Black Label Society in New York With Photo Gallery

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 8:08 PM

The Chance Theater in Poughkee

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Black Label Society is currently on the road touring in support of their latest release, Shot To Hell on Roadrunner records. I recently caught up with the band on my recent trip to New York to see them perform at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York. The Chance Theater is an historic landmark in Poughkeepsie, as it is over a hundred years old, and possibly one of the best venues to see a band in an up close and personal setting. I arrived in New York early to catch up on all the exciting Black Label Society news, and was excited to learn the tour has been going great, and the band was looking forward to performing for the New York Chapter tonight.

Black Label Society hit the stage at 10 P.M. to perform a two hour set that was a full metal assault filled with blistering guitar solos and skull crushing melodies. As the opening intro of the Patsy Cline song, “Crazy" filled the air, Black Label Society hit the stage with a vengeance with red fire engines sirens blaring, and The Pub sign open. As all eyes were on guitar virtuoso Zakk Wylde, when he took center stage and performed possibly one of the best shows of his career. Zakk shredded the guitar strings with a skilled, masterful style and passion that was reminiscent of an early Randy Rhoads.

Opening with,"New Religion:” Black Label Society whiplashes the crowd into a powerful frenzy that never let down. Captivating the audience like the eye of a hurricane, Zakk Wylde's guitar solos weaved a path of destruction, as the unstoppable force known as Black Label Society proved why they are one of the top artists in music today.

The current Black Label set list has something for everyone, including a mixture of older favorites such as, “Suffering Overdue”, and "Bleed For Me" up to the most recent favorites "Concrete Jungle", and “Blood Is Thicker Than Water".

One of the highlights of the BLS tour is the new sexy dance that Zakk Wylde performs, as bassist John JD Deservio plays piano. Do you remember that song, "I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt"? Well let me tell you, Zakk Wylde is giving sexy a whole new meaning. As he prances around the stage strutting his stuff, like a burlesque dancer, Zakk says,"You can say what you want about Black Label Society, you can say we can't sing or can't play, but one thing that you cannot say is that Black Label Society can't dance.” Zakk jokingly said, “One of these days, you will see Black Label on Dancing With The Stars. Black Label is bringing sexy back."

"Mafia" was a great turning point for Black Label, as the band performed their first hit off of the album, “Suicide Messiah". Zakk Wylde told me he wrote that song for Scott Weiland (Velvet Revolver, ex-Stone Temple Pilots), in which I found very interesting.

One of my favorite highlights was about to unfold, as Zakk brought out the nylon string guitar for an acoustic set. In my opinion, I have always enjoyed the Black Label Society softer ballads, as well as the heavier hits. The slower tunes really showcase Zakk's talent as a performer. and songwriter. This time out Zakk is also bringing out the nylon acoustic to perform, “Blood Is Thicker Than Water", in which he dedicated to all of the children at St.Jude Hospital. Black Label Society is donating a million dollars to St. Jude Hospital to help them with cancer research. In the past, I have donated my time to work Telethons for St. Jude and it was so inspiring to hear that Black Label Society is so involved with the research. During the acoustic set, Zakk made it seem so easy to run up and down the frets exhilarating such a precise perfection and his bluesy voice reminiscent of Greg Allman was filled with much pain and emotion, as the talented guitar shredder held the audience captive. Tonight's concert clearly illustrated why Zakk Wylde is clearly one of the most talented guitar players in music today. Zakk also performed a fifteen-minute guitar solo that focused on all of his roots, which included riffs from "Diary of A Madman", and "Eruption". This was a pure treat for any guitar fan in the audience to witness this extradonairy guitar experience at the sold out show tonight.

During the piano set Zakk also performed, "Spoke In The Wheel". Pittsburgh's Nick Catanese shined during his guitar solo, shredding the strings of his ET Idol, as he made his guitar sing the melody on this love gone wrong ballad.

One of the most moving moments of the evening occurred when Zakk performed, “In This River" on the piano. As the band brought out a life like cardboard picture of Dime, the audience lit up their lighters to honor of their fallen hero Dimebag Darrell Abbott. As Zakk did the sign of the cross, and looked up to the heavens, you could feel Dime in the room watching over us, as the audience sang along to all of the words. Guitarist Nick Catanese recently told me that you have to have heart and soul to become a good guitarist. The Evil Twin played the BLS Dime tribute song guitar solo with a heartfelt passion that was in true style of his hero Dimebag.

As the whammy bar effect of, “Fire It Up" filled the air, Black Label Society let it rip. Followed by a 15 minute Zakk guitar solo that clearly illustrated all of his musical roots, as he became the Pied Piper leaving his people spellbound.

Black Label Society is held together by the driving force of bassist John JD Deservio and drummer Craig Nunenmacher. The powerful duo unleashed the backbone of pulverizing beats. JD moved around the stage with a powerful energy, as his skill of playing the bass shined on, “Black Mass Reverends", and "Concrete Jungle". The new tunes sounded really tight, and actually have a much heavier effect in concert.

I had a chance to chat with JD about some of his favorite moments on the tour, and he dropped this gem on me, “Every gig has a highlight. Zakk's gay dance routine has been my favorite so far.”

As the evening was coming to a close, Black Label Society performed the catchy, “Concrete Jungle" off of, the "Shot To Hell" release. This song is really starting to grow on me. After a few listens to the new album, everything falls into place, as Zakk carefully orchestrated the mixture of ballads and rock on his new release.

Black Label Society ended their set with a song that started it all, “Stillborn". As the final notes of the songs blasted from the amps, it was great to see this talented guitar player who once hailed from Jersey taking control of the audience with his masterful guitar shredding.

In honor of the children of St. Jude, the song, “You Are So Beautiful" filled the air, as Zakk and the bands shook hands with the audience. This was a very compassionate moment, and it was great to see so much love and respect that the audience and musicians have for one another.

My trip to New York was a memorable one that was filled with memories that will last a lifetime. Be sure to check out Black Label Society on tour this spring.

Set List:

  • New Religion
  • Forever Down
  • Been A Long Time
  • The Beginning At Last
  • Suffering Overdue
  • Funeral Bell
  • Bleed For Me
  • Suicide Messiah
Acoustic set:

  • Blood Is Thicker Than Water
  • Medley: "Diary Of A Madman" and "Eruption" Piano set:

  • Spoke In The Wheel
  • This River Full Band:

    • Fire It Up
    • Zakk- Guitar Solo
    • Black Mass Reverends
    • Concrete Jungle
    • Stillborn
    I had a moment to speak to Zakk about about his donation to St. Jude, and here is what he said: “Black Label is donating a million dollars to the St. Jude Hospital for Cancer research. The kids are the most important thing. We want to keep these little Berserkers alive. You just do the right thing. These kids are our future. We are keeping, “Blood Is Thicker Than Water" in the set for the kids. It is just one gigantic family.”

    Click on the thumbnail shots for the full-size pictures.

    Photos © 2007 by Deb Rao

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