Off the black list

A large percentage of the crowd seem to be here specifically to see Black Label Society judging from the number of tshirts and jackets on display (despite warnings from UK motorbike gangs not to) so it’s no surprise that as I arrive midway through their set there is a tightly packed crowd in front of the main stage.

Originally rising to prominence as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Zakk Wylde has fronted Black Label Society for ten years now, releasing seven studio albums whilst still holding down his spot with Osbourne. Now I confess that I don’t know much about them and I really don’t want to like them; the whole fake biker patch logo, the macho posturing all turns me off before I’ve heard a note but the simple fact is that they have some kick ass tunes. I couldn’t care less how good Wylde is on the guitar, if he didn’t have the tunes to back it up it would mean nothing. Tonight everything is big, infact it’s massive! The sound, the performance, the tunes; yes there is way too much beating of the chest from Wylde but that aside it’s pretty fucking good.

The key is that the songs aren’t obvious, they don’t all follow major melodies or structures, they’re heavy and they just roll on like an unstoppable force, it’s annoyingly good. The crowd love it and seemingly can’t get enough. There is a downside though, Wylde insists on doing a solo spot, which is fair enough, he’s supposedly one of the world’s great guitarists but what he does is play for ten minutes, yes you heard it right, ten minutes on his own during which I go to get something to eat and visit the loo and he’s still going when I get back! I couldn’t believe it but more importantly what he was actually playing wasn’t even that good and it seems like a pointless waste of time for all concerned.

Solo spot aside though this has been a pretty special performance from the band most wanted to see (although I do hear the odd grumble that they weren’t deserving of headline status).