Black Label Society in New York

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Thursday, November 16, 2006 @ 2:17 PM

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As the sirens blared, and the red strobe lights light up the Nokia Theatre, in Times Square, Black Label Society hit the stage at 9:30 P.M. and performed a powerful 90-minute set of old and new favorites.

Opening with the new song "New Religion", Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society ripped through the opening song with a vengeance. BLS are known to have intense crowds, but tonight's male dominated crowd were out in full force sporting their BLS colors, as the BLS New York Chapter was not for the faint of heart.

Zakk Wylde and band were there to get the party started, as the momentum of the night from start to finish never let up, as the band ripped in a set that was carefully orchestrated and featured all of the Black Label favorites.

Hot off a sold out Australian tour, Black Label Society sounded polished and tight. All eyes were on Zakk Wylde as he captured the crowd's attention with his masterful guitar shredding. As Zakk Wylde took center stage, the band proceeded to slam into old favorites, "Been A Long Time," "Suffering Overdue", and "Funeral Bell."

Zakk even played homage to his roots, teasing the crowd with the intro to "Iron Man." What is really noticeable on this tour is how tight the band sounds. Pittsburgh native, guitarist Nick Catanese layed down a driving guitar rhythm, that gave the band a really full sound. The rhythm section of JD DeServio, and Craig Nunenmacher proved to be thunderous, as the two never missed a best, laying down the funky bass grooves that hold Black Label Society together.

Zakk Wylde displayed his signature whammy bar slam on "Suicide Messiah", "Fire It Up", and "Concrete Jungle".

What I also noticed on this tour, was that Zakk is returning to his early Pride and Glory days, southern rock sound. Black Label Society is including a very special acoustic set of three songs on this tour. Although Zakk is playing piano, and not guitar in the acoustic set. The melodic acoustic set really brings out the diversity of the band, in this rare acoustic performance.

Guitarist Nick Catanese is also getting a chance to play lead on "Spoke In the Wheel", and "The Last Goodbye." This is a nice change of pace, as Pittsburgh's Pride and Glory gets to step into the spotlight, and perform some very nice guitar work with his new,"Shot to Hell" guitar model.

On "Spoke In The Wheel" Zakk's vocal style sounds a lot like that of Gregg Allman (Allman Brothers). On this love gone wrong song, you can feel the pain, as Zakk sings the blues! One of the biggest highlights of the set was when Zakk dedicated, "In this River" to Dime, and did the sign of the cross. This moment was so moving. Definitely, one of the most moving songs of the night. On the "Last Goodbye", Zakk sounded a lot like Ozzy. This sound was also outstanding, really a good choice to perform live, capturing his great songwriter ability. The acoustic set was a great chance for the fans to see the band in a rare unstripped, raw moment. Nothing pretentious about it. The performance was real, and very up close and personal. The band performed from the heart, with deep emotion.

I had the opportunity to ask guitarist Nick Catanese about performing with Zakk, the new "Shot to Hell" release, and the diversity of the new Black Label Society album.

    On performing with Zakk, and what Zakk has taught him as a musician:

    CATANESE: Zakk has taught me to just be yourself. Practice all the time. You can be never good enough, play from the heart and be yourself.

    On playing guitar solos on "Spoke In The Wheel", and "The Last Goodbye".

    CATANESE: It's fucking insane playing solos that Zakk wrote. I hope I am making him proud. I'm trying anyway. But yeah, it's an awesome feeling. The first night I did the solos I was shittin' my pants. But it's all cool now. I love it.

    On "Shot to Hell", the latest Black Label Society Release on Roadrunner Records.

    CATANESE: "Shot to Hell" has everything, great heavy grooves, and slow piano songs for the "Book of Shadows" people. It has everything, I think. "Shot to Hell" is just the start, we have been going strong for 10 years, but this is the new beginning of Black Label Society.

    On performing the song "Concrete Jungle":

    CATANESE: It's actually about LA or NY, or any city in general. You always see freaks in the streets, not a lot of nuns with shotguns. But just the point of how you can do a lot of people watching. Hell I do it in the mirror everyday.

The party was just getting started, as BLS ripped in "Fire it Up", with beach balls flying in the air, this song has to be one of my favorite BLS tunes. Great catchy riffs, infused with Zakk's whammy bar effect really brought the crowd into a frenzied state. The song also featured a stellar 10-minute guitar solo, in which Zakk demonstrated a flawless performance.

The interesting aspect of the BLS show tonight was the band wasn't afraid to play new material. BLS performed "Concrete Jungle", and "Black Mass Reverends", and I must admit these two songs were easily two of the best songs in the set. Fast and furious, bass player JD DeServio belted out the driving bass grooves on "Black Mass Reverends." It was great hearing songs off of the new album being performed live. Most bands would only play 2 songs of their new album, but BLS performed four new songs. I think too, the more the fans here the songs being performed live; the more "Shot To Hell" will grow on you.

BLS ended the night with "Stillborn." This was the bands second show on the tour, and BLS was there to play! Definitely check out the "Shot to Hell" Tour, when it hits your area. If you are into blistering guitar solos, a great acoustic set, and just overall stellar musicianship, you won't be disappointed.

Black Label Society Set list:

  • New Religion
  • Forever Down
  • Been A Long Time
  • Beginning At Last
  • Suffering Overdue
  • Iron Man Intro
  • Funeral Bell
  • Bleed For Me
  • Suicide Messiah
Acoustic set with Zakk on Piano:

  • Spoke In the Wheel
  • In This River
  • The Last Goodbye
Plugged back in:

  • Fire It Up- Zakk solo
  • Concrete Jungle
  • Black Mass Reverends
  • Stillborn

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