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‘It keeps a buzz between us’: Blues powerhouse Deborah Bonham opens up on touring as a married couple ahead of Kinross gig

The younger sister of Led Zeppelin legend John Bonham 'would do a residency in Kinross' if she could.

Deborah Bonham (centre) and her band stand in front of a wooden shed looking happy.
The Deborah Bonham band are bringing their powerful sound to the Green Hotel.

Blues rocker Deborah Bonham is looking forward to playing one of her favourite venues this weekend.

The younger sister of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, the Worcestershire-born singer is set to bring her latest tour to Kinross where she’s regularly played at Backstage since 2011.

Deborah released a collaborative opus last year with her husband-guitarist Peter Bullick – just the sixth studio album of a recording career that started with 1985’s For You And The Moon.

Black and white photo of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham wearing a bowler hat while performing.
Deborah is the younger sister of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. Image: DC Thomson.

Live work has often been her main focus, but three well-received albums in the past decade means nailing down a setlist’s become more tricky. “We were thrilled with the response we had for the last record,” she smiles.

“It was the first time I’d fully taken the reins as producer on an album. I co-produced the one before but this time I had a clear vision of how I wanted it all to sound, and that has sort of translated on to the stage.

Last year saw Deborah Bonham and Peter Bullick release their first album as a duo. Image: Christina Jannsen.

“The songs have started going somewhere else just through playing them, and that’s important. I don’t want to go to a show and hear songs played exactly as they are on a record.

“You want it to be a live show with everything that encompasses and we’ve all played with each other for so long that we sort of know where we can go on the fly, which keeps a buzz between us.

“We don’t get jaded because every time we play it can go somewhere else.”

‘No pressure’ as rock legends Brian May and Jimmy Page in audience

Deborah and Peter are backed by vastly experienced trio Gerard Louis (keys), Ian Rowley (bass) and Richard Newman (drums), whom they go back decades with.

“My favourite song live just now is Bleeding Muddy Water off the last album,” says Bonham, 61.

“I absolutely love playing that song, it’s taken on its own new life and it’s real goosebump time for me with the lads’ playing. A couple of times I’ve turned round and just had to stop to let them vamp a little bit – it’s that good.”

Deborah’s five-piece live band have decades of experience behind them. Image: David Cunningham.

As well as self-penned material, the five-piece also play classics by some of their closest rock allies.

“We also do some Free stuff because the band were picked by Paul Rodgers to back him in 2017 and 2018 – I was opening on both tours. On the American one we were with Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson.

“The UK one finished at the Albert Hall and out in the audience was Brian May and Jimmy Page, so no pressure to deliver,” she jokes. “But Pete and the band were incredible.”

Deborah ‘absolutely loved’ Nazareth frontman

Deborah describes the crowds at November’s gigs thus far as “excellent”, and she’s hoping for more of the same on the tour’s Scottish leg in Kinross – with memories of recently departed Fife legend Dan McCafferty still vivid.

“I get tearful when I talk about him because I absolutely loved that man,” she adds.

“I don’t think I’ve ever toured with any band as great as Nazareth. It was just that I grew up listening to them, because my brother John was a huge fan.

Nazareth – Darrell Sweet, Dan McCafferty, Manny Charlton and Pete Agnew appearing on the ‘Supersonic’ TV show in 1976. Image: DC Thomson.

“I had a couple of nights, with a few alcoholic drinks I must add, with Dan and Pete Agnew telling me the stories of touring and playing together with Led Zeppelin.

“There was a huge love from both for my brother and I know it was reciprocal – they were consummate performers. They’re soul boys as well, big Otis Redding fans, and I’m a total Motown and soul girl as well and they spotted that in me.

“Nazareth were such beautiful people to tour with – so funny. It was like a family.”

‘I’d do a residency in Kinross if I could’

Bonham lives in West Sussex where she looks after rescue animals, but says she’ll be relocating to the Midlands next year after more than 30 years away. Before then, she’s looking forward to taking her pet dogs for a walk round Loch Leven.

Touring is the name of the game for Deborah Bonham and her blues rock cohorts. Image: David Cunningham.

A few miles north, Deborah’s late mother Joan famously marked her 80th birthday in 2006 by joining her on stage to sing a Zeppelin cover at Backstage promoter David Mundell’s previous venue, the Bein Inn.

“I’d do a residency up at Kinross if I could – it always ends up as a big party and nobody leaves,” she laughs.

Deborah Bonham Band play the Green Hotel, November 18. Tickets are available from Ticketweb online