Black Label Society At Club Nokia
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By Jamie Harvey
You could clearly see the divide of people at L.A. Live on March 6: those who were going to the Los Angeles Clippers game, and those who were going to see Black Label Society's concert. Both even wore their own uniforms, basketball fans in Clippers gear, and BLS fans in band merch you'll learn more about below.
The term "golden god" may have been originally intended for Robert Plant, but today it is used frequently to describe iconic metal guitarist and Black Label Society leader Zakk Wylde. The band's concert at Club Nokia celebrated his career outside of his renowned stint with the legendary Ozzy Osbourne, summarizing his body of work with his early '90s project Pride & Glory, solo albums such as 1996's Book Of Shadows, and his catalog with BLS, which spans nearly 15 years.
The BLS crowd is akin to a biker gang: They all ... and I mean all ... wear BLS back patches adorning vests and coats and BLS shirts. They refer to themselves as "chapters" based on location, and they're all part of a "family." As the chapters assembled, some seated and some standing, and some with a glass of beer or whiskey in hand, they meandered around equipment set up to both live stream the show on AXS TV and to record the performance for a live DVD/CD to be titled Unblackened.
As the curtain dropped, a living room setup was revealed and any worries about the set being too soft (it was said to be semiacoustic) were blown away. We may have been seated, but the loud, booming sound often permeated with Wylde's signature "squealies" (pinch harmonics) filling the room.
"The Blessed Hellride" lit up my ears. Watching Wylde playing with his faraway gaze was the perfect combination of hard and soft. This dichotomy would characterize the entire set, as he would move back and forth from playing one of his signature drool-worthy Gibson guitars to an acoustic guitar and the piano.
Of course, the versatile Wylde is the true definition of a guitar shredder, and beyond that, to me he is one of the last of his kind. Watching Wylde play intricate songs such as the acoustic instrumental "Takillya (Estaybon)" showed the depth of his musical skills. But it was during "I Thank You Child," when a clip of him singing and playing with his daughter played on the screens, that all of our hearts unexpectedly melted.
To finish the show, an acoustic version of "Stillborn" BLS played completely changed the vibe of the hard-edged song into something new and different. As we departed from this somewhat surprisingly emotional set, I felt the meaning of "unblackened."
"Losin' Your Mind"
"The Blessed Hellride"
"Sold My Soul"
"Road Back Home"
"Spoke In The Wheel"
"House Of Doom"
"Queen Of Sorrow"
"Machine Gun Man"
"In This River"
"Throwin' It All Away"
"Won't Find It Here"
"I Thank You Child"
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)