Sunday, May 1st, 2005
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
**Live Review & Pics By Lord of The Wasteland
It seemed strange that it took the man formerly known as Jeff Wiedlandt so long to bring Black Label Society to Vancouver. Zakk Wylde had been here several times as part of Ozzy Osbourne?s band but in the seven years of BLS? existence, he never saw fit to pay us a visit. I was fortunate enough to catch the band on last summer?s Seattle stop of Ozzfest (read review here) but until this day, the Vancouver Chapter of the Black Label Society had yet to be officially ?jumped in? by the founding fathers.
That all ended with a sold-out show at The Commodore Ballroom. With his usual crew on hand (including Nick Catanese on second guitar, Craig Nunenmacher on drums and former White Lion bassist, James Lomenzo), Wylde played an impressive thirteen song, two-plus hour set that at times seemed a bit over-indulgent, especially the TWENTY MINUTE acoustic guitar solo played in the final third of the show. Wylde is an incredible guitarist but even the six-string junkies were checking their watches at the midway point. Wylde isn?t the most charismatic frontman to begin with, keeping crowd banter to a minimum but people come to see him play and play is exactly what Wylde did.
After a painfully long build up to the band actually hitting the stage (the house lights went down and then everyone was kept in total darkness for what seemed like an eternity while Patsy Cline?s ?Crazy? then ?The Godfather Tarantella? played), Wylde laid down an impromptu shredfest that got the crowd whipped up. Dozens of empty Black Label ?stubbies? lined the edge of the stage while lyrics sheets for each song were carefully hidden behind the monitors at Wylde?s feet. Thankfully, nothing was played from last year?s disappointing HANGOVER MUSIC VOL. 6 acoustic release and the setlist explored the Black Label Society catalogue thoroughly, though 2000?s STRONGER THAN DEATH was suspiciously ignored. ?Counterfeit God? would have been an excellent addition to the show but with killers like ?Stoned & Drunk,? ?Funeral Bell? and ?Fire It Up? brought out, no one was complaining. The crowd was going insane and the sludgy, bottom-heavy riffage could be felt down to the bone. Wylde?s voice has always been a point of contention and his painfully out of tune performance during the chorus of an otherwise excellent ?Stiilborn? gave his detractors some clout. His range is minimal and he slurs something fierce (brought on by the umpteen beers he shotgunned during the show, I?m sure), but who listens to a Black Label Society CD for the vocals, right? Wylde is a guitar god (he knows it, too) and he brought out some serious artillery.
Wylde?s extensive collection of axes appeared to make the trip including his signature Bullseye Les Paul and a special Dean guitar given to him by Dimebag Darrell shortly before his murder. The Dean was given a special introduction by Wylde before dedicating an extended version of ?In This River? to the slain guitarist, whose photos adorned the band?s amps. The showmanship was out in full force as Wylde soloed behind his head and played with his teeth to the enthusiastic crowd. No one can execute a pinch harmonic better than Wylde and the hungry throngs were treated to every trick up his sleeve. Sadly, ?Spoke In The Wheel? ground everything to a halt as Wylde sat on stage with an acoustic guitar and proceeded to knock out a solo that drug on for over twenty minutes. The road crew brought out a table at one point and appeared to play the drinking game, ?Quarters,? before exiting after several minutes, while Wylde continued on. Many people actually headed to the exit at this point, half out of boredom and the other half seeing the midnight hour approaching on a Sunday night. For those who did persevere, Wylde managed to wake up the crowd with a sing-along version of Ozzy?s ?Mama I?m Coming Home? before rounding out this excruciating test of patience. In a further Ozzy-related note, the band played the instantly recognizable opening chords of Black Sabbath?s ?Iron Man? before ?Funeral Bell,? which got everyone excited. ?Suicide Messiah,? a new track from MAFIA, got the crowd singing the chorus at top volume before another lengthy jam session at the end of the song had me questioning if I was at a Grateful Dead concert. Even the most nocturnal were given a run for their money with a drum solo at the two hour mark before Wylde introduced his band. The house lights finally went up at 12:40 but Wylde soldiered on with one more track (?Genocide Junkies?) announcing he didn?t ?give a fuck? about the curfew and that they could ?arrest me? if they chose. Since the Idaho authorities did just that the week prior to the Vancouver show for his part in wielding a pool cue during a reportedly drunken pre-concert brawl, Wylde?s comment was oddly ironic.
The Vancouver chapter of the Black Label Society was officially inaugurated on this night and Wylde?s lengthy setlist left many people satisfied. The only problem is that too much of a good thing can be bad and someone needs to rope Wylde in in the future. Even axe wizards like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai didn?t dare to punish their audiences with twenty minute guitar solos and drawn out jam sessions in the weeks prior! That gripe aside, no one could rightfully have left the show and claimed not to get their money?s worth because at over two hours, this was a hell of a lot of ass-kickin?, beer-swillin?, head-bangin? metal for $30!
Stoned & Drunk
Been A Long Time
In This River
Demise of Sanity
Spread Your Wings
Spoke In The Wheel
Fire It Up
***Thanks to Jamie at House of Blues for the ticket and photo pass.
Black Label Society official site
Zakk Wylde?s official site