Review: Black Label Society brings brotherhood to the Worcester Palladium

Review: Black Label Society brings brotherhood to the Worcester Palladium
Zakk Wylde, founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society, pumps up the crowd at Worcester Palladium. / Photo by Sam Cronin

By Sam Cronin, news staff

John Lennon once said he thought of the Beatles, “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” While that may have been true in 1966, neither The Beatles nor Jesus ever pulled off a feat like Zakk Wylde’s 10-minute guitar solo Thursday night.

Walking through the crowd, up to the balcony, playing behind his back and strumming with his teeth, Wylde, the lead guitarist of Black Label Society, or BLS, put on a show like no other. He came down off the stage and parted the audience like the Red Sea. A crowd that had been violently moshing deferentially just minutes before let Wylde pass, and watched his blazing fast fingers with awe.

Given only one word to describe the Black Label Society show, it would have to be “Brotherhood.” The camaraderie of the audience was evident, and everyone was supportive and helpful whenever somebody fell down or got injured. When a man fell and passed out in the mosh pit, rather than ignore him and remain hectic, the entire pit stopped moving and immediately called to venue security to help him. The attending personnel were prompt and super attentive. They quickly collected people who had been crowd surfing to prevent them from falling and made sure people turned off their camera flashes to avoid disturbing the bands.

BLS played songs from several of their albums, including 2014’s “Catacombs of the Black Vatican,” 2005’s “Mafia” and 2003’s “The Blessed Hellride.” Their approximately two-hour show appeased fans, raised a ton of fists and left the crowd in a state of deaf exuberance.

Zakk Wylde and his bandmates entertain the audience with their guitar skills. / Photo by Sam Cronin

In addition to Wylde’s signature guitar flourishes — which blend hard, bluesy riffs with pentatonic-infused, sweep-pick-filled and blindingly fast solos — he also demonstrated his skills on the piano. The band played an emotional tribute to slain Pantera guitarist Darrell Abbott, also known as Dimebag Darrell. Wylde sipped tea from a red cup and crooned to his fallen brother. Many in the crowd, including certain journalists, teared up at the ballad.

Wylde, the consummate showman, struck poses with his assortment of spiral-patterned and BLS branded guitars, channeling the spirit and image of a Norse God. He introduced other members of the band with a series of increasingly racy jokes about their histories with the band and about their offstage antics together. Longtime bassist John DeServio, rhythm guitarist Dario Lorina and drummer Jeff Fabb made up the band.  

“Hailing from the New Jersey chapter of the almighty Black Label, and Tinder member for 23 years. And within that 23-year-run, folks, not once has he contracted one sexually transmitted disease. I give you your brother, John DeServio,” Wylde said as he introduced DeServio

All throughout the show, Wylde’s direct manner of speaking to the audience fostered a feeling of familiarity, which was matched by the fans’ unified enjoyment and supportiveness of each other.

Touring with Black Label was Corrosion of Conformity from Raleigh, North Carolina. They opened the show with the politically charged “Vote with a Bullet.”

“This is a song we wrote a long time ago. It’s coming back full circle, unfortunately,” vocalist and frontman Pepper Keenan said.

Their blend of bluesy-Sabbath-esque riffs and Molly Hatchet southern sludge got the crowd warmed up. Their song “Who’s Got the Fire,” started the mosh pit and amped up the audience, with people crowd surfing and pounding their fists straight up to the beat.

Opening for both bands was Red Fang from Portland, Oregon.

Black Label Society’s latest album, “Grimmest Hits” released Jan. 18 and Corrosion of Conformity’s latest album, “No Cross No Crown,” released Jan. 12. Both bands are touring North America together through the end of February.

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