play next.  There is a hush when he speaks until that first string is strung, drum is banged or lyric is let out...unless he announces it outright.  I know that every song has different meanings to many people, but the song remains the same, no need to change, it was perfect the way it was and always should be.

I figure I'd hear the more popular standards in the beginning, but to my pleasant surprise the next was a favorite of mine, "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" which starts off with an acoustic ballad-like guitar play, then a saddened riff to break the terrible news.  This masterful mayhem is well played with everyone pitching in a strong performance as it features all 4 of the players distinguishing themselves to combine for a clash of cosmic chaos.  Another nicety is that it is a long one and every chorus is well played.
The remaining music varied from high to lower intensity, fast and furious to slow and serene.

You'll catch a rippin' rendition of "What is And What Should Never Be" though was also unexpected, but again very much appreciated by various Zeppheads who enjoyed the wide variety as myself.  This is further illustrated in "The Lemon Song" and "Thank You" and more so "The Battle of Evermore".

"Moby Dick" is a great drumming song and the showmanship is intensified with the screens showing Jason working away and his father beating the same song in a dated concert video.  That was a thrill that I was not expecting and it added a nostalgic element for what I had only witnessed on tv from archival footage, but not like this.  Jason reminds the crowd that his Father was his Father not the maniac or wild man some have made him out to be.  Though he may have lived hard he obviously had a softer side that he shared with his loved ones.

The Ocean is a song best heard live as it's not one I commonly play when driving around with it's breaks or pauses in the melody that repeat, but when it's live it's just so much better.  This along with "Since I've been Loving You" is the kind of bluesy hits you want to hear in a live venue.
Video with little Jason dancing was a charming boyish march into an evolving rock 'n roller.  It also provided a break for both the band and the audience as well as those who constantly stood up ;)  Appropriately, "Going to California" to where this group had just come and where Zeppelin is still a staple was lovingly accepted.  This was further touching as Jason dedicated "If the Sun Refused to Shine" with archival footage that I had never seen before and trust me, I've seen a great deal.

Sticking with family there is a highlight with Jason's sister Zoe who comes out stage left to play harmonica to what I thought was going to be "Take it On Home" as they were strumming the chords for it, but then banged out "When The Levee Breaks" and the whole audience was gushing with glee.  To add to this bond, Jason's own son Jager manned the drums for a couple minutes, very cool.  And how can you do a Led Zeppelin concert without "Kashmir" and "Stairway to Heaven", always crowd favorites, which makes everyone wind about as if they were on an acid trip.  Perhaps the psychedelic lighting and changes in colors is what does the trick as the Greek Theatre puts on a great visual show everytime I've been there.

As warranted and much wanted, we got an Encore or rather TLZE got an encore and rousing standing ovation that brought them out again to"Whole Lotta Love" while I had come down the steps of the Terrace section to get an unobstructed side view of stage left with a big monitor screen to my immediate left.
After it was over people seemed to walk away very satisfied and as we made our way back up over the hill many were blasting there favorite Zeppelin tunes in their cars as they waited for someone else near them to pull away so they could leave.  I did the same and many saluted me with "horns on hands" and heads boppin' back and forth.

**Next up will be my review to finally catch Led Zepagain at The Santa Fe Springs Swapmeet just down the 5 Freeway on  the border of LA County.