The Nokia Theatre in Times Square is one of the new hot spots for metal concerts in New York City. This is a bigger venue than the BB King Blues Club, and it allows for bands who are too big for that club but not quite big enough to fill a Beacon Theater or Madison Square Garden. Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society brought along Century Media upstarts Brand New Sin for a night of groovy and doomy metal, and Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce and Pete Pardo were on hand and bring their full reports.
Read on for all the coverage!
Ken Pierce: Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society came to town tonight and it seemed as though the Nokia Theatre in Times Square would need to send out for a beer run. Opening the show was Brand New Sin, who I sadly missed most of. They sounded good from what I did see yet only seemed to do a 45 minute set. Snaring pictures would be impossible as there was terrible lighting and the group was not allowing flash photography. As I understand the group would be supporting their latest release on Century Media Records entitled Recipe For Disaster. It's definitely the kind of group that was a perfect opener for BLS. I hope to be able to see them again or review some of their music if the means to do some becomes an option. There is a lot of good Rock and Roll to these guys and after their set lead singer Joe Altier was seen walking around the venue shaking hands and posing for pictures with fans. I always find that a cool thing to do when it is possible for the band to do it.
Brand New Sin
After a significant wait time due to Zakk running late it was time for the main event. He is one of the best guitar players in the Heavy Metal industry and has recorded an extensive body of work both on his own and with the Legendary Ozzy Osbourne. His set kicked off with "Fire It Up" from his new Artemis Records release "Mafia" and the performance tonight would feature a good number of songs from this album as well as an assortment from his past releases. The past year has found Zakk to be very vocal about the tragic loss of "Dimebag" who Wylde viewed as the Brother he never had. He had recorded a tribute video for his "In This River" song and also during the set would slow things down so he could reflect with the audience. He put his guitar aside and sat at a piano and performed that song and did an almost 20 minute tribute to the late shredder. It was indeed moving but I was not sure it was a great idea to do this as early in the set as he did. Bringing the momentum down that drastically should have been saved for later because Dime's death hit a lot of Metal fans hard as well. After all, this person also shot down members of the audience and for a while I know people were spooked about even attending shows. It was great to see this tribute done because there was a real connection between Dime and Zakk and in that aspect it mattered a whole lot more. Zakk also invited members of the audience up on the stage for the performance of the song "Spoke In The Wheel". He certainly has a connection to his fans and most of them are what he refers to as "Chapter Members". Essentially each City is a Chapter and this ethic is held very strong by the people in the crowd. I guess this makes me a part of the Brooklyn Chapter or something like that – who knows. The members of BLS for the tour remain as Craig Nunenmacher on drums and 2nd guitarist Nick Catanese. Joining the group once again on bass is John Deservio who is replacing the space left by James Lomenzo who quit the band only a few months ago.
As much as I enjoy the music of BLS I think a lot of it follows the same groove lately and risks repetition. His new album while very interesting did not win me over 100%; and I felt that I liked "The Blessed Hellride" a little more. I also think the group needs to place less emphasis on the heavy alcohol use during a show. I have seen too many bad shows as a result of this from some other artists and I also worry about this influencing or gearing up of some of the crowd who can't handle it or you don't want geared up. BLS brings a lot of different folks to the shows and you never want to see any incidents start that ruin it for the rest of the audience. Otherwise it was a good time and I hope to see them once again. The set list is very incomplete as it was hard to write and take pics however these are some of the numbers performed in the almost 2 hour show.
Pete Pardo: While I missed much of Brand New Sin's set due to confusion of the actual show start time (which seems to be happening a lot lately), the few songs that I did manage to hear were quite good. These guys, perhaps a strange pairing with their label Century Media, are a down to earth, no frills, heavy rock band, with commercial tendencies that should garner them plenty of accolades in the years to come. Also, they were a perfect opener for BLS, as their guitar heavy grooves somewhat enter them in the stoner rock band category. If you like heavy rock with bits of metal and blues, then make sure you catch these guys next time they come around, and pick up their latest CD Recipe for Disaster while you are at it.
Black Label Society....where do I start? I've caught these guys a few times, and I'm a big fan of Zakk Wylde's guitar playing. But after seeing this show, my first time catching them in a headline situation, I'm convinced that either this was an off night, or BLS are better off in a opener situation or at a festival. It just seemed that 2+ hours of BLS was a little much to take in one sitting. It also didn't help matters that Zakk decided to play a near 20 minute piano tribute to Dimebag Darrell, which totally killed the momentum of the set, as well as the fact that much of the songs this night came from the mediocre Mafia CD, an album that sees the band rehashing a lot of the same riffs and sounds just plain uninspiring. In addition, there just seemed to be way too much drinking going on onstage, which might be an everynight thing for these guys, but I think overall it takes away from the performance, especially when done to excess. It also didn't help that the band came on more than 30 minutes late, which had the crowd a bit restless.
Overall, many in attandance looked to really dig the show, but there were more people than you would normally see hanging around the bar and lobby areas, seemingly uninterested in the show, which is a shame. The next year or so should be an interesting one for Zakk Wylde. I think it's time he reinvented himself and found a new direction, because in my opinion, he's still a killer guitar player, but one whose act is growing stale.
BLS Set List
Fire It Up
Bleed For Me
In This River
Spoke In The Wheel
Spread Your Wings
Official Web site: www.ZakkWylde.com
Official Web site: www.BrandNewSin.com