Black Label Society
Live at Ozzfest
San Bernardino, CA
September 24th, 2016
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
Zakk Wylde's infamous Black Label Society was one of the top bands playing this year's Ozzfest that encouraged me to splurge on tickets and brave the blazing inferno of desert heat.
Having been a longtime fan and supporter of Zakk's talents both when he played with Ozzy and on his own endeavors, I was more than excited to see Black Label Society perform once more.
Joining the heavy weight champion of guitar insanity on stage were John DeServio on bass with his giant beard and even larger grin, lean, mean Dario Lorina on rhythm guitar, and the too clean-cut Jeff Fabb on drums.
I have seen Black Label Society play headlining shows as well as festivals before and I know that with limited set time and rapid band change over, festivals provide a unique opportunity to reach a lot of fans at once but also to recruit new Society members to the fold. With that in mind, it is always interesting to see what the set list will be composed of, especially with someone as prolific as Mr. Wylde.
Heavy, rumbling and soulful - with a touch of melancholy and a penchant for crazy guitar solos sums up the signature sound of The Man, and he brought it in full force. Kicking off the set with "The Beginning... At Last" from the 2002 release, "Sonic Brew", was a fitting start for the show.
Zakk is an imposing figure with the stature of a professional wrestler so I am still amazed at his dexterity on the strings every time I watch him play. They performed the excellent "Funeral Bell" off of fan-favorite, "The Blessed Hellride" for their second song.
The crowd was into it. They were here for exactly this energy and vibe and they were eating it up. Moving through their back catalog they gave us "Bleed for Me" from the "1919 Eternal" album. This song has monster chugging riffs made for head banging during the verses and a sing along chorus that had the crowd's hands in the air.
The next song came from their latest release, "Catacombs of the Black Vatican", which is an amazing album, and they picked a great track in "Heart of Darkness". This was definitely my favorite song of the set and I sang along to every word.
"Suicide Messiah" was up next. Another classic song with a soulful, almost bluesy quality to it, but with this intense driving strength that stirs deep within. A guest vocalist came out with a megaphone to sing the namesake chorus part at each point it came up.
Sticking with a second song off of the "Mafia" release, Zakk had a grand piano rolled out for one of his signature ballad moments. Banners were unfurled on either side of the drum riser featuring another legendary guitarist but one that left us too soon: Dimebag Darrell of Pantera/Damageplan fame.
At the end of the touching song Zakk yelled out, "We miss you Darrell, we love you brother" which was unanimously reinforced by the audience's response.
Getting back to the heavy lifting, and bringing the tempo back up to full tilt while getting the bodies moving, they played "Concrete Jungle" from the "Shot To Hell" album.
Festival sets being what they are, we came to the all too quick finale, but at least he picked a classic one that I love every time I hear it. "Stillborn" comes from "The Blessed Hellride" album which gave the audience one final dose of the mighty Black Label Society.
After Zakk handed off his guitar, he got up on a riser and gave a shout-out to the nigtht's headliners, saying that Black Sabbath are his brothers and he loves them dearly.
He then ran to one side of the stage, got up on a riser and beat his chest like a mighty silverback guerilla. He jumped down, ran to the opposite side and repeated the gesture while the audience cheered and screamed their appreciation.
With a final salute, Zakk left the stage.
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