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Black Label Society + Godsized - 3/6/2011 - Kulttuuritalo - Helsinki

Finally last summer after four years of waiting the Black Label Society released the successor of “Shot To Hell”. Changes of label, of line-up, and even health problems as well as other issues got in the way, but all this belongs to the past, and now a sober Zakk Wylde is ready to tour over Europe for the promotion of “Order Of The Black”, first album recorded in the Black Label Bunker, new studio, property of the famous guitar hero.
Tonight Kulttuuritalo is sold-out, and that’s no surprise, since the band has gone missing from Finnish soil since 2008. Countless are the denim jackets and long beards in the crowd, trying to emulate the icon-ish style of BLS mainman. But as the audience slowly gathers inside the hall, it’s up to Godsized to warm-up the evening.
The semi-unknown four-piece coming from UK is at its first tour outside the mother country, but shows no fear on stage, especially in the virtuosism of their guitar player Neil Fish. The singer and other guitarist Glen Korner reminds in his look of a younger Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), while the music proposed is a mixture of hard rock with various influences from heavy/power to thrash.
I confess I had no particular expectations from this band, and even after the show I’m not quite sure about a complete idea on their proposal. There is some spark of interest in the groovy sound of the guitars, but all in all it didn’t fully convince me, and I think an heavier approach could have suited best to these English guys. But maybe the impression is due to the atmosphere that wasn’t really quite right for the band, playing in front of a group of people with their minds already somewhere else, if they are not actually outside of the main hall, at the drinking area.

The place is instead fully packed when Black Label Society is about to start. With a perfect timing as the intro fills the air, the band begins with “The Beginning... At Last”. The song is played from behind a huge black drop with the band’s logo, which is lifted soon after. The last news from BLS base, is the addition of Johnny Kelly (Type 0 Negative) to the ranks of the band, after Will Hunt, who had prior commitment to Evanescence, left during the tour to record their new album. The “newcomer” does indeed a good job, even if the eyes of the enchanted audience are all for the mainman, Mr. Zakk Wylde.
“Crazy Horse” is the first song played from the new record, followed between the increasing cheers of the fans by “What’s In You”, and that’s comprehensible since I think “Mafia” is one of their best records up to now. I was somehow afraid before the show about how the sounds would have been, but I must say the show turned out to be mainly powerful and clear, giving good justice to these great songs.
As Zakk get rid of his bowler hat and constantly change guitar, he is not the only one who catch the attention on stage, the little JD DeServio looks possessed while going full-throttle with his bass, and the faithful Nick Catanese gathers his own dose of applauses when instigating the fans.
I would say that except for the guy holding the sign “Zakk I am your fan number one, I want your pick” (yes, luckly it’s “pick”...), the people in general seems more in the mood for enjoying the music and the solos rather than going ape-shit-crazy on the songs.
The new “Overlord” and “Parade Of The Dead” display the effectiveness of the new material in a live show, but the ballad moment is behind the corner, “In This River” lights up the female crowd and the long guitar solo from there in a few minutes leaves everyone’s eyes focused on Zakk’s fingers dancing on the chords of his guitar.
The show is almost in its final moments when “Suicide Messiah” overwhelms the audience, while “Concrete Jungle” and the evergreen “Stillborn” put the word “end” on this great gig.
My biggest complain on this, is the complete lack of songs from “Stronger Than Death” and “1919 Eternal”, but it’s just my personal taste, and I believe that most people didn’t really mind that much about the set in itself, being there instead to admire the talent of one of the best guitar players of the current times.

It was about four year since the last time I saw the band in action, and once again my expectations have been totally fulfilled by the performance of the four guys on stage. This Berzerkus Tour 2011 will then lead the band to play in the States, Canada, and South America. As it will probably be a while before BLS comes back on Scandinavia, it’s better to make treasure of the evening, and I’m sure many fans would agree with me on this.

Setlist Black Label Society:
01) The Beginning... At Last
02) Crazy Horse
03) What’s In You
04) The Rose Petalled Garden
05) Funeral Bell
06) Overlord
07) Parade Of The Dead
08) In This River
09) Fire It Up
10) Guitar Solo
11) Godspeed Hell Bound
12) The Blessed Hellride
13) Suicide Messiah
14) Concrete Jungle
15) Stillborn

Black Label Society


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