photos by yours truly, click one to see about 140 more with some COB shots (which all suck except maybe one)
It was a chilly autumn night, last night, wind coming off of the water. The river was scattered with glowing reflections from downtown Pittsburgh’s lights, running under the many area bridges. There’s one humorously called the Hot Metal Bridge, but that’s not the one that’s closest to the Trib Total Media Amphitheatre. It should have been, though, for last night’s Berzerkus Tour with 2 cents, Clutch, Children of Bodom and the infamous Black Label Society featuring Zakk Wylde was a hot metal (or cold metal, or just plain METAAAAL) show that would have blown the roof off had it been an indoor venue…
Unfortunately, due to Shabbos, my husband and I missed 2 cents and Clutch. I have no idea who 2 cents are. But Clutch is awesome. Clutch is a stoner dirty blues metal band that’s been around for ages, whose quality and creativity are unsurpassed by most. If you hear Clutch, you know it’s Clutch because they don’t sound like anyone else, and they’re nuts. Vocalist Neil Fallon (to be interviewed by Metal Israel for Rockpoint in the very near future G-d willing) has his own unique whiskey raw vocal thing going. My husband actually thinks they sound like a more laid-back version of Entombed, because he feels they don’t have a very aggressive guitar tone and vocal presence but the fusion of blues, groove and metal techniques is similar. I was severely disappointed to have missed them, but hey, that’s what happens when people for some dumbass reason schedule a Saturday night show to start at 6PM (I never heard of such a thing in my life).
We got there for a bit of Children of Bodom’s set which included the classics “In Your Face” and “Hate Crew Deathroll”. Children of Bodom put on a tight, streamlined show reflective of their immense technical ability – as to be expected. COB’s known for sharp melodies weaving intricately into each other with what seems like the greatest of ease. Vocalist/guitar virtuoso Alexi Laiho was shredding it, and that’s what he’s famous for.
But when Black Label Society came onstage, the GA space of the amphitheater (which was more like a parking lot) filled up with the Pittsburgh chapter of the Black Label Society, sporting their gear, ready to rock, and rock they did. Guitar legend Zakk Wylde came out all guns blazing with blues-drenched licks and riffs piercing the sky along with his band’s back-up groove.
They opened with a song I don’t know and played, of course, a mix of the old and new material including “Overlord,” “Crazy Horse,” “Funeral Bell,” and “Reign of the Dead”. They wheeled out a piano and Wylde, an accomplished pianist as well, took the keys for the touching (yes, touching) rendition of “In This River,” a dedication to his murdered peer Dimebag Darrell Abbott with the symbol-laden video for said song playing in the background.
After that, they lightened it up a bit and sent huge Black Label Society logo emblazoned beach balls out into the crowd while playing the song I’d been singing all day in anticipation of the show, “Fire It Up”. It was a hell of a lot of fun. An electric version of “Blessed Hellride” (the unplugged version is cooler) and “Suicide Messiah” were played as well.
We were standing at the front of the stage. At the right side of the stage there were hills with trees on them. When Wylde stood on that side of the stage, (during his solo specifically) the spotlight would cast his huge 30-foot shadow on the trees, which looked really cool. And his solo was outstanding, his fingers flying over the fretboard like lightning on crack. But that comes as no surprise – that’s what he’s famous for.
Clutch and Children of Bodom differ a bit but share a common thread with Black Label Society – Clutch and BLS have the blues thing going, and COB and BLS enjoy the superspeed guitar god aspect.
BLS bassist John “J.D.” DeServio served it up like a total ham, grinning and posing for the cameras (actually, the band tended to grin at each other quite a bit – you could tell they were having fun). DeServio has good reason to be a ham, however. His Les Claypool-worthy chops are amazing and were well-displayed in the Black Sabbath groove dirge jam before BLS closed the set (a bit early) to “Stillborn.” The bouncer in front of me (who was obviously having a good time as well) was even cool enough to give me a pick, one of the many traditionally thrown into the audience.
Hopefully, there will be an interview with the Wylde Man himself for Israel’s premiere print metal magazine RockPoint whenever it happens dependent on his schedule (G-d willing).
Many thanks to everyone who made attending this show possible: Clutch PR, Zakk Wylde management and Eli Levin of the Hard Rock Examiner! And a special thanks to Chris Pacifico for understanding that I don’t roll on Shabbos!