As I walked into the main lobby of the Mandalay Bay Casino, home to the house of Blues, I looked around a saw what looked like the most badass group of people to ever congregate in one place. An unsuspecting tourist might have thought that the hells angels were holding a convention, but this was what the Black Label family looked like. Growing up I had heard about this fan-base. Metal loving, tough as nails, and simultaneously the nicest and most friendly group of people I have the pleasure of seeing a show with. We all stood on line together waiting to enter the venue, and as security waved us forward fans were chugging down the last drop of their Jack Daniels and making sure their beers were empty in an almost ritual-esque fashion, as if taking a sacrament prior to a church service, and for a lot of us in that room, that’s exactly what it was.
Corrosion of Conformity was the featured opening act, with the heavy task of loosening up the crowd for BLS. Needless to say, they did the job, and even though prior to the moment I had never heard a note of their music, they played loud and tight and got the crowd moving.
The lights dimmed, the crowd began to roar, and the curtain covering the stage, with Black Label logo displayed for all to see, dropped to the crowd’s pleasure. Zakk Wylde and the boys ripped through over two hours of Classics as well as new material. They seemed to be on a mission. That mission? Give this crowd the best damn rock show they’ve ever seen. In between songs, Zakk cracked jokes at the band as well as his own expense. The highlights of the night were the tribute to old friend and metal icon Dimebag Darrell during “In this river” as well as the near 20 minute guitar solo taken by Wylde, during which he proceeded to enter the crowd, and make his way up to the balcony of the venue, all while shredding with the guitar placed behind his head, Hendrix style. I still think he should’ve taken that guitar out to dinner after taking advantage of it in front of the thousands in attendance.
The band ended their set with BLS classic “Stillborn” off of the blessed hellride album, and after the band said their goodbyes and the lights came on, I felt like I had been to the biggest party in the city, and walked out with my ears ringing, and quite a buzz. So the next time Black Label Society come to your town, be sure to grab a ticket and brace yourself for a guitar focused assault.
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