–By Keith Brake
The mighty one and his Black Label brethren are once again on the road and once again kickin’ some major tail. Zakk Wylde and the boys rolled into Saint Louis this past Sunday, December 31 and threw a New Year’s Eve party that will not be soon forgotten. Pops concert venue in Sauget, just outside of STL on the East side of the river, was the chosen spot for the fourth stop on the tour. Black Label Society is touring in support of their latest album Grimmest Hits. Offering support for the BLS rockers are Eyehategod and Corrosion of Conformity.
The evening got started when Eyehategod took the stage. This 4 piece sludge metal band from New Orleans has been on the scene since 1988. The NOLA boys played to an attentive crowd to open the show. There did seem, however, to be some technical difficulties with the sound for their set but they never let it slow them down.
Next to take the stage was Corrosion of Conformity. This heavy metal band hails from North Carolina and has been rockin since 1982. The issues with the sound seemed to be worked out by the time these guys hit their first couple tunes. There were some COC loyals in the crowd and when they kicked into “Albatross” the crowd showed its appreciation. Pepper Keenen (guitar/vocals) asked how many had seen COC before and the response was impressive, as there were more who had than those who had not.
When COC finished their set the ever growing was settling in for Black Label Society. The crew draped a curtain in front of the stage with the BLS logo emblazoned upon it and the crowd gave the curtain some applause, and that was just the beginning. As the lights begin to dim you could catch glances of silhouetted figures and the anticipation grew to a near fevered pitch. Over the PA came a mashup of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and at the perfect moment the curtain dropped to reveal Zakk and the rest of BLS. They Kicked straight into “Genocide Junkies”, carried that into “Funeral Bell” then straight into “Suffering Overdue” before taking a minute to welcome the excited crowd.
This was the fourth time I have covered Zakk this year and I must say, it was the best I have seen him yet. Zakk is a master guitarist and a more charismatic performer you will not find so everything he does is amazing, but with BLS he seems to be more in his element. Perhaps it is the fact that these songs are closer to his heart, perhaps it is the BLS attitude or maybe the BLS “Family”? Whatever the case, he was at his best for this performance.
The set had some memorable moments to say the least. Most anyone knows the Zakk plays a guitar to it’s mercy, but he also can play a piano, and very well I might add. When they kicked into “In this River” there he was on the piano and the crowd was loving it. This song is dedicated to one of Zakk’s fallen friends, Dimebag Darrell. The backdrops had Darrell’s picture projected upon them for the entirety of the number and when the song ended Wylde looked to the heavens and said “We Love ya Darrell”.
No BLS show would be complete without a monster guitar solo and boy did Zakk outdo himself this time around. Following the performance of “Fire it Up” Wylde, along with some crew and security, made his way into the crowd. Fans were going nuts, taking pictures, patting Wylde on the back while others were simply in awe of the fact he was among them. Wylde proceeded to make his way all the way into the Pop’s balcony where he delivered a solo for the ages while hanging out over the raucous crowd. I had made my way to balcony after leaving the photo pit purely by circumstance but ended up have a front row seat for this spectacle.
The tour continues on and has too many dates to count off hand but information can be found at http://blacklabelsociety.net/ . I have never been disappointed seeing Zakk and his rockers on stage and this show was no exception. Put into the words of a fan who was seeing them for the first time “Pretty much the greatest thing ever”. While “Ever” is a strong sentiment, I will concur that it was, indeed, pretty great.
Be sure to check out the gallery after the set list. Happy New Year to you all, and as always, thanks for your continued support.
Bleed for Me
Heart Of Darkness
All That Once Shined
Room Of Nightmares
In This River
The Blessed Hellride
Fire It Up