Black Label Society - Hammersmith Apollo, London

Back on these shores after last year's High Voltage festival, the return of Black Label Society should have been a cause for celebration but, strangely, it was obvious that this was not a sellout show. Those who did attend were treated to an evening of high class heavy metal - more fool the absentees.

Arriving fashionably late on stage at 9:15, the band were hidden by a large black curtain with the Sonic Brew artwork. With an incredibly loud bang, causing me to almost jump out of my skin, the curtain dropped and the band went straight into ‘The Beginning … At Last’ from aforesaid album. The front row went crazy, and all I could see was some serious hair flying around, and at one point in the photo pit I got pinned up against the stage due to the floods of crowd surfers being pulled down by security.

Going into their next song, 'Crazy Horse' from their latest album Order of The Black, the craziness continued and the pyrotechnics either side of drummer Will Hunt proved they were going all out right from the start. Continuing with a great selection of heavy songs from across their catalogue, there was a pause to slow things down a bit, and a piano was wheeled onto stage as Zakk Wylde was speaking to the crowd, introducing members of the band, and quoting that if guitarist Nick Cantanese is Mick Taylor, then he must be Keith Richards.

Sitting down the piano, Wylde started off with a little solo, before heading into ‘In This River’ and at this point a bar was lowered with two pictures of the late Darrell Dimebag in tribute. The crowd cheered as the pictures of Dimebag came down, and people started to get their lighters out. Following his touching tribute to another very talented guitarist and a good friend, Wylde went into ‘Fire It Up’ from the Mafia album, a song I was so excited to hear live, and was by no means disappointed. Finishing the song, the rest of the band made their way off the stage and Zakk broke out into a guitar solo. This man's ability never ceases to amaze me, and although it was admittedly a rather lengthy guitar solo (and looking around people were looking a tad bored), I found myself mesmerised. Amazed doesn’t begin to cut it.

The rest of the band made their way back onto stage after Zakk's solo, and they continued with a heavy-riffed set list. Ending the night with two great songs, ‘Concrete Jungle’ and the ‘Stillborn’, the night was ending on a great high. Upon finishing confetti canons were set off, filling the venue, and the band took their places to centre stage to bow to the crowd. Metal at its best.

Setlist: The Beginning…At Last / Crazy Horse / What’s In You / The Rose Petalled Garden / Funeral Ball / Overlord / Parade Of The Dead / In This River / Fire It Up / Guitar Solo / Godspeed Hell Bound / The Blessed Hellride / Suicide Messiah / Concrete Jungle / Stillborn

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