Black Label Society: Denver Chapter

Yesterday was one of those days when I just wanted to lay around and watch football and that’s just what I did.  We had family in town and had an enjoyable lazy day around the house.  As the day turned to night the thought of venturing out to see some music seemed less and less appealing.  It was cold outside, I was tired from doing nothing all day and my buddy that was supposed to join me for the show broke his collarbone playing hockey.  Around 6pm I decided against going to the show, but I couldn’t get the idea of seeing Zakk Wylde out of my brain and at 9pm I got in my car and headed downtown.  So glad I did!

I was not concerned with catching any of the opening bands, but I did arrive in time to see Clutch‘s set.  These guys seem to have quite a following.  The place wasn’t sold-out, but was pretty packed with people wearing Clutch shirts and hoodies.  And the band put on a great set !  I’m not really a fan of straight hard rock music, my interests lean toward the extreme, but Clutch have a style of bluesy, almost funky, hard rock that held my attention throughout their 40 min set.  Probably not a band I would listen to often, but if you’re into this type of music, I highly recommend seeing them live.  The crowd up front must have gotten a little wild, because they prompted Neil Fallon to stop mid-song to remind them that ‘there are plenty of people in the world who want to kill us, let’s not not do it to ourselves…chill out, you have no future in cage fighting’.  I don’t know if they listened or not, but there were no more interruptions through their show.

Surprisingly the crowd thinned out considerably before Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society took the stage.  I was able to get right up front, which is not something that happens often at the Fillmore.  Unfortunately, we did have to wait for almost 45 mins in front of the huge Black Label banner before they took the stage.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if the crowd wasn’t so drunk.  Most of these people had probably been here since 6:30pm when the show started and most had been drinking and smoking since then.  I saw a girl on her boyfriend’s shoulder flashing her tits.  Haven’t seen that in quite some time.  I also saw one of these guys that were up there over in the medical area when I was leaving the show, sucks he waited so long just to end up back there.

It seemed like forever, but at 10:30pm the stacks of Marshall amps came to life, the banner dropped and the rock ‘n roll began!

Zakk is larger than life!  I always knew him as Ozzy‘s guitarist and the guy I couldn’t beat head-to-head on Guitar Hero, but my sister actually turned me on to Black Label Society.  I have never been a huge fan, but since that time I always put on Mafia or Blessed Hellride when I’m in the mood for some good hard hitting southern rock.  Think of a metal version of Drive-By Truckers.  They also remind me of a little of harder Alice in Chains and there’s the Sabbath influence, of course.   I have been listening to the newest album quite a bit as well, but wasn’t prepared for what a great show this would be.

I lasted up front through the first half of the show, but then the drunks got to me a bit.  There was a pit, but that wasn’t the problem.  The problem was the people who were pissed off about the pit.  I realize Black Label attracts an older crowd, but it’s still a hard rock show and you have to expect a little pushing and shoving.  A guy in front of me threatened to hurt me if I pushed him, so when I was slammed into him from behind, I decided it was time to go.

What was surprising was that the crowd thinned out to almost nothing pretty quickly.  The place was only half full.  I expected this in the beginning because I always believed the Fillmore was a large place for these bands to be playing,  but to see Clutch have such a large crowd, it was disappointing to see it clear out so much.

Zakk introduced the band (and what Chapter they were from…Florida, etc) before introducing himself from the ‘Mother Chapter in Los Angeles…the Doom Crew’ Hailing cheers from all the BLS patched brothers in the crowd and thoughts of Sons of Anarchy running through my head.  After the introductions, the band left Zakk alone with a piano.  There was something funny about seeing this huge man sitting at a piano, but the humor ended as soon as he started playing.  Maybe not as incredible as he is on guitar, but damn good!

After an instrumental intro, the band joined him onstage for a tribute to Dimebag Darrell in the form of In This River.  Arguably the highlight of the night; Zakk at his piano, his band around him and a video of kids at play spliced with pictures of Dimebag(Dimebag was Zakk’s best friend and was stabbed to death on stage)

Bringing the mood back up in a hurry, Fire It Up followed the ballad.  ‘Denver Chapter, it’s time to fire this fuckin’ bitch up!’ And that’s just what they did!  That was followed by his signature guitar solo and then a mini-set of crowd favorites from across his career.  The night ended with drowning reverb just before midnight.  Driving home I was blasting In This River and remembering the time I saw Dimebag with Pantera back in the day and thinking I will probably remember this show 15 years from now well.

Black Label Society Setlist Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO, USA 2010, Black Label Berzerkus