THERE was a sense of a crowd drawn to a messiah when Zakk Wylde and his cohorts in Black Label Society played the last date on their ‘Grimmest Show on Earth’ world tour in Belfast.

On the very last night of the tour BLS blasted Belfast’s Limelight for the second night in a row it was clear that this was more than a well-oiled machine – it was a mighty beast of a band producing a mesmeric show.

It was a tough call for Ten Ton Slug to open for ‘The Society’ but their stoner infused sludge drilled to the core of the building audience with an incipient heaviness and heft.

Riffs and rollicking intentions they battered their way through an impressive set, only marred by playing in near darkness.

With the bar doing excellent business the sense of anticipation for Black Label Society was palpable -even for those who had been present the previous evening – two sold out shows in Belfast and one in Dublin says all that needs to be said about the adoration for Zakk.

From the opening strains of the Sabbath/Zap mash-up the wide-eyed audience was up for the onslaught about to be delivered as ‘Genocide Junkies’ grabbed the crowd by the throat, throttled them into breathless ecstasy.

We here are massive fans of Black Label Society – and we make no bones about that. There are those who claim that it is just a six-string wankfest: an undeserved elevation etc etc, with only a few ‘songs’ smattered amidst the solos. They are entitled to their opinion even if they are way off the mark.

Sure Mr Wylde has his own riser, sure there was a massively extended solo, sure there was a deliberate emotive couple of tracks, such as ‘In This River’ but above all this was a performance that showcased what heavy metal is all about.

Expressive but with a sense of inclusion for all that attended.

In the words of Zakk this was all about “Getting It Fucking Done”.

Six times carefully deployed intros allowed the band a moment to re-set, change gear and get ready once more to flay.

When they played ‘Trampled’ after one of those intros it was as if there was a joyous submission to being musically stamped upon.

As for the more well-known BLS tracks ‘The Blessed Hellride’ had the ‘Northern Ireland Chapter’ in full voice.

And, this was even before Zakk took a walk along the bar during his trademark soloing. For once the sea of mobile phones seemed justified as the massive mans fingers extracted runs and melodies in a ferociously delightful exercise.

Up close on the bar and through the crowd it was hard not to be awed by this beast’s ability. Like a silverback mountain gorilla that has discovered just how to dominate the dreary Wylde can with justification beat his chest.

The closing pair of ‘Concrete Jungle’ and ‘Stillborn’ had the last notes played on the tour and left all involved begging for more Black Label Society in Belfast as soon as fucking possible.

We were a chapter of like minded souls just wondering what Zakk Wylde can produce next. Grimly satisfied? Yes we were.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Photography by Darren Mcveigh


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