Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
Someone call the police! There has been an assault. An assault on my auditory senses, that is! But in the case of seeing Black Label Society live, the assault was not malicious in nature. In fact, it was self-initiated. Being a fan of this band and their leader, Zakk Wylde, for the past 15 or so years, I would have gladly driven much farther than the sixty miles (round trip) to Pop’s to cover this show! For those of you that don’t know, Zakk Wylde is better known for being Ozzy Osbourne’s on again, off again, go to guitarist for the past 25 years. Over the past few years, Zakk has taken a break from Osbourne’s band and focused entirely on Black Label Society. Black Label Society has been a revolving door of fantastic musicians since its inception and its founder has always claimed members are free to come and go as they please. The 2014 version of Black Label consists of Zakk Wylde (guitar/vocals/piano), John DeServio (bass/vocals), Jeff Fabb (drums), and Dario Lorina (guitar).
Those in attendance grew restless with each passing minute of Wovenwar’s warm up set. Three quarters of the way into their performance an audible “Get the fuck off the stage” was heard in between songs. The fans of Black Label are loyal and identified by “chapters” such as the St. Louis chapter, Chicago chapter, et cetera. Mercifully, Wovenwar bowed out gracefully and a black curtain emblazoned with the Black Label Society logo rose to the rafters of Pop’s to signify the band everyone came to see was about to enter the building.
An air raid siren, flashing red strobes, and the dropping of the Society logo curtain set the stage for what would be the equivalent of a sonic mule kick to the chest, as Zakk and company bring it full force with “The Beginning…At Last”. After this opening, I had one reoccurring thought, "somewhere within a five mile radius there had to be some shattered windows!" I’ve heard loud before, both dirty and clean, but this was as loud I was previously unfamiliar with! Let’s just say it was all good! Mr. Wylde has learned over the years that showmanship and good music complement each other and tonight neither were in short supply. Black Label is currently touring in support of their new album, Catacombs of the Black Vatican and played “Heart of Darkness”, “My Dying Time”, “Damn the Flood”, and “Angel of Mercy” from said new album. The new material was well-received by the Black Label faithful, with “Angel of Mercy” being the frontrunner as one of the more popular songs from the set.
A couple of take away moments from this Society show included a blistering ten-minute Zakk Wylde guitar solo which demonstrated his complete mastery of pentatonic scales. The other attention grabbing moment, that to some may have seemed routine but I found to be very real and genuine, was Zakk’s introduction of the band. He truly seems appreciative of each band member and their contributions to the success of Black Label production. Black Label gives the Pop’s audience one last blast, as all of the power the band could muster was put into their closing number, “Stillborn”. Wylde remains a showman until the end, as he lays his feedback-dripping Gibson guitar on the stage, takes his place on a riser and raises his Black Label Society-logoed denim vest, to a roar of approval. If your bucket list includes viewing a guitar master at work and seeing a damn fine rock and roll band, attending a Black Label Society show will have your bucket overflowing! Thanks to Pop’s Concert Venue for their hospitality and Black Label Society's management for allowing MTC access to this show. Photos of the show are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Black Label Society @ Pop’s, Sauget, IL Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 1:30:00 PM Rating: