LIVE PHOTOS: Zakk Wylde, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, Jared James Nichols
Review by Greg Maki
Even as he built Black Label Society into the metal monster it is today, Zakk Wylde cultivated another side as a musician, mixing the occasional acoustic number or piano ballad among the Sabbath-esque riffs and face-melting guitar solos. He’s emphasized it more of late, first with the BLS Unblackened album and tour, and this year with his second solo release, 20 years after the first record bearing his name, appropriately titled Book of Shadows II.
On both Book of Shadows albums, Wylde leans into his love of Southern rock, with mellow, melancholy tunes that highlight him as a songwriter in addition to being one of the few remaining bona fide guitar gods. Yet lIke the Unblackened run last year, the tour supporting Book of Shadows II is anything but “unplugged.”
Rams Head Live was at about half capacity–the casual fan apparently is more interested in Zakk’s metal side than what he’s offering on this tour. The night began with two guitar heroes in training. Up first, Jared James Nichols led his trio through a hard-rocking set with a heavy dose of blues that included covers of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” and Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen.” Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown followed with a more polished but similar set of hard rock and blues, highlighted by a cover of “Got My Mojo Working” by Muddy Waters. The two bands were near perfect opening acts on this tour, showcasing two bright young talents. It’s heartening to see Zakk embracing the next generation of guitarists.
Wylde, of course, was the main draw. With the current lineup of Black Label Society backing him–Dario Lorina on guitars and keys, drummer Jeff Fabb and longtime bassist John “J.D.” DeServio–Zakk played songs only from his solo albums in a set that lasted about 105 minutes. It felt like about half of it was Wylde soloing, and that was perfectly fine with most everyone in attendance–these were the hardcore fans, after all. He played behind his head, with his teeth and even in the middle of the crowd for about 10 minutes. It was a stunning display by one giant of a musician.
Zakk Wylde set list:
“Sold My Soul,” “Autumn Changes,” “Tears of December,” “Lay Me Down,” “Road Back Home,” “Yesterday’s Tears,” “Between Heaven and Hell,” “Darkest Hour,” “Throwin’ It All Away,” “Dead as Yesterday,” “Eyes of Burden,” “Way Beyond Empty,” ”The King,” “Lost Prayer,” “Sleeping Dogs”