Bring on the nostalgia! At age 12, a Led Zeppelin poster, featuring Robert Plant in all his gorgeous glory, adorned the wall of my bedroom… my Adonis. By 13, he still looked pretty darned good, but that was kid’s stuff by then. I had evolved! My friend and I were convinced that we were going to be the next Heart…voice lessons and all. On Aug. 28, many years later, those indelible memories came to life for me and that same friend at the America’s Cup Pavilion, when Heart came to town on their Heartbreaker Tour, featuring Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.
Many may have fantasized, but none of us have grown up telling our friends, “Yeah, my dad is John Bonham – you know, the ‘Moby Dick’ guy”!” Yes, Jason is the son of a legend, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, widely considered to be one of the best rock drummers in the history of rock music. This apple did not fall far from its tree. Jason is an excellent drummer in his own right, and that talent has never gone unnoticed. Beginning in his teens, Jason has drummed in reverence to his hard-hitting, bluesy, groovin’ roots. He filled in for his late father with former Zep members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones at enormous events such as Atlantic Records’ 40th Anniversary in 1988, and at Led Zep’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1994, he was tapped by another legend, Paul Rogers, to drum on what would become Rogers’ Grammy-nominated Muddy Water Blues project, and he played the second coming of Woodstock with the project, as well. Taking the term “tribute band” to a new extreme, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience was formed and first toured worldwide in 2011.
So here we are back at the show, and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed by Bonham’s set. He has assembled a team of band members who totally nailed their set of Led Zeppelin faves. Kudos to the members of his touring band – all excellent players and performers. And even though positioned on his throne at back of the stage, the Bonham aura and presence was front and center, pounding away just ”behind the beat” and keeping the perfect punctuation.
The lights dimmed a second time to welcome Heart, the Little Queens of rock & roll! Yes, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson are officially rock & roll royalty, following their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year. In 2012, they received their own heart-shaped “star” on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The Wilson sisters were pioneers in the hard rock field, fronting their own band and inspiring females of all ages to pick up an electric guitar or start a band. Individually, they are incredible, but together – the dynamic duo! Supported by band members Ben Smith (drums), Craig Bartock (guitars), Debbie Shair (keyboards, synthesizers), and Dan Rothchild (bass guitar), the ladies laid down a set of their wall-to-wall hit songs, including “Barracuda,” “Crazy On You,” “Heartless,” and “Mistral Wind.” At the end of their set, with the entire crowd on their feet, screaming for more, the band made their exit – only to return to the stage moments later, with Jason Bonham in tow, for what became a 30-minute Led Zep encore collaboration. It was absolutely brilliant! Watching this was confirmation that there is a language that talent can’t speak because only a chosen few have the ability to pronounce the words. And in this case, they came straight from the Heart!