April 15, 2015 Zakk Wylde & Black Label Society blackens The Paramount Huntington, NY 4-3-15 w/ Wino
Black Label Society has always been known as one of Heavy Metal’s raunchiest, and sometimes loudest, acts on the scene when they formed back in 1998. Led by Zakk Wylde, who picked up a guitar at age eight and has not put it down since, Black Label Society is the brainchild of years of hard work. Showing the band’s dynamics, a softer side was revealed back in 2013 when the band performed acoustically at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, California. Taped for a live CD/DVD as Unblackened, now a few years later the band offers fans a chance to partake in a full string of dates in the stripped down format. With twelve shows in hand, the fun kicked off in Huntington, New York on Friday April 3rd at The Paramount. A first time visit to the state of the art venue, Wylde reportedly took a stroll around an empty Paramount just before doors to hand deliver black and white t-shirt sets to the bartenders and to tell the rest of the staff to go to the merchandise area and pick out whatever they wanted. As a result of his generosity, the crowd filed in and were greeted by well-dressed bartenders in Black Label Society gear, assuring a special evening was ahead.
Direct support for the show was Scott “Wino” Weinrich, best known as frontman/guitarist for bands such as The Obsessed and Saint Vitus. Wino began a solo career a few years back and released his debut solo album Punctuated Equilibrium in 2009 via Southern Lord. Stepping onto the stage, flanked by a small amplifier and holding only an acoustic guitar, Wino’s overall presence filled the entire stage. In fact, without saying a word, he seized the attention of the room. Intrigued, the quiet crowd waited to see what was in store. Looking like a man who has lived his life on the road, his long, silver-tinged hair falling about his shoulders, Wino demanded attention as he performed a diverse mix of his original songs. Possessing a voice that was haunting as he told tales of love, friendship, loss, and hardship, Wino was nothing less than spectacular. His long Metal history was evident as he talked about buying his first Motorhead record, before flowing into a cover of “Iron Horses” which had the crowd roaring in approval. Wino’s brand of heavy, acoustic storytelling was intimate, exciting, and the perfect start for the evening.
With a relaxed atmosphere of rockers placed throughout The Paramount, the time for a unique Black Label Society was ahead. Over a sea of black leather vests and denim jackets hung a giant banner adorned with the patch of the Black Label Society; a Society whose influence is far reaching, crossing generations and genres. In the audience, beards were many, and hats, shirts, as well as bandannas, displayed allegiance.
The packed house awaited the start of the show, reacting to every sound until the intro to “Losin’ your Mind” began. The crowd erupted as the banner fell to reveal Zakk Wylde sitting center stage with his signature bullseye Les Paul guitar. Behind him sat Jeff Fabb on drums, while on his left and right sat Dario Lorina on guitar and John DeServio on bass, respectively. Joining them on stage was a grand piano in front of a backdrop of trees along with lights and smoke that gave a misty backwoods feel. The band powered through “Suicide Messiah” before bringing it down with “Road Back Home.” Wylde showed his musical range as he sat behind the piano. Equally comfortable at the keyboard as strapped to a guitar, Wylde sang with passion and vitality as they went into “Spoke In The Wheel.”
The heavy returned as the band jammed through “House Of Doom” and Wylde ripped leads behind his head for an extended solo. “Machine Gun Man” was next with DeServio and Lorina added backing harmonies. As Wylde was handed his double neck bullseye guitar, he, Fabb, and Lorina, now on piano, began “Sold My Soul,” with Wylde again showing off his speed with a long blistering lead break. The crowd, mesmerized by his blurred fingers, looked on silently as he did his work. Pleasing the guitar enthusiasts in the room, Wylde then donned his Gibson ZV custom bullseye for “Angel Of Mercy.” Wylde introduced the rest of the band by Society Chapter. After a list of titles too long to remember, Wylde introduced DeServio from the New Jersey chapter of the almighty Black Label Society, Lorina, the Las Vegas Chapter, Fabb, the hometown, Strong Island chapter, before declaring his own home chapter. Soon after, the lights went down and Wylde returned to the Piano for his tribute to the late, great, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, who was taken from the Metal world during a performance at an Ohio club in 2004. As light returned to the stage, fans saw Wylde behind the piano once again, this time in front of images of the fallen Abbott. Wylde pointed skyward before beginning “In This River” and the audience swayed with horns up, fists, along with open hands, feeling the weight of the moment.
Moving along, Black Label Society had a couple of surprises in store when they debuted “Scars” and “Empty Promises;” two songs that have never been performed live before. Wylde broke out the double neck bullseye guitar once more for “Throwing It All Away,” giving it a kiss and holding it up before handing it off to a roadie in exchange for the acoustic to begin “The Blessed Hell ride,” “My Dying Time,” and “Overlord.” Closing the show was “Stillborn,” which saw the return of the Gibson ZV Custom where Black Label Society capped the performance fast and heavy with the fan favorite.
Black Label Society continues to grow in scope and influence. Few bands have the kind of reach that they enjoy. This new “Unblackened” incarnation of the band is proof of the strength of their music and rabid nature of their fans. Although slightly stripped down, this version had all the force, and thunder that fans would expect from a full on Black Label Society show. DeServio and Fabb provided a tremendous foundation for Wylde and Lorina to play on. Showing many sides, Black Label Society moved between moods and feels seamlessly. At times tender and vulnerable, at others, brutal and heavy, all the while holding the crowd. After fifteen years of Metal, there is no end in sight for this band, and followers are grateful for that.
The current tour ends April 19th in Anaheim, CA at The Grove of Anaheim, before Black Label Society head to Germany.