Black Label Society turns Stubb’s upside down

On a cool November evening at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater, cigarette smoke mixed with rain and the nervous tension in the crowd created an attracting, enchanting aroma.

The scene was a perfect backdrop to the Black Label Berzurkus tour that rolled into town Nov. 2. The tour was created and headlined by the legendary metal band Black Label Society and its leader, the living personification of heavy metal and former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde.

The show was intended to be “a rock n’ roll night of excess and unique madness,” as Wylde stated on the Black Label website.

That couldn’t have been more true, especially since the three other bands on the bill didn’t pull any punches. First out was Malibu’s 2Cents, wielding an amalgam of hardcore punk and metal, who put on a delightfully angst-ridden show.

Fast on their heels came Finnish extreme metal group Children of Bodom, a potent live force that pushed the crowd from mere angst to full blown rage. Their vampiric frontman/guitarist Alexi Laiho is on par with Zakk Wylde in terms of guitar playing, a fact he proved many times over as they ripped through tunes like “Silent Night, Bodom Night,” “Downfall,” and “Hate Crew Deathroll.”

Finally, Clutch, from Germantown, Md., arrived to cool the crowd off with some old fashioned four-on-the-floor rock and roll.

If George Thorogood and Jimmy Page had a love child, it would be Clutch singer/ax-slinger Neil Fallon. With solid tracks like “The Regulator,” and “Electric Worry,” Clutch kept everyone moving to the beat. By the end of “Electric Worry,” the crowd was screaming the chorus hook at full blast: “Bang Bang Bang Bang! Vamonos Vamonos!”

But none of the other bands could quite get the reaction that Black Label Society did during its set. As soon as the band kicked into “Crazy Horse,” a mass gang rush to the stage ensued, and a mosh pit formed and remained in place until the concert was over. Crowd surfers seemed to come by every five minutes, and the audience’s enthusiasm did not dim throughout the show.

Black Label also brought out new material from their recent release “Order of the Black,” but also threw in fan favorites “Suicide Messiah,” “Stillborn” and “Concrete Jungle”.

The Society was in fine form, and Wylde himself rocked with new purpose, having been diagnosed with blood clots in his leg last year. When he rolled out a piano for his tribute to murdered Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, “In This River,” it seemed like it could have been his eulogy as well.

The Black Label Berzurkus was an incredible live experience like no other. Not many bands have the goods to deliver a great live performance, but the lucky crowd at Stubb’s got to hear four that did in one day.