By Mark Derricutt
Artist: Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society
Date / Venue: Friday December 4th, 2015 - The Powerstation, Auckland
The evening opened with Wax Audio's 'Whole Lotta Sabbath' blasting over the PA driving everyone into a frenzy and I must say, it was somewhat surreal and also totally awesome hearing one of my favourite mashups at that volume - the combination mix of Sabbath and Zeppelin fitted - and the gathering crowd was eating it up - something was in the air and it smelled like Electric Hellfire.
Let's cut to the chase - Zakk Wylde is the consummate professional, as the lights came up and band kicked into 'The Beginning... At Last'; Zakk walked onto the stage ready to launch wildly into a solo yet it was apparent something was wrong with his guitar - without skipping a beat the man simply turns around and heads side of stage handing off the guitar returning to his podium to kick into song - grabbing the mic stand with now free bands and giving us a glimpse of something different for this show.
Within seconds, a guitar tech appears on stage casually wrapping a guitar around his neck as tho this was just another Friday - now freshly adorned with a working guitar Zakk jumps atop his raised platform and really kicks off the show with what would be the first of many displays of the mans guitar, and showmanship skills - needless to say the crowd was driven to a frenzy.
With a set list comprising of tunes from 7 albums, and ranging almost 17 years worth of Black Label Society- the show was surely a blessed hellride; after a non stop onslaught the band took a break to give way to Zakk's over the top solo which I'm sure for some was one of the highlights of the evening - but from where I was standing at that point the nuances of the notes started to bleed into a feed back loop that could have been almost anyone doing scales and playing with a whammy bar - it wasn't until I could actually see Zakk again thru the crowd that the magic of that solo appeared - the performance of the solo was more than just the sound of it, the way he stands, or should I say - leans back with guitar stretched out over head, behind the neck, and just all over the place.
After ripping thru the upbeat Godspeed Hell Bound the show slows down with the laid back Angel of Mercy and the piano based In This River - just another showcase of Zakk Wyldes diverse skills as a song writer and performer ( unfortunately, the blurry sound of the solo also seemed to work its dark magic against the piano sound, at least from where I was - where the piano could have been clean and crisp it felt a little distorted and distracted me slightly from the magic of those shows ).
Closing the night out was The Blessed Hellride complete with epic crowd sing along shouts, Concrete Jungle and finally Stillborn leaving everyone on a musical high.
Zakk promised - and Zakk delivered.
Whole Lotta Sabbath (Wax Audio song)
The Beginning... At Last
Bleed for Me
Heart of Darkness
My Dying Time
Damn the Flood
Godspeed Hell Bound
Angel of Mercy
In This River
The Blessed Hellride