On the first weekend of winter-come-spring, Zakk Wylde rolled in to Hellcity with his Black Label Society summoning the admirers of his talent in the black cathedral. It goes without saying that we had to be there. In fact, we were there more than we, you, or anybody else would have thought, but we’ll get to that.
We arrived at the packed Kulttuuritalo about 10 minutes before the show-time and saw that we were definitely underdressed. About 98% of the audience was wearing BLS merchandise and that’s the kind of devotion you’ll hardly ever see. Hoping that no one would see us as the odd ones out in the darkness anyways, we made our way through the crowd. A black curtain with the BLS logo covered the stage, withstanding a wall of excitement ready to rip it off. Luckily, in a matter of minutes, it fell down by itself for everyone to see the man himself: the legendary axeman Zakk Wylde rose on stage and proclaimed the Order of the Black.
Having never seen BLS on stage before, I kept my expectations high and rightfully so. The show kicked in with “The Beginning… at Last,” and that’s when the impressive guitar showcase started. I lost count of how many times the man had changed guitars, boasting his vertigo-painted Les Paul models and many more. There was plenty of eye-candy for someone with a guitar-fetish. If Dave Mustaine ever saw any of the recent BLS shows, he might have shed a tear out of pure jealousy, even though he is endorsed by a different company. However, I digress. The guitar talk always gets me off track.
The setlist consisted mainly of the hits throughout the Society’s discography and just a small part of it concentrated on the band’s latest record, Order of the Black. The stage was decorated with the mandatory wall of Marshall amps. I actually checked if the wall was real and it was, unlike that of a certain Norwegian band. The most touching moment of the show came up during “In this River,” as lighters were raised in the air and the stacks of amps were covered with sheets with Dimebag Darrell’s image on them. I wish more musicians found a moment in their showtime to commemorate him. Sad as it is, the show must go on. Always.
As if to remind us that we were watching a guitar god, a few of the breaks between songs were filled with short guitar solos, which then flowed into the next song. But during the second part of the gig it was time for THE solo, where Zakk proved that he got his throne fair and square. While I was watching his fingers go through the strings at a Slayer-esque speed, an association with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Flight of the Bumblebee” came up in my head, just performed on a guitar instead of a piano. There’s this thing about guitar solos: they are great, but in small doses. When it gets too long, you’re in for an OD.
I was already considering taking a nap when the solo finished and BLS lashed on to “Godspeed Hellbound” – a song off the new record with which I often indulge in a singalong session. Four more songs and the show was over. Unsurprisingly, it was impeccable; watching the masters at work is always a delight. Hellcity bid its farewell as the Order of The Black continued to spread to the rest of Europe.
1. The Beginning … At Last
2. Crazy Horse
3. What’s in You
4. The Rose Petalled Garden
5. Funeral Bell
7. Parade of the Dead
8. In this River
9. Fire It Up
10. Godspeed Hellbound
11. The Blessed Hellride
12. Suicide Messiah
13. Concrete Jungle
Text: Tanja Caciur | Photos: Jana Blomqvist | Ed: Amy Wiseman